min read

Why UX testing is a vital part of design

Just as a budding chef asks you to try their latest creation, or your playwright friend trials their new monologue on you before it graces the stage, testing with a smaller audience is a vital part of launching any new product. Therefore, it tracks that the most diligent of designers test out their digital products with users before they’re sent to market.

This helps to identify and iron out any problems that have been overlooked in the design process, and provides invaluable feedback to digital product creators to help improve their work. Naturally, it’s an integral part of our creative process at Shoreditch Design.

But how do you perform user experience (UX) testing? And why is it so important? Here, we’ll unpack the routine and rationale behind Shoreditch Design’s rigorous UX testing.

What is UX testing?

First off, let’s talk about what UX testing actually is. In short, UX design testing makes up a vital part of the UX research process. Designers conduct UX testing by implementing various methods to evaluate the usability of their digital products. Typically, this will involve observing and assessing users as they interact with certain components of an app or website, or a fully-fledged prototype of the service.

The best kind of UX testing simulates real-world use cases with the product’s target audience. From here, designers can leverage the insights gained to make adjustments to a product’s UX and improve its functionality.

When should you conduct UX testing?

This is a bit of a trick question. The truth is, UX testing should be conducted throughout the entire design and development cycle. It should be both iterative and ongoing, phasing between different methods of assessment and testing for each new feature or design tweak introduced to a platform once it goes live.

This ensures that each stage of your development cycle and all important decision-making is based on informative user data and feedback.

For example, one common UX testing strategy is A/B testing. This method involves creating multiple variations of a design concept and introducing each version to a different user group. Once we’ve observed how users respond to either iteration, we can analyse their interactions and deduce preferences. Then, our designers are able to identify exactly which design components or features resonate best with the target audience.

We use this data-driven approach to inform subsequent design iterations and even provide a roadmap for future features to be introduced, enhancing overall user experience based on empirical evidence.

Why is UX testing important?

Any designer worth their salt will tell you the value of UX testing in their design process. The overarching reason is that they spend hours upon hours researching, drafting and developing their designs, but if they don’t know how users will actually interact with them, the product might never take off. So, what is it about UX testing that improves design work?

These are some of the key reasons why we embed UX testing at the heart of our creative process at Shoreditch Design.

Fosters a user-centred approach

UX testing places the products that our designers make in the hands of real users, allowing direct insights into how these apps, websites and other services will be used upon their launch. Because a design's success hinges on its ability to cater to user needs and preferences, discovering and addressing points of friction in their journey will help to improve the final experience and create products that resonate.

By implementing techniques such as usability testing, where participants are observed while navigating the design of a product, designers gain valuable feedback on the success of the interface or any functionality that users find particularly engaging. This info allows designers to align their creative decisions with user behaviour and deliver satisfying experiences.

Supports ease of use and accessibility

When a product becomes a runaway success, its user base expands beyond just one target persona. Nowadays, digital products are used by a wide variety of people each possessing diverse backgrounds and differing levels of technology know-how, including those with disabilities. By engaging with UX testing, designers can ensure that the interfaces and experiences they create are both user-friendly and inclusive.

UX testing helps designers accommodate their various user profiles by revealing the nuances of how different participants interact with products. For example, they might observe how people with visual, auditory, motor or cognitive impairments use and navigate a prototype, and whether changes need to be made to adhere to accessibility standards. Accessibility testing typically involves evaluating factors such as screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, colour contrast, and more.

Informs future strategy

Iterative UX testing identifies usability issues that might have been overlooked at each stage of the design process. Identifying bugs and other obstacles as they present themselves helps our designers to minimise the time wasted on non-intuitive features. Plus, it benefits our clients in the long run, when they can launch a fault-free and seamless product.

The reality is, even the most laboriously considered design concepts could conceal unexpected usability issues that undermine user adoption. UX testing is a proactive approach to uncovering these flaws before they reach the end-users, and can shine a light on the next steps designers need to take to remove any friction.

How to perform UX testing

All in all, UX testing is a crucial step in the UX design process. But while it’s all well and good discussing how helpful it is, how do you test your UI and UX design?

Let’s unpack some of the key strategies implemented by our designers.

1. Create a dialogue with users

Many of our techniques have the aim of getting to know a client’s business — and by extension, their customers. In-depth user research is the foundation of UX testing. It involves gathering insights into user behaviours, needs, and goals. Methods such as focus groups, interviews, demographic research and surveys help our designers to empathise with the target user base and create products and experiences that align with their requirements.

When we worked on a UI/UX revamp with tech brand Sport Buff, for example, we aimed to increase the platform’s client portfolio and user base. But first, we had to get to know the ins and outs of what Sport Buff users were looking for from the app,

When researching, we conducted extensive preliminary interviews and user testing that would inform all subsequent stages of design and dev. Soon enough, we built an intuitive white-label UI system that facilitated easy scaling of the Sport Buff product.

2. Conduct usability tests

The centrepiece of most UX research processes is usability testing. This is the fun bit. During this stage, we go out into the wild to observe and assess how our platforms are used by the target audience, using prototype versions of our creations. This often involves techniques such as:

  • Guerilla observations
  • Card sorting tasks
  • Session recordings
  • First-click testing
  • Heatmaps

The information gained from these techniques helps to build out our understanding of how users feel, think and behave when using our products, even in their early iterations. From these lessons, we can action plans to adjust certain features or visual components that are causing problems for users.

Explicit, in-depth user testing is paramount when dealing with new products and markets that aren’t yet completely understood by the public. So, when we partnered with crypto wallet brand Zeal to streamline their feature set, we conducted plenty of iterative usability testing.

Over time, we assessed the functionality and accessibility of each feature that separated Zeal from other Web3 wallet solutions. As a pioneer in their space, it was vital that the functionality offered by Zeal set the bar and set it high. Now, the features added to transaction processing and more will change the game for Web3 wallets — all thanks to good UX testing.

Partner with Shoreditch Design for effective UX testing

UX testing is a complicated part of the UX research process and a linchpin for truly exceptional user experiences. It can be challenging to run a successful UX testing cycle parallel to design and development, but if you want the best result for your digital product, it’s a non-negotiable.

From uncovering usability issues to tailoring designs for diverse users, Shoreditch Design can help you to fully harness the benefits of UX testing. Along with our decades of design experience, we bring the resources, connections and passion that it takes to oversee an iron-clad UX testing process.

To get started, get in touch with a member of the team and we’ll have a chat about your design needs. Or, if you’re still not convinced, take a look at some more of our past work producing show-stopping user experiences.

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