User Testing Guide – What, Types, and How to Perform Testing

A user testing guide is very important for every software development company. It helps ensure that the software is usable and meets the needs of the users.

User Testing Guide – What, Types, and How to Perform Testing cover

A user testing guide is very important for every software development company. It helps ensure that the software is usable and meets the needs of the users. Additionally, it also helps identify any potential problems with the software design. In this article, we will discuss what user testing is, the different types of user testing, and how to perform user testing.

What is user testing?

User testing is a process of having real users use an application or product and provide feedback about their experience. Hence, companies use this type of testing to assess the quality of the product. And identify any issues that may not be apparent when just looking at the design or code. Additionally, user testing can also provide valuable insights into the user experience. And how the needs of users are delivered. Thus, helping companies save time and money. Because this ensures the success of the product launch.

user testing
Photographer: Taras Shypka

Two main types of user testing

Usability testing is the first type. This testing process focuses on how easy it is to use the product and whether clients can accomplish the tasks they need to do. Functional testing is the second type. This testing process focuses on whether the product works and meets the requirements of the market.

How to perform user testing?

Companies conduct it in many different ways. The most common way is to use an application or product that already exists and have clients test it. This can be done by having them use the app in their everyday work. Or by having them complete a specific task that is designed to test specific areas of the product. Developing a prototype of the product and having users test it is also another way of conducting the testing process. Clients then complete specific work with the prototype. Or by having them use the prototype in their design process.

What are the types of usability testing methods ?

The top usability testing methods that we recommend are:

Task-based usability testing

This type of usability testing focuses on the ability of clients to complete specific tasks with the application. It can be used to identify any areas where real users have difficulty or where the needs of clients are not delivered.

Prototype usability testing

Firms conduct this type of usability testing with a prototype of the product. They use prototypes to test the product before it is developed or to test specific areas that need to improve.

User interviews

Firms conduct these interviews with real users of the software. With this type of usability testing, a moderator verbally instructs participants to complete specific assignments on their device, and collect insights automatically with the user interaction recorded remotely.

user interviews
Photographer: Austin Distel

Contextual inquiry

Businesses conduct this usability testing in the user’s natural environment. A moderator provides testers a set of questions to answer about their experiences using the product while they work in their natural environment.

Eye tracking

This usability testing method uses special equipment to track the eye movements of designers as they use the software. This can help identify areas where users are having difficulty using the program or which areas need improvement through the client’s body language.

A/B testing

Firms conduct this usability testing with two versions of the software, each with a different design or interface. The goal is to identify which version is more effective and efficient for customers and which design has the best UX.

User surveys

Business conduct this usability testing with a survey that is given to users after they have used the program. The goal is to collect insights about the UX and point out any areas that need improvement.

Guerilla testing

This usability test is often moderated and conducted with a small group of participants. It is usually done in a public place, such as a coffee shop. Recruiting of participants is done randomly. Testers give participants a set of tasks to complete with the program, often in exchange for a freebie. This method gets the company real-time insights about the program being tested.

Unmoderated remote user testing guide

An unmoderated remote usability test is a testing method conducted remotely. It provides an easy, robust, and cost-effective way of assessing the usability of the product. And allows users to conduct further analysis. Test participants must perform the task on their own using their device and resources without the presence of moderators, which allows natural usage. The costs of unmoderated tests are cheaper. But the test results are often less detailed.

Card sorting

Card sorting is one way to define content in a user-friendly interface. Using card sorting techniques is relatively easy: you simply put a concept on a piece of card and test participants arrange the card into groups and categories. The moderators take notes of how the participants performed the card sorting.

Lab usability tests

Test agencies run the laboratory usability test in a special environment (e.g. laboratory). This method uses a moderator, interested in receiving feedback from users on his live site. In moderated tests, the moderator enables the tester to work on a task and answer the questions in real-time.

user testing -lab usability
Photographer: Jannis Blume

Things to do before conducting a usability test

Ideally, you must target a specific audience before you choose any testing method. This is important to determine the correct testing method and adjust the questions and assignments for your participant. Create scenarios and user profiles for your test participants. These profiles should include information such as age, gender, education, and occupation. Based on these scenarios and profiles, you can pick out the specific task that each participant will need to complete during the usability testing session.

What are the types of functional test methods?

The top functional testing methods that we recommend are:

Unit test method

The unit test method is a development process in which testers scrutinized the smallest testable parts of an application, called units, individually and independently for proper operation. They perform this testing methodology during the development process by the developers and sometimes QA staff.

