Some days back, we reported that Areedi had launched as a usability lab to enable founders in Nigeria test their products before launch. This is aimed at letting them know if their users (potential ones) would actually enjoy using it, and then make amends where necessary before finally going public.

To discuss further on this, we caught up with the brain behind the lab and had a little chat with her. Uyai Effiong is the Lead consultant at Areedi labs and describes herself as a usability geek. This speaks volume of how much experience she has had with usability testing which makes her the very right person to do this.

Areedi

How important is usability testing?

From my observations, if they are true, Nigerian founders do not pay maximum attention to usability test. Just for the sake of emphasis, we asked Uyai to highlight how important this is to a new product. She began;

“A lot of businesses still follow the old industrial system of building and releasing products, which looks roughly like this: do some research, make some assumptions, build a product, release it to the market and then wait 6 – 12 months to collect and implement feedback. It’s not just Nigerian founders, because people do this everywhere.”

“However, in the current global economy, following this system is expensive and time consuming. Businesses simply don’t have the luxury of building a product from start to finish and putting it into the market without testing and iterating. They might miss the mark of what their customers really need, and spend too much money building the wrong thing.”

“User testing is important because a product team can build and test an MVP with real users. They’ll get real people to give them useful feedback, which can then be incorporated into future iterations of the product. This cycle continues until the product is ready to be launched, and even after launch. Continuous testing and iteration allows the business to build something that the customer actually wants without a long and expensive development cycle.”

The first usability lab in the country?

Well, having NOT heard of any other usability lab in the country before now, Areedi lab seem like the first in Nigeria (I hope I’m right). Uyai says she would be happy to inspire others to invest in making products and services more usable. Whether that involves doing more testing on their own or also having a lab, She thinks our ecosystem would be better for it. I think so too.

Areedi lab is a startup, like every other.

We were very curious to the extent of asking Uyai if she is going to treat the lab like a business (to make profits) or simply to help the Nigerian ecosystem. As any entrepreneur would, she stuck with the former which to me, is the best.

Uyai says they are a business first and foremost. “The usability lab is one of several services that we offer at Areedi. While we will charge for these services, we will have different pricing tiers to allow everyone to take advantage of the lab. Let me give an example. The testing for a few products might just involve a few people trying it out in the comfort of their homes, and sending some feedback to us via a survey. This is a low-cost option. But other teams may like testers to actually come into our lab and go through a moderated user interview that is recorded for the client. This might be more expensive”

Market potentials?

How big is the market you’re planning to serve?

Usability testing is still somewhat in it’s infancy in Nigeria. We believe that the market will grow over the next 5 years, and we are positioning ourselves to take advantage of that. This is a service that will piggyback on the continued growth of the tech industry in Nigeria.

Given your experience in product usability test, tell me one thing you think product creators should focus more on in their products.

The testing and iteration phase is crucial to a successful product that actually meets the needs of its users (as opposed to the needs of just the product team). Getting out of the office and talking to the people who will use the product is the one thing that I would recommend. And when the users talk, it is important to use their feedback to improve the product. In conclusion – build great products, but talk to the people you’re building for. And that is why we are setting up the lab.

So people, instead of giving family and friends you product to test and review, and receive biased opinion in the process, it’ll be better of you took it to Areedi lab as they are building a database of potential testers who are interested in doing usability tests for their products.