Everything You Need to Know About Usability Testing for Apps

AnastasiaUser Testing

When app developers finally deliver the test app, there is this urge for them to favor all other forms of testing over usability testing. Usability testing is seen as something that requires too much investment and therefore, unnecessary.

However, it should be the exact opposite. The investment is worth the result, so, ignoring this testing approach would be downright foolish.

Some of the key metrics that can be determined through usability testing include:

  • Efficiency: Developers can figure out if tasks are achieved within the intended time.
  • Learnability: Helps figure out if customers are able to achieve goals right away.
  • Errors: Helps determine existing errors that might interfere with the user experience.
  • Satisfaction: Is the user satisfied?
  • Memorability: Does the app make it easier for the user to replicate actions after significant gaps in usage? In other word, can the user remember how to use the app after long periods of non-use?

It is easy to get carried away with assumptions, but, usability testing ensures that developers have access to the actual picture. Effective usability testing helps developers meet most, if not, all user expectations. Here are the best practices commonly applied to app usability testing.

Areas to Be Considered

There are a range of considerations to be made when testing apps for usability. The first is to look at hardware. One hardware challenge that’s common is screen recording during the testing phase. It’s especially complex when touchscreen phone displays are involved. So, to overcome the issue, it is best to rely on the services of an external camera. However, the screen must be kept visible throughout the testing process.

The next area to focus on is software. Ideally, you will need testing software that can help the camera stream the video into primary and secondary screens. This will help facilitators stay away from the users and not get in their way.

Third, we have environment. Unlike, other products, app usability testing is best done in an environment with distractions. This is to replicate real life situations, where users are likely to use the app in the midst of multiple distractions. However, the environment should still be private enough to offer comfort and keep the facilitator involved.

Next, it is necessary to choose users that are used to operating apps extensively. This helps draw out the differences between app based issues and interface issues. At least 5 users must be chosen for the testing. It’s better if they come from varying demographics and are not part of your organization.

Then, your tasks must be designed to focus on core functionality. Do not include tasks to test irrelevant features.

Finally, we have facilitation. Your facilitator must be someone familiar with the app and someone who understands the objectives of the testing process. The facilitator must refrain from guiding the user. The focus is to hand out tasks and observe user actions.

Look at Emotional Engagement

A key part of usability testing is to figure out what the user feels and thinks, when using the app on a daily basis. It is necessary to figure out their pain points and then, develop features within the app that can address them. Your usability testing approach must be designed to help users connect with you on an emotional scale.

There is, however, a small possibility for developers to assume that they have the entire picture. This shouldn’t happen, no matter how confident you are. Usability testing must continue even when the app has gained favor among a majority of the users. By ignoring continuous testing, you are allowing competitors to exploit even the slightest error or issue that might crop up later.

Also, perception of usability is bound to change because of trends. So, your users may not find your app all that effective down the line. This is why it is wise to always stay on top of things. Usability testing must be a continuous process.


The final practice is to carry out proper evaluation of the results. Identify common errors/failures and complaints. Use this information to determine what changes might be needed to boost efficacy. Sometimes, even the smallest alterations can lead to significant changes in user experience or usability.