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A complete guide to Usability Testing

To measure the quality of any website or application and provide users the solution for their requirements testing is a must. The test consists of functional and non-functional testing and usability testing is one of the non-functional testing types. Without this testing, it is difficult to know whether the website or application created is working as expected and also whether it is providing a better user experience or not.

A non-user-friendly website may not attract users which might lead them to leave the website and use other services that are easier to use. This eventually influences the organization

Executing usability testing helps in understanding whether the created solution satisfies the user's requirement or not. It also helps in determining whether the website is easy to learn, easy to use, and striking the users under specified conditions and requirements.

In this comprehensive guide to Usability Testing, we will be discussing everything needed to perform usability testing and get actionable insight to provide a better user experience. Let's begin with what Usability Testing is, why it is needed to perform, its benefits, and more.

What is Usability Testing     

Usability testing is the process of identifying and revealing potential issues in the website that arise during the real user’s experience so that its functionality or usability can be improved to benefit the overall user experience.

This testing helps to assess how websites or applications look and function in the hands of real users by observing and noting their interactions. It also includes the website's overall effectiveness, efficiency, the accuracy of data, and user-friendliness. Engaging in usability testing it becomes easier to identify features and functions that are not working optimally.

The purpose of conducting usability testing is to understand users' needs and build a good website that is easy to learn, and easy to operate. From the moment users visit the website to the time they show exit intent; this testing helps in getting feedback about user experience.

This feedback helps in creating websites that delight the users and improve conversion rates. This also helps to improve the website that has already been released and save it from being a failure.

Steps to Perform Usability Testing

Usability testing consists of the following steps: planning, recruiting, usability testing, data analysis, and reporting.

The planning- The first step to run a usability test is to determine its goals. The planning phase starts with identifying crucial functionalities and objectives in the test as well as assigning tasks to testers.

Recruiting- Next is the recruiting phase where a specific number of testers who match a certain demographic and professional profile get included according to the usability test plan.

Usability testing- Once recruitment is done, the usability tests that have been determined during the planning phase start to execute.

Data analysis- After the usability testing phase the development team is provided with the obtained data to analyze the results accurately. And provide actionable insights to improve overall website usability.

Reporting- At the end,  all of the findings in the usability test are reported and shared with all stakeholders including the developer, designer, client, and CEO.

The purpose of Usability Testing

Usability testing helps in getting insight into how real users interact with the website or application, as well as reviewing their feedback, actions, and behaviours. So that the uncovered issues can be identified and see where improvements can be done.

It allows the design teams and developers to uncover any problems with their website's user experience, make a target of how to fix the problems, and ultimately finalize if the website is usable enough or not.

Usability testing not only improves the overall output of a website/application but is also pocket friendly because it saves time and money by identifying and fixing issues early that show along the way instead of fixing them later when it has already been developed.

Many websites today fail due to being unstable, non-user-friendly, and generally difficult to navigate. Usability testing identifies these issues before its launch and helps the website from a letdown.

Best practices for usability testing

For effective usability testing here are some of the best practices to consider.

Get consent

Obtain consent from the test participants at two separate points during usability testing. That is at the start and end of the usability testing. At the beginning of the test, the consent is to record the test and the results, and at the end of the test, the consent is to keep the test results and use the data. Asking for consent twice is a must since participants only have little information about what they are agreeing to at the beginning of the test.

Be wide-ranging

You should deliberately plan the participants you want to take part in your usability test and make sure that you incorporate people of different abilities, demographics, usage behaviours, market segments, etc who can provide different standpoints on your application. Being intentional and inclusive in your testing helps in learning from different people's perspectives to build better applications.

Run a pilot test

Before asking the customers for potential feedback, make sure to run a pilot test with people inside your organization, preferably someone not on your team. This helps in identifying aspects of the study that are obvious to you, but may be missing from your study experience.

Create evaluation criteria

Set out evaluation criteria, and have clear ways to identify what a  successful website testing looks like, so that you know whether your product testing is successful or not.

Be careful of the length of the test

Your usability test should be only long enough as it needs to be to provide accurate results. The longer the test gets the harder it becomes for people to accurately evaluate and provide usability feedback on the website.

If the test gets too long, it is best to pilot it and gather feedback. Hence running multiple separate tests is better than collecting feedback from cognitively exhausted participants. Because asking for feedback for longer tests may not be precise and will be too much to ask of them.

Benefits of Usability Testing

Running usability tests is highly beneficial for developers, as it helps them to identify crucial issues in the website and optimize it to enhance user experience. Usability Testing can be executed irrespective of the stage of development at which the website is.

Usability testing allows teams to test website functionality and assess each design/feature in real-time. Effective usability testing provides the greatest benefits like user experience optimization, bug identification, and more. Let's discuss them.

Identify issues with process flows

There are a number of processes & flows on the website say it from creating an account to checking out. Usability Testing helps in streamlining the process flow for your users, and lets you know whether they are easy to use and understand or not.

Identifying bugs

One of the important benefits of usability testing is that it is an excellent way of specifying bugs before they appear as a bigger problem. Little errors like broken links, spelling errors, and search inefficiencies can significantly damage the brand's stature. Usability testers are great at finding out the smallest errors in the functionality of a website, as well as the broader user experience as a whole.

Evaluate website expectations

With every usability test, it becomes easier to map whether the website performs as intended in the actual users' environment. It allows you to test whether the website is easy to use or not. It lets you know whether all the designed features are helping the user to complete their goal in their preferred conditions or not.

