How to perform usability testing

Usability testing is a way of evaluating a website or application by users. This means that real people will evaluate the usability of the resource under the supervision of developers. The purpose of testing – to improve the user experience, remove bugs and other unnoticed errors. This way, you’ll correct anything that can make users’ expression worse about your digital product. In this article, we’ll tell you how to perform usability testing. Why developers need it and the most efficient way to test any digital product.

Beforehand, you need to understand what type of project you are going to test. If you don’t know what you want to create, research statistics and find your target audience. The mobile application market is growing rapidly. But if you want to create one, you need to calculate the cost of the necessary resources. The mobile app design cost depends on different variables — you can calculate them yourself.

Why usability testing is important

This type of testing is a necessity for any software developer or website builder. The objective of usability testing — is to check how the target audience interacts with the final product.

Developers run it before and during project launch. This type of test allows you to find and correct major errors. After the evaluation process, you can collect feedback from real users.

When and how to perform usability testing

It is important to do usability testing before, during and after the redesign. You will know the effectiveness of new tools and approaches and understand the behavior of the target audience. By knowing how to do a usability test, you will improve or remove unnecessary elements from your project.

Usability testing methodology consists of two types of research: generative and evaluative.

Generative — is a type of research used early in the design process. Here you will understand user behavior, pain points and motivation. What drives people to use your product? The purpose of this research is to identify the problem and its solution.

Evaluative — shows you if everything is working. During the research, users will rate your work, test the content, and collect data to improve the product.

Types of Usability Testing

There are a few main types and subtypes of usability testing:

  1. Simulated and non-simulated

In mock tests, users interact with the product in the presence of a moderator or UX designers. The specialist gives the task to the user and can only ask a few questions for research purposes.

During non-simulated testing, all tasks are issued by an automated service that collects and processes data. Additionally, the service monitors the execution of a usability testing process and collects the results.

  1. Quantitative and qualitative tests

Depending on the purpose, you can select one of these two types.

Quantitative research provides results in figures. For example, how many minutes did it take to complete the targeted action? Or: what percentage of respondents failed to complete it? To analyze the test results, the results are converted into percentages of the task’s baseline performance. The creators convert the results according to the Nielsen method.

The rating scale has 3 options:

  1. The user coped with the task of ordering a product, finding a service or any other by himself – 100% completion of the task.
  2. The user was only able to complete the task with the help of a moderator – 50%.
  3. Could not complete at all — 0%.

Qualitative research – provides the result not in numbers, but in the form of important information for interpretation. This data helps to understand the user’s thinking, identify hidden issues. This study is conducted in the form of an interview, during which users will answer a few pre-established questions. If you cannot or do not want to create a test template yourself, you can use a ready-made one, for example the Kano template. This will not only help to check how satisfied the user is with the product, but also what their expectations are.

The developers calculate the points from the survey results. They are ranked on a scale of expectations ranging from “I like it” and “I expect it” to “I don’t like it and I can’t accept it”. After that, the researchers constructed a graph. It shows exactly what the public considers:

  • the fundamental properties of product – ” of course ” ;
  • the main properties — “it’s an advantage over competitors”;
  • admiring properties – “it is delicious”.

Kano’s test pattern will also reveal what the user considers unimportant or unnecessary.

Usability testing process steps

There are five steps that will help ensure best practices in usability testing:


The first step in usability testing is to understand why and what exactly you are testing. Do you want to test the functionality of an aesthetic part of your digital product? Prepare the following questions to serve as checkpoints during the research.

Build a prototype

The objectives of usability testing are determined and carried out during the early stages of development. Building a prototype allows the application to be tested in its early stages and to define problems. So you won’t have any problems with the final product. This is why most companies build a prototype for this purpose.


Find people to test your product. This could be your target audience – users trying to solve the problem or a team of developers. Track their actions and take notes on problems and their behavior during testing.


During the test, do not influence users in any way. Their opinion must be independent. Form your questions in a neutral tone. For example, don’t ask “Do you think the push button is too bright?” but “What do you think of the design of a push button?”


After the test, you should write a comprehensive report based on user opinions. Summarize the result with questions during the test. It will be useful in later stages of product development.

How usability testing can help

With this type of test, you can:

  • create survey guidelines for future development;
  • highlight the challenges of your project;
  • to minimize negative feedback when launching the digital product.

By planning ahead and having clear goals for exactly what your website or app should look like or do. Usability testing methods help to perform a preliminary analysis of user behavior. It can also prevent your project from failing again.

About Dora Kohler

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