What is Usability Testing? Explained with Benefits, Types, and Examples

Usability testing is all about ensuring that your product is usable,i.e., it is easy to use and meets the needs of the users. This guide discusses all aspects of usability and aims to clear all your doubts around it.

Usability testing is all about ensuring that your product is easy to use and meets the needs of the people who will use it. This blog post will review the basics of usability tests, its importance, and how it can help you improve your product. We’ll discuss everything from usability testing to the different methods and tools you can use for it. So, let’s dive in!

What is Usability testing?

Usability testing is an essential component of software development. The process involves testing a product with real users to identify design, functionality, and user experience issues, thus, cannot be automated fully. The feedback received from the rounds of usability tests is used to improve the product. Thus, it is ensured that the product meets the needs and expectations of its intended audience. While some aspects of usability tests can be automated, such as data collection and analysis, testing must be conducted with human input.

However, automation can be beneficial after the initial rounds of usability testing. For example, certain test cases may emerge that can be automated to save time and resources for the team. By using test automation tools like Testsigma, these test cases can be automated and integrated into the software development cycle. Here is an interesting blog where you can check about Mobile Usability Testing.

What is Not Usability Testing?

Usability testing is a valuable tool for improving user experience, but it’s important to understand what it isn’t:

1. A one-time event:  Effective usability testing is an iterative process, conducted throughout the development cycle to continuously refine the product based on user feedback.

2. A popularity contest: The goal isn’t to get users to like or dislike the product but to understand how they interact with it and identify areas for improvement.

3. A substitute for user research: While usability testing provides insights into how users interact with a product, it doesn’t tell you why they might need it or what their broader expectations are.

4. A guarantee of perfection: No product will be perfect for every user, but usability testing helps minimize flaws and identify issues that impact the majority.

5. Just about technical testing: While technical functionality is important, usability testing focuses on the user’s perspective and how effectively they can achieve their goals, not just whether the product technically works.

6. Only for experts: Anyone can conduct usability testing, although experience and training can lead to more efficient and insightful sessions.

7. Just about software: Usability testing is relevant to any product or service users interact with, from websites and apps to physical products and interfaces.

Why is Usability Testing Necessary?

Hey, do you know it is necessary to ensure your creation is user-friendly and efficient? Here are some key reasons why:

  1. Improved User Experience: Usability testing allows designers to gain insight into how real users interact with their products, identifying pain points and areas for improvement. This enables them to create intuitive, user-friendly experiences that enhance satisfaction and engagement.
  2. Reduced Development Costs: Testing prototypes early on can identify and address usability issues before they become costly design changes.
  3. Increased Conversion Rates: An easy-to-use product, website, or application is more likely to convert leads into customers or clients.
  4. Better Brand Perception: A positive user experience helps build brand loyalty and improve customer retention rates.
  5. Competitive Advantage: Products with a higher level of usability have a competitive edge in the market, setting them apart from products with poor usability.

In conclusion, investing time and resources into usability testing is essential in creating successful products that deliver an optimal user experience while adding value to your brand.

What is the Purpose of Usability Testing?

Usability testing aims to evaluate how easy and intuitive a product or service is for its target audience. It identifies areas for improvement in the user interface, functionality, and overall user experience. 

By observing real users interact with the product, you can gain valuable insights into their needs, frustrations, and expectations.

When Should You Do Usability Testing?

  • Early and often throughout the development process: Identify problems early and save time and money on rework.
  • Before launch: Ensure a smooth user experience from the start.
  • After major updates: Verify new features are user-friendly and don’t break existing functionality.

When to Automate Your Usability Tests?

The simple answer is that only some aspects of usability tests can be automated. Those include tracking user behavior and collecting data; the testing process cannot be fully automated, as that requires human observation and interaction to understand the user experience and gather feedback.

That said, once usability testing is done, some test cases do emerge that will have to be executed frequently to avoid regressions in the subsequent releases. These test cases become perfect candidates for test automation.

Types of Usability Testing

There are four types of usability tests, each serving a specific purpose in evaluating and improving product usability.

  • Explorative Usability Testing

Explorative Usability Test is a method of evaluating the usability of a product or service. Sometimes it is called Formative testing. It involves the user interacting with the product to understand its features and how they work. This type of testing can help identify potential problems in the user experience before they become an issue. It also provides insights into how users interact with a product, which can be used to improve design and functionality. Explorative Usability Testing allows companies to gain valuable customer feedback, enabling them to create better products that meet their needs. This type of testing is essential for ensuring that products are intuitive and easy to use, providing an optimal user experience.

  • Comparative Usability Testing

Comparative Usability Test is a method of evaluating user experience by comparing the usability of different products or versions of the same product. It is usually done by having a group of users complete tasks using both products and then analyzing which performed better in user experience. This technique is used to identify areas where one product outperforms the other and thereby prioritize improvements. It also helps to understand user preferences and behaviors, which can be useful for making decisions about design changes or new features. Comparative Usability Testing can assess a wide range of products from websites, mobile apps, software applications, physical products, etc.

  • Assessment Usability Testing

Assessment testing is an important part of usability tests, as it provides feedback on how intuitively users can use the product or service and what areas need improvement. Assessment tests evaluate user performance regarding time, accuracy, and task completion rate. The results of these tests can be used to identify areas where improvements can be made to optimize user experience.

  • Validation Usability Testing

This type of testing happens at the end of product development. Validation usability tests helps to identify any issues or roadblocks that could hinder the overall user experience. To conduct effective validation usability testing, it’s essential to clearly understand the target audience, user needs, and use cases. Furthermore, results must be analyzed thoroughly by the team, and the team must make any necessary changes before the final release to ensure optimal usability for end users.

Phases of Usability Testing

Usability testing typically involves four main phases:

1. Planning:

  • Define goals and objectives: What do you want to learn from the test?
  • Recruit participants: Choose users who represent your target audience.
  • Design tasks and scenarios: Create realistic tasks for users to complete.
  • Select testing methods: Choose which techniques (moderated, unmoderated, etc.) you’ll use.
  • Prepare your testing environment: Set up the platform or environment where users will interact with the product.

2. Conducting:

  • Introduce the test and participants: Explain the study’s purpose and set expectations.
  • Observe users completing tasks: Watch users interact with the product and take notes.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Encourage users to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Record the session: Capture user interactions for later analysis.
  • Handle technical issues: Be prepared to troubleshoot any problems that arise.

3. Analyzing:

  • Review recordings and notes: Identify patterns and recurring issues.
  • Analyze quantitative data (e.g., success rates, error messages): Look for quantitative evidence of usability problems.
  • Summarize findings: Create a clear and concise report highlighting key observations and recommendations.
  • Prioritize issues: Focus on the most impactful problems to address first.

4. Reporting and Action:

  • Share findings with stakeholders: Present your results to the team responsible for making changes.
  • Discuss potential solutions: Brainstorm ways to address the identified usability issues.
  • Prioritize improvements: Determine which problems to tackle first and develop action plans.
  • Follow up and monitor progress: Track the implementation of solutions and continue testing to ensure effectiveness.

These phases are flexible and can be adapted depending on the project and testing goals. Some projects may require additional phases, such as recruiting a pilot group for pre-testing or conducting follow-up testing after implementing changes.

Methods of Usability Testing

Usability testing offers a diverse toolbox of techniques, each with strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right one depends on your goals, resources, and project stage. Here’s a breakdown of some popular methods:

Moderated Testing:

  • Lab usability testing: Users interact with the product in a controlled environment while a moderator observes and asks questions. Ideal for in-depth insights and complex tasks.
  • Remote moderated testing: Users test from their locations while a moderator guides them via video conferencing. Cost-effective and good for reaching geographically dispersed audiences.

Unmoderated Testing:

  • Card sorting: Users categorize topics or features, revealing their mental models and information architecture preferences. Useful for early-stage design and content organization.
  • Tree testing: Users navigate through a hierarchical structure of content, identifying any usability issues with the website or app’s information architecture.
  • Clickstream analysis: Records users’ online interactions, revealing their browsing behavior and potential pain points. Useful for identifying hidden trends and optimizing navigation flow.

Eye tracking: 

  • Tracks users’ eye movements to understand where they focus their attention, revealing areas of interest or confusion on interfaces.

A/B testing:

  • Compares two versions of a website or app feature to see which performs better with users. Useful for data-driven decision-making on design elements and functionality.

Guerrilla testing: 

  • Quick and informal tests with readily available participants, like colleagues or friends, to get initial feedback on early prototypes.

Takeaway tips:

  • Each method has its limitations. Combine techniques for a more comprehensive picture.
  • Choose techniques that align with your testing goals and target audience.
  • Prioritize user-friendliness and avoid making users feel judged during testing.
  • Analyze results objectively and translate findings into actionable insights for improvement.

Pros and Cons of Usability Testing

First, let us look into the Pros:


  • Early detection of usability issues saves time and money.
  • Improved user experience leads to higher satisfaction and conversion rates.
  • Reduced support costs due to clearer interfaces and instructions.


