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What Is Website Usability Testing and How Does It Work?

Written By Sidrah Nizami – Last Modified On June 28, 2024

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An aesthetically pleasing website design and a great user experience are essential elements for the success of your website. They are the most vital parts of boosting your website’s credibility and conversion rate. Most people open your website to fulfill their specific needs, such as finding a piece of content or booking a ticket. If your website doesn’t fulfill those requirements quickly and easily, your potential customers will visit other websites. 

A bad user experience can make around 90% of your customers never return to your website when it comes to eCommerce websites. 

To make sure your customers have a satisfying and great experience, website owners should conduct usability tests to evaluate the usability of their website. 

Website testing will help check the efficiency, user satisfaction, and user-friendliness and check if it has any errors. 

This article will explain what a usability test is, the most used testing methods, the types of usability tests, and a guide on how to conduct this test.

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What is Usability?

Usability is a measurement of how well a particular user in a particular context can use a design or product to achieve their goal efficiently, satisfactorily, and effectively. 

UX Designers usually measure the usability of a design throughout the process of development, from wireframes to the final delivery, to make sure the usability is maximum.

What Is Website Usability Testing?

Usability testing is a method of determining how simple your programme or website is to use for end users. It entails having a group of test subjects do specified tasks and provide feedback on the performance of your website via interviews or questionnaires.

All stages of website development, including brainstorming, testing, and evaluation, should be included in website usability testing. If needed, a usability expert or a user experience researcher can supervise and monitor the testing process at each stage.

How Does Website Usability Testing Work?

Testing a product based on how a sample group of people interacts with it is known as usability testing. Hands-on user testing allows marketers and product developers to acquire a better understanding of the user experience (UX) via the perspective of those who are familiar with the product.

A usability test is started by assembling a team of people that represent the target market for a product.

Then, while a researcher watches and takes notes, a facilitator leads the group through hands-on exercises under controlled conditions. The researcher elicits information from the user by asking questions, noting any issues or difficulties, and assessing how the product is used.

Why is usability testing important?

Usability testing is necessary for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it incorporates users into the design process. You can see how the ideas you’re developing work in real-world scenarios.

Second, stakeholders can observe how the user uses the product. You can understand the software’s good and poor sides during the usability tests. You obtain information about how users interact with your software â€“ are they using it as intended? Do they encounter any issues while using the app?

One of the other benefits of usability testing is that it allows you to improve the product’s efficiency before launching. The project team becomes more creative with new solutions and appropriate enhancements to the current system by collecting trustworthy user views and recognizing their issues.

What Are the Types of Usability Testing?

Usability testing (UT) is a common practice in the UX testing industry and one of the most often utilized research tools. Its ability to evaluate a wide range of digital products at various stages of its software development life cycle makes it a dependable practice that produces valuable results.

You can use several types of usability testing to get specific insights depending on where the product is in its development cycle i.e. Assessment, Explorative, Validation, and Comparative are the four main types of usability tests.

1) Assessment Usability Testing 

A summative test, often known as an assessment, is simply a way to analyze the usefulness of a digital product or service. Like other types of usability testing, assessment user testing can be done early in the product development cycle. The main step in this strategy is to employ a task-based script to watch consumers interact with interactive designs. The insights will reveal any design flaws that may cause users to not accomplish tasks or achieve their goals.

2) Explorative Usability Testing 

Exploratory testing, also known as formative testing, is most effective when done early in the development cycle of a product. This is because the process allows researchers to examine what is and is not working in a product design, concept, or service before it is fully established, allowing them to avoid financial and resource ramifications if something goes wrong. 

Task-based scenarios and open-ended questions are utilized in this user testing to observe and elicit findings from users. The outcomes can help stakeholders develop empathy for users and better understand their requirements.

3) Validation Usability Testing 

Validation usability testing takes place near the end of the product development process. Unlike the other usability testing methods, validation is primarily concerned with getting quantitative results. Development teams frequently want to establish statistics such as job completion time and speed spent on tasks. Understanding these characteristics has the benefit of allowing researchers to compare designs across time to see if future iterations outperform their predecessors.

4) Comparative Usability Testing 

When evaluating two dissimilar materials, comparative testing is most effective. These can be ideas, completed designs, or simply design parts. This methodology can yield various results, including preference, efficiency, effectiveness, and user satisfaction.

In addition to obtaining qualitative and quantitative data through comparative user testing, it is possible to quantify if one concept is more “successful” than the other, providing stakeholders with a clear understanding of which design is superior.

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Methods of Usability Testing

Based on your target available resources, research objectives, and audience, you can choose the ideal strategy. The following are a method of usability testing:

1. Moderated and Unmoderated

There are two methods to perform usability testing: moderated and unmoderated usability testing. 

Usability testing sessions that are moderated are usually conducted by trained personnel or researchers. The researcher introduces the exam, answers quick questions, and asks follow-up questions during the sessions. Because they rely on direct contact between participants and researchers, moderated usability testing approaches deliver in-depth data.

The unmoderated test is given without any kind of monitoring. Participants in these usability tests can be in a lab or at home, using their devices to access and explore the website tested for usability. Unmoderated usability testing is usually fairly inexpensive.

2. In-Person vs Remote Usability Testing

Other usability testing alternatives include remote usability testing and in-person tests. Usability testing can be done over the phone or via the internet, but in-person testing should be done with a researcher or moderator. Remote testing does not necessitate deep reasoning from the participants. It merely allows you to reach out to many people in diverse geographical places with minimal resources. Because researchers may physically engage with real consumers during in-person testing, it can provide new data points.

