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Design for the Mind: Design Thinking and Empathy Testing/Usability Testing

 
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Hi Victor,

Off late I have observed that Usability Testing has become all the more important. Some of the ways Usability is done is to create wireframes and call actual users to tell you their opinion about it. You ask them to do certain task and see how user perceives the design and note down their thoughts, which for us is also Empathy Testing. I want to know how Design Thinking is evolving over the time and how far should one go with Empathy testing? How far can one go?
 
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Hi Palak,

Thank you for the question. I believe usability testing is a critical component of informing design thinking. We have an obligation to understand where our users might struggle with our product. We should proactively attempt to address these areas. Usability testing or empathy testing as you have described it is one of the best ways to collect data on these areas. I engage in usability testing as a regular part of my job. I advocate inserting usability testing from the beginning and throughout the product development cycle. You can test anything from wireframes as you mention, to a live product.

How far should one go? That is very subjective. I think you will find value in testing with at least 6 and up to 10 users around a specific set of tasks. You will identify most of the major usability issues. The goal is to try to continually refine the product to the point where only the extreme cases might cause people to struggle. Limitations of time, budget, and technology will always be an issue. My approach to usability testing is do it early and do it often. Make updates based on the feedback. Test again when you have more features or flows developed.

Oh, and try to get a diverse range of users in terms of their expertise and how they might use your product.

How have you used usability/empathy testing in your practice?

Victor
 
Palak Mathur
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Victor Yocco wrote:Hi Palak,

Thank you for the question. I believe usability testing is a critical component of informing design thinking. We have an obligation to understand where our users might struggle with our product. We should proactively attempt to address these areas. Usability testing or empathy testing as you have described it is one of the best ways to collect data on these areas. I engage in usability testing as a regular part of my job. I advocate inserting usability testing from the beginning and throughout the product development cycle. You can test anything from wireframes as you mention, to a live product.

How far should one go? That is very subjective. I think you will find value in testing with at least 6 and up to 10 users around a specific set of tasks. You will identify most of the major usability issues. The goal is to try to continually refine the product to the point where only the extreme cases might cause people to struggle. Limitations of time, budget, and technology will always be an issue. My approach to usability testing is do it early and do it often. Make updates based on the feedback. Test again when you have more features or flows developed.

Oh, and try to get a diverse range of users in terms of their expertise and how they might use your product.

How have you used usability/empathy testing in your practice?

Victor




We call users from different age groups, gender and economic background. And show them our wireframe. Ask them to carry out certain tasks and ask questions related to same to know their perception of how easy to use the application is. Then we do analysis on the data, update the UI and continue unless finalized the design. The process takes several weeks with different set of people and we pay them for their time. It is easy for my company to pay. However, not so easy for, say, if someone starts a new company.
 
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