Usability testing and qualitative evaluation

Market research is all about people: what they want, what they need, and what they find useful… or not. In the age of pick-up-and-play technology, intuitive design is crucial for success. This is particularly true of the current education sector, as it struggles to recover lost classroom time, adapt to blended learning approaches and meet new learner expectations in the post-COVID landscape.

For that reason, our education market research agency is proud to partner with web design and usability experts, Zebedee, to deliver high-quality usability testing and qualitative evaluation for publishers and edtech companies developing or refining websites, platforms or apps for learners and educators.

Usability testing in education sector research

COVID-19 restrictions prompted a rapid migration to online learning – resulting in huge edtech investments from schools and higher education institutions, while highlighting the importance of intuitive, user-centred design.

With learning technology now a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have, and education customers more savvy about what works and what doesn’t on the teaching frontline, the smart edtech companies and education publishers are investing in usability testing.

As education market analysis experts, we’ve seen how much precious teaching time is lost when learners or educators find digital tools unintuitive or unfit for purpose. The goal is to make these products and services so easy to use that they can be grasped (and ideally desired) when used in just a short-term pilot. Only minimal intervention should be needed from provider to educator, and educator to learner.

Usability research

The perfect usability testing partnership

We believe the best results come through collaboration – whether with clients or expert partner agencies. When it comes to usability testing, we couldn’t ask for a better partner then web design and usability company, Zebedee.

By pooling our talents, we can deliver full-service usability testing for publishers, edtech companies and other organisations who wish to develop new websites, platforms or apps for education audiences, or to refine their existing ones.

We unite Zebedee’s technical know-how and test-planning expertise with Shift’s 20 years of experience in recruiting, interviewing and analysing insights from education respondents – both in the UK and internationally. This partnership enables delivery of an integrated usability and qualitative research service that helps organisations ensure their products and services are truly meeting user and decision-maker needs.

Our usability testing and evaluation offer

It’s not just about identifying functional issues, but understanding user contexts, objectives, priorities, barriers and wider challenges. During two decades of conducting qualitative education sector research, we have interacted with thousands of learners and educators and understand they come with individual motivations, attitudes and behaviours that influence how they use and respond to products/services. 

From recruiting relevant testers and performing bespoke usability tests, to rigorously analysing session notes and reporting actionable insights, Shift and Zebedee work closely together and with clients to meet objectives, enhance user experiences and put the tested product/service ahead of the competition.

Prices start from £5K +VAT and outcomes might include:

  • Prioritised and categorised recommendations for changes to products/services, including quick wins and longer-term strategies.
  • User personas to inform future product/service development.
  • Feedback on pedagogical effectiveness.
  • Feedback on positioning, messaging, business model or price, to help organisations stay current in an ever-changing landscape.

For more information on our usability testing and qualitative evaluation offer, please contact our Managing Director, Jane Powell, by emailing or calling 0207 253 8959.

Example usability research projects

To explore our independent research, including white papers around lost learning and student perceptions of online exams, visit our education market research reports page.

For examples of our learner-focused qualitative research projects, visit our case studies page, including: