User Acceptance Testing (or Usability Testing) is a crucial step in any software or website development project, as it provides an opportunity to test with people who will be using the site or platform regularly, to ensure that the end product works for the intended user (i.e. can they easily find what they are looking for? Are there any bugs or issues that impact on the user experience? etc.). This is usually conducted within the final stages of a development project, before the platform or website is launched to the market.
Depending on research goals, scope of the research, or budget requirements, User Acceptance Testing can be conducted in different ways using different methodologies. Depending on what is being tested and what questions need to be answered, User Acceptance Testing may involve:
- Card Sorting Exercises – this requires users to sort a list of topics into relevant categories or groupings. This process can help define the user’s mental map of a website and can contribute to an information architecture that users will find useful.
- Greeking – this method replaces the text on the page with Greek characters. Users are then asked to locate various types of information on the page (i.e. title, contact details, navigation items etc.). Without the content to help them, they must rely on layout alone.
- Cognitive Walkthroughs – users are asked to perform certain tasks while talking aloud as they try to complete them. This can help to identify the users thought patterns and any problems they encounter.
- A/B Testing or Multivariate Testing – this involves comparing a control sample against a variety of other samples in order to gauge response rates. A/B Testing compares the control against single-variable samples, where Multivariate Testing can test against many variables in the samples.
- Eye and Mouse Tracking – this is a useful tool that can track what a user is looking at while navigating through a website. This can be extremely effective in highlighting the most-looked-at parts of a website to identify where to place important information.
- Information Architecture Analysis – evaluates the ability for users to locate topics within a navigation system. This provides insight into how content can best be structured and categorised, to enhance website navigation and ease of use.
- Qualitative Concept Reviews – this requires users to provide feedback and comments on a website, page, or elements within a page. This research method is highly effective for analysing user perceptions of new website designs, to ensure the design is representing the desired brand image.