Our software usability testing service

Usability testing is a powerful way of finding out what really gets in the way of users making the most of your software. Usability testing techniques are very similar for web sites and software applications. There are often big differences in the complexity of the system, though, as well as the goals from testing and the development processes that testing needs to fit with. This complexity means the approach to planning, running, and reporting on tests needs to be specifically designed for software.

3di Software Usability are experts in software usability - we're not website usability specialists with a secondary interest in software user experience - so we understand the demands of developing usable software.

Below are answers to some of the questions people ask us about software usability testing; if you'd like to know more please get in touch.

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How we do software usability testing

We generally run usability testing remotely, which gives useful insight whilst offering flexibility and cost-savings - when compared with lab-based testing. We can run a one-off batch of usability tests or usability evaluation, or we can partner with your development team to build usability testing into your product design and development processes.

software usability test set-up

Read our guide to usability testing for full information about how 3di Software Usability plan, run, and report on usability tests.

download usability testing PDF

What are the costs?

Costs depend on the scale and complexity of your software, as well as the level of reporting and advice you require. Once we understand the problems you're trying to solve, we put together a pick-list of services suited to your requirements, and you can decide for yourself which you need.

Usability evaluations can take just a few days; development partnerships typically involve a low level of regular involvement over several weeks or months. Get in touch to discuss what testing and reporting would be most suitable for you, and after a short chat we'll be able to give you a realistic idea of budgets.

If you're new to including usability or user experience in your development processes, you probably aren't sure yet how much testing you need or what reporting will suit you. Our usability evaluation starter package is designed as your first step - providing a usability evaluation that you can build on or streamline as you become more familiar with your usability needs. Prices for the package start at 1450 (+ vat) for a set of usability tests, a report on issues discovered, recommendations for improving usability, and full access to the videos of the usability tests.

ask about usability evaluation starter package

Why do software companies do usability testing?

Reasons for usability testing vary. Software companies in many sectors are finding that user experience is becoming an important differentiating factor; other businesses are finding that poor user experience is costing them money in supporting users. Whatever the reason for improving software usability, usability testing makes an excellent first step: it is relatively inexpensive, brings user-insight direct to development teams, and not only highlights issues but also provides insight into how to solve them.

Here are some of the goals that software companies have from usability testing:

  • ability to complete key tasks
  • terminology understanding
  • general usability health-check
  • investigate specific troublespots
  • error recovery
  • visibility of features
  • "pleasure" of experience
  • ability to install/upgrade
  • integration with training or help systems (e.g. does use of training materials improve ability to make use of the application?)
  • speed of task completion
  • ability to find help

Can you evaluate software usability without involving real users?

Yes, we can perform cognitive walkthroughs and heuristic evaluations, both of which can be done without needing to involve users. However, we don't recommend this as a first step in improving usability. This is because usabilty is about making sure that a specific type of users can make use of your software, so it's often difficult to make reliable guesses about your particular set of users' behaviours and expectations without seeing them in action.

We also find that until development teams have seen real users interacting with their software - in videos made during usability tests - they often find it difficult to understand how the usability issues we identify with these heuristic methods impact on users, which can make it difficult for teams to act in response to our findings.

While this means it's difficult for us to look at your UI and tell you where your users will get stuck and what to do about it, we can advise on common troublespots and good practices that can help you avoid them. From seeing issues that arise in a wide range of usability tests, we've compiled a list of of areas it can be useful to focus on before involving users.

Download our 10 tips for improving software usability (PDF)

What do usability test results look like?

We always provide videos of any usability tests we run; showing text input, mouse movements and including an audio commentary by the test participant. Beyond that it really depends on your needs: we want you to be able to make use of our findings, but we don't want you to pay for reports which aren't useful to you. Some clients prefer to watch the videos and draw their own conclusions about the issues and how to address them, but most prefer us to deliver a report summarising what we find during testing and our recommendations for addressing any issues.

Some of the reports you can select from:

  • Video of all usability tests or interviews, showing screen activity, text input, mouse movements, and including audio commentary by the test participant (provided with all usability evaluation packages)
  • Summary of usability pain-points
  • "Highlights" video focusing on test participant's activity around usability pain-points
  • Recommendations and suggested fixes for addressing usability issues
  • Recommendations for general user experience improvements
  • Summary of areas where users need additional help or training materials

Watch a usability test in action

show video of usability test

"Seeing our users in action and realising how wrong some of our assumptions had been was hugely beneficial"

Download our usability testing guide

download usability testing guide (PDF)

Book your usability evaluation today

from 1450 + vat contact form