What is the goal of usability testing? Let’s say it’s to improve the user’s experience.
The user’s experience will improve when designers have the skills and resources to design well.
The designers will improve when they have a better understanding of the users.
Usability testing offers us some understanding of users. The direct goal of usability testing is to yield this information, but the indirect goal of educating designers is ultimately more important (until someone devises a test that automatically tweaks the product without a designer, which won’t be anytime soon).
This struck me recently when I thought more about the various usability testing methods available to us and realized some offer us information about users without making us better designers, mostly because the information isn’t as rich, visceral, or immediate as with other methods.