Introduction to Usability Testing

September 11, 2018

Usability testing is a process to assess a product or service by testing it with users. During this testing process users will try to complete a task and testers will observe and take notes. The aim is to identify any usability problems, collect qualitative and quantitative data and find out the users view about the product. To perform an effective usability test testers need to develop a test plan, gather users from different walks of life and analyze the test results with proper reports.

Usability testing is done on a usable prototype of the service or the product. In this way the designers and developers are able to find out the problems with the service before even start implementing as a final product. The problems are identified and fixed during the test phase.

In the time of the test the testers evaluate the followings:

  • Evaluate if users are able to complete tasks successfully.
  • Identify how long it takes to complete specific tasks.
  • Find out how satisfied users are with the product.
  • Identify changes required to improve user experience and user satisfaction.
  • Analyze the results to know if it meets usability objectives.

The major difference between usability testing and traditional testing (bug testing, acceptance testing etc.) is that usability testing takes place with actual users or customers of the product. On the other hand traditional testing might be undertaken by a developer, designer or project manager. Usability testing removes any bias by collecting feedback direct from the end user.

There are different types of usability testing:

Comparative Usability Testing

This testing is used to compare the usability of one system with another. Comparative tests are commonly used to compare a system against similar kinds of systems, it can also be used to compare two designs to determine which provides the best user experience. This can also be called as A/B testing.

Explorative Usability Testing

Before a new product is released, explorative usability testing can establish what content and functionality a new product should include to meet the needs of its users. Users test a range of different services where they are given realistic scenarios to perform, which helps to identify any problem with the prototype and helps the designers to find out the probable solutions to the problems.

Usability Evaluation

This is the test of a new or updated service either pre or post-launch. This usability test introduces users to the new design to ensure it is easy to use and provides a positive user experience. The aim of the usability evaluation is to find out any issues and fixed it before the product is launched.

Usability testing can be conducted in different stage of project lifecycle. It’s an iterative process which is carried out throughout the product development time. Usability testing gives us the opportunity to test the prototype at an early stage of development with real users and helps designers to find out the problems in it. Based on the results of the test the prototype is modified to ensure best experience for the users.


1. Nielsen, J. (2003). Usability 101: introduction to usability. All Usability. 9. 1-10.

2. Følstad, A. (2017). Users’ design feedback in usability evaluation: a literature review. Human-centric Computing and Information Sciences 2017 7:19.