Luxe Quality logo
Quality Assurance

Dariya Malakhova, Automation and Manual Quality Assurance Engineer

Dec 22, 2023 15 min read

How To Conduct Usability Testing: A Guide To Best Practice

Usability is a non-functional aspect of testing and an essential part of functional testing. Conducting usability testing helps you understand how users think, feel, and act when they use your product.

How To Conduct Usability Testing

Usability is a non-functional aspect of testing and an essential part of functional testing. First, figure out "When to do usability testing?". Determining the right time for usability testing is essential for anyone seeking to enhance the user experience of a product.  

Testing an app with user experience quality in mind is always a good idea. Here are four ways to do it: 

  1. Investigate the expected user scenarios. Typically, while testing an app, we don't use it like normal users, focusing on one feature or page at a time. A good strategy is to find out how real people will use the app and run it through those scenarios.   
  2. As you walk through user scenarios, look for situations that require multiple clicks or steps. Can this be accomplished with fewer clicks?     
  3. Test a new feature before you know what it should do. This strategy is almost unused now due to the popularity of testing through development. Even if your company doesn't use TDD, you're probably present when discussing new features. That's what your users will do, so anything that confuses or seems complicated to you will likely be confusing or complicated to them, too. An alternative to testing when you do not know a feature is to ask someone who has never used the app to drive it around.     
  4. When testing, see if everything can be done with the keyboard or mouse. People who use apps extensively want to be able to use them as quickly as possible. 

How to conduct usability testing is up to you, but often, it is a complex process. 

What is usability testing, and why do you need it?  

Usability testing is user research that evaluates how easy and pleasant it is to use your product. Conducting usability testing helps you understand how users think, feel, and act when they use your product. 

How to conduct remote usability testing using the following steps:  

The purpose of usability testing is both user and business-oriented. It aims to reduce the number of clicks, making the interaction process as convenient as possible and providing a positive user experience. Remote usability testing will help you:  

  • Increase user conversion and loyalty  
  • Reduce product development and support costs  
  • Increase the competitiveness and reputation of your product  
  • Meet usability standards and regulations  

During testing, we can:  

  • Evaluate the usability of the product and compare it with similar products  
  • Find product’s weaknesses and strengths  
  • Gain a better understanding of user scenarios  
  • Observe user behavior and interaction with the product 
  • Identify user impressions: whether there is a "wow effect" and the product's  

We delve step by step into how to conduct remote usability testing. The key is that regular testing and refining your product based on feedback will make it more user-friendly. 

Usability testing is often confused with other user research methods, but they are not the same thing. Here are some examples of what usability testing is not:  

  • A/B testing is a method of comparing two design or functionality options to determine which one works better to achieve a certain goal. A/B testing is based on quantitative data such as the number of clicks, time on page, or percentage of purchases. Usability testing is based on qualitative data such as user opinions, emotions, and concerns.  
  • Surveys are a method of gathering information from a large number of users through multiple-choice questions or free text. Surveys help you find out what users think and feel about your product, but they don't reveal how they interact with it.  
  • Focus groups gather information from a small group of users through a moderated discussion on a specific topic. Focus groups help you discover what users are interested in and concerned about but do not show how they solve their problems with your product. 
  • User testing is a general name for user research methods that involve testing products and ideas on real people. This can be done using quantitative methods such as surveys or A/B testing to get user feedback early in the development process. This is not the same as usability testing, which uses qualitative methods such as observation or interviews to understand why users have difficulty completing tasks. 

Usability testing  

Usability and accessibility testing are two often overlooked types of application testing. Usability testing relates to user experience and tests how easy and intuitive an application is to use. Accessibility testing checks whether the app is easy to use for people with disabilities. Let's look at a few examples: 

Online hotel booking website testing.  

  • Purpose: To test how easily and quickly users find and book a suitable hotel.  
  • Tasks: Enter city, date, and number of guests; filter results by price, rating, and amenities. Later, select a hotel and make a reservation.  
  • Method: Simulated booking process where they enter a city, dates, and number of guests. Then, filter results based on price, rating, and amenities, select a hotel and go through the reservation.  
  • Data: Turnaround time, number of errors, satisfaction level, user feedback, and suggestions.  

Testing a mobile app for ordering food at home.  

  • Purpose: to test how attractive and functional the app design is.  
  • Tasks: register in the application; select a restaurant and a dish; add delivery address and payment method; confirm the order.  
  • Method: Scenario testing, in which several typical tasks will be performed, such as searching for a restaurant, selecting dishes, placing an order, and paying. Recording execution time, errors, and difficulties. 
  • Data: Quantitative methods involve statistical analysis of runtime and error data. Qualitative methods include content data analysis on product experience issues.  

Testing a virtual reality gaming console. 

  • Purpose: To test how immersive and realistic the gaming experience is.  
  • Tasks: Put on a virtual reality helmet and controllers; select a game from a catalog; complete a level or play a match; rate the game on a five-point scale.  
  • Method: A game is selected from the catalog, a level or match is completed, and then the game is rated on a five-point scale. Blind testing of virtual reality is carried out, evaluating the gaming experience based on one’s own feelings and perceptions.  
  • Data: Game ratings, as well as any noticed problems or shortcomings. 

