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Demographics are Key to Unlocking Usability Test Returns

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6 April, 2015

As explained in a previous post, finding usability testers who best represent the target users of your software or app is an essential first step in making sure your usability test delivers useful results. Finding testers with the right knowledge level and experience gives you far more accurate results, and the more specialized your target niche is the more important a well-matched group becomes.

Expertise is just one element of your usability group that needs to match your target audience, though. Demographics—age, culture, and in some cases gender and more—are also important considerations.

All User Experience is Interpreted, and Different Demographics Interpret Differently

There is no such thing as a “good” design.

There are designs that are more navigable than others, and that tends to be relatively universal in broad strokes, but when it comes to making things aesthetically pleasing there is no “right” way to do things. The best design is the one that the majority of your users find pleasing and easy to use, and that can vary considerably based on demographic features.

It isn’t just design interpretation that varies from culture to culture and age group to age group, either. Direct functionality and ease of use can be differently interpreted/experienced by different users with different demographic backgrounds.

Research has shown that our unique cultural experiences can influence everything from the colors we’re able to perceive to the way physical diseases progress in the body.

The complex factors at work in usability assessments are no different.

As with levels of expertise, demographic matching in your usability test group becomes more important as your target demographic grows more narrow. A simple phone-based game might be targeted to anyone above a certain age, while a customizable fitness app might target North American women over the age of 25 with a college education (for example).

Get specific, and get usability testers who match your intended audience when it comes to demographics. Your testing will be far more useful and efficient.

More info on getting the right usability testers to work with you is on its way, so stay tuned!

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