Joe Dawson

Joe is the director of Creative.onl and oversees all of the design and technical work that we produce. Find him on Twitter.

Automated User Testing – sometimes referred to as Automated UX Testing – is increasing in popularity as ever more complex ways to test UX become available.

But what is Automated User Testing? And should you be doing it in your business?

Automated UX testing: a definition 

Automated User Testing is essentially the automation of manual test tasks. Usersnap defines it as “simply when you and your Quality Assurance team use scripted tests that have been prewritten and run automatically.”

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Recent advances mean that there is now some incredible UX testing software available that has been specifically developed to automate the whole testing process, allowing designers and developers to work with remote participants, gather data and identify where improvements can be made at every step of the design process. 

What are the benefits of automating user testing? 

It has long been accepted that UX should form an essential part of the design process

In fact, Creative.onl was writing nearly three years ago about the importance of using a UX specialist to design your website or mobile app

So UX testing as a vital part of the design process is a given. But what about being able to automate this testing? And what are the benefits – to both your business, as well as the end user? 

1. A more efficient use of resources

Automating any process is usually done to save time. And automating user testing is no exception. 

Done properly, once it has been set up, automated UX testing should lessen the demands on both people and time, allowing you to reallocate resources to resolving any issues that automated testing throws up. 

2. A more cost effective way to test UX response

It should follow that if automating a process saves time and human involvement, it ought to save money too. And by and large, that should be the case once the initial investment in the software and setting it up has been taken into account. 

Don’t forget that the ability of this type of software to, for example, identify bugs very early on in the process can also save much needed expenditure that may have been incurred if it was otherwise overlooked in manual testing.  

3. The ability to test a greater number of variables in a shorter amount of time 

There is no denying that machines can be faster than man. And automating your user testing allows you to run more test case variations in a shorter period of time than you would using manual testing alone. These tests can, for example, cover areas such as multiple browsers, multiple operating systems, screen resolutions, mobile devices and connection speeds. 

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4. The chance to simulate thousands of virtual users and shorten the development cycle
Collaborative design platform, Marvel App, sees automated user testing as an invaluable opportunity to “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.” 

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5. Elimination of human error

Unlike people, computers never tire of repeating a task or analysing data, meaning that automating your user testing not only allows you to process high volumes of data, it also helps eliminates human error. 

Are there any disadvantages to automated user testing? 

Despite it benefits, automated UX Testing is not necessarily the best solution for everyone. 

The initial investment in both time and money in setting up the testing software can be prohibitive for smaller companies or smaller projects.  

And no matter how good the software, it is only as good as the way in which it has been programmed. 

As Usersnap points out “An automated test does what you tell it to do. And it will stick to it no matter what. There is no way to find out errors or bugs that are not defined by your testing scenario.”

Usersnap goes on to add “Thankfully humans are not replaceable by computer programs (yet). Your automated tests will not be able to find UX flaws or Design issues that only can be seen by a human eye.” 

So it’s worth giving careful consideration to the pros and cons of automating your UX testing before you commit to any hefty investment. 

Deciding whether to automate your testing 

Deciding whether to move from solely manual testing to incorporating automated testing may well depend on a number of factors, which have been helpfully summarised in the box designed by Usersnap below. 

They suggest simply circling your answer to each question and then totalling up the number of answers for the automated column and the manual column. The advice is that the largest total will more than likely be the best testing method for you now.

How to start automating your user testing

1. Examine what you’re already doing

Take a look at what you do now, ideally with a fresh pair of eyes. What UX testing processes do you already have in place? How effective are they? And can they be automated? Objectivity is key here. 

See also →  5 ways to justify the value of design to cost-conscious colleagues

2. Ensure your UX testing is aligned with your business’ KPIs

It is only when your company has clearly defined business goals that you can know how automating your user testing might help achieve them. 

Your user testing should therefore tie in to your strategic goals, giving you valuable data through which you can assess whether or not your organisational aims are being met. 

3. Make sure you have the right tools for the job

This might be an obvious point but having the right tools for the job is essential. Not all software is created equal and finding the right one for your business may take time. But it will pay huge dividends going forward. 

Make sure your user testing software has the kind of automation functionality that meets your needs. Whether that’s gathering both qualitative and quantitative data, filtering your results or enabling you to share your findings with your key stakeholders, it is worth ensuring taking the time to ensure your UX software works for you. 

4. Share your findings with your teams 

It may take a cultural shift within your team to appreciate the value of agile UX testing. But including key stakeholders along the way and sharing your progress as you go will help your team better connect with the end user at all stages of the development journey.

Looking for help with automating your user testing? 

Automation is surely the next step for UX testing and understanding which software is right for you as well as how to incorporate it into your existing UX testing processes is a big consideration. 

Whether you are a small local business or a large corporation, Creative.onl can help you decide how best to automate your UX testing in order to get more accurate feedback more quickly.

Creative.onl are a small and friendly team based in the East Midlands, with expertise in the following areas: 

  • App development
  • Web development 
  • UX design
  • Digital strategy
  • Responsive web design
  • Graphic design
  • Video animation 
  • Content
  • Marketing support 

And we would love to help you with any aspect of automating your user testing when it comes to UX design. 

Whatever you are looking for, get in touch with us to talk through the creative processes of any of our services and products.    

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