At last month’s Abila User and Developer Conference (AUDC 2016), the Abila Usability Team conducted usability studies covering six products in 10 different product areas.

We hosted 86 test subjects from 55 different organizations who worked in multiple focus groups to offer up 199 product recommendations to enhance our products.

That’s the story “by the numbers,” but the benefits of conducting usability tests go way deeper. They give you a forum to communicate with clients about the software being tested, identify client needs early in the development process, provide clients a window into new features being developed, and return client feedback to software developers to help guide how future code may be written.

Now that the data has been collected, how does the process of quantifying the quality of the user experience begin? That is, how do we apply a standard of measurement to determine, express, or measure the quantity of how good or bad something is? Sometimes, the most subtle change can have a dramatically positive effect on the user’s impression of the software. These changes can be prioritized with a closer examination of the product recommendations collected from the focus groups.

Consider if a majority of test subjects provide feedback on a specific piece of the user interface (UI). For example, a significant number of participants in a usability study may report that a help icon on a screen is small and easily overlooked. This specific piece of user feedback can now be communicated as a product enhancement recommendation to the software developers in R&D. This may also be a relatively quick update providing an immediate increase in customer satisfaction.

Another example might be if all test subjects were unable to successfully complete a given task. This may be because the UI elements naming was unclear to participants and they simply couldn’t figure out what steps in the workflow were required to complete the task. Again, a relatively quick update could provide an immediate solution to the problem of user error.

Of course, there may be times when what the client wants may not be what they really need: such as providing more word processing features in an accounting software program. Or, what the client wants exceeds the limits of currently technology: such as a software product that intuitively teleports the user to a safe haven as the boss approaches with a pile of paperwork. It’s up to the software development team to decide what the priorities of any user-provided recommendations are.

To see the latest usability activities under way by the Abila Usability Team, be sure to check out the Abila Usability webpage for the latest survey and usability plans. Ultimately, the primary objective of usability metrics is to provide an ongoing and better user experience for our software clients.