Basic Usability Testing Techniques You Need to Know
20 Dec

Basic Usability Testing Techniques You Need to Know

Mahipal Nehra

Usability testing is an overall powerful way of evaluating the user experience and the functionality of a product or service with your users. There are different testing techniques you can learn, and all of them are helpful.

Over the years, UX researchers have developed different techniques for testing products and services since there can be many UX design problems that arise overtime. Furthermore, in this article, we will show you the basic usability testing techniques you should be familiar with.

When should usability testing be done?

Before we go any further, we can claim that usability testing is the proven way to evaluate your product with real people. The overall goal of usability testing is to understand if your design is good enough for users to accomplish their daily tasks and goals.

Usability testing should be done more than once in most cases, and even as early as possible in order to help you make earlier decisions. Usually, usability testing occurs during the end of the product development phase to see if there are any suspicious bugs in the product, but that isn't always the right way, since you conduct it to find out what you can improve in the future.

Basic usability testing techniques you should consider

Overall, many online resources will show you the rules you should follow when conducting usability testing, such as Maze's usability testing guide. However, in this article, we focus more on the basic usability techniques you have to know about.

Guerilla usability testing

Basic Usability Testing Techniques You Need to Know


Guerilla usability testing is conducting usability testing for a product where people are actually using the product. It is a cheap and fast way of identifying user behavior in order to improve your user experience. For example:

  • Building an app- see how well that app will work while using it on their phone.

  • Creating a new design tool- checking how helpful it could be for designers and how its icons and buttons would look like.

Conducting testing directly affects how we work and our performance at work. For example, let's suppose we start working on incorporating a new software in the office, then the first people we will seek to test this are with the people working at our office.

Guerilla usability testing is unique because its message can be delivered in public during live sessions, such as at a mall, library, outside environment, cafe, and more.

Overall, most people who conduct usability testing will get it all wrong. They think that doing tests in the lab and having the best equipment is all that matters, but the truth is, it is about going to the user's location and asking them what needs to improve. In short, usability testing is just taking notes of what the participant has to say and trying to act on those changes.

Lab usability testing

From the name itself, lab usability testing seeks feedback from lab participants. During this test, participants must complete a few tasks, answer some questions, and reply to real-time feedback.

Lab usability testing works the best when you have lots of in-depth information about your users' experience with your product and when you know what kind of issues they face while using it. This testing is considered moderated vs unmoderated and allows you to collect qualitative information over quantitative.

Overall, one downside of lab testing is that it is pretty expensive to run since you need to have an environment where you can conduct lab testing. Additionally, whenever you conduct lab testing, you should make sure the participants are from your customer base so that you can get qualitative results.

If you are thinking about conduction lab usability testing, then there are a few things you have to know before you conduct them:

  • You should be able to help your participants understand the overall purpose of the test and eliminate any confusions that may arise for them

  • You should be able to analyze the facial expressions and body language of participants

  • Try asking participants how the testing went and what they thought about it after they were done

Asking short open-end questions

Some of the best feedback you may get is from asking short open-end questions. Asking long questions may not be the most brilliant move to do as you may not get a response with as much quality.

Generally speaking, open-ended questions are an excellent way of seeing what your participants think, so always try to start with why, when, where, what, and even how. Also, always remember to let your participants answer and not jump to an answer yourself. This way, you are seeing how they think and what they suggest.

Remote usability testing without a moderator

In other words, unmoderated remote usability testing is another inexpensive technique of getting user testing results for further feedback. With this testing method, participants may complete tasks wherever they are and use their own devices. Moreover, the costs of unmoderated testing are much lower, but the testing results also won't be as detailed compared to other ones.

Remote usability testing can be good to do whenever you seek to learn user behavior patterns and when you are seeking to test a particular question you may have.

Phone interview

Basic Usability Testing Techniques You Need to Know

A phone interview, in other words, is called a remote usability test with a moderator. With a phone interview, you instruct participants to complete their tasks on their own devices, collecting the feedback remotely.

Phone interviews are compelling when collecting feedback from different people worldwide, so you should not disregard using them. Although, if you want to conduct this type of testing, you have to possess excellent communication skills.

Generally speaking, phone interviews can be cost effective but at the same time won’t provide the most in-depth feedback compared to other usability testing methods.

Try not to ask questions

If you want to do something exciting and get better results, try to get your users to use their creativity while they are trying to complete your testing. This way, you can see what users think about your design and what you could improve.

Whenever users can't correctly interpret design elements, then you will be required to change them. This way, you can understand why users can interpret some parts of the UI better and why not the others.

Generally speaking, this usability testing technique is cheap to do, so you need to hire an expert to help you. Maybe you will even get new ideas you never thought of and help you better understand what your users think whenever they use your product.

Remember the number five

Basic Usability Testing Techniques You Need to Know


85% of the main issues with usability testing can be identified by only using five people for feedback. Using more users won't mean it is better or that it will improve your testing results, but five participants are more than enough to see where you need to improve and which issues arise.

More users that are added will only make you learn less and less and will only make you keep seeing the same things repeatedly. So, anything more than the fifth user is just wasting your time and not helping you learn anything new.

Alternatively, once you have completed your usability test with five users, you can then try to conduct another test with five other users in the future but try to never go above that number.

Mobile app testing

Basic Usability Testing Techniques You Need to Know

Mobile applications aren't always an easy way to test users compared to a desktop or from a website. Although, nothing is more valuable than testing mobile apps on a device, and what is more manageable than allowing users to accomplish tasks through their own devices and an internet connection.

Wrapping it up

Well, that's about it for this article. Hopefully, now you understand the basic techniques you need to implement in your usability testing. Remember, the way you gather feedback is vital for conducting successful usability testing and ensuring you get valuable feedback.

This article shows you the required basic steps you can undertake. For each step, we recommend you carefully go through it and see how it would help you better gather feedback and enhance the user experience.

Use the resources you have- financial, technical, and human- to do whatever you can to improve your usability testing. Otherwise, you are on the path to doing great and improving in areas you have never imagined!

Posted by Mahipal Nehra | Posted at 20 Dec, 2021 Web