Why is usability testing is crucial for successful deployment of your website?
Usability testing is an important step in Quality Assurance (QA) procedure for any product. Usability testing helps you simulate the experience of an average website user. In order to ensure the quality of the website and improve user experience, there are several stages of testing that need to be performed on the website.
Step 1: Development Team
Developers of the website are the first set of users to test the site. However, since they implemented the site, they obviously expect the site behavior to match their implementation. It makes more sense to perform testing by cross checking each feature with its specification in the requirement document. Once this stage is completed and all the issues are resolved, the site is rolled out to in house QA team to go through their testing cycle.
Step 2: In House QA team
QA team has to work hand-in-hand with the development team for the success of the project. Development team provides guidance to the QA team to prepare a comprehensive set of test scenarios to test all features of the site. Once the site is ready for QA testing, the team will go down the list of test scenarios and mark them as PASS or FAIL after successful testing. Once the testing is complete and all the issues are resolved by the development team, QA will go through the test cycle again to validate the scenarios. Often times than not, features that were functional in the previous testing phase may not behave the same with the new build. So, it is very important to randomly test the PASSed scenarios in subsequent builds to make sure they are still valid.
Step 3: Average Web User
Usability testing by a group of average users is the last step before releasing to the web. Depending on the type of industry or business, users you select may need preparation from you to familiarize them them with the industry and tips on what to look for. Once they get used to the system they are on a role with testing and provide you with very valuable feedback to improve the quality of the site.
It is important to provide the testers with a survey form to provide feedback on different components, in a systematic manner so it is not overwhelming to the developer to go back and take care of the issues. Choosing users for this stage of testing should not be a difficult task. Have a system in place to reward the participants with incentives such as gift cards, or tickets to sporting events, etc. You may be able to do better if you collect some information from the participants before hand, regarding their hobbies and interests.