What is Formative Usability Testing?

What is a formative usability test?

Formative usability testing is an evaluation method that helps to “form” the product or website design. Representative users take part in exploratory test sessions where they are asked to perform representative tasks on actual and/or prototype products or websites.

 When should it be used?

Formative usability testing is typically performed iteratively during design and development phases to identify and resolve issues associated with the user interface design that impact efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction. Oftentimes usability issues can be identified as part of an initial formative test, design changes can be made to resolve or mitigate those issues, and the product or website can then be retested as part of a second formative test to ensure the usability issues have been addressed appropriately.

 What do you get?

The output from a formative usability test typically includes documentation of the findings for each task and recommendations for resolving or mitigating usability issues identified in the user interface design. Performance and satisfaction metrics can be used to establish success criteria for summative testing. Improvements are typically implemented quickly and further (iterative) testing is done to verify the usability of the improvements and to support continuous forward progress. Additional outputs from formative testing may vary based on the needs of the design and development teams.