Optimize websites functionality

Usability Test helps you to identify major and minor issues that hinder the user experience and fixes them to enhance your website.

Improved User Experience

As discussed above, the greatest aim of usability testing is to improve user experience. Because conducting usability tests throughout the website's development lifecycle, you get a completely well-working website. As all those navigation issues and user interface inefficiencies have already been fixed ahead of time. This results in an interactive and easy-to-use website. Identified and resolved issues with the UI and flows, enhanced website performance, and improved user experience. Hence provide increased conversions as users are more likely to convert into customers.

Saves Time For Company and End-User

Since usability testing targets to identify bugs, helps in saving time for both the providers and end-users. Because the issues get fixed before a website is introduced to the market. Discovering usability problems initially allows you to solve the issue as quickly as possible hence saving a lot of time

Real user feedback

Usability testing helps to gather unbiased, accurate, and direct feedback on your website’s user experience. This helps to identify any design issues before reaching the final build. This comes out to be beneficial for the organizations to improve the website according to the target audience.

With the benefits of running usability tests, let’s explore some of the important things to keep in mind when conducting usability tests.

Types of usability tests

There is no single way to conduct usability testing. Whichever way meets the most helpful and actionable insight for the website is the way to go. The type that you need to employ a usability test depends on a range of factors, like the availability of resources, the usability research objectives, and your target audience. These factors may vary depending on the organization and the individual release.

So the organization should consider its objectives and desired outcomes while establishing which types of usability testing to use, and how to approach the task.

Let’s have a look at the following comparison of each type of usability testing in short below.

Remote usability testing vs in-person testing

Usability tests can be accomplished in-person or remotely. Either method is effective, in-person testing is often said to be more revealing, where the users are physically present which allows the moderator to observe and record the participant’s non-verbal responses through body language, eye tracking, and facial expressions.

In remote testing, the tasks assigned to participants are accomplished without the presence of a usability researcher. This type of testing is a great substitute where in-person testing is not financially or practically feasible. It is less time-consuming, inexpensive, and ideal when hiring the right tester is difficult, wanting to obtain results quickly, or pouring resources into hiring a testing center is challenging.

Moderated Vs. unmoderated testing

Moderated usability testing involves an experienced researcher or a  moderator guiding the participant through the test. This can happen either in person or remotely. Moderated usability tests allow the moderator to answer any questions that occur during testing or inquire the participant for more information when needed. this helps in building a genuine rapport between the participant and moderator, which can yield interesting feedback

Unmoderated usability tests allow the participant to complete tasks at their own pace without any supervision. Unmoderated usability testing is suitable for either a small group or a large, diverse pool of participants. The benefit of the unmoderated usability tests is that it provides developers with a resource-light and inexpensive and faster way to gather usability insights from participants.  They can be conducted anytime and anywhere.

This type of usability testing, however, can run into challenges when defects arise.  Both methods have proven effective, however, moderated testing is better for generating deeper insights.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Usability Tests

A usability test can also be qualitative or quantitative. In qualitative usability testing, researchers focus on gathering insights, narratives, and findings on how users utilize the website. Qualitative usability testing is best suited for identifying problems related to user experience.

In quantitative usability testing, the focus is on collecting statistics related to the user experience. The most common metrics collected in quantitative usability tests are the time spent completing tasks and task success rate.

Usability Testing vs User Testing

Usability testing and user testing are two different types of tests that are not interchangeable and should not be confused with one or the other.

User testing aims to test the utility of the application which involves learning and testing the product. It is done to categorize the behavior patterns along with responses and thereby, determine how they plan to use the application.

On the other hand, usability testing is done when the application has been made and is ready for review. This testing is often performed during the middle of the development phase in most projects.

Explorative vs. comparative testing

Explorative or comparative testing is used, depending on the type of information needed to obtain from the research participants.

Exploratory testing is essentially open-ended testing. In an explorative usability test scenario, participants try out your application before being asked to give their opinions openly. On the other hand in comparative testing, participants will be given two products or designs and asked which one they prefer.

Usability Testing using the LambdaTest platform

Usability testing for any websites/applications requires designing and continuous monitoring test scenarios of all the sets of actions taken by the test participants. Once this testing has been taken care of and the designs are finalized it is best to automate the test cases for testing that might need to be executed a number of times for multiple releases or on various devices.

For this, more and more testers are moving to cloud-based platforms because of the ease of use and the flexibility of remote testing. Though running usability tests requires manual intervention, modern platforms make it possible to test remotely and easily. It lets you reach a large number of audiences without putting an extra burden of resources on your team.

Hence as a tester, you must use test automation tools effectively to provide the greatest user experience. It is also important to keep in mind that real devices and operating systems guarantee accurate test results, and real-world success while testing in real user conditions.

Hence to test a mobile application under real user conditions it is suggested to test on a real device cloud like the LambdaTest. It allows you to perform usability testing of your websites and mobile apps by providing a cloud of more than 3000 real devices, platforms, and operating systems with their combinations. You can run both manual and automated tests using the LambdaTest platform. Based on your testing requirements this platform also allows testing of your apps on cloud-based Android Emulators and iOS Simulators.

LambdaTest provides you with a set of features that supports all of your testing requirements. It lets you perform automated mobile app testing with the least effort. It supports a number of programming languages using which you can create complex test steps. This platform helps you to set up tasks and monitor the testing environment easily and effectively.


So, in conclusion, it can be said that usability testing is a vital step in the website development pipeline. It ensures that website users get exactly what they want with the least effort, and the website is inspiring them to make approval of it under the best possible user experience.


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