  • It can be time-consuming and expensive, especially with large numbers of users.
  • Finding representative users can be challenging.
  • It may only uncover some edge cases or complex user scenarios.

How Do We Do Usability Testing?

  • Recruit participants: Choose users who represent your target audience.
  • Develop tasks and scenarios: Define specific goals users should achieve.
  • Moderate the testing session: Observe users interacting with the product and ask questions.
  • Analyze the results: Identify common issues and areas for improvement.
  • Make changes and iterate: Based on findings, refine the product and conduct further testing.

Testsigma for Automating Your Tests

If you have decided to automate your usability tests, then you should go for a tool that serves you the purpose of test automation; here are some scenarios when Testsigma would help:

1. When you need to automate your tests without learning to code. Testsigma is a no-code test automation tool that makes test case creation and maintenance as easy as writing simple English sentences.

2. Testsigma lets you automate for web, mobile, desktop, and APIs from the same place.

3. Testsigma is available on the cloud or as an open-source platform. You choose the one that suits you.

4. Testsigma is a complete platform where you can create, maintain, execute, and analyze your tests. It also integrates with most cloud device labs for cross-browser testing and third-party integration tools. Thus it would fit easily into your CICD pipeline.

Top 8 Benefits of Website Usability Testing

Website usability testing is integral for businesses to maintain a user-friendly interface and enhance customer satisfaction. It provides significant benefits to a website, including:

  1. Improved User Experience – Usability Testing allows the identification of any issues that may make it difficult for users to navigate through your site.
  2. Increased Conversion Rates – Testing identifies issues with call-to-action buttons or purchase processes, improving conversion rates.
  3. Cost Savings – Early detection of problems ensures minimal expenditure on fixing them after launching the website.
  4. Competitive Advantage – Identifying user concerns that competitors are not addressing can provide a competitive edge.
  5. Enhanced SEO Results – Good usability directly translates into better Google rankings, which leads to more traffic from search engines.
  6. Efficient Navigation– A well-designed website promotes intuitive navigation, allowing users to find what they need quickly and hassle-free.
  7. Better User Engagement – Users with a satisfying platform experience can return or recommend it to others.
  8. Increased Revenue Generation– A user-friendly website leads customers further down the conversion funnel, thus resulting in higher revenue generation potential for online businesses.

Usability Testing Test Cases & Scenario Examples

There are many scenarios, such as:

  • Shopping website: Testing the checkout process to identify confusing steps or errors.
  • Mobile app: Observe users navigating through the app and completing tasks to find pain points and areas for improvement.
  • Website redesign: Testing the new design with users to ensure it’s clear, intuitive, and achieves its goals.

Usability Testing Example

Scenario: Usability Testing for an E-commerce Website

Objective: Evaluate the usability of an e-commerce website to ensure an intuitive and satisfying shopping experience for users.

Test Scenario:

  • Navigation and Homepage:
    • Task: Find and select a specific category of products (e.g., laptops).
    • Evaluate: How easily the user navigates to the desired category from the homepage. Assess the clarity of menu options and the visibility of the search bar.
  • Product Search:
    • Task: Search for a specific product within the selected category.
    • Evaluate: The effectiveness of the search feature, including speed, accuracy, and relevance of search results. Assess the availability of filters to refine search options.
  • Product Details:
    • Task: Click on a product and review its details (e.g., specifications, price, customer reviews).
    • Evaluate: The clarity of product information, the ease of understanding specifications, and the visibility of pricing and customer reviews.
  • Add to Cart and Checkout:
    • Task: Add a product to the cart and proceed to checkout.
    • Evaluate: The simplicity of adding items to the cart, visibility, and the checkout process’s intuitiveness. Assess the clarity of payment options.
  • Account Registration:
    • Task: Create a new user account.
    • Evaluate: The ease of the account registration process, including the clarity of form fields, validation messages, and the security of the registration process.
  • Mobile Responsiveness:
    • Task: Access the website from a mobile device and perform a product search.
    • Evaluate: The website’s responsiveness on different screen sizes, the ease of navigation, and the overall user experience on a mobile device.
  • Error Handling:
    • Task: Intentionally enter incorrect information during checkout.
    • Evaluate: How the system handles errors, the clarity of error messages, and the guidance provided to the user for correcting mistakes.
  • Logout and Account Management:
    • Task: Log out of the account and explore account management options.
    • Evaluate: The visibility and accessibility of the logout option, as well as the clarity of account management features (e.g., password change, order history).
  • Feedback and Support:
    • Task: Provide feedback on the website’s usability or contact customer support.
    • Evaluate: The accessibility of feedback options, the clarity of the process for submitting feedback, and the availability of customer support information.
  • Overall User Experience:
    • Task: Summarize the overall experience of using the website.
    • Evaluate: The tester’s overall impression, highlighting positive aspects and identifying any pain points or areas that could be improved for a better user experience.

