Usability testing allows for the company, its team, the designers, or whoever is conducting the testing to see first-hand how the users navigate around the site, app, or product. Problems arise all the time, whether it is in the process of creating it or even afterwards throughout its release in an update or new models. However, these problems can easily be fixed before it goes out to the public by conducting this kind of testing. Just like any other product out there, if it does not work like it should or it is too confusing then word will spread whether it is by word of mouth or even worse, through social media. Something like this can severely hurt the company who put the product out there. The usability testing can help prevent all the problems from ever happening in the first place.
During my redesign of Target’s website, I had to conduct some kind of usability testing. Setting it all up was no problem until it came time to come up with the tasks that the users will have to perform on the site. I did want the tasks to be difficult to a point, but I also wanted to give them tasks that will be on the easier side that other people would not have really thought about until it was too late. These tasks yielded surprising results, even with the ones that ultimately should have been extremely easy the users struggled a bit to complete it. This was very shocking to me because Target is extremely well known to basically everyone and the website is not much different than any other online shopping site like Walmart. However, it turns out that no matter how much experience someone has shopping online, the easiest tasks can be prove to be difficult if it is not what they had expected it to be.
For example, there was one task in particular that yielded really surprising results that even I wasn’t expecting. Target now has the three options displaying how the user wants to receive their items, whether it’s by picking it up, having it delivered, or having it shipped. So instead of a physical button that says “Add to Cart” the options are displayed next to the product. As soon as I saw this throughout my redesign, I knew it had to be a task that the users performed. This was a simple task yes, but it can prove to be the exact opposite. Sure enough, when I told the users to add a set of headphones to their cart, they were instantly relieved that it was something easy to perform but that mindset quickly went away.
Once they chose the headphones they wanted they got very confused and very frustrated because they couldn’t find that “Add to Cart” button and were then confused as to how to add to their cart. They actually questioned if they had to choose one of the options in order for it to be added to their cart. Afterwards they commented saying how the “Add to Cart” button is very important for an online shopping website, and that the three options should come afterwards as they are checking out like every other site or else they would probably have left the site without ordering anything to begin with. This just goes to show how the easiest of tasks can prove to be difficult and be a turn off for many users, whether they have used the site many times or are first time users.
It was definitely interesting to see just how each user completed the task. While I thought age had a lot to do with how quickly they performed each task, it wasn’t until I was actually watching them did I realize that it mostly relied on how often they use sites like Target to shop online, and how often they use computers. If someone doesn’t shop online that often or at all they can struggle from time to time performing what others may say as the simplest tasks.
All in all, the usability testing allowed for me to gain a lot of useful insight to help with the redesign later on. While it did yield expected results it also gave me unexpected and surprising results that no one would have thought to look at until it was too late. Never underestimate a simple task, you never know if it can change the design and the product overall for the better.