Rigorous Usability Testing Saves Time and Money — A Radical Example
Usability tests help ensure that design is on the right track. However, a barrier to the frequent use of usability tests is often cost. Therefore, usability testing has seen the rise of a quick-and-dirty approach where many of the virtues of rigorous usability testing are abandoned to save money. This often means that untrained persons conduct these tests.
At DPsy, we believe in doing user tests right.
Below is an example of how that paradoxically can turn out to be by far the cheapest approach to save both time and money.
The Project In short
DPsy was invited to contribute to the planning and execution of a usability test of an injection device for a medical client. This meant that we worked together with the client on the test protocol and moderator guide. The test was part of exploring different conceptual directions to understand their implications for the user and the design strategy. That puts the test in the early phases of the second double diamond as a diagnostic user test. Had it been concept maturation with a task analysis and usability test plan the test would been a formative usability test.
As part of the preparation for the user test, a clear objective and maturation of test focus - and underlying hypothesis - was needed. The output of the user test had to support management in deciding for which direction to go.
As we worked with the client to outline a clear hypothesis, something drastically changed. Our Expert UX-Review analysis of the concepts regarding their strengths and weaknesses provided the client with a clear understanding of the true nature of their research question. This clarity turned out to be what management needed to make their design direction decision.
With the answers they needed, the user test was no longer required. The client, therefore, chose to cancel the user test and move on with one of the concepts.
The benefit for the client was twofold. First, they could advance a project milestone gate by three months. In addition, they could save the budget for a costly user test.
The takeaway is that time spend on qualification and detailing of the study purpose is crucial to high-quality user tests. Sometimes it can even render the entire user test superfluous because it provides you with the answers you need to mature your concepts and design.