There are two ways to feel about usability testing:
- It’s critique against the design and it makes the designers look bad
- It’s an opportunity to find out improvement areas so that designers can make their design even better
I for one feel it is an opportunity. In fact, usability testing is one of my most important design tools. Instead of guesses or loudest opinions I can rely on factual observations. Usability testing gives me so many answers to so many design questions. And it does it in such a short time that is almost magical! It is so delightful that it feels like Christmas.
I also love it when members of the project can join me in test sessions to see the magic for themselves. Almost always it’s a good experience for them, too. Not criticism, but an opportunity to improve. To deliver something great. Like one project manager recently said:
It opened my eyes! From now on we’re going to do usability testing in all my projects!
So if it is your own design, do yourself a favour and usability test it! And test it early. Based on the findings you’ll be able to make your design even better. If it is someone else’s design, do the same favour for them.
Embrace the most powerful design tool of them all – usability testing!
You might also like a related blog post: Usability and usefulness