Usability Testing: The Secret to Software Success

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Getting the green light to create new software can be a dizzying high, with the magnitude of the project and the questions surrounding your users bringing you back down to earth. Few have been here before, and fewer still will succeed at this task. User testing should be the anchor in which you centre your project around, continuing to test and learn until you have an offering that the market needs. If you’re new to being on this end of a project, here is how you can achieve software success by using this user testing.

Use an agency or team known for driving effective usability testing

Chances are you haven’t faced a project of this magnitude before and you might not again. That’s why engaging an agency that is specifically trained to plug into your idea or concept and test its feasibility with your market is a great idea. They conduct this usability testing through a number of platforms and methodologies, touching base and informing you of the findings with great frequency. Essentially, they test as if it is a science. If you anticipate that you will design more software in the future, use an agency and see how they conduct their research and try to replicate this work on the next project. You only have one chance at launching, so don’t have any reservations about whether your market will embrace it or not, and operate with a greater understanding of who and how your audience interacts.

Understand what your competitor’s software is, and how you measure up

It’s never a good idea to keep too close of an eye on your competitors, as there will come a time where you or they do something radical and it will fill you with doubt – “should we be doing this, why aren’t they doing what we’re going?” That being said, in the usability testing phase, get to know who your competitors are and why your potential customers are drawn to them. Perhaps its the easy format in which they engage, or it could be the sleek design elements that have attracted their following. Find out and plot all this data into a central place, and review it from time to time to ensure that you are producing something that is adjacent enough to a successful, existing platform, but different enough to drive intrigue and followers.

Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board

No one is denying the frustration of abandoning a concept and starting fresh, but this is what you have to be prepared to do if you want to be a successful product owner and roll out a software that people actually use. If you are being rigorous with your testing, then you should be able to anticipate when you are starting to veer off course, so don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and start fresh. You can further mitigate this by surrounding yourself with a team of unbiased stakeholders who are not likely to fall victim to GroupThink and the consequences that come with that mentality.

It’s not surprising that we wait many years for new software to drop when the process is so nuanced and meticulous. Slack, Outlook and PhotoShop did not appear overnight, and they continue to improve as the years go on. You have to remember that your assumptions and thoughts are your customers and users should still be tested through a range of usability tests. An ineffective software that does not meet your user’s needs is a failed project. So, what are you going to bring to the market, and how do you know it is going to land on fertile ground?