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The Beginner’s Guide to Usability Testing

The Beginner’s Guide to Usability Testing in 2022

Usability testing is a prominent UX research process that involves evaluating a product or service with real-world users. Participants will typically attempt to complete standard tasks during a test while observers monitor, listen, and take notes. The purpose is to find any usability issues, collect qualitative and quantitative data, and assess how satisfied the participants are with the product. Designing an effective, efficient, and delightful experience for your users is vital, whether you start simply by watching session recordings or go all out and hire a lab with eye-tracking equipment.

However, usability testing has advantages that go beyond functionality and usability. More importantly, it assists you in fully comprehending your product's use cases, knowing your audience, and developing a quality product.

Why do we need to do usability testing?

Usability testing is carried out by a sample group of real users, who are more likely to uncover difficulties that individuals already familiar with a product are unaware of.

The feedback help marketers, blind designers, and product owners understand the usability flaws in their products and improve the user experience.

Bringing in fresh users to test your product and seeing how actual people use it are both excellent strategies to see if your test user:

  • Don't get 'lost' or confused while navigating the product.

  • Can carry out the principal tasks at hand.

  • Don't come across usability issues or defects.

  • Have a pleasant and productive experience.

This type of user research is especially vital for new products or design upgrades. Without it, you risk being stuck with a UX design process that your team members understand, but your target audience does not.

Usability testing: What are the different types?

Quantitative vs. qualitative

Quantitative usability testing aims to collect data and define metrics such as task completion rates, number of errors, time on task, etc. For benchmarking, quantitative testing is the best option.

Qualitative testing is the most effective method for identifying issues with the user experience. It aims to gather information, insights, and stories about how people use a product or service. It is a more popular type of usability testing compared to quantitative testing.

Laboratory vs. remote testing

Participants are observed in person while engaging with the product/service in a laboratory usability test to see how people use it. Furthermore, many laboratory studies can collect data on eye movement, which offers extra insight into how users navigate your product and record the participants' faces, displaying certain emotions that reflect the participants' true feelings when using your product. Laboratory testing sessions are often recorded for further analysis and insight generation.

Remote usability testing is of two types:

Remote moderated testing

It functions in the same way as in-person research. The facilitator continues to connect with the participant and assigns tasks. However, the facilitator and the participant are physically separated. Screen-sharing technologies like Skype or GoToMeeting may be used to conduct moderated testing.

Remote unmoderated testing

The facilitator–participant interaction in remote unmoderated usability testing is not the same as in in-person or moderated tests. The researcher creates written assignments for the participant using a specific online remote-testing tool. The participant then completes the tasks independently and in their own time. The task instructions and any follow-up questions are delivered via the testing tool. The researcher receives a videotape of the session and measures metrics such as task performance once the participant completes their test.

Steps to perform usability testing

The steps of the usability testing procedure are as follows:


The usability test goals are defined at this step. You must establish the system's core functionalities and objectives and offer assignments to your testers that will put these critical functions to the test. The usability testing technique, quantity and demographics of usability testers, and test report formats are all defined at this phase.


Recruit the appropriate number of testers according to your usability test plan during this step. It might take some time to find testers that fit your demographic (age, sex, etc.) and professional (education, job, etc.) profile.

Usability testing

The actual testing is carried out during this phase, and the tests are recorded for further analysis.

Data evaluation

Usability test data is extensively evaluated to extract relevant conclusions and provide practical recommendations for improving the product's usability.


The usability test results are communicated to all interested parties, including the designers, developers, clients, project sponsors, and other stakeholders.

Factors affecting the cost of the testing process

Your testing expenses are determined by:

  • Types of tests carried out
  • The number of people in the testing team
  • Total number of test participants
  • How many days you will be testing

Remember to plan for multiple usability tests. It is an iterative process to improve the usability of a website (or any product). When asking for funds for usability testing, consider the following aspects:


To plan the usability test, you'll need some time. The usability specialist and the team will take time to know the product and pilot test the test scenarios. Make time for test preparation, executing tests, evaluating data, producing the report, and presenting the results.

Costs of recruiting

Think about how and where you'll find your participants. Depending on your needs, you'll need to arrange a time for your employees or hire a third-party service provider to recruit the participants.

Compensation for participants

Consider including compensation for participants' time and travel in your testing budget.

Rental fees

You'll need to spend on lab or other rentals if you don't have monitoring or recording equipment. You may also need to reserve a testing site, such as a conference room.

Is there a difference between usability testing and user testing?

Most engineers, project managers, and even UX designers are confused by the distinction between usability testing and user testing.

User tests are conducted to confirm a product's demand. In contrast, usability testing assesses whether or not end-users can perform what they need to do on an existing prototype. User testing occurs before product development, whereas usability testing occurs at a later stage.


Throughout the project lifecycle, usability testing can be utilized in various ways. Despite its inability to replicate real-life usage, it is still the most significant way to ensure that your product helps users achieve their objectives swiftly and effectively.

Businesses are more likely to offer a thriving product if they fulfill the wants and expectations of their users.

Frequently Asked Questions

Usability testing determines how simple a product is to use by putting it to the test with real users. Users are asked to perform activities while being observed by a researcher to identify where they have difficulty or get confused. If other users have similar concerns, researchers suggest improvements in the product to improve the user experience.

If a T.V. brand wants to evaluate the usability of its product, it would need to test it with a potential customer. To determine whether the machine is useable, the company should choose potential customers and assign them a specific job, monitoring whether the assignment is simple for the client to complete.

An average user test lasts 60–90 minutes. After that, users get exhausted, and performing usability sessions longer than two hours becomes challenging. (Multi-day investigations are doable, but they need a different approach and are uncommon.)

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