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Usability Test: Top 10 expert tips on how to perform one

20 August 2021 - 5 mins, 36 secs read

User testing is often seen as a costly afterthought because it is tedious and can incur expenses. It is however best to consider this as an investment.

Research found that usability is directly tied to customer loyalty and purchasing behaviours—studies conducted by Jakob Nielsen from the NN/g suggest that when roughly 10% of a redesign budget is given to user testing methods, there is an average product usability increase of 135%.

User testing is thought to be only for digital products like apps and websites but that is far from it. In truth user testing should be done for everything that involves giving money for a product or a service, digital or physical.

Testing your product or service with users reduces the gap between what the company thinks the users want and what they actually want. Also it will save you time and money when it comes to production, marketing and sales.

First we are going to look at some tips for the testing:

1. Design for the people

Host gator says in designing the UX (User eXperience) for your digital or physical product or service, start by creating personas to give you a perspective on your audience. This will give you a better understanding of the people using your site.

2. When is the best time to test?

We Are Diagram has a blog written by Britany Na where she talks about testing in different stages of the project. She says you can test at the beginning of the product design (idea stage), you can test in the middle, when you have the prototypes available, you can test at the end so you see what minor issues are with the usability and also see what improvement can be made. The highly RECOMMENDED time for Usability Testing is to test throughout the project.

3. It is important to find out what Features, Functionalities or Tasks you want to test

Sometimes you just want to check specific aspects of a product or service. Perhaps you want to see if the meat is not tender enough in your signature jollof, or perhaps check if the add to cart button on your website is better up or down, or maybe you aren’t sure if customers prefer a box or a bag for your fruit delivery business.

4. Is it a Pass or a Fail

Now, what are your success or failure rates for that area you are testing. Is that if 4 out of 5 testers prefer one over the other, you will pick that choice. What key tellers or responses are you looking for to check the Usability of your product or service.

5. Diversify your prototype menu

Every variation you can think of, create the prototype. If it’s a banana cake you want to test, have samples without cinnamon or with chunks of banana inside. If it’s perhaps a salon, try jazz background music in one setting, or try having the hairdryer close to the washing station or move it far or try having the nails done near the windows. Have variety for your testers to explore.

 Host gator suggests A/B testing. It lets you see how people respond to different versions of the design you’re considering. A/B testing can lead to some surprising results. The Copy Hackers Test saw that a simple change in button text led to almost 124% more clicks. Even if you are sure which of two options will get the best results, test your assumptions.

Let’s look at some tips for finding and recruiting the Users:

Not a lot of people, especially in our beautiful nation, are familiar with user testing. Sometimes, family and friends work but they might not want to hurt your feelings if they see an issue. You have to find the honest criticism and feedback you need in less intimate circles.

1. Have multiple tests.

According to several UX design blogs like Jan Roose on Toptal, AdamFord, the best is to have a minimum of 3-5 tests (remote or in-person), with about 30 to 45 minute breaks in between. It is also nice to offer participants coffee/tea and a snack, a gift card, or a discount code in return for their participation. Only do this IF you can, if not, just tell them how grateful you are.

2. Ask nicely.

Jan Roose has a template for recruiting participants: “Hey Walt! I know you’re really busy, but I’m hoping you could spare me half an hour and help me out with a project I’m working on. It’s a public transportation journey planning app. I know you frequently travel by bus, and I’d like to see how you would use it.”

This is a good template for a colleague or a friend of a friend. Feel free to play around with it and create one that can work with strangers and that is your own.

3. Knowledgeable users

Choose people who are not familiar with your product or service for more accurate results. Users who already know a bit about your product may have some experience and foreknowledge of the section or product being tested.

4. In-person tests

If you can, try and test in person but social distancing and masks up of course. Deepika Phutela wrote an article on the importance of Non-verbal communication saying, ‘Non-verbal communication is often used to express a thought or thoughts’. Not everything can be said, but a little shrug or scratch of the head, rise of an eyebrow, clearing of the throat, and many more say volumes about your product.

And of course, people focus better with in-person.

5. Practice and have a script.

Practice asking the type of questions you’re going to ask. Adam Ford’s blog suggests having a script of the greetings, questions and basically everything you say or do for and to the users. Sometimes we might disclose certain details about the testing process to some and not to others. These little disparities don’t seem as much at the moment but it adds up to an inconsistent testing environment and changes the results you might get.

6. Record

 Whether you are doing a remote or in person testing, try and have an audio or video recorder, WITH THE CONSENT OF THE USER. You’ll be amazed how much you missed! And it will give you a chance to focus on maintaining rapport and making the user relaxed and comfortable.

P.S. There are some sites that make your samples available to interested testers. You can try services such as,,, or

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