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_What’s usability testing?_What about internal tests?_Why conducting internal tests?_How to run internal tests?_Reflective learning_Meet EquiPod_Our work_The test’s goal_User experience _Results
Ela Nowicka

How do application tests let us make better products?

Usability tests are an integral part of designing the application as well as the quickest and most effective way to check its functionality. They help to identify and fix design flaws as well as reduce the risk of mismatching between the application and the user’s needs. Thus, they have a significant role in the overall quality of the final product. In this article, I’ll focus on internal tests and why they’re worth conducting.

What’s usability testing?

Every product is now user-centred. What’s the best way to check if the given solution is intuitive? Perform usability tests!

It’s a method of checking the functionality of the product by its target users and a part of UX research. In the process, the testers complete a set of given tasks on the app and make observations. These comments are essential in the consecutive stages of app development.

There are usability tests for websites, mobile apps, augmented reality apps or even e-commerce. The possibilities are infinite. You can truly perform it on anything innovative or new to check if it meets users needs.

What about internal tests?

Internal tests allow the team to gain an insight into the user’s needs and to improve ideas by tracking their activity. Then, the collected information is used to rebuild the prototype before the product is available to its target users. This process lets to use the app more comfortably and contributes to its success.

Want to know about other UX tests that we did? Read this article.

Why conducting internal tests?

What can you gain from such tests? Learn about the benefits and see why it’s a necessary step in creating a digital product. 

  1. Product market fit
    By running such tests in the early stages of development, we can get a better idea of what is expected of the app. This, in turn, improves the product usability and makes it more desirable on the market.
  2. Fixed minor errors
    Internal tests help in predicting customer’s difficulties and problems on the way. This allows the team to fix them immediately. 
  3. Saved time & lower cost
    Save time spent on the development and client’s money, as tests limit the possibility of future complications.
  4. Revision of assumptions
    Professional preparation and proper internal testing allow the team to verify the elements that need modification before coding.
  5. Better user experience
    We can avoid unnecessary functionalities and prevent the generation of non-intuitive solutions. Above all, we want the app’s interface to be simple to use. The target audience should find it functional.
  6. Recruitment freedom
    Firstly, employees are naturally more accessible than external testers. Secondly, thanks to good company culture, they’re more likely to take part in such events as they want the company to succeed. Thirdly, participating in tests could increase interest in the project. Because they haven’t been working on the project, the testers could have some interesting thoughts and ideas to make it even more user-friendly. In other words, thanks to this, you get the point of view of a potential user and an expert opinion.

How to run internal tests?

  1. Select your testers
    It’s best to pick those who have experience in building such products (but aren’t working on this particular one) as well as those from a different area of expertise.
  2. Prepare a list of research questions and a step by step plan
    So that all the research areas are covered, and tests are as thorough as possible. Moreover, talk about your roles in the process and define your responsibilities. In this way, you collect more data and be more focused on the task.
  3. Equip stations
    Provide the testers with everything they need. It’ll give them comfort. Thanks to that, they’re going to focus solely on the tasks.
  4. Perform the test
    Now it all depends on participants. Record their thoughts and comments, ask questions. Gather the information to analyse it later and make all the necessary adjustments to the app so that it’ll meet customer’s needs.

Reflective learning

Throughout the years of collaboration with different clients, we got a chance to observe and experience what works best for them. It had an enormous impact on our process of application development. The integral part of this procedure are internal tests. They usually concern research on the navigation within the app and whether the user can perform the tasks logically and satisfactorily. 

Our team had the opportunity to conduct an in-house test for one of our clients – NuroKor. It’s a company that provides the latest solutions in bioelectrical medicine. They aim to improve the quality of life in the most natural way.

Meet EquiPod

This time, our client came up with an idea to use EquiPod, and our job was to design the application for it. The device emits bioelectrical currents for show horses and those that are used for horse racing, especially the ones that are exposed to specific types of injuries. For this reason, the target audience consists of horse trainers, owners and physiotherapists. Depending on their needs, users will be able to choose one of the multiple programs available:

  • general health improvement,
  • injury treatment,
  • healing pain after injuries.

Some of EquiPod functions include: 

  • pairing the device with the phone,
  • planning the session,
  • setting treatment duration,
  • adding other devices.

Our work

Before testing, our designers explained to users who is the client and what is the product so that they could get a better understanding of the application. The recruited group consisted of 7 users. According to user experience studies, this number of people is usually sufficient to verify the digital product intuitiveness.

Our two designers spent around half an hour with each of the users. To concentrate better on the performed activities, one of the designers was supervising the respondent, while the other was taking notes. 8 prepared assignments tested mainly the design functionality and intuitiveness.

The test’s goal

Our team conducted internal tests which aim was to check:

  • the application intuitiveness,
  • whether the designed messages are clear and easy to understand,
  • how long does it take before the user learns the app’s functionality.

The team also seeks to gain information about the time spent on assignments, perceived difficulty, and subjective satisfaction of completing a piece of work.

User experience 

Our testers were asked to externalise thoughts, ideas and feelings when using the app, since various factors may directly or indirectly affect the completion of the tasks. 

The test ended when the user reached the screen marked as final on the designed path. In this way, our team could detect the elements that required improvement to make the application even more user-friendly.

Results

The majority of the users managed to complete the designed tasks successfully. Some of them, however, spent most of their time completing specific ones. What’s interesting is that some of the implemented solutions that were clear-cut for the team posed a problem for users. It illustrates how the perception of the product differs between someone who designs it and the customer. It also shows the importance of conducting these type of tests on a group of users not related to the project to get better results.

Thanks to internal tests, we can identify the problems, improve the app functionality and make it more aesthetically-pleasing for customers. This contributes to better user experience and the overall app success on the market.

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