When software development was young, everyone built their programs first and tested them later. Now that software has been around for a while, it’s been decisively proven that it is better to test with users throughout the development process. If you’re still hesitant to go through with user testing, remember that user testing saves you money by allowing you to fix a product earlier in development, helps you to know exactly what your potential users want out of your product, and changes the way you’ll approach designs in the future.
Fixing a product before it’s been built is always cheaper than fixing it after it’s already been developed and released. However, without user testing, you are much more likely to miss items that need to be fixed until the product has already been released and customers are actively using it. User testing will cost you some money upfront, but even with this added expense, it is still much less expensive than going back to redesign and rebuild a part of your software because no one caught the error.
User testing also helps you invest your money in the right places during product development. If you spend a lot of capital on a feature that you think will be really effective, but users don’t like it or don’t use it, then that capital is ultimately wasted. Conversely, your design team could think a certain feature isn’t necessary and so budget very little resources to develop it, only to realize upon release that customers really want that feature, necessitating spending more money later to fully develop and support that feature. User testing would have made both those scenarios improbable because your test groups would have shown you the disinterest or desire of future customers.
Know Your Users
While doing product development, user testing is a great way to collect as much information on your potential users as possible so you will be able to build a product that customers will not only use, but enjoy using. If customers get stuck while using your product, they tend to get frustrated. Frustration leads to annoyance, which can lead to the customer switching to a competitor’s product so they can avoid the issues presented by your software. User testing is absolutely essential to understanding what users are experiencing when using your product and how you can make the process easier for them.
Through user testing, you can discover what exactly is frustrating users and where they are getting stuck. Metrics gathered after the product is released might be able to tell you how many conversions you are getting compared to clicks on your site, but that information isn’t enough to tell you exactly what part of your design is stopping potential customers from becoming customers. User testing provides detailed insights into why your customers are doing what they’re doing. It allows you to see what the exact sticking points are for your users and to respond accordingly. User testing also helps you to reduce the need for customer support once the product is released by finding trouble points before customers begin to use the product.
Change Your Approach to Design
Employing user testing allows you to change the way you approach design. Again, one of the biggest advantages of user testing is the fact that it saves you from having to go back and fix issues once the product is complete. It shows you those issues that might be hard to detect in a controlled design environment, like unexpected user behavior, features that are used in a different way than intended, and confusing navigation pathways. All these issues and more can be overlooked by even the most experienced design teams because they know the design intimately, unlike users who are brand new to the product. Luckily, user testing exists to point out those flaws that can sneak past your design team.
User testing saves you time later in the development process because you don’t have to detangle the problem from the rest of the code. It stops late stage problems from completely derailing a project while they are isolated from the rest of the project and solved. By avoiding those late stage problems, you are one step closer to finishing the project on time, without the panic or frustration that comes from realizing there’s a hard-to-solve problem looming between you and a successful project. User testing allows you to complete the hardest parts of designing a new product early in the process of design, which will ultimately save you time on a project.
User testing is invaluable. It will save you money in the long run by helping you avoid costly errors. It will help you know what your users want and what confuses them. It will change the way you approach design by making more of the work front loaded so you don’t waste time and resources fixing it later. If you aren’t user testing yet, start today.