Usability testing aims to uncover issues related to user interface design, navigation, and overall user satisfaction, ensuring that the e-commerce website is user-friendly and meets the expectations of its target audience.

Example Test Cases

For example, Task: Create a new account on the website.

  • The user clicks on the “Sign In” or “Register” button
  • The user fills out the required fields such as name, email, and password
  • User clicks on the “Submit” button and verifies that their account was successfully created, and they are redirected to the homepage.
Example image: Testsigma

In addition to above steps, for testing usability – ease of use of the registration form needs to be considered too. Users should be able to understand the required information, and the form should be easy to navigate and register.

Further, the feedback provided by the website after successfully creating an account should be clear and concise so that users can easily understand what to do next. By defining clear test cases and focusing on usability points, testers can ensure that their products are intuitive and user-friendly.

Best Practices of Usability Testing

  1. Focus on realistic scenarios and tasks: Don’t just ask users to navigate menus; simulate actual tasks they’d do, like booking a flight or completing a purchase.
  2. Recruit representative users: Find participants who match your target audience in demographics, experience, and behavior.
  3. Keep it simple and natural: Use clear instructions and avoid leading questions. Let users explore freely and discover any issues themselves.
  4. Emphasize observation over feedback: Watch users closely to understand their actions, hesitations, and expressions. Use open-ended questions to prompt further insights.
  5. Record sessions for later analysis: This allows you to revisit user interactions and identify subtle issues you might miss in real time.
  6. Prioritize critical findings: Focus on the most frequent and impactful problems first.
  7. Share findings clearly and concisely: Present your results in a way that resonates with stakeholders, using visuals and concrete examples.
  8. Make it actionable: Don’t just identify problems; propose solutions and prioritize them for implementation.
  9. Test throughout the development cycle: Don’t wait until the end. Testing early and often allows for iterative improvements and saves time and resources.
  10. Use a mix of techniques: Combine moderated and unmoderated testing, as well as quantitative and qualitative methods, to get a comprehensive view of user experience.
  11. Build a culture of usability: Encourage ongoing user research and testing within your team to make user-centered design a core principle.
  12. Be humble and learn from users: Accept that even the best designs have flaws. Listen to user feedback and be open to adapting your product based on their needs.

By following these best practices, you can ensure your usability testing is effective and insightful and helps you create a product that users love to use.

Factors Affecting Cost of Usability Testing

These are some of the major factors affecting cost:

  • Number of users
  • Testing complexity (tasks, techniques)
  • Recruitment method (internal, external agencies)
  • Tooling and platform usage


In summary, Usability Testing assesses a product’s ease of use, efficiency, and satisfaction by observing users engaging in specific tasks.

The goal is to uncover any usability issues preventing users from achieving their desired objectives efficiently. Through this blog, you can now understand Usability Tests provides valuable insights into how users interact with a product, identifying pain points and areas for improvement. By conducting this testing, companies can ensure that their products meet user needs and are optimized for usability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Usability Testing different from User Testing?

Yes, Usability testing and user testing are distinct from each other.

  • Usability testing assesses the user experience by concentrating on a product’s capacity to be used.
  • On the other hand, user testing takes a more thorough approach to a product or service and encompasses testing the user interface, content, and overall user experience, including its usability.
  • User Testing may also involve focus interviews with users.
  • A small group of participants frequently conducts usability testing in a controlled environment.
  • While User testing can involve a more extensive and diverse group of users.
  • User testing can offer valuable insights into how various types of users interact with a product or service and assist in identifying areas for improvement.

By integrating both usability and user testing into the design process, businesses can create products that are not only user-friendly but also meet the needs and expectations of their target audience.

What are the key differences between user testing and usability testing?

User testing:

  • Focuses on the overall user experience and appeal of a product or service.
  • Asks whether users need the product and find it valuable.

Usability testing:

  • It focuses on how easy and efficient it is for users to interact with a product.
  • Asks whether users can effectively use the product to achieve their goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main function of usability testing?

What are the 5 components included in usability testing?

When should you do usability testing?