Integration test method

Companies use the integration test method as a type of test plan meant to check the combinations of different units, their interactions, the way subsystems unite into one common system, and code compliance with the requirements.

System testing

Businesses use system testing which is a black box test process used to evaluate the completed and integrated system, as a whole, to ensure it meets specified requirements.

Acceptance testing

Acceptance testing is sometimes also called user acceptance testing (UAT). This type of functional test checks if the system meets the expectations of the customer.

What are the types of non-functional testing?

There are many different types but we choose the top non-functional testing methods that we recommend:

Load test method

A load test ensures that a network system can handle an expected volume of traffic or load limit. In other words, it tests how a system behaves when bombarded with specific levels of simultaneous requests. Test agencies often refer load testing to as volume testing.

Stress test method

Stress tests are forward-looking exercises that aim to evaluate the impact of severe but plausible adverse scenarios on the resilience of financial firms. They involve the use of models and information at the firm or system-wide level and may rely on historical or hypothetical scenarios.

Performance test method

The performance testing method is a non-functional testing technique that determines how the stability, speed, scalability, and responsiveness of an application’s design holds up under a given workload.

user testing -performance test
Photographer: Christopher Gower

Security test method

The security test plan ensures data and applications are safe from internal and external threats. It includes conducting various tests to find vulnerabilities in an application’s design and determine if unauthorized access or information loss is possible.

Compatibility test

The compatibility test method ensures that a system can successfully interact with other systems with which it must communicate. Test agencies often use this to ensure that an application’s design can run on different operating systems and hardware platforms.

Which is the best remote user testing tool?

These are the remote testing tool that we recommend:


UserTesting is a platform for getting rapid customer feedback on almost any customer experience you can imagine, including websites, mobile apps, prototypes, and real-world experiences. You’ll receive the audio recording and video recording of real users from your target market speaking their thoughts as they complete the task you specify.


TryMyUI is a test solution built for mobile phones. Taps, swipes, pinches, and any screen interaction is shown in precise detail in the screen recording. Mobile user test works just like desktop tests with TryMyUI.


Applause is a leading global provider of digital quality and testing solutions. It provides you with the real human insights you need to make customer-centric decisions about your products and design process. Leveraging its diverse, global community, Applause sources participants who match your specific customer profiles from anywhere in the world and can deliver the most relevant feedback.

Can you conduct user tests without leaving the house?

Yes, you can use remote testing apps like UserTesting, TryMyUI, or Applause. With these tools, you can conduct user testing without leaving the house. Google Hangouts is an example of a tool to conduct user testing remotely.

What is the difference between user testing and beta testing?

Companies conduct user testing to get feedback from users about the usability of a product. Firms conduct beta test plan or B testing to get feedback from users about the functionality of the product.

What are the benefits of user testing?

The benefits of user testing include:

  • Checks usability issues with your product.
  • Gathers data about how users interact with your product.
  • Helps improve the user experience of your product.
  • Finds bugs in your product.
  • Determine whether your product is ready for release
  • Check if additional features should be included.

Sample of the benefit of User Testing

What is the difference between user testing and user research?

User testing is a type of testing that startups conduct to get feedback from users about the usability of their product or website. User research is a type of research that startups conduct to get feedback from users about their needs and requirements.

What are the steps for conducting user testing?

The steps for conducting testing are as follows:

1. Choose a test method (e.g. A/B testing, beta testing, etc.)

2. Pick a test metric (e.g. conversion rate, time on site, etc.)

3. Choose a test platform (e.g. UserTesting, TryMyUI, Applause, etc.)

4. Create a test environment (e.g. desktop, mobile, web)

5. Recruiting your participants (e.g. target market, existing customers, employees)

6. Create your test script (e.g. list of tasks to complete)

7. Conduct the test (e.g. video or audio recording of the user completing the tasks)

8. Analyze the results (e.g. identify usability issues, find bugs, gather feedback)

9. Take action on the results (e.g. fix bugs, improve usability)

What are the legal complexities of doing user testing?

There are a few legal complexities to consider when you want to test a product. Some of them are:

  • Informed consent means that the participants must be made aware of the purpose of the study, what will be expected of them, and any risks involved.
  • Privacy means that the participant’s personal information must be protected and not shared with anyone outside of the study.
  • Data protection means that the data collected during the study must be stored in a secure location. And only accessed by authorized individuals.

What are the best free or low-cost heat map services for usability testing?

There are many free and low-cost heat map services available, such as HotJar, Crazy Egg, and ClickTale.


