To get started with usability testing, you’ll need the right tools and methods. Your first step is choosing a suitable online solution to help you plan and run your tests. Yes, you can conduct usability tests without a UX tool, but it will take you longer, and be more of a pain.
Before we go on, we’re making some assumptions here: we’re guessing that you’re going down the route of remote usability testing. Remote usability testing has become the de-facto testing method in recent years.
While in-person usability tests are still an option, they’re often expensive, challenging to scale, and laborious to organize. It can take months to set up an in-person usability test for just a handful of users. By contrast, remote usability testing lets you analyze more user experiences in less time.
New and powerful remote usability testing tools have arrived on the scene in recent years, enabling UX researchers to gather rich insights from participants based anywhere in the world.
What is remote usability testing?
Remote usability testing is a form of test where the participants and researcher are in separate locations.
These tests are powered by specialist, online platforms, which replicate the lab experience, but with all of the efficiency benefits of technology and automation—things like screen-share technology, automated transcription, data analytics, and reporting.
If you get remote usability testing down to a T, you’ll unlock a vast array of benefits:
Usability testing tools are a class of digital solutions designed to make remote usability testing a walk in the park.
The best-in-breed of these tools support UX researchers in the usability testing process from end to end, facilitating participant selection, real-time analysis and data gathering, and granular reporting.
These tools breathe new life into usability testing, directly tackling common testing issues like poor recruitment, a lack of strategy, and budget limitations.
With an excellent usability testing tool by your side, you and your team can streamline the testing process and uncover powerful data-led insights about how users think and feel about your solution.
Armed with these insights, you can uncover potential problem areas, enhance design output, and supercharge the user experience.
A well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%; it’s well worth investing in a reliable UX tool.
So, what should you look for? Let’s take a look below.
There are a host of usability testing tools out there for you to choose from, with varying capabilities and price points.
The options are almost endless, which can feel a little overwhelming. Don’t fret, though! By the end of this article, our handy Dos and Don’ts guide will make choosing a platform as easy as 1-2-3.
In most cases, price is the deciding factor for UX teams. This is understandable—but be wary of forgoing functionality in favor of lower costs. Generally speaking, the cheaper the solution, the more manual work you’ll need to do yourself.
Cheaper solutions can cost you more in the long term. We often see UX teams purchase a cheap dedicated UX tool only to find they need to prop it up with various unintegrated tools, leading to soaring costs and a cumbersome research process.
Most companies now have dedicated access to video-conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype. While these solutions are great for peer-to-peer collaboration, they simply aren’t made for usability testing.
Firstly, from a data security standpoint, Zoom is a little shady. As a UX researcher, you need to be 100% confident that you uphold participant privacy, so Zoom should be a no-go.
Zoom and Skype don’t have in-built tools for data analysis, reporting, and participant recruitment. You’ll have to do all of this yourself unaided, taking time, money, and resources.
You can collect two data types through remote usability testing: qualitative and quantitative. Some tools enable you to manage qualitative data from video and voice recordings, while others collect structured metrics based on user interactions.
Here’s a quick summary of how each type works:
Type of data
How it works
Video recordings collect users' thoughts and behavior as they interact with your solution
Metrics capture users' screen interactions with your solutions, enabling you to measure, compare, and track the user experience of a website or app
Glean insights into why participants choose certain actions when using your solution
Improve UX design decisions through evidence-based metrics rather than opinions
Without the right tools at your disposal, video recordings can be time-intensive to examine
If used alone, quantitative research doesn't help you understand why users behave how they do
As you can see, both types of data are helpful for usability testing. So, ideally, you want a usability testing solution that offers you both formats. Don’t limit yourself to one!
Being a UX researcher is a fascinating job—but it can also be pretty stressful. You’re often pulled in different directions and are up against tight deadlines. You need a usability testing tool that enhances the research process—not making it more complex.
So, look for a solution that supports you from end to end. Best-in-breed tools don’t just facilitate the usability tests themselves, but they can also look after participant recruitment, result collation, and data analytics.
The right UX usability testing tool will be like having another member in your UX research team, so don’t settle for anything less than great.
Look for a provider that offers not just a solution but also a service. By this, we mean investing in a tool that comes with human support and guidance.
Rather than just leaving you to it once you’ve purchased your tool, a great testing provider will help you make the most out of your investment, measure your UX, demonstrate its value to stakeholders, and glean accurate insights for your business to make confident decisions.
In the fast-paced world of UX, your stakeholders want faster, more digestible insights—and they often wanted them yesterday!
Such requests will no longer feel unreasonable with the right platform in place. By harnessing the power of automation, you can uncover insights at speed and scale. Our platform, for example, uses automation to record user sessions, provide transcriptions, collate results, and create reports for you.
This gives you more time to focus on higher-value, strategic research work - while the tool takes care of the time-intensive, repetitive tasks.
Now that you’ve got your platform in place, it’s time to talk methodology. Learn about the different usability testing methods in the next chapter.