Beginners Guide to Usability Testing in UX & It’s Different Methods

If you’re into Website designing or User Experience (UX) Designing then you must have heard about Usability Testing. If you haven’t then you have come to the right place. In this article, we have covered everything you need to know about Usability Testing. So let’s get started.


What is Usability Testing in UX?

Usability testing is a popular UX research methodology. It is the method by which we can test for the ease of using an application or product. In a usability-testing session, a researcher (called a “facilitator” or a “moderator”) asks a participant to perform tasks, usually using one or more specific user interfaces. While the participant completes each task, the researcher observes the participant’s behavior and listens for feedback. Usability testing reduces the risk of building the wrong thing. It saves money, time and other precious resources.


Why do Usability Testing?

Usability testing lets the design and development teams identify problems before they are coded. The earlier issues are identified and fixed, the less expensive the fixes will be in terms of both staff time and possible impact to the schedule. And in result users will have decent web/mobile page experience.

There are many software applications/websites, which miserably fail, once launched, due to following reasons:

  • Which page needs to be navigated?
  • Error messages are not consistent or effectively displayed
  • If the information displayed on a website/app is difficult to read, people leave
  • Which icon represents what?
  • If the session loading time is not sufficient

The goal of this testing is to satisfy users. According to Guru99, it mainly concentrates on the following parameters of a system:

The effectiveness of the system

  • Is the system is easy to learn?
  • Is the system useful and adds value to the target audience?
  • Are the used Content, Color, Icons, Images aesthetically pleasing?


  • Little navigation should be required to reach the desired screen or webpage, and scrollbars should be used infrequently.
  • Uniformity in the format of screen/pages in your application/website.
  • Option to search within your software application or website.


  • No outdated or incorrect data like contact information/address should be present.
  • No broken links should be present.

User Friendliness

  • Controls used should be self-explanatory and must not require training to operate
  • Help should be provided for the users to understand the application/website
  • Alignment with the above goals helps in effective usability testing


Types/Methods of Usability Testing

There are different methods for usability testing. Which one you choose depends on your product and where you are in your design process.

  • Moderated vs. unmoderated usability testing

A moderated testing session is administered in person or remotely by a trained researcher who introduces the test to participants, answers their queries, and asks follow-up questions.

An unmoderated test is done without direct supervision; participants might be in a lab, but it’s more likely they are in their own homes and/or using their own devices to browse the website that is being tested.

  • Remote vs. in person usability testing

Remote usability tests are done over the internet or by phone.

In-person testing, as the name suggests, requires the test to be completed in the physical presence of a UX researcher/moderator.

Img Courtesy: HotJar


1) Moderated + in-person usability testing

Guerilla testing

Guerilla testing is the simplest form of usability testing. Basically, guerrilla testing means going into a public place such as a coffee shop to ask people about your prototype. Test participants are chosen randomly.  They are asked to perform a quick usability test, often in exchange for a small gift (such as a free coffee). It’s low cost and relatively simple testing that enables real user feedback.


Lab usability testing

As the name suggests, lab usability testing is testing run in special environments (laboratories) and supervised by a moderator. A moderator is a professional who is looking to obtain feedback from live users. During a moderated test, moderators are facilitating test participants through tasks, answering their questions, and replying to their feedback in real-time.


2. Moderated + remote usability testing

Phone interview

A phone interview is a remote usability test where a moderator verbally instructs participants to complete tasks on their device and feedback is collected automatically (the user interaction recorded remotely).

A women working on laptop and talking to someone over phone
Img Courtesy:

Card sorting

Card sorting is an excellent method for prioritizing content and features in user interface. The technique is relatively simple all you need to do is place concepts (content, features) on cards and allow test participants to manipulate the cards into groups and categories. As soon as test participants sort the cards, a moderator should ask them to explain their logic (to understand the reasoning).


3. Unmoderated + remote

Session recording

Session recording is a method of recording the actions that real (but anonymized) users take while they interact with a site. Session recording data helps to understand what content/features are the most interesting for the users (via heatmap analysis) as well as what interaction problems users face while they interact with your product.

Video courtesy: HotJar


4. Unmoderated + in-person

Eye tracking 

Eye tracking technology tracks the movement of the user’s eyes to determine what the user is looking at on a screen, the user’s journey in a page and what users perceive as attractive or unattractive.

It focuses on two things – Fixation: Where a user eye stops or lingers over a UI element and Saccade: When a user eye is in motion rolling over without fixating anywhere.

Some popular tools are: &


Methods that are not usability testing:

  • Heat maps & Scroll maps: These are used to produce a visual representation of how users move around a page by showing its hottest (most popular) and coolest (least popular) parts. They are technically not usability testing because they report on user actions in aggregate, but they are a good way to observe and objectively measure behavior on your website.
  • A/B testing (also known as split testing): It’s a technique in which we compare two or more versions of a web page against each other, in order to determine which version performs better in terms of driving leads, sales or completing other conversions. The goal of A/B testing is to find the page that will convert better, while the purpose of usability testing is finding usability issues that prevent users from having great user experience.


Advantages of usability testing:

  • internal debates can be resolved by testing the issue to see how users react to the different options being discussed
  • issues and potential problems are highlighted before the product is launched
  • it minimizes the risk of the product failing
  • It helps improve end-user satisfaction
  • It helps gather true feedback from your target audience who actually use your system during a usability test. You do not need to rely on “opinions” from random people.


Some trending online courses on Usability Testing:

Understanding User Needs

UX Research at Scale: Surveys, Analytics, Online Testing

Introduction to User Experience Principles and Processes

Agile Development Specialization

Digital Product Management Specialization

User Experience Research and Design Specialization


Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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