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Usability testing is a popular method of UX research that allows researchers to study user-product interactions and pinpoint usability issues at different stages of the product development cycle.
During a usability test, researchers ask participants to perform a series of tasks using a product, and then observe to understand how well they’re able to accomplish those tasks. For example, you might ask participants to complete a purchase on your website or send a message using a mobile app prototype. Test sessions can be moderated or unmoderated, remote or in-person, and quantitative, qualitative, or both. Remote testing may require specialized usability testing tools like Loop11, Lookback, or Sprig.
The goal of a usability study is to identify sticking points in the user experience in order to make recommendations or improvements that will increase people’s ability to interact successfully with the product or service.
Usability tests are appropriate for nearly any stage in the product development cycle except for the discovery stage. That means you can perform usability testing as soon as you have a functional version or prototype of your product. Each test should be oriented around answering a specific question to keep your test (and its results) manageable.
To learn more about when, why, and how to perform usability tests, check out the Usability Testing Chapter of our UX Research Field Guide.
Recruiting users for usability testing is easy with User Interviews! Find participants outside of your existing user base by recruiting from our panel of 4.1 million users using Recruit, or source target groups from your own participant panel using Research Hub.
You can also try alternative DIY methods for usability testing recruitment, such as recruiting people through social media or Craigslist. However, these methods tend to be more difficult, more time-consuming, and less reliable than using a tried-and-tested platform like User Interviews, especially for larger-scale studies or teams.
It depends on your research goals and study design.
Typically, usability tests focus on depth over breadth, requiring smaller-scale audiences than other research methods like surveys. If you’re running a quantitative usability study, you’ll need to find more participants to achieve statistical significance than if you’re running a qualitative usability study.
Learn about the different factors to consider when choosing your sample size for a usability test in our article, “How Many Participants Do You Need for a Usability Study?”
Potential participants can sign up to join the User Interviews panel, browse studies that are actively recruiting, and apply to usability studies that they think they’ll be a good fit for. Our system will also automatically send usability testing recruitment emails to participants in our pool who match your recruiting criteria. From there, participants can take your screener survey, get approved or disqualified, and schedule a test session if they pass the screener.
Sometimes, researchers may also find people to participate through recruiting agencies, social media networks, or a panel of their own users.