05 min read
Iterative usability tests
In my professional practice, I sometimes come across the opinion that there is no time and money for testing. It makes me wonder - what about the resources used to implement a product that will not satisfy users? Usability testing is an integral part of a thoughtful design process. It helps produce intuitive, valuable products that create a positive user experience. Tests help us understand how users interact with the product and what problems they encounter along the way.
The RITE method (Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation) is a special form of classic usability testing. What makes it different is that the prototype is modified in the process. When 1-3 participants encounter a usability problem, the prototype can be updated before the next test.In my professional practice, I sometimes come across the opinion that there is no time and money for testing. It makes me wonder - what about the resources used to implement a product that will not satisfy users?
Like any other solution, the RITE method has its fans and sceptics. It all depends on our priorities and resources. So before you decide whether to include RITE in your project, I would advise you to objectively assess the balance of benefits and risks. Below is a quick guide that should make this easier:
They allow you to detect and fix usability problems early, as well as validate the fixes you come up with. They demonstrate how users interact with the validated product. This means you get valuable insights and can reject the wrong hypothesis quickly. They can be adapted to project requirements and clients' needs. They provide data that simplify the decision-making process and make talking to stakeholders easier.
Your team needs to be involved to make decisions and implement fixes quickly. There is a limited number of users testing each iteration. This means it is hard to assess how significant a usability issue they encounter really is. You might spend time redesigning your product to fix an issue that will affect less than 1% of users. The project length may be extended, which makes setting the end date tricky.
RITE tests require a lot of focus, agility and flexibility from the testing team. To succeed you need to prep accordingly. I usually include the following steps in the preparation phase:
Is it worth it? Everyone chooses their hardcore ;)Testing - especially iterative testing - produces results, but requires agility, effort and commitment. Skipping tests means you are not sure whether your solution will be of use to customers.
Personally, I find test moderation an extremely rewarding and exciting experience that is full of surprises too. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know the audience, to observe how they act and think, what is important to them, and how they interact with the product we worked on for months. There are moments when we have to put our egos in our pockets, but that'swhat it's all about - being totally open to feedback. Working with the team to come up with fixes can be actually fun and a great opportunity to strengthen team bonds.
First off, verify your data synthesis tool beforehand. I was so excited about the upcoming tests that I brushed it off. However, in this case, going with the flow is not productive and I do not recommend it. Also, give yourself time to report. Synthesizing data on a sheet of paper is one thing. Presenting the results to the client is a different story. You do not want to overwhelm them with 50 slides that only create confusion.
Conducting the iterative tests has been a demanding, but very valuable experience. It reassured my belief that RITE tests are not a solution for every project and every brand. However, if they seem like a good fit for you the result will surely be worth it.
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