A Comparison of Prototyping Tools with Usability Testing Features
What is usability testing feature of prototyping tools?
Usability Testing refers to a series of techniques to observe users using a product or prototype, recording their behaviors and feelings, to improve the usability of products. This testing can be used in the early design & development, middle stage improvement and later maintenance of a product. As it reflects the real situation of a user using a product, it is considered as an irreplaceable usability examination process.
Formative Usability Testing vs. Summative Usability Testing
Usability testing can be divided into Formative usability testing and summative usability testing according to the stage where it is conducted. The former is conducted in the early stage of the design and development of a product, the testing objective is the prototype. The latter is usually done when the product is finished. Here in this article I will talk about the former, formative usability testing.
As the objective of this testing is the prototype. We need to take into consideration that whether the tools we use to build the prototype have enough support to the usability testing. This will greatly change the usability testing effect and finally influence the customers’satisfaction.
5 Elements to judge the usability testing featuresof a prototyping tool
When choosing a prototyping tool, we need to take into the consideration its support on usability testing. There are mainly 5 elements you should pay attention to.
Support usability testing on multiple ends and platforms
Why should a prototyping tool support testing on multiple ends and platforms? There are mainly 2 reasons:
1. It’s an age where multiple platforms existing together and different platforms represent different groups of people with diverse habits.
2. To use unified testing device or the native device of users, that’s a question. Usually to ensure that the testing is conducted in a natural way and simulate the real using situation, the native device is used to finish the test. This means that the prototype should be able to display on different devices. Of course in some occasions the unified testing device is better.
Support for mobile ends usability testing
Testing on mobile ends plays a very important role in usability testing. As Zhang Xiaolong, the founder of WeChat has said, mobile phone is the stretch of people’s arm and hand, but computer, on the contrary, is an foreign object for people. The privacy of mobile phone is stronger and so does people’s dependence on it. On a mobile end, both the good or bad experience will be amplified. Therefore, the usability testing on mobile ends is very important. The support of prototyping tools on usability testing mainly shows in the following aspects:
1. Support on mobile prototyping building
2. Whether the prototypes can be tested on mobile ends smoothly.
Support for remote testing
Usability testing can be either field testing or remote testing. These two should be used according to the real situation. In the following situations, remote testing is better.
1. The mobile situation should be considered.
2. The user distribution is complicated or the users are located far from the testers.
3. A great number of users are needed as the testing samples.
The support of prototyping tools on remote testing mainly shows in their project exporting and sharing ways.
Testing and iterating cost
The lower the cost of usability testing,the faster the prototypes iterate. The following two factors can affect the cost of a usability testing:
1. The price of the prototyping tool.
2. The learning curve of a prototyping tool. The more easy to use the prototyping tool is, the lower the usability testing cost will be.
Whether third party product is needed as testing assistance?
Now most of the prototyping tools in the market needs third party screen recording product to assistant the testing. These third party tools all have their pros and cons.
A Comparison of mainstream prototyping tools with usability testing features
Usability testing feature: hard experience on testing on mobile ends; more restrictions on remote testing; higher testing cost
With Axure Share, users can test the prototype on their mobile phones. However, many animations and interactions cannot display correctly on Axure Share. Besides, if you are using the version earlier than 7.0, you need to build a server on your computer and then drag the prototype to server folder to generate the sharing link. The version 7.0 is able to generate sharing link directly. (With internet connection)
As a prototyping tool with long history, Axure has comprehensive functions but also more complicated operations and higher learning cost. To make a same prototype with Axure you will definitely spend more time. Apparently the usability testing cost is higher.
Usability testing rating: ★★
Usability testing feature: support testing on multiple platforms and ends. Mobile-prototype-building-friendly; smooth testing on mobile ends; multiple ways to conduct remote testing; lower testing and iterate cost
Mockplus supports testing on different platforms like Mac / PC / iOS / android ,etc. whether you want to test a prototype on desktop, browser or Mockplus mobile end, Mockplus can satisfy your needs
Mockplus is the most flexible way no matter in filed or remote testing. With the 8 sharing and testing methods of it you can export mp files, html files or demo package that can run independently offline. For remote testing users, you can one-click to generate the sharing link to enable them test it on their own devices.
For team projects, even though there is no host, you can send messages on Mockplus with users to communicate with them and help them to finish the testing. When previewing the project, users can add markups on the project so that you can get the feed backs at the first time.
With Mockplus, the usability testing cost is very low. You can finish building the prototypes used in the testing quickly in several minutes and iterate them faster.
Price: Basic version: free forever
Usability testing rating: ★★★★
Usability testing feature: support browser testing; third-party plug-in needed; lower support on mobile ends testing
With UXPin usability testing (browser plug-in), users can conduct testing on their computer browser. Since this plug-in is still in beta stage, some animations and interactions cannot be recorded,for example, the hide/show action. Therefore the testing effect is far from good.
Usability testing rating: ★★★
Usability testing feature: built-inrecording tool lookback; support native device testing; creative testing method;higher testing and iterating cost
Proto.io support remote usability testing. With the project link generated, one can test a prototype with internet connection.
Proto.io is good for building high fidelity prototypes, but the shortcoming is that the prototype building and moderating time is long. Usually one needs more than 1 hour to finish a prototype. Therefore the iterate cost is high.
Price: $24/month (5 active projects)
Usability testing rating: ★★★★
With this comparison of these prototyping tools we find that, when it comes to usability testing, Mockplus and Proto.io are both good choices. Proto.io use third-party plug-in to record the behaviors, gestures and even expressions of users when using the product. It saves your time spent on choosing the third-party assistance. Mockplus supports multiple platforms testing and has diverse testing methods. The testing cost is relatively low,which enables you and your team to improve the usability of a product in short time.