Usability testing is the best way to gain a better understanding of how your learners (also known as “users”) interact with your e-learning course materials. During testing users are asked to complete simple tasks while being observed and often recorded. User testing can be done in-person or remotely, and when well designed, it will provide you with some great benefits.
When you make usability testing part of your e-learning development process, you will be able to:
1. Save money.
Development costs can add up quickly and when you can see how your users are interacting with your lesson, you can ward off potential mistakes. For example, you can remove items that your users do not care about, and you can fix areas that confuse them, such as navigation issues and other functionality issues that may frustrate them. Understanding what the learner experiences allows you to focus development time and money on what is most important to them, and will improve your learning outcomes.
2. See where your learners get stuck.
When a button, link or any other interaction item fails to work properly, it can frustrate the user. Vague instructions can also create problems. You may think you have accounted for all the possible issues, and you may think you know exactly how the learner will interact with your course module, but chances are you have made some mistakes and the learner will find them. Usability testing will help highlight what you have missed and allow you to fix them before they become a major problem.
3. Get an unbiased perspective.
It is hard to take a step back and view things with fresh eyes, especially after we have spent so much time working on a project. Even our own teams will harbor certain biases when reviewing, quality controlling and testing our course modules. But we have to keep in mind who we are creating for, and we have to be able to view things through the learner’s eyes in order to create anything of value. Usability testing allows you to see what the learner sees and experience what they experience. So you can make your e-learning course better.
4. Improve user experience and increase learning outcomes.
The goal is to engage the learner, provide them with the material they need to learn, and ensure they complete the lesson. You may have great intentions but if you are not providing value and making it easy for the learner to access and interact with the course material, then all your hard work is out the door. Usability testing can help you see barriers to success such as poor navigation, improper branching, interaction issues, unclear content, etc. so you can fix them and make the user experience as easy as possible for them. It is also important to make sure you are testing on multiple devices, and that you get a proper user sample to ensure you are not missing anything.
5. Lower support costs.
When you make it easy, and when you provide the learner the ability to self-solve problems during the lesson, you can lower your support costs and decrease learner frustration. Review your most frequently asked questions and most frequently encountered support requests. Fix them immediately so they are not longer support issues, and if it something the learner can address, make sure you have resources or a knowledge base that they can access anytime throughout the module. Make sure the information is always up to date and easy to find.
Keep in mind, building an e-learning course right the first time, can save you significant time and money in the long run. Not to mention help ensure your learning outcomes are met. Usability testing does not have to be complicated, and it should be a standard part of your e-learning development process. Remember to test often, and make sure you are delivering the best user experience possible.