The user-centred design concept puts the user and their needs first – the development process then builds on this, and not the other way round. Usability is: user first, then the process, and then the software. What a UX designer does is to foreground the human part of a software.
In order to find out what exactly the users‘ needs are, we also involve our customers in tests.
The usability test itself is only one part, albeit a big and important one, but still only a part. If a customer approaches us with a request, e. g. for a new time-tracking tool, I conduct an interview with the users at first. I do this to collect information: What do they need? How do they work? What is the general context, and what is their work cycle? Once I have all these data, I start on the specific use cases. And only then do we carry out the usability tests.
How do you conduct such a usability test?
We simulate the real tasks of a user with the software which allows us to see what exactly the users do with it. I am present during this test to ask questions, to observe the test and, if necessary, to support the user. As every user has their own way of working, the answers in such a test can be a bit subjective. This is why I prepare a script prior to the test. I ask the users solely about their experience, not about their wishes. The way the questions are asked must be objective: “What are you looking at right now? What do you see? What are you looking for on a page? Where do you need to navigate?“ You have to be really strict with yourself about not asking any leading questions, such as, “Do you think it could be better that way …?” That does not work, and it will mess up your entire test.
“Opinions and assumptions are dangerous and should not be treated as truths by a UX designer.”