Successful usability testing takes time and expertise to plan and execute. Moderated usability testing involves a process of user research, participant recruitment, testing user flows, and analyzing data. The end results will uncover prioritized problem areas that, when addressed, will provide new ways to satisfy and retain your users. 

Different UX methods are dynamically used depending on the team’s goals, product, and audience. However, the favored method of “moderated usability testing” is critical to truly understanding the problems your users face. Uncovering these pain points leads to actionable insights for transforming your product’s user experience.

Why usability testing is critically important

Moderated usability testing can be done in person or in remote sessions that allow back and forth between a participant and facilitator. This process includes planning, management, recruitment, recordings, analysis, and more. This teaches you about user behavior, identifies problems before release, and uncovers opportunities to better align with user expectations.

In fact, usability testing always leads to better products, with faster rollout and scale-up in the long run. Even though skipping usability testing can speed you up initially, rolling out bad products leads to more delays, upset users, and higher costs – if not abject failure.

We’re heading into a world where consumers demand great digital experiences, or they will move on to another product. Superb usability, which meets user needs no matter their hardware or technical ability, shows that you listen and care about your users. This is all but guaranteed with robust moderated usability testing and almost impossible without it.

How to conduct remote usability testing

During testing, keep tabs on participant reactions. Things like what users say, whether they asked for help from the moderator, and notes on any pertinent information about how they interact with the product. Once a session is complete, there is a large amount of data from the testing session to analyze that will be critical indicators of your platform’s user experience. If the usability testing is conducted successfully, you will not only have an abundance of insights, but then you need to prioritize what issues are the most important to address and how to remedy them.

Sound complex? It can be. It can also be overwhelming to handle independently, especially with a small team.

Moderated usability test plan

Setting up a usability test involves carefully creating a test scenario based on your current testing goals. The classic moderated usability test structure includes the following steps:

  • Identify your target audience: Age, gender, location, usage habits, and tech familiarity
  • Conduct pre-session interviews: Ask about lifestyle, background, tech habits, and other interests
  • Proceed with actual testing tasks: These tasks should be pre-selected based on the goal of the test session; at this stage, record testers to get their vocal reactions at the moment as well as facial expressions and other physical actions
  • Conduct post-session interviews: Get the tester’s opinions and general thoughts on the product, as well as issues they encountered and ask follow-up questions on any areas the user particularly struggled with.
  • Send a post-test survey: get a quantifiable metric of your product’s user experience by creating a SUS survey.
  • Analyze results and write a test report: This is your opportunity to look for patterns and apply data analysis tools to your results

Before you open testing to a broad group, try running a pilot test with one or two participants to ensure your test structure works. Once you’ve ironed out the procedure, scale up with a remote QA testing team and a bigger testing pool.

Kassidy Kelley serves as the Managing Editor for Testlio and works from her home base in Boston, MA.