What Is Usability Testing? Definition and Methods

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What Is Usability Testing

What Is Usability Testing?

Usability testing definition:

User experience (UX) testing, also called usability testing, is a process for determining how simple and accessible it is to use a software application. Usability testing is primarily used to evaluate an application’s user-friendliness, control management skills, and goal-achievability. By using this procedure, it will be feasible to spot any potential usability problems and fix them before the application’s release.

“Usability is not about technology; it’s about people and how they perceive and utilize things.”

Usability testing entails having real people engage with a website, app, or other product you’ve created and analyzed their behaviors and reactions. Usability testing is vital to designing an effective, efficient, and delightful experience for your users, whether you start simply by watching session records or go all out and rent a lab with eye-tracking equipment.

In other words, usability testing is a technique for evaluating the operation of a website, app, or other digital product by watching real users accomplish tasks on it. Researchers working for a company frequently observe the users.

We hope this clarifies things.

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 

We’ve covered everything about usability testing above. Now is the time to become savvy with User testing and understand how the two differ.

User testing puts a website, app, product, or service’s interface and functions to the test by having real users do specific tasks in realistic situations. This procedure aims to assess the website’s or app’s usability and determine whether the product is ready for real-world use.

The difference:

The distinction is that User Testing determines whether future users require that product or service. In contrast, Usability Testing determines whether users can use the product or service you are working on.

While the first is helpful at the beginning of a project to validate an idea, the second comes into play later, when the project prototypes. 

User testing is essentially about the user. It responds to inquiries like, “What features do users want?” When performing activities, how do people feel? Which image is their favorite? We leverage what we learn through user testing to improve software, apps, and websites.

Usability testing is more about functionality, quality assurance, or QA than user preferences. It determines whether a user can complete a task and, if not, why not.

What Are the Types of Usability Testing?

The three main types of usability testing are:

  1. Moderated vs. unmoderated
  2. Remote vs. in person
  3. Explorative vs. assessment vs. comparative

Moderated vs. unmoderated

A trained researcher introduces the exam to participants, answers their questions, and asks follow-up questions during a moderated testing session, which can be conducted in person or remotely. On the other hand, an unmoderated test is without direct supervision; participants may be in a lab, but they are more likely to be at home and using their own devices to visit the website.

Remote vs. in person

Remote usability testing over the internet or the phone; in-person testing, as the name implies, is conducted in the presence of a UX researcher/moderator.

In-person examinations provide more data points than remote assessments because researchers may watch and analyze body language and facial expressions. In-person testing, on the other hand, is frequently costly and time-consuming.

Explorative vs. assessment vs. comparative

The explorative tests are unrestricted. Participants urge to brainstorm, voice their perspectives, and convey their emotional reactions to various ideas and concepts.

Assessment research determines whether or not a user is satisfied with a product and how well they can use it. It assesses the overall functionality of a product.

Comparative research methods entail asking consumers to pick between two options and are used to compare a website to its key competitors.

Why Do Usability Testing?

If usability testing is done correctly, at the appropriate time, with the right people, it decreases the chance of developing the incorrect product, saving time, money, and other valuable resources. 

In other words, if done early on, when the product is still in the paper prototyping stage, it detects issues when they are simple and inexpensive to solve.

Usability testing confirms that a product’s functions, features, and general purpose are what users desire by watching real people use the product.

Usability testing allows you to understand user behavior, needs, and expectations early.

We hope you find this helpful information.

What Are the Methods of Usability Testing?

Usability testing can be done in a variety of ways. Let’s talk about usability testing strategies to incorporate into your test plan.

Guerilla testing

The most basic type of usability testing is guerilla testing. Guerrilla testing entails asking people about your prototype in a public setting, such as a coffee shop, and the test subjects are random.

Lab usability testing

Lab usability testing, as the name implies, is testing conducted in a controlled environment (laboratories) under the supervision of a moderator. A moderator is a professional who is seeking real-time user comments.

Unmoderated remote usability testing

Unmoderated remote usability testing is without a moderator, and it provides quick, reliable, and low-cost user testing findings for subsequent studies. Participants are requested to complete tasks in their surroundings, on their own devices, without the presence of a moderator, resulting in the natural use of the product.

Contextual inquiry

Contextual inquiry is more of an interview/observation method than a usability testing method for helping a product team gather knowledge about the user experience from real people.

How To Conduct Usability Testing?

1. Choose the Aspect of Your Product or Website To Test.

Gather your views on the benefits, drawbacks, and places to improve your product or website to develop a reasonable hypothesis for your research.

2. Select the Tasks for Your Research.

The objectives assigned to your participants should reflect your users’ most specific goals when interacting with your product or website, such as making a purchase.

3. Establish a Benchmark for Success.

Once you’ve decided what to test and how to test it, provide clear success criteria for each activity.

4. Make a Study Schedule and Script.

Moderators should comply with the same script in each user session to ensure that your study is consistent, unbiased, and scientific.

5. Delegate Responsibilities.

Your moderator should be someone on your team who excels at being objective, resisting peer pressure, and making participants feel at ease while pushing them to accomplish the tasks. 

Taking notes while the study is also essential, and you can’t extract any insights that will prove or reject your hypothesis if there isn’t any recorded data. During the research, your most attentive listener should be your note-taker.

6. Locate Your Collaborators.

The most challenging aspect of usability testing is finding and recruiting suitable participants. Most usability experts recommend testing only five people per research, but your subjects should represent your existing user base.

7. Carry Out the Research.

It would help if you asked your participants to do one activity at a time, without your help or guidance, during the actual study.

8. Examine Your Information.

After your study, you’ll have a lot of qualitative data. Analyzing it will allow you to spot problem trends, assess the severity of each usability issue, and make design recommendations to the technical team.

9. Share Your Results.

Report the main takeaways and spell out the following actions for enhancing the design of your product or website after you’ve extracted insights from your data.

It’s exhausting, right?

How Do You Set Goals for Usability Testing?

Talking to your stakeholders is the first step in determining your usability test goals. Hold a preliminary meeting with stakeholders at the start of the project to select what they know about the product. It will assist you in deciding which high-level features to implement.

Too many goals set out by stakeholders is a regular source of frustration for UX teams. You can prevent having too many test variables by prioritizing goals with stakeholders early on.

What Are the Real Examples of Usability Testing?

With this real-life usability test example, you can get a sense of what a genuine test looks like.

With 62 million daily customers, McDonald’s is one of the world’s largest fast-food restaurant franchises. McDonald’s has some catching up to do, given the competition. Before releasing their app in the UK, they hired SimpleUsability, a UK-based company, to discover any usability issues.

The test strategy included 20 usability tests with task scenarios that spanned the whole customer journey from beginning to end. Two hundred twenty-five end-user interviews were in the test plan, and several usability concerns were discovered during the research.

This case study demonstrates how even a tiny percentage of a company’s resources in usability testing may yield significant results.


How many participants do you need for most usability tests?

It’s generally best to test as few as two consumers each research for low-overhead initiatives. Eight users — or even more — may be preferable for some projects. However, stick with the tried-and-true for most projects: 5 consumers per usability test.

When is usability testing done?

We can discover the essential user pain points by conducting usability tests before making any design decisions.

Who will do usability testing?

You should have someone with UX experience facilitate the test, but if you don’t have one, anyone can run a usability test — it’s simple!

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