Optimizing Usability Testing with Collaborative Method in an E-Commerce Ecosystem
Authors: Markandeya Kunchi
Usability testing (UT) is one of the vital steps in the User-centred design (UCD) process when designing a product. In an e-commerce ecosystem, UT becomes primary as new products, features, and services are launched very frequently. And, there are losses attached to the company if an unusable and inefficient product is put out to market and is rejected by customers. This paper tries to answer why UT is important in the product life-cycle of an E-commerce ecosystem. Secondary user research was conducted to find out work patterns, development methods, type of stakeholders, and technology constraints, etc. of a typical E-commerce company. Qualitative user interviews were conducted with product managers and designers to find out the structure, project planning, product management method and role of the design team in a mid-level company. The paper tries to address the usual apprehensions of the company to inculcate UT within the team. As well, it stresses upon factors like monetary resources, lack of usability expert, narrow timelines, and lack of understanding of higher management as some primary reasons. Outsourcing UT to vendors is also very prevalent with mid-level e-commerce companies, but it has its own severe repercussions like very little team involvement, huge cost, misinterpretation of the findings, elongated timelines, and lack of empathy towards the customer, etc. The shortfalls of the unavailability of a UT process in place within the team and conducting UT through vendors are bad user experiences for customers while interacting with the product, badly designed products which are neither useful and nor utilitarian. As a result, companies see dipping conversions rates in apps and websites, huge bounce rates and increased uninstall rates. Thus, there was a need for a more lean UT system in place which could solve all these issues for the company. This paper highlights on optimizing the UT process with a collaborative method. The degree of optimization and structure of collaborative method is the highlight of this paper. Collaborative method of UT is one in which the centralised design team of the company takes for conducting and analysing the UT. The UT is usually a formative kind where designers take findings into account and uses in the ideation process. The success of collaborative method of UT is due to its ability to sync with the product management method employed by the company or team. The collaborative methods focus on engaging various teams (design, marketing, product, administration, IT, etc.) each with its own defined roles and responsibility in conducting a smooth UT with users In-house. The paper finally highlights the positive results of collaborative UT method after conducting more than 100 In-lab interviews with users across the different lines of businesses. Some of which are the improvement of interaction between stakeholders and the design team, empathy towards users, improved design iteration, better sanity check of design solutions, optimization of time and money, effective and efficient design solution. The future scope of collaborative UT is to make this method leaner, by reducing the number of days to complete the entire project starting from planning between teams to publishing the UT report.
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