5 reasons why your first user research activity should be a usability test

Design teams maintain a backlog of technical work that they want to complete and when this gets overly long you’ll find someone adds ‘simple to use’ to the list. But ‘simple’ isn’t a feature. You can’t build ‘simple’ into a product. You have to weed complexity out. To achieve this, you must identify the key tasks — the product’s red routes — and maintain a laser focus on these during development. Few development teams have this focus because their development process is geared towards coding discrete functions and features, not towards the tasks that users carry out. You can’t run a usability test by asking people to play with a feature: instead, you need to ask them to carry out tasks that require the use of several features and functions. By asking the team to identify the key tasks, you’ll go someway to turning the development process on its head and making it more user centred.

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