What is usability testing
Best practices
7 mins read
August 5, 2022

What is Usability Testing?

Software projects don't always end up being a success. According to the annual CHAOS report by Standish Group, out of a total of 50,000 projects globally, only one out of three succeed. How do you join their ranks? Simple: invest in usability testing.

Martin Koch

Usability testing, also known as user experience(UX) testing, is an important part of any design process. It provides insights into how users connect with a product, and helps you reduce the risk of making costly mistakes. Put simply,  testing UX allows developers to make all necessary improvements before launching the product.

To do UX testing, you will need to select a small group of participants (about 5 end-users) to interact with your application. These individuals will let you know if it actually does what it is meant to do. According to an article on Measuring UX, usually, 5 users are enough to detect over 85% of usability issues. 

Why should you do UX testing?

When you bring in people to assess your new website, app, or software, you will be able to effectively determine if:

  • Your target users can properly use the product without getting confused
  • People will be able to use it to perform the tasks it was designed for
  • There are no bugs and usability issues with the software
  • There are any other issues that could affect the site or app in future.

Running usability assessments, especially when you use the best issue tracker available, will help you discover the kinks in your software before launching.

User experience software testing case studies

McDonald’s is one of the most popular brands in the world. With more than 13,000 restaurants in the USA alone, it is one of the largest fast-food chains globally. 

McDonald’s launched their app in the UK in 2015, but first, it ran usability checks to ensure that there were no problems. The assessment covered 20 cases involving the entire customer journey, as well as 225 interviews.

Usability issues detected during this process include:

  • Call-to-action buttons are not clearly visible or interactive
  • Problems communicating between the restaurant’s back office and the app
  • User experience impaired by a lack of customization

Because these issues were caught on time, McDonald’s was able to launch an app that met the UX expectations of its customers.

UX testing techniques

Here are some of the most common usability testing methods that you can use to get an idea of the user-friendliness of your product. 

  • Guerilla testing: Also called hallway usability testing, this is a quick and informal way to gather data about how users interact with an application and to identify areas for improvement.
  • Lab usability testing: This is done in the presence of observers in a lab-like environment. The observers are there to monitor the process, observe the behaviour of the users and document results. 
  • Session recordings: This technique involves recording real actions taken by real people as they use the IT product. These recordings will help you improve your product or service. 
  • Phone interviews: This technique simply involves asking people to share their experiences using your software. You will ask a checklist of questions that will provide insight into how people actually see the product.
  • Card sorting: This method involves participants organizing topics into different groups according to a predetermined benchmark. It allows researchers to identify patterns in the way people use the application.

How to do UX testing

Here are the common steps involved in user experience testing:

  • Plan the session: This is the stage where you determine criteria for selecting participants, the number of candidates and the tasks you will assign them.
  • Recruiting participants: The next step is finding people who are willing to participate in the program.
  • Designing the task(s): Once you’ve found some potential participants, it’s time to design the tasks for your usability study. Think about what information will be most valuable for your development process and create tasks around them. 
  • Running the session: Once you’ve come up with your list of tasks, it’s time to start running them, based on the technique you decided on.
  • Analysing the insights: This is where you thoroughly analyse the findings from the usability software testing sessions to derive the insights that you need to improve your design.

steps of usability testing

Usability testing advantages

Now that we know the definition of usability testing and how it works, it is time to look at its advantages. 

  • It helps you to find problems quickly and efficiently.
  • It helps reduce development costs.
  • You’ll collect real data that will provide valuable insight into how to improve your product.
  • This is a very effective way to learn about your product and make it better.

usability testing advantages


Hopefully, this article has taught you how to define usability testing and why you need it for your web or software product. UX and user acceptance testing are very important parts of any software project. It is the ideal way to find out if your app or website works as well as it should.

You can recruit friends and family to get honest opinions about your design, but be sure to use usability testing steps that work for your test-users.

However, the best option is to have a user friendly testing facility like aqua run your QA testing software project. This is the best way to get actionable results as you can be sure that every scenario will be covered.

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What is meant by usability testing?

Usability testing scrutinises the user experience of a product to see if users can accomplish what they need without issues. It can be done manually by going through all the possible scenarios or automatically by imitating the inputs. 

What are the principles of usability testing?

Invite varying users, test key (if not just “happy”) paths, avoid leading questions for feedback, study behaviour over verbal responses.

Why is usability testing needed?

Usability testing is a must because it answers the most important question: can your customer make (and maintain) business with you? If your software fails usability testing, your business model will collapse too

What are UX testing benefits?

UX testing helps you improve sales and conversion by observing where purchases lag behind or outright stop happening. It can also increase customer satisfaction and retention by polishing how the software works for existing clients.

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