HotJar is an example of a free and easy-to-use heat map service that allows you to track how users interact with your website or app. It is a powerful tool that reveals the online behavior, body language, and voice of your users. By combining both analysis and feedback tools, Hotjar gives you the “big picture” of how to improve your site’s user experience and performance/conversion rates.

Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a low-cost heat map service that offers a variety of features, like click maps, scroll maps, and confetti reports. It is an online tool that monitors individual pages from your website, recording where different visitors have clicked and on which part of the screen.


Clicktale is a cloud-based analytic system, and service that allows you to visualize your customer’s experience on your website from their perspective. Therefore, it provides the ability to analyze their interactions in aggregate in the form of heatmaps and reports, and individual session replays.

unsplash image eaf7a33071a6258c3eba2b00022ab07b 800
Photographer: UX Indonesia

What are some tips for conducting effective user testing?

Some tips for conducting effective user testing are as follows:

1. Keep it short. User testing should be kept short to avoid participant fatigue and to ensure that you obtain accurate results.

2. Be clear and concise. When creating your test script, be clear and concise to avoid confusion. This will also ensure that the tasks are completed correctly.

3. Be flexible with your testing schedule. And be willing to adjust the scope of your test based on feedback from the participants.

4. Analyze the results. After the test is complete, be sure to analyze the results to identify any issues and make improvements. This is crucial for the success of the project.

What are the advantages of online user testing over in-person user testing?

There are several advantages of online user testing over in-person user testing, such as:


Online user testing is typically less expensive than in-person user testing.


Online user testing is more flexible and can be conducted at any time, from anywhere in the world.


Online user testing can be scaled up or down based on the needs of the project.

Data collection

Online user testing allows for more information to be collected in a shorter period.


Online user testing provides findings that are easier to analyze and interpret.

What are the disadvantages of online user testing over in-person user testing?

There are several disadvantages of online user testing over in-person user testing, such as:

Lack of personal interaction

There is a lack of personal interaction between the moderator and the participants.

Difficulty replicating real-life conditions

It can be difficult to replicate real-world conditions in an online test.

Technical issues

There is a potential for technical issues, such as internet connection problems and browser compatibility issues.

Limited time 

Online user tests are typically shorter in duration.

What are some tips for conducting effective focus group research?

Some tips for conducting effective focus group research are as follows:

Define the purpose

Before starting the focus group, define the purpose and objectives. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the topic.

Choose the participants carefully

Choose participants who are representative of your audience.

Structure the session

Structure the session in a way that will encourage participation and allow for all voices to be heard.

Summarize the findings

After the focus group is complete, summarize the findings and provide recommendations based on the information collected.

focus group research
Photographer: Austin Distel

What are the biggest barriers to getting approval for user testing?

The biggest barriers to getting approval for user testing are budget and time constraints. User testing can be expensive and time-consuming. So it is important to ensure that there are enough resources available before you run the test. Additionally, some stakeholders may be reluctant to approve user testing. Because they fear that it will reveal flaws in their design process. However, user testing is essential for uncovering issues. And ensuring that the final product is user-friendly before releasing them to the market. This can make the product launch a success.

As a designer, how do you justify your initial ideas and evaluations before user testing?

To justify your initial ideas and evaluations before user testing, you can use these:

Use your experience 

As a designer, you have a wealth of experience that you can draw from to justify your initial ideas. You can point out the features of your product before you test everything.

Review past findings

Review past findings to see if any patterns emerge.

Use your intuition

Use your intuition to guide you in the right direction.

Get input from your team

Get input from other designers, developers, and stakeholders to get a well-rounded perspective.

What are some common mistakes made when conducting user testing?

Some common mistakes made when conducting user testing are as follows:

Not defining the objectives

Before starting the test, make sure that the objectives are clearly defined. This will help to ensure that it is conducted effectively.

Not choosing the right participants

Choose participants who are representative of your audience. Do not choose participants who are too easy or too difficult to please.

Asking leading questions

Ask open-ended questions that allow the participants to freely express their thoughts and opinions. Avoid asking leading questions that will bias the results.

Not analyzing the results

After the user test is complete, take the time to analyze the results and check areas for improvement.


User testing is an essential part of the design process. It allows designers to see how users interact with their products and uncover any issues that need to be addressed. There are different types of user testing, each with its advantages and disadvantages. It is important to choose the right type of user testing for your needs. Additionally, there are a few things to keep in mind when conducting user testing. Defining the objectives, choosing the right participants, and asking open-ended questions are some of them. Finally, be sure to analyze the results of the test so that you can improve your product.

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