A Comprehensive Guide to Conduct Usability Testing

Conducting usability testing involves defining objectives, recruiting participants, designing tasks, and analyzing results to improve user experience.

Aishwarya N K
March 24, 2023
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In our previous article ‘UX Usability Testing: What Is It, and Why Should You Do It?’, we’ve established that usability testing is paramount for a great user experience – it gives you a fresh perspective on your design and even helps validate it. And while conducting usability testing is important to ensure an intuitive product, doing it the right way matters too.

How can you do usability testing?

Here are the steps you need to take while conducting a usability test:

#1 Choose what you are testing – Whether it’s a website or an app, create a prototype or wireframe for the users to test. This doesn’t have to be an entire website – it can just be a section that you want to test with users.

#2 Come up with a test plan – Plan the flow of the test and the specific scenarios you would like your users to test. Try to design open-ended tasks that will allow users to take multiple paths so you can infer your observations from them.

#3 Find the right participants – Use the right screening questions to ensure you get participants who fit your target demographic. Doing this can ensure you get genuine, actionable feedback without wasting time.

#4 Conduct the test – After asking users to complete the task, ask follow-up questions if needed. Make sure you keep your tone neutral so that you don’t influence their opinion.

#5 Analyze results – List down the most important findings from your usability test that need to be prioritized and pass them to the relevant teams.

Usability testing can be done through two methods: moderated and unmoderated testing, both of which have their advantages and drawbacks. For example, unmoderated testing is a faster way of conducting research and allows you to conduct research with minimal bias because the user can say what they want to without feeling like someone is watching over them. Moderated testing, on the other hand, can enable researchers to control the direction of the study and ask follow-up questions for more clarification. One common function of both, however, is that they can be conducted in-person or remote.  

What should be asked during a usability test?

While conducting a usability test, there are specific types of questions to be asked at each stage. They include:  

Screening questions: To successfully conduct a usability test, you must pick the right participants. Before you start the study, outline your objective clearly and determine who the ideal user is – is it someone who has already interacted with your product, or is it someone who is completely new to your product and offerings? Once you do this, you can create screening questions based on your criteria. Questions about age, education/income level, and basic experience (with the relevant product/industry) are usually asked at this level.  

Pre-test: Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal user demographic, next comes the pre-test questions. These questions can help you further narrow down your users based on their usage patterns, experiences and product preferences. This stage is not just for gathering more demographic data, but it is also about getting into your users’ psyches and examining their experiences to understand how they react to your product. For example, questions about industry expertise and brand knowledge might be asked at this level.  

In-test: While conducting the actual test, the objective is to understand user pain points and their ease of use while interacting with your product. You can do this in one of two ways:

  1. Let the user complete the task and then ask them to explain their thought process to you.
  2. Asking the user to explain each action and their thought behind taking it.

Make sure you cross-examine and ask pointed questions about why the users chose a particular path versus another and any other clarifying questions about the product to get the insights you need. If you’re not sure that you would get unbiased answers, Affect UX can help. Through our patented Facial Coding and Eye Tracking technologies, you can get unbiased insights to understand what your users actually feel about your product.

Post-test: This stage is a chance to ask any follow-up questions you feel you might have missed. Unlike the in-test questions where you ask specific questions, you can ask open-ended questions here to maximize the feedback you get and understand whether they would recommend your product to others.  

Make sure to only ask objective questions at every stage of the testing process. Remember that asking leading questions can lead to biased insights and responses from your study.  

usability testing

Usability testing metrics

Let’s say you run a usability test for your users – how do you know how well it’s worked? Using the right metrics can help you measure how well your product resonates with users and how easy it is to use and can help you compare the usability of different products.

One of the most common metrics to measure and quantify the success of your usability testing is the completion rate, which is the number of users who have successfully completed the task. Apart from this, other common usability test metrics include:

The number of errors: This includes mistakes, omissions and any accidental actions a user might have committed while undertaking a test. If many users make the same mistakes or errors, this data can also show how they deal with it.

User satisfaction: This is measured on two levels: task-level and test-level satisfaction. While the task-level questions measure how difficult the specific task was (irrespective of whether they were able to complete it or not), the test-level questions measure how the users would rank the overall website on ease of use. You can also measure how memorable your product is by testing them after a certain period of the completion of your initial usability test.  

Efficiency: This measures how much time users take to complete a task successfully. You can test these against already-established benchmark scores – if they take too much time, it might mean that you will have to go back to the drawing board to make changes.

Using these metrics while conducting the usability test can help you track progress between releases, assess your competitive position, make any stop/go decisions before launch, and help create bonus plans.  

Affect UX can help researchers conduct remote moderated and unmoderated usability testing. We also provide behavioral insights through our Facial Coding and Eye Tracking technologies that can help you get faster, deeper and more unbiased insights from your users to build a highly intuitive product. Let us know how we can help improve your customer journey!


Supercharge your research with actionable insights faster on Decode's integrated consumer research platform with Insights AI.
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Build the Right Products, the Right Way: Elevate your UX with Qatalyst's integrated user research platform with Insights AI.


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Author Bio

Aishwarya N K
Aishwarya tries to be a meticulous writer who dots her i’s and crosses her t’s. She brings the same diligence while curating the best restaurants in Bangalore. When she is not dreaming about her next scuba dive, she can be found evangelizing the Lord of the Rings to everyone in earshot.

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