16.3.2018

This article is certainly not our last one on exploring user-research and the involvement of the end user in the development of mobile applications. In this first one, we will look at our own reasons why we invest time and money in user testing of prototypes.

There is no guide to tell you how a good food/weather/traffic/accommodation app should exactly look like. Yet, there are thousands of elements a designer can use when designing an app. These elements either complement or do not match each other at all. Then, how is it even possible to create a perfectly intuitive application?

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Define the purpose and the customer

I really doubt it is possible to design a really useful and relevant application without trial and error method. Despite what many people say, even Steve Jobs saw the importance of carrying out the user research.

Let’s look at your personal experience, shall we? Do you usually know right from the beginning what to expect from an app and what does it want in return? Isn’t it often the other way around? Your first contact with an app might be rather full of misclicks with many aha moments. The goal of a good design is to get as close as possible to the intuitive app where misclicks are the exception rather than the rule. User research techniques lend us a helping hand there, among many also the user testing.

When designing an application, it is crucial to know who am I designing the app for. On the receiving end is not only the one  who hired you. The one who pays for the development of the app does not have to be familiar with the peculiarities of the environment the app will interact with. Therefore, the first question to answer is who will use the app and what for. Once the purpose and the target group have been clarified, the first draft and prototypes follow.

Saving money with user testing

It is best if you involve user testing in the first stages of the development. It can easily result in considerable budget savings. The worst case scenario for an app is when the designer drafts, the graphic designer draws, the customer approves, the developer programmes… But eventually the tester complains and the user does not comprehend the entire app. How to avoid such a nightmare?

We user test the apps. User testing is actually a conversation between the designer and the user, who is asked to perform different tasks within the app draft. Note-taking or recordings are very advisable in order to evaluate the outcomes afterward. It usually takes around 5 users per test for basic mistakes in the app to pop up.

Few can give you more

Can such a small sample of 5 people bring statistically significant results? Good and frequently asked question. For the quantitative results I have to say no, it cannot. But if we look at the quality, even 5 users can provide you with valuable information. Let’s take your favourite café as an example. If 4 out of 5 people try opening the door by pulling instead of pushing, there is surely something wrong with the design. These 4 people are enough to prove it. User tests are the ideal tool for finding out what works, what doesn’t and what can be done better. Sometimes only minimal interventions are needed – to change a label, color or proportions. However, you need to be ready to redraw a huge part of the app, because sometimes just slight adjustments won’t do the job.

Unfortunately, user testing can also reveal that your product does not seem to be relevant and/or useful to the user. Then you have to think deeply.  Should you start from the scratch by selecting the target group more wisely, or did the previous researches suck?

After this summary of the reasons why we user test, we will look at the process of user testing itself. Wait for the next article 😉

Fancy our attitude? Do you desire an intuitive app approved by users? Contact us.

More on how we try to prevent software mistakes and why they appear here:

Testování a akceptace.

Proč občas nefunguje něco, co už fungovalo

Jan Hanzelka