User experience (UX) has evolved dramatically over the years and only started gaining traction when computers and interface design became more sophisticated. With every technological step forward, testing has become even more important and now exists at every level of design and software development.
There is quite a difference between the original idea and the modern concept of usability but in our need to build an increasingly interactive world at a neck-breaking speed, is automation the future of UX testing?
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of automation and key steps to take towards an automated user testing process as a method of testing UX.
What is automated UX testing?
Automation is when a process can be performed with minimal human help. This technology has revolutionised industries and plays an increasingly intrinsic role in the complex products we create and use. There are some great opportunities for automation to play in the future of UX design.
User testing software can be used to automate your research process, particularly when you’re working with remote participants. There are several reasons why you might want to go through usability testing, with the most common is that it allows the design team to identify problems in a user experience they are designing, so that it can be addressed before being built or deployed. User testing software helps you connect with users, automatically gathers data and displays who hit their goals or where users struggled, allowing you to build better products for happier customers.
The benefits of automating your UX testing
When done correctly, automated UX testing can have many advantages and can be very beneficial to both the end-user and your business.
- Resource saving: Manual testing requires more people and more time. Automated testing reduces the need for both of these valuable resources. Although the setup time can initially take longer, automated tests can be run virtually unattended, leaving the results to be monitored towards the end of the process. Allowing designers and developers to work on other parts of the project.
- Cost reducing: It is no surprise that, while the initial investment may be on the higher side, automated testing saves companies quite a few pennies. Catching bugs early contributes to a higher quality of work and decreases the number of issues needing to be fixed after release, overall reducing project costs.
- Higher overall test coverage: At any one point of the process there could be a huge number of test case variations. Automated testing would make it easier to test more scenarios including multiple operating systems, browsers, mobile devices, screen resolutions, connection speeds as well as various user behaviour scenarios.
- Performance testing: To accurately perform stress tests and performances there is really no manual alternative. Automated tests can simulate hundreds, if not thousands, of virtual users, simultaneously, that is before you let the real ones in. Making sure that your application is durable and shortening your development cycles.
- Return on investment (ROI) of design: Perhaps the most promising aspect of the automated UX testing process is that it adds value to all of the stakeholders involved. It can directly contribute to the increase in productivity and leading to maximising profits. Advantages such as these can make all the difference to companies of any size as they strive to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.
Where do I start?
Here are some top tips to ensure that your automated user testing is successful and you get the maximum ROI:
- Look at your current process
Take the time to identify how your UX team works, analyse whether their toolkit can be optimised and whether their projects are clearly connected to business goals.
- Connect user testing to business goals
Companies should clearly define core business KPIs, which will ultimately help you decide how automated user testing can help achieve them. If user testing isn’t strategically planned and conducted continuously on a single platform to facilitate data analysis, there is no way a company can save time, manage budgets or improve their ROI through testing.
- Find the right tool
Every team has different needs so not every tool will work for everyone. Investing in user testing software with automated processes, such as gathering quantitative and qualitative user data, filtering through results early and allowing your teams to easily export and share findings in-house, would allow you to broaden your test horizons in more creative and innovative solutions in an agile way.
- Sharing new findings
After all those previous steps, the last challenge is to share the benefits of the new process and tool with others. When the organization as a whole understands the benefits of agile UX testing then the true potential of automated processes can be fully taken advantage of. Teams are able to reconnect with end-users at all stages of development, optimising the internal flow of information, communication and iteration.
Automation is on the design horizon
As more complex processes become automated, having a clear understanding of where your project stands against your business goals will help to incorporate these new user testing techniques into your development processes and workflow.
Engaging with end-users and in-house teams alike will give your team the ability to gather user feedback faster and validate ideas quicker. At the end of the day, communication is key and the future of UX design will surely involve automation.