Accessibility testing  

Accessibility testing is essential because 15% of the population experiences some form of disability. Ensuring that applications are accessible is imperative to reaching the broadest possible audience. The three main types of accessibility testing are visual accessibility, agility accessibility, and auditory accessibility. Here are some tips for each:  

Visual testing:  

  • Is the text large enough? Is it visible to most users? Can it be enlarged if necessary?  
  • Do images have text descriptions so that users relying on text-to-speech tools canunderstand what is in the image?  
  • Are the colors of the app clear and not confusing for color-blind users? 

Agility Testing:  

  • Does your app require any complex "click and drag" or "highlight and click" sequences? Imagine how hard it would be for someone with only one hand or those with limited finger dexterity to perform these. Could the app be modified to make these actions easier to perform?  
  • Are your buttons and links easy to click on? If they're too small, individuals with limited mobility may find it difficult to click accurately. 

Auditory testing:  

  • Does your app have videos? Do they have subtitles so that hard-of-hearing people can understand what it says?  
  • Are there places in your app that rely only on sound effects to convey to the user what's going on? Try using the app with the sound off. Are you missing any information by running your scripts?  

As testers, we want users to have the best possible experience with our app. Usability and accessibility will help make sure users achieve their goals in the app efficiently and easily. 

Consistent steps on how to implement usability testing 

Still asking the question, “How to do usability testing?”. We share everything you need to conduct usability tests and gather actionable insights to improve user experience. Make your product truly customer-centric with the help of our Luxe Quality specialists.  

Step 1: Prepare for testing  

1. Select the target audience  

  • Identify the categories of users who represent your target audience and whom you want to involve in testing. For example, you can divide users by age, gender, education, profession, interests, etc.  
  •  Additionally, you can create user profiles for each category or request them from the company's marketing department, describing their characteristics, needs, preferences, and problems. For example, you can create a profile for a medical student who uses your product to prepare for exams. 

2. Define testing objectives  

  • Formulate the main goal of usability testing for your product or service. For example, you want to test how easy and pleasant it is for users to perform basic functions.  
  • Identify specific testing tasks that will help you achieve this goal. For example, you want to measure the time it takes to perform certain actions. Understudy how conveniently the elements are located and how intuitive it is. 
  • Create a usability test plan for navigation, interface, functionality, and responsiveness of controls. Then, determine the expected test results and success criteria, such as task completion time, number of errors, and user satisfaction. 

3. Develop test scenarios  

  • Create use cases that reflect typical or critical situations where users will use your product or service. For example, you can create a script to search for information about a medication or order food delivery.  
  • List the steps and tasks to be performed in each scenario. For example, the tester indicates that the user can enter the name of a drug in the search box and find the information needed or select a restaurant, meal plan, and payment method.  
  • Check the test scenarios for realism, understandability, and sufficiency. For example, you can test scenarios on colleagues or friends and get their feedback. 

This approach is the best. However, usability testing is often done in parallel with other types of manual testing. 

Step 2: Conduct testing  

1. Prepare the test environment  

Set up the necessary equipment to conduct software usability testing. This may include computers, tablets, smartphones, cameras, microphones, voice recorders, and more. While some applications only require basic devices, testing complex platforms like learning applications might demand additional equipment. 

  • Create a structure for recording your test results, including the data you want to collect and analyze. For example, you can use tables, graphs, charts, videos, audio, etc.  
  • Prepare test materials such as instructions, consent to participate, questionnaires, etc.  

2. Organise testing sessions  

  • Decide whether you will integrate usability testing into the functional manual testing process or schedule a separate time. 
  • Conducting both types of testing simultaneously will require special attention not to miss important details. Multitasking can hinder concentration. 
  • It is valuable to conduct usability testing when you are just starting to work on a new feature, especially when its operation still needs clarification. This allows you to identify potential problems early on. 

Step 3: Analyse the results  

1. Data collection and observation  

  • Record actions and reactions during usability testing using various methods and tools. For example, you can record the task completion time and the number of errors and make comments and remarks.  
  • Try to understand users' motivation, emotions, problems, and needs. For example, you can pay attention to how easy or difficult the tasks are to perform, what reaction to the interface and functionality of the product or service, and what questions or suggestions may arise.  

2. Analyse and interpret the data  

  • Based on the scenarios gone through, it is important to analyze and present the best scenarios and identify the moments where it is most difficult to interact with the app. 

Step 4: Making adjustments  

  1. Formulate recommendations  
  • Formulate recommendations for designers and developers, explaining the reasons and goals of the proposed changes, as well as the expected effects from their implementation. For instance, you might state that increasing font size will improve text readability, changing button color will improve contrast and visual feedback, adding tooltips will help users understand functionality, and simplifying navigation will reduce task completion time.  

2. An iterative process  

  • Conduct usability testing again with a new version of your product or service using the same or similar scenarios, methods and tools. Compare the results of the new testing with the results of the previous testing and evaluate the extent to which the usability of your product or service has improved.  

