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A Comprehensive Guide to User Testing

User Testing

What is user testing?

Usability testing is an UX design technique that uses a variety of methods to assess how users interact with a product or service.

Usability testing is not a new concept; it has been around for decades. However, back in the 1970s, when IT systems were first demonstrating their potential to change the way we work and live, usability testing was a completely different ball game.

What are the benefits of website usability testing?

When it comes to UX design, usability testing is invaluable. It can not only tell you whether or not your users like your website or mobile app, but it also has other advantages that should not be overlooked:

Reduce development costs

The common estimate, defended by Jakob Nielsen in his article Paper Prototyping, is that it’s 100 times cheaper to make a change to your website before any code has been written compared to after the code has been completed. That’s why prototyping your website and doing usability testing on that is so crucial – done properly, it means you’ll have fewer reworks and save money along the way.

Improve retention rate

Even once your product is online, you can keep improving with user testing. It allows you to understand why people are leaving your website. For example, When you know why they’re leaving, you can put in place design solutions to alleviate the problem and get rid of friction.

Unseen issues are identified by fresh eyes

Users who are not involved in your project may spot issues that were previously overlooked or undiscovered. Your team is almost certainly biased and cannot be relied on to be objective in their analysis.

More satisfied customers

When you conduct tests, you are removing any kinks in the design process. Involving real people and identifying what frustrates them can result in happier users overall, which can boost retention, improve UX, and hopefully ensure that people will return for more.

What methods of usability testing are there?

When it comes to user testing, we have a plethora of tools and tactics at our disposal. Between heatmaps, eye-tracking studies, A/B tests, and everything else, it can be difficult to find the right one to pair with your website prototyping tool. The chapters of this guide contain in-depth information about them.

For the time being, let's go over some key characteristics of any user testing you do. The majority of user tests available can be classified as follows:

Moderated user testing

The test is performed under specific conditions and with the active assistance of a moderator. This moderator is usually an UX researcher who takes notes and sets the pace for the entire test.

This type of user testing is popular because it can provide some truly powerful insights into users' minds - and how they perceive your product. The moderator's presence can be extremely beneficial in picking up on certain cues, such as facial expressions, and using these cues as a doorway to dig deeper.

The issues with moderated user testing, on the other hand, are usually related to budget and time constraints. Having a moderator raises the overall cost of the user testing process, making it inaccessible to many small design teams out there.

This has been addressed by the rise of remote moderated user testing, which employs testing tools that perform all functions from a distance. This reduces the overall cost of testing while also allowing for greater scheduling and testing flexibility.

It does, of course, have drawbacks. The fact that the moderator only sees the user on a screen, for an example, can make body language difficult to interpret.

Unmoderated (remote) Testing

There is no moderator present, but online tools are used to facilitate the sessions - this is especially useful if you have dispersed users or want more flexibility. As a result, if you're in LA but your users are in Canada, a remote unmoderated test may be your best option.

The differences between moderated and unmoderated user testing are significant. For one thing, planning becomes extremely important. Even a slightly confusing question may have an impact on your entire user test, as participants will not have anyone to assist them.

Mobile app user testing

Many aspects of app user testing are similar to those of traditional website testing. The testing theory, it motivates and benefits, as well as planning and goal-setting. The majority of the factors remain the same, with a few key differences. Let's look at some of these differences and compare them to a standard website user test.

The preliminary testing

All UX-focused platforms use phrases like "test early and often." The truth is that the cost of making changes to the design increases exponentially as the design progresses through the development process. UX designers try to test the design early on, while it is still a wireframe, to avoid a nasty surprise later in the game.

However, this is not without complications. With product details missing, it's only natural for participants' behaviour to become less realistic. The user perceives less realism as fidelity decreases. This implies, for example, that testing your prototype remotely would be difficult because participants are likely to ask for clarification.

But what about low-fidelity mobile app prototypes? And how can we narrow the scope of our usability testing? The primary concern you can address early on is validating critical aspects of your design: information architecture and navigation design.

Both of these will serve as the foundation of your app. They are at the heart of making your app usable and useful. You'll want to set very specific goals and standards so you can see success or failure with each test right away.

Mobile navigation design and information architecture testing

A common way to validate your navigation is to show your prototype to participants and ask them to navigate to a specific screen or page. The test will continue if the user clicks the correct buttons. The test is over as soon as the participant clicks on the incorrect button. After the test, the participant is asked to explain why they chose to click on that particular button.

The end result is a report in which the navigation is transformed into a funnel. As users leave and become dissatisfied, they become leaks in the funnel, revealing where the main issues are within the product.


Today, user testing is an absolute must. It's nearly impossible to have that level of empathy, no matter how many sleepless nights designers spend trying to understand their users. Users are, in the end, individuals with their own tastes and preferences. When attempting to create something that your users will enjoy, you have no choice but to observe how they react to the product.

However, with all of the knowledge in this list and the right tools at your disposal, your user testing studies should go smoothly. If you need any further assistance, Ciphernutz is just a call away!

Table Content

What is user testing?

    What are the benefits of website usability testing?

      What methods of usability testing are there?

        Mobile app user testing


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