Usability Testing

How can we change the perspective with which we face the needs of the digital transformation of companies, without knowing the needs of the people who will use the final product? The fact of posing this question is something that makes us focus more on the person than on the technology we use.

As we mentioned in previous articles, the Status Quo has changed, at least for us. So we must keep in mind, at all times, how to provide the best solution to the people who use the product. In order to fulfill this objective, we rely on the Design Thinking methodology, and evaluate, according to the current state of the project, how can we add value to the final product. 

Due to the state of the project, we can consider performing some research techniques or others. In this post, we will focus on the previous phase of delivery of the digital product, detect and solve the problems before putting them into the production phase. 



So we are in the Test phase, but that does not mean that we ignore the previous steps of the Design Thinking methodology, where we empathize with the person who will use the final product and define what are the main tasks you need to perform on the product.



What is usability?

Usability is an attribute that values ​​the quality of use of an interface and that is defined by 5 key elements:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Memorability
  3. Errors
  4. Satisfaction
  5. The learning capacity of the person 

Depending on the type of product and the needs of our client, usability is key to productivity. In internal tools, for example, you can double the number of tasks you can perform each hour and shorten the learning costs of the product in its adoption.

What is the Usability Test? 

The Usability Test is the best way to understand how people use the final product, before putting it into production. These tests can be of different types: moderate tests in person, moderate tests in remote or not moderated in remote.
Before starting the tests it is important to define or answer the following points:

  • What are the business and product objectives that we want to achieve?
  • What is the reason why we need to do the tests?
  • Who are the profiles or people who will use the final product?
  • What are the key parts that we have to try with the tests?
  • What is the cost of performing these tests?

As you answer each of these questions you will solve other related issues such as the number of participants needed (between 5 and 8 participants is the most recommended), and the time needed for each of the sessions (recommended between 30 and 45) minutes).

How to apply it in a digital product

To get to know the product better, we propose to carry out some initial sessions with experts, through a Heuristic Evaluation, where we evaluate and measure the usability, effectiveness, and efficiency of the product through 230 indicators, based mainly on the heuristic principles of Jakob Nielsen and Sirius.

The objective of this heuristic evaluation is to be able to analyze the results, through a checklist of indicators, in a quantitative and qualitative way, locating and categorizing the problems found by priority. This type of evaluation reduces costs because of its speed but it is still a subjective analysis, it helps us to define the keys or insights to carry out the Usability Test, where we can hypothesize about the problems detected, and find solutions according to the expectations of them on.

PRO TIP: involve the development team and QA to define the main tasks or features of the participants and be able to collect their impressions, allows you to align with the team, know the most relevant points from their perspective. When proposing solutions to discovered points, it is a facilitating element to previously know the vision of the whole team.

We define the objectives of each test based on the insights we find in the heuristic evaluation. As well as defining the profiles and the main tasks that the participants needed to perform in the final product.
To get the most out of the Usability Tests, we decided to create some moderate sessions focused on the people who will work with the final product. So we divided the sessions into internal sessions in Emergya Digital with similar profiles to the people who will use the final product and sessions with the end user in the client's facilities.



We started recruiting participants in the first place for the internal sessions, taking into account the client profiles, but also these two key points:

  1. Previous experience in the CMS (Drupal) 
  2. Role or type of user

Once the participants are recruited for each of the sessions, we prepare the tasks to be performed on the stage and the script for each participant. We coordinate the agenda of the sessions and begin the preparations of the sessions, as are the necessary equipment for its realization (meeting rooms, software, camera, etc.); or how is an introduction to welcome and explain the rules of the session. In no case,we are judging the participant if not the digital product.



You never know what can go wrong. The internal sessions help us to fine-tune the following sessions with the people who will use the final product.
PRO TIP: these sessions are essential and the number of participants in these sessions can vary depending on the complexity of the digital product.
As we commented the sessions are moderated so we need to have some questions prepared so that at no time the participant feels 'alone ' and has a negative feeling of the session. These are some of the questions:

  • What do you hope to find on the next page?
  • What are you trying to do? What are you missing in this view?
  • What is your feeling once you get to this view or page? Frustrated, lost, etc.
  • Where are you going?
  • What is the main action of the page?
  • Would you do this task in a different way? How would it be?

PRO TIP: both during the course of the sessions and once the session is over, it is important to know the final sensation of the participant, something that would stand out or what he perceives. It is interesting to collect the feedback in a form after a few hours or a day, in this way the participant can be somewhat less pressured and we can collect more real and detailed feedback.

The Usability Test sessions with the people who are finally going to use the digital product are the final test where we go, nothing should fail, the feedback of these sessions will allow us to define the next steps.



We analyze each of the sessions recorded, both internal and those made with the end user, so it facilitates the analysis by combining the notes we have taken in each of the sessions.
All the points are collected in a spreadsheet, where we check the result quantitatively. These points are shared, as a report of conclusions, with the development team and stakeholders, looking at the problems and priorities to be solved before the production step.
PRO TIP: a view with the development team allows us to see the possible scope of each of the points found and thus be able to deal with them or not, before the production step or later in an evolutionary




When the client, the digital product design and development team check what the needs and expectations of the people who are going to finally use the product, they are closer to producing a successful product. These tests allow us to reach the objectives quickly and at an affordable cost compared to the impact of the decisions that are taken to put a digital product into production.

The sooner you start testing, the sooner you face the problems. A critical usability problem can have a negative impact on your digital product, which is the best of cases will require an iteration of the development team to solve it.

PRO TIP: The tests do not end once you have made the step to production, combines other tools to adjust your product to the needs that are detected.

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