Step 5: Improving testing  

  •  Based on the existing scenarios and fixes, think about the optimal way to update test cases and create new ones. Write down your observations of the previous testing cycle and note what you should do in the future. 

Recommendations for how to conduct а usability test on a website 

Let's look at how to conduct a usability test as part of a website audit. With a site audit, you can understand whether targeted traffic is reaching its goal, what problems exist, and what actions should be taken to correct the situation. For example, if a virus appears on a website, all search engines will immediately see it and begin to block it. The site will immediately fall into the category of dangerous resources and will be inaccessible to many users. Hence, there is a drop in traffic, low sales, and associated consequences.  

Design and usability also affect sales and encourage users to use your product again. When users get to the site, they pay attention to the design in the first three seconds. If the design is appealing, the next ten seconds involve familiarizing with the structure, navigation, and content. When everything works smoothly, users are more likely to engage further, studying the material or taking the desired action: subscribe, make a call, buy goods, or use the proposed service. 

To better understand what the purpose of product usability testing is, let's consider an example. Suppose you have placed a pop-up window on the site, which offers to specify the phone number and receive a callback from a manager. If this pop-up annoys visitors, they will study the content and make orders from competitors. In this case, timely usability testing of the site will allow you to quickly detect and eliminate the problem: the first user survey will make it clear that the issue is the pop-up window. 

Next, we'll talk about how to test usability yourself. We bring to your attention a set of recommendations on how to do:

Recommendation №1 - Proper categorization on the website

Sometimes some elements are knocked out by colour. This creates a sense of clutter, adds unnecessary emphasis and distracts from exploring the site. If everything is displayed in the same color scheme, you can bring back a sense of brand identity and order.   

Recommendation №2 - Incorrect scrollwork  

Superfluous, non-functional scrolls can be developed with the wrong code. - Editing the code is necessary to make the page error-free.

Recommendation №3 - Error in footer layout  

Sometimes, after updating the main page, an error occurs in the site's footer: there is a grey bar with an inscription and search, which should not be. You need to correct the code and achieve compliance with the original layout.  

The page should end with a small white space, ensuring no distracting elements after the link to social media and payment systems.

Recommendation №4 - Stick to the design and alignment of elements  

Blocks in design usability testing should be structured and form pleasing to the user's eye. Headings and new sections should be in the general concept so they can be easily packed into blocks and arranged. This results in a more neat look and minimizes navigation problems. 

Recommendation №5 - Stick to organic element sizes  

Maintain consistent element sizes to facilitate reader interaction with text and images. This applies to fonts, text sizes, backgrounds, and color schemes.

Recommendation №6 - Incorrect image layout  

In each block, all images should be the same size. If this is not observed, there is a sense of disorder, and the user may think the site is riveted on a hasty hand. Hence, there is distrust, a drop in sales, and other troubles.  Consider the size of the elements for the mobile version because it should be convenient to press with a finger 

Recommendation №7 - Fix the image with a 404 error  

If there is a damaged image on the page, ask the customer to remove it or replace it with a working image. This can be distracting and confusing, making it harder to achieve the main purpose of the user. If it's not possible at the moment, you should let the user know what to expect. For example, the page is under repair and will be available tomorrow.  

Recommendation №8 - Adapt the size of elements in the mobile version  

If there is a layout issue when transitioning to the mobile version of the site, it must be addressed quickly. At the moment, the majority of online purchases are made from mobile phones.  Maintaining an orderly layout on any device from which you access the site is important.  It is worth checking that all images are displayed correctly on a tablet horizontally.  

Recommendation №9 - Adapt the mobile version  

The functionality of the site on any device should be complete, it is important to retain key buttons and elements.  

Following the recommendations will teach you how to do usability testing more efficiently. You may think these things are small, but the totality of these little things affects perception. Always focus on the usability of the flow. All elements should help the user and keep their attention. 

To summarize 

It is important to remember that the testing report turns into useless paper if the site owner does not follow the recommendations. Now you know how to conduct usability testing and what role it plays. We hope this knowledge will help you earn the support of your audience. It is important to understand that the visual design of a website directly affects user perception and their readiness to purchase. Our practice shows that the simpler and cleaner the website design, the higher its conversion. 

Have a project for us?

Let's make a quality product! Tell us about your project, and we will prepare an individual solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the four principles of usability testing?

Principles of Usability Testing
- Focus on real user needs and behaviors. 
- Use findings to make improvements and retest. 
- Gather quantitative and qualitative data. 
- Test users in settings that mimic actual use. 

What are the 5 usability requirements?

Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks? 
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency? 
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors? 
Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design? 

What is usability 5 points?

  • Learnability 
  • Memorability 
  • Simplicity 
  • Mistakes 
  • Satisfaction 

What is a usability checklist?

A usability checklist includes key aspects to assess, such as navigation, content clarity, interface design, accessibility, responsiveness, and user feedback mechanisms. It serves as a guideline to ensure all critical usability factors are considered during design and testing. 

How long should usability testing take?

The length of usability testing can vary depending on the complexity of the product and the testing scope. Typically, individual sessions last between 30 to 90 minutes. The overall testing process, including planning, execution, and analysis, can span from a few days to several weeks. 

Recommended Articles