Among the various aspects of a product that grasp the attention of the users, usability is the most important one, which can either make or break the product. Whether it is a B2B website or a software application, it is necessary for them to offer hassle-free usability to increase user engagement. Usability testing and its various types come to the rescue of software testers and help them maintain this requirement of usability.
Among the various software tests performed on the software, usability testing is an important one. It acts as a quality attribute, which allows developers to determine the quality as well as the ease of accessing the user interface.
As defined by Wikipedia“usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users.” It is an effective way of testing the product, as it offers direct input on how real users use the system. Moreover, by performing usability test, developers can rectify various issues associated with the product's usability and satisfy user requirements while offering them hassle-free user experience.
Usability testing can further be performed with the assistance of various methods like:
A common usability testing method, hallway testing, is popular among software developers and testers, as it allows them to gain valuable insight into the product and identify various usability problems that impact the user's experience.
It is a simple and cost-effective test that does not require excessive resources to execute the test and get effective outputs. Hallway testing enables developers to get constructive feedback about the various components of the software and identify issues like the design flaw, unclear UI, and more.
Features of Hallway Testing:
The idea behind hallway usability testing was to find an effective alternative to the usual method of software testing, which involved hiring trained or certified personnel. Hallway testing achieved this by allowing real-time users to test the product while simultaneously being cost effective. Other features that define hallway testing are:
These tests are conducted using no more than five respondents, as defined by Jacob Nielson of Nielson Norman Group.
Developers run it as many times as possible, as having a larger body of data from multiple tests allows them to have more definitive answers to their queries regarding the information of the application’s architecture, task flow, and user needs.
It is a simple, cheap and effective software testing technique.
Helps to get an insight into the software’s interface and design.
Identifies various usability issues and allows developers to rectify them immediately.
Allows developers to get users feedback, which helps improve the software quality and usability.
Steps Involved in Hallway Testing:
The process of hallway testing is performed by a group of randomly selected individuals, who are unaware of the product and its interface. The users selected are anyone who passes by in the hallway of an office or individuals from a high foot traffic area. These users test the application thoroughly for few minutes and verify its usability.
Hence, the steps involved in the hallway testing are:
Plan & Set a Goal: During this stage, the team identifies the goal of testing, which helps them identify the factors that confuse the user while simultaneously accumulating necessary materials, identifying the steps to be taken, creating a script to avoid confusion, etc.
Find the Right Location: The focus in this stage is on the location of the test. As hallway test requires random people, with no technical knowledge about the product, it is important to select a location that has several people passing through it, at any given time while making sure that it is not conducted at an inconvenient hour or during a major event.
Identify & Select Respondents: Once a location is selected, the team filters and selects the respondents/participants that match the target audience. For example, an application developed for middle-aged men will be tested by men of the same age.
Explain the Purpose: The goal during this stage is to give information regarding the product to the testers/participants. From offering the technical details to defining the purpose of the test, everything is informed to the tester to help them avoid miscommunication and confusion and to simplify the testing process.
Rectify Issues & Test Again: Finally, the errors encountered by the users during the test are reviewed and rectified. Furthermore, the team executes the hallway test again to identify any other undetected usability errors.
Advantages of Hallway Testing:
Hallway testing is performed several times to ensure the accuracy of the software, as it allows developers to get effective results regarding the usability of the product. It is a type of test that offers users as well as developers numerous advantages, some of which are listed below:
It helps improve user experience while reducing failures associated with the ambiguity and usability of the product.
Helps fix the products design iterations faster and at a reasonable price.
Does not require excessive resources.
Can be performed without major planning.
Does not require any in-depth knowledge of the software and its interface.
Does not require extreme testing cost and time.
Tips for Performing Hallway Testing:
While conducting a software test, it is crucial for developers as well as testers to consider some important aspects or adopt some practices that can simplify the process for them and allow them to get expected results without any trouble. Similarly, while conducting hallway testing the team of developers should ensure few points, which can make the process effortless for them as well as the individuals involved in the testing process.These tips/points are:
To ensure that the process of hallway testing is accomplished without any hindrance, the team should plan the test and develop a checklist that can help them with the entire process. This not only ensures the accuracy of testing but also helps users perform the test.
Set Up Early:
The process of hallway testing can be quite tiresome if everything is done at the last moment. Therefore, the team should allow themselves some time to set up the test and testers to get situated, which will make the process relaxing and allow them to take the necessary steps whenever required.
The need for efficient greeters is significant in hallway testing as they play an extremely crucial role in the process. The greeters are responsible for identifying and recruiting the test participants as well as in explaining them the purpose of the test. These are usually a group of outgoing and determined individuals, with good communication skills.
Be Mindful of Time:
While conducting hallway testing, the team should consider the time of the volunteers and participants. A single hallway test should not be more than 15 minutes, as it can impact the schedule of the participant.
Reward the Volunteers:
Offering the volunteers small rewards or a note of appreciation is always encouraged, as they are spending their precious time helping you in your research. Chocolates, flowers, pens, etc. are some small rewards offered to the volunteers and participants in the exchange of their kindness.
Debrief After Test:
While continuously running the test, it is important to debrief the observer after every test, to ensure that the issues and difficulties recorded by them are not missed out, and all the necessary details regarding the usability of the product are reported accurately.
Look to Improve:
While performing a process of hallway testing, there is always a scope of improvement. Therefore, review the process to further improve the test, which can be accomplished during team debriefing sessions and while brainstorming ideas.
As believed by experts, hallway testing helps developers reveal up to 95% of usability issues in the interface of the product by getting the developed product tested by the individuals passing by the hallway of an office. With its assistance, developers get users perspective and feedback, which helps them improve the usability of the software as well as its quality and performance.
Hence, invest in hallway testing and ensure that your software or website UI offers a remarkable user experience (UX).