After working in UX for many years across several companies, I can confidently say this: usability testing is always a fragile issue. Companies expect their product to be exceptional and deliver value to their customers but believe that user experience testing is a time/cost sink.

I’ve heard the claim (countless times) that user experience testing limits and prevents dev teams from pushing new products and features. It always goes like this: “we don’t have between 2-6 weeks to spend on usability testing; we have to release ASAP.”  

Yes, there is a tension between speed and quality that puts pressure on dev teams. However, there’s greater tension when users struggle to navigate your application and churn. If you bypass usability testing, do you know the actual cost to your business and products?

UX issues in production are 3x more expensive than in development

So you’re in a time crunch and skip usability testing and deep UX feedback. You release your product or feature, and days later… boom. Serious pain points are impacting user experience. Users are giving negative feedback, abandoning the app, and ignoring your new feature.  

Now, you need to immediately find the time, money, and talent to investigate issues, target pain points, and improve UX… at a higher cost. IBM found that the cost to correct an error discovered after product release was four to five times higher than if uncovered during the design phase and up to 100 times more expensive than if identified in the maintenance phase.

Beyond the financial drain of wasted dev hours and user churn, are you prepared to risk your reputation for new features without extensive testing? Definitely not. Protect your reputation by using typical users, clear test plans, and partnering with the right software testing partner.

Fast results don’t mean faster iterations

When companies don’t have existing UX Research teams and face limited resources, they often turn toward a usability testing vendor that offers tools to help them recruit users and receive user feedback in a blink of an eye.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Companies struggle to find users and often don’t know how to define and recruit typical users of your product. You need a usability testing vendor who understands the product’s correct audience and typical user and can match users with the specific criteria of the required sample. 

Similarly, the speed of fast feedback does not equal faster releases. Many vendors often only offer a set of videos of users interacting with the prototype or product. Though you may get this feedback immediately, your team will have to

  • create a usability testing plan and testing script
  • listen to at least 5 hours of videos and analyze the information
  • cluster results
  • write a report to share user findings with the rest of the team
  • and make further recommendations for the product.

Doing all this may take a UX professional about 40 hours. If your team has less experience, add more time and frustration. Pick your usability testing vendor wisely, or you’ll find yourself with a set of messy results without reports, recommendations, and a guide to making interactional changes. 

Usability testing leads to better products, every time

I’ve outlined some tricky examples of how skipping usability and UX testing can negatively impact your product, team, and company. So what do you get if you invest in usability testing through a usability testing partner? 

1. Better products: A UX strategy that understands the end-user leads to a product that works better for your intended audience and their needs. 

2. Get to market quickly: Products that take a pure user-centered design approach let the customers decide which route to follow. The involvement of users can be a great way to help make decisions and get the project moving again.

3. Cost-containment: By involving users earlier in the design process, you learn what doesn’t work when it’s the most cost-effective fix. An adjustment to a prototype is much cheaper than a technical fix. UX helps ensure that design issues are discovered and fixed in the design phase, not once products have been launched.

4. Insights: Usability testing uncovers opportunities to differentiate products to gain competitive advantages. Design decisions should be based on evidence, not opinions.

5. Ease-of-use: In user research, users often use terms such as “usability” when describing the qualities they seek from products. Products advertised as easy to use are often the opposite in reality. Think of user pain points like confusing navigation and aesthetically distracting design. UX testing ensures that you can deliver on your claims of usability, remain user-focused, and meet primary users and business goals.

Jumbotron image

Testlio offers moderated usability testing to unlock user insights that transform a good app into a great user experience. Reach out to us to validate your ideas before they go live, or to create continuous improvements to your current products.

Renata Amatore is the Director, User Experience Center of Excellence at Testlio. Usability expert with more than 13 years of experience in user-centered design. Evangelizing companies into defining strategies through a data-driven approach.