Q. Isn’t usability testing something you do at the very end, once the design is finished?

A. Usability is most effective when used early on and at multiple points in the UX design process so you can discover and address critical issues while you still have time to fix them. Doing usability only “at the end” (or as something to check off the development checklist before launch) often reveals critical design problems when there is neither time nor resources to address them.

Tips for using usability research effectively throughout the development process:

—    Start early. Even before there is “nothing to test,” do user research to learn about your users’ mental models and work flows so you can design with real people in mind.

—    As soon as you have one or more design concepts, you can validate design assumptions, direction and navigational flows with low-fidelity prototypes before wireframes start to feel too finished.

—    Once you have decided on a design direction, you can do usability testing before features and functionality get locked down in code. Observe users using your design to learn where and why they are frustrated or happy with your design.

—    After an application is built, you can do usability testing to optimize features and functionality based on user feedback. If performance metrics are in place, do usability to understand the “why” behind what the metrics are telling you.

We don’t have time to do research. Won’t it
slow down development?

Usability Myths: Q&A