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5 things you need to know about UX Usability Testing

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“It’s about catching customers in the act, and providing highly relevant and highly contextual information.” — Paul Maritz, CEO at Pivotal

What’s the secret to creating a product that hits the nail on the head every time?! The answer may be surprising to some because it’s usability testing. And it’s way more important than you think. 

In a broader meaning, it means to make sure that anything you’ve created or worked hard for is going to work well among any person with any average ability. 

Regardless of whether the product is either an app, a washing machine, or a running shoe, if you can collect and validate results that say that your users can use the product for its intended purpose without any hurdles, then your product is all set to go to the moon!

Let’s take a deeper look at more about Usability Testing. 

What Is Usability Testing in UX?

A person testing an app and the moderator making notes which represents usability testing in UX
UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Usability testing, in a general context, means the evaluation and testing of your product among real people who can act on a set of instructions, and complete a list of tasks while at the same time observations of their interaction can be made. 

In UX design, it is a practice, often conducted repeatedly where we find the ease of use in a design with ideal users. Every user should be able to interact with your product without the feeling of ripping their hair out. 

Some common use cases when conducting a usability test:

  • Finding product and customer pain points
  • Checking if users can navigate easily
  • Observing the ease and speed at which users complete tasks
  • Validating the value proposition of your product among potential customers

Usability Testing Methods

A person with VR headset on is trying out a digital product while the moderator and others make observations which represents Usability testing methods
Jannis Blume on Unsplash

There are three major ways to conduct a usability test, which are: 

Guerilla Usability Testing: This is the kind of testing where your priority is to cut short any time-consuming aspects of the usability testing phase. To achieve this, the moderator chooses public areas to conduct the usability test. 

For instance, visit your local Starbucks and approach people to be a part of your usability test.

It’s the quickest way because instead of asking people to come to you, you’re going to them instead. This is a huge shortcut for you.

In-Person Usability Testing: Similar to Guerilla usability testing, except for the fact that this isn’t conducted in a public area. You can either go for moderated in-person testing or unmoderated in-person testing. 

As the names suggest, moderated could be something like inside a lab with a moderator present, and unmoderated would look still be a controlled physical setting, not necessarily a lab, just without a moderator present. 

Remote Usability Testing: This method has become widely used recently because of obvious reasons. In this method, the moderator and users connect with each other on a remote meeting platform. The entire session is recorded with users as they interact with your product. 

Usability Testing vs User Testing

A person tasting coffee as part of user testing which represents Usability testing vs User testing
Battlecreek Coffee Roasters on Unsplash

Many designers have guilted over confusing usability testing with user testing. In every designer’s defense out there, this can be a little confusing, as there there are several similarities between the two. 

Similarities such as:

  • Both aim on meeting real user needs
  • Both spend time extensively to understand users’ pain points
  • Both are essential in finding solutions to address pain points

User testing is where you uncover whether your target audience needs a solution. This can tell you and your business whether a need for your product or service exists in the market.

On the other side, usability testing is something that might come after there has been user testing. It looks at whether the target audience can effectively and easily use your product or service.

Types of Usability Testing 

Several paste it notes on a whiteboard with one in focus and others blurred out. The one in focus says 'Run a usability test'
David Travis on Unsplash

Any research we do falls under either of two categories, qualitative or quantitative. There are some key differences between them, one of which is the data they work with. Qualitative deals with the ‘why’ while quantitative focuses on ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ of the testing phase. 

Qualitative Usability Testing: The reason why Qualitative deals with the ‘why’ of user research are because it contains observational findings, which means there isn’t any statistical aspect to the data. It comes in the form of notes and comments from the users. 

Quantitative Usability Testing: Quantitative data, as we said earlier, focuses on the ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ of research. This is why it is statistical in nature and expressed largely in numerical formats. 

Examples of quantitative usability data are completion rates, misclick rates, time spent, etc.

Best Usability Testing Practices

Rishabh Jain, founder of Confetti Design Studio at an in-person usability testing session

Get Consent

Since users only have a limited idea of what they’re consenting to, a better practice is to ask for consent twice. Once at the beginning of the session and then at the end. The first consent is usually to ask if we can record the test and its results. 

The second one, however, is to ask whether we can keep and use the data from the results.

Be inclusive

It’s pretty simple; if you want different perspectives on your product then you should be intentional about including people from different demographics, market segments, different abilities, and usage behaviors. 

This will help you understand more about your product from people who see and do things differently than you. 

Run a pilot test

Before going full swing and testing with potential or existing customers, it’s a nice idea to first run a pilot of the usability test with someone from your company, preferably anyone who’s not on your team. It works as a great launching pad. 

Be mindful of the length

People don’t exist to give product feedback all day. Be mindful of the length of your usability test. It only needs to go as far as getting you accountable results. If you’re afraid that the testing may be too long, you can probably run it in multiple sessions. 


Today, more than ever, gaining an advantage in the sea of competition depends largely on your ability to create memorable experiences. And usability testing is paramount in the success of such an experience. To get the most out of usability testing, you will need to align your goals and target audience with an appropriate usability testing method.

Confetti Design Studio is an award winning creative design firm based in India. We work with companies around the world by providing them premium design solutions ranging from product design, web design & graphic design. Contact us right now so we can get started on your amazing idea and project.

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