Analyzing Usability Data: How usable is your usability data?

Last Updated February 20, 2014

Software usability testing is great for generating lots of data. If you take that data and feed it back to your developers, you’ll get an improved product, and that’s great. It’s the most important reason for testing.

But if you’re going to invest in testing, then you can, and should, try to get more.

We posted recently about what kinds of information you might want to gather during testing – go here if you’d like to review – but we wanted to follow up to answer the question, “ok, now what do I do with all of this stuff?”

Getting the full potential out of your data when analyzing usability data

First up, you’ll have gathered some numbers. Engineers, researchers, and other data-obsessives will want every glorious detail so that they can slice and dice it for themselves, but with the right presentation, the numbers can have value for other stakeholders as well. Your audience might vary from c-level executives who need a very quick summary, to department managers who might want a more in-depth analysis. By presenting a few key numbers you can give everyone the update they need.

Next, comments. This is where you can begin to get really creative. Comments can be grouped by subject, to give you tons of helpful ideas about one feature. They can be used to graph key terms over time (hopefully “frustrating” goes down and “fun” goes up!). You can try plugging groups of comments into a word cloud to create a nice shareable visual – inspirational wall art for the dev team, maybe?

And of course, don’t forget your marketing team. All of the comments you got from your testers will give them insight into how potential users talk about your product, what they don’t like, and what they care about the most.

Finally, if you have it, leverage your video. You can have it transcribed to glean comments, if that’s relevant. You can also look at several of the same types of interactions back-to-back and make comparisons to help improve a feature or tackle a problem.

Video is also really powerful in internal marketing. We once completed a thousand-person speech recognition software study, which generated hundreds of hours of video. When it was over, we put together a five-minute montage of funny interactions that was easy to share. Not only was it a fun boost for the development team, it got some great attention from other departments as well. Everyone on your team wants to know how people are reacting to the innovative new product your company is releasing, and the impact is that much stronger if you can demonstrate with video.

Collecting your usability data is one thing, but making use of it and presenting it in a useful manner is another. Well-collected data can contain information valuable to many different stakeholders in a company. Exploring all of the options for its usage is worth the time – so make it count, and don’t limit yourself.

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