The user can complete remote usability testing in an online environment. This usually means they conduct usability testing from their own homes. Because the user is testing in his or her normal surroundings, the results are usually more accurate than on-location testing. However, because the test is conducted in a remote location, it may be more difficult to collect all user feedback and avoid missing something that would have been obvious if the user had evaluated the product in person.

3. Group Discussions

This is another twist on the concept of moderated testing. A focus group is a small group of people (usually 5-10 sample consumers) who are convened in a room to talk about their experiences with your product. A moderator takes the group through a series of open-ended discussion questions for a couple of hours. The session is taped so that the outcomes can be examined.

Focus groups can also provide additional insight by answering questions focusing on the findings of a previous usability test.

Read More: What is the difference between software and a program? 

A Usability Testing Plan’s Stage

A usability test comprises several steps, each of which helps to maximise the user feedback and create actionable results. As you move through the planning and implementation of usability tests, think about each step carefully.

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1. Select the Product or Functionality to Be Evaluated.

The work scope keeps the study, and its participants focused. Determine which product, site, platformer, or apps portion of any of those the tester will evaluate and what input you intend to get through this testing. Perhaps there’s a hypothesis you’d like to test or a workflow you’d like to evaluate. These things should be considered as you establish what you want to measure using this testing.

2. Define the Duties of Each Participant.

Consider what general goals or objectives the product’s consumers will have rather than making a to-do list. From there, create a list of assignments or tasks. Tasks should ideally be realistic, actionable, and specific but not pressure participants to take a specific action. The idea is to see how a person approaches the activity and what challenges they encounter along the way.

3. Create a Script or a Guide

If a moderator is part of your test plan, create a usability testing guide that ensures the user research is consistent for all participants and avoids any accidental bias. The moderator will usually also give some background on the product and the participant’s knowledge or impressions of any existing items, and what they will be asked to do during the testing. A usability testing guide should keep the moderated exam on track for consistency’s sake, but it can also provide you with some leeway to investigate fascinating areas as they arise. 

4. Determine Responsibilities and Roles

Who in the team would be best suited to run a usability test? Generally, you want someone who can stay on point while also being personable and engaging with the audience. The more at ease a person is, the more naturally they can engage with the product and the more information the moderator can elicit. 

5. Participant Recruitment

The approach of usability assessment will influence recruitment. You should screen and qualify participants in most usability test strategies. Finding appropriate spokespeople for your user base might be tricky.

6. Prepare the Environment and Materials

Determine how and where the test will be conducted once you have participants. Materials include device criteria and the product, and any access controls you want to implement. Also, make sure you have any software or gear you’ll need to record the test, including video cameras or a screen-sharing app.

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7. Carry Out Usability Testing

It’s time to put your skills to the test. Remember that any difficulties the participant has might provide valuable feedback, so do not hurry to assist unless there is a problem with the lesson itself. After each exercise, ask the participant a series of questions to elicit their instant reaction to the product’s functionality. A moderator can also employ various techniques to elicit immediate input from the participant, such as a blink test or an expectancy test.

8. Compare the Outcomes to the Success Criterion

When done correctly, usability testing yields a wealth of beneficial and difficult information to sort through. Examine common themes among participants, such as tasks that took a long time to complete, common errors, the harshness of some tasks versus others, and regions or functionality that users disliked. Behavior patterns, complexity, and sentiment disclose a lot about the product.

9. Prepare a Report

After completing data analysis, UX testing researchers create a usability testing report that includes an overview of the testing, the methods or tactics employed, testing findings, and recommendations for improvement with varying levels of severity.

10. Plan Based on Your Findings.

Stakeholders use the usability testing report to identify when a user’s actions must be performed. Usability testing results help stakeholders identify and fix important issues that make essential specific tasks impossible or difficult to execute. If stakeholders determine that other initiatives are more important, they may decide to put items that cause friction or discomfort on the backlog rather than acting on them.

What to Do After Website Usability Testing Is Completed?

After you get the website usability test results, the first thing to do is gather the information and note down any issues that are found common in the testers. Look at the total time it took them to complete every task and think about what could be changed so that the users can complete these tasks quickly. Also, note down any feedback that you get from the testers. Make any changes required to make your website’s usability better. Make sure to run more usability tests after making changes. This will ensure the changes worked well for your site and will help you know if your site has any new usability issues.

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How Is Usability Testing Different From User Testing?

The difference between usability testing and User testing is that Usability Testing will help you know if the users will be successful in using the service or product you are working on while, User Testing is helpful in understanding if your future users will need that service or product, while 

User Testing is helpful at an early stage of your development to make sure your idea is valid. Still, usability testing is helpful at later stages when you have a prototype for your product. 

Final Words

Website usability testing is a great way to know how convenient it is to use your website from the perspective of your potential user. It is also a good way of collecting feedback from your users to improve the functionality and design of your website. 

Now that you know everything about website usability testing, it is time to test your new site, product, or app and improve its user experience. 

You can contact Hapy for MVP Development or Product Design. Good luck!


How much does website usability testing cost?

A typical usability test in the US costs around $12,000 to $18,000. This includes research design, the creation of a hiring screener, and the moderator’s guide.

What are the four principles of usability testing?

The four principles of usability testing that are not present in most of the tests nowadays include
1) Screen for behaviors, not demographics,
2) Don’t ask users to redesign the interface,
3) Focus on what people do and not what they say,
4) Test the red routes.