User Testing

What is User Testing?

User testing refers to the evaluation of products and services by users from the general population or a targeted population with the goal of determining ease-of-use and user satisfaction. With these same aims, WID’s user testing sessions focus specifically on accessibility for the disability community.

During testing sessions, users are given a list of tasks and asked to provide feedback as they attempt to complete them; meanwhile, WID researchers, who are trained in accessibility best practices, observe and note “pain points” and highlight areas in which users experience a high level of difficulty completing any of the assigned tasks. Notes and observations are then organized into a formal report so that improvements in accessibility can be made.

If you’re interested in becoming a user tester, read more about the user tester recruitment process.

Why is User Testing Important?

The United States Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 5 people in the United States has a disability–this translates to about 56.7 million people, and many of them opt out of using a variety of products and services simply because they were not created with their disability in mind.

User testing with WID provides a unique opportunity for companies to better understand how people with disabilities access their products and services, learn what issues they encounter, and improve accessibility.

Questions your company may have:

  • Is our product easy for people with disabilities to use?
  • Is it intuitive for screen-reader users?
  • Are labels for buttons and links properly coded?
  • Can users complete tasks in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Can users find answers to their questions?

User testing provides an avenue to ensure that the answer to all of these questions is “yes.”

A Substantial Market Opportunity

The disability population presents a substantial market opportunity. Companies that address people with disabilities can build a large customer base while meeting this population’s needs in the process.

Often, when companies demonstrate active efforts to include disability as part of their diversity efforts, it enhances their image. It shows they are addressing an underserved population with both high need and high potential, and it positively leverages the good will of friends and family of people with disabilities.

According to the Return on Disability Group’s 2016 annual report:

  • In the United States, people with disabilities have a total income of $872.7 billion and a disposable income of $645.3 billion.
  • The global income of people with disabilities is over $1.97 trillion, and their disposable income is over $1.2 trillion.
  • Disposable income of friends and family of people with disabilities is $3.9 trillion in the U.S. and over $6.9 trillion globally.

Universal Design Is Good Design

Universal design, in regards to technology, refers to products and web environments that provide equally accessible experiences for everyone, including people with disabilities.

Technology and features that contribute to universal design:

  • Video captions for the Deaf and hearing loss communities.
  • Web environments coded to work with screen-reading software for the blind.
  • Web environments coded to work with magnification and color-inversion settings for people with low-vision.
  • Large buttons, links, and other clickable/tappable targets for people with limited dexterity.
  • Plain-text language, which accommodates various disabilities.

Accessibility Tips for Websites and Apps

  • Provide alt text on graphs, images, and text in photos.
  • If possible, avoid placing text in photos.
  • Label all buttons, such as “continue” buttons and arrows to proceed to the next page.
  • Caption/subtitle all videos.
  • Minimize scrolls or slider bars (or offer multiple different options, such as typing in answers).
  • Be sensitive to steps that ask users to scan or photograph something (or again, offer an alternative option).
  • Ensure the ability to use pinch-to-zoom and dictation.
  • Use simple icons to reiterate text.
  • Use a mixture of upper and lower case letters when possible.
  • Be mindful of users’ ability to alter their local settings (e.g. a low-vision user might flip the contrast on their phone or increase the text size).

Accessibility Resources

If you’re interested in user testing your product, contact WID Deputy Director, Tom Foley, at tom@wid.org.

If you’re interested in becoming a user tester, read more about the user tester recruitment process.

If you are having technical issues or accessibility issues on this site, email wid@wid.org.

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