There are two other common methods for understanding product usability besides usability testing with users. Both of these methods are called “inspection methods” rather than usability testing.
Expert evaluator(s), instead of users, inspect the product against a set of heuristic rules or principles. Click here for one of the most commonly used heuristic principles.
Expert evaluator(s), instead of users, evaluate the product by performing representative tasks that users would do, based on user profiles.
Which method to use?
- If possible, always try to conduct usability testing with actual users. There is no inspection method that predicts end-user problems as well as usability testing. Also, inspection methods tend to have a low degree of overlapping findings.
- Heuristic evaluation predicts end-user problems better than cognitive walkthroughs.
- Inspection methods are generally better at finding problems than at determining the appropriate improvement.
Remember some testing is better than no testing. However, expert evaluator(s) may point out features that are not problematic with real users.