Usability Testing Tools: A Complete Guide (With Examples)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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When developing a new application or website, developers follow several steps to ensure the product is functional. One of these steps is usability testing. If you are interested in web or application development, you may benefit from learning about usability tools. In this article, we discuss what usability tools are, explain why usability testing is important, examine types and methods of usability testing and list some popular tools.

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What Are Usability Testing Tools?

Usability testing tools help you determine how well your application or website functions. They allow you to test whether users can accomplish their objectives efficiently when using an application. Usability testing typically focuses on aspects of the user experience, including ease of navigation and overall application quality features, like efficiency and load time.

Why Test For Usability?

Usability testing is usually a standard step while developing or upgrading a website or application. There are several reasons developers consider this step to be an important part of the development process. Some of the primary goals of usability testing include:

Identifying problems

Usability testing can help identify problems with the website or application. Some issues with functionality may only be detectable at the user's end or may only become obvious when the product is in use, so usability testing may often be the only way to identify them. Usability testing can be a good way to ensure functional efficiency after deployment.

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Finding opportunities for improvement

Usability testing can help you identify opportunities for product improvement. During the testing process, developers may find aspects of the product and user experience that are not functioning optimally. By identifying these areas, developers can evaluate ways to make the product better.

Learning about user behaviours

Usability testing often involves observing real users as they run the application or website. This allows the developers to observe the way different users interact with the product and identify preferences, challenges and trends in behaviour. Learning about user behaviour can help developers prepare for future product upgrades or different projects to enhance end-user convenience and experience. It may also offer some insight into how to market the product. For example, if users seem to enjoy certain features, marketing efforts may focus on those features.

Types of usability testing

There are several types of usability testing. Each type offers certain benefits and drawbacks and the type of testing you use typically depends on a few different factors, including what goals are most important to you, your audience and the product. Some of the different usability testing methods are:


Moderated usability testing involves a moderator, who is typically a member of the research or development team or is an individual trained by the development team. The moderator introduces the product, explains the testing process and is available to answer user questions. Moderated testing usually takes place in a laboratory or in other controlled environments.

Moderated usability testing can offer the advantage of insights and results that are more aligned with the testing goals, as the moderator can offer guidance to the testers. Additional information about user experience is often also gained through the interaction between the moderator and the testers. The disadvantage to moderated usability testing is that it can be more expensive due to the cost of hiring a moderator and securing a laboratory or other testing facility.

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Unmoderated usability testing is unsupervised. The development team may give testers some basic instructions and explanations of the test, but testers may not get to ask questions or interact with a member of the research team during their testing session. The test may take place in a laboratory or other facility or the testers may participate from their own locations using their own devices.

One advantage of unmoderated testing is that it usually requires less cost for the organisation, as a moderator is not required. In some situations, it also may offer researchers more authentic insights into user experience, as there is no moderator to potentially bias testers or to provide them support. A disadvantage to unmoderated testing is that testers may not use all the features researchers want them to, as there is a lack of guidance and supervision. This may hinder the testers from detecting the existing bugs in the application, making it difficult to maximise its efficiency.


In-person usability testing takes place at a specified location, such as in a laboratory. Test participants sometimes attend as a group to test simultaneously, but may also test individually. Typically, participants use standardised devices.

In-person testing offers the advantage of allowing researchers to observe and interact with participants as necessary. It also provides a controlled, standardised environment which can help prevent any skewed results because of environmental or user device issues such as poor Internet signal, out-of-date devices or other distractions. In-person testing has the disadvantage of typically being more expensive, as there are costs associated with the use of a facility. In addition, it can be more difficult to find test participants willing to attend in-person testing, and monetary compensation may be required.


Remote usability testing allows testers to participate from their homes or other locations of their choice. Typically, they use their own devices, though, in some situations, the research team may provide a device for the tester to use. The research team also may offer remote assistance or moderation through video conferencing or chat.

One significant advantage of remote testing is that it is typically less expensive as there are no facility costs and participants may be less likely to expect compensation. It also is typically easier to organise, especially when test participants are using their own devices. A drawback to remote testing is that the research team does not have control over the testing environment.


Explorative testing typically takes place early in the product development process. It often involves a prototype or paper-based conceptualisation of the product. With explorative testing, there is a lot of interaction between the researchers and the testers. A portion of the test process may even involve the researchers simply asking questions of the test participants to gauge their understanding and opinion of the product.

The advantage of explorative testing is that it allows product developers to test for usability very early in the development process. This allows them to make changes at a lower cost. Additional testing is typically required later in the design process, as it may get difficult to identify all issues so early in the development process.

Usability Testing Methods

These are the different ways that you can test for usability and once you have determined the type of usability testing you want to use, you can choose a method depending on your resources, objectives and audience. Some of the principal methods of usability testing are:

Guerilla testing

Guerilla testing involves inviting random participants to take part in the testing phase. Often, it takes place in a public place like a coffee shop or library. The research team asks participants to take part in the test and offers them a small gift as compensation, for example, a coupon or promotional item.

Guerilla testing has the advantages of being relatively simple to plan and inexpensive. The drawback is that the researchers rarely have much control over who takes part in the test. Though they can somewhat select the audience by choosing the venue carefully, they do not have background information on each participant.

Laboratory testing

Laboratory testing takes place in a special facility with a moderator or guide. The researchers may select participants through a screening process to ensure they match the characteristics of the target audience. Lab testing is more complicated to plan and expensive, but it offers the advantage of a controlled environment and ideal test participants.

Contextual inquiry

This method focuses on interviewing users. The researchers also observe the user behaviour while testing the product. Though a contextual inquiry provides detailed information about the user, it can be complex and expensive. It requires more cooperation from the test participant and may expect compensation subsequently.

Examples Of Usability Testing Tools

Once you have determined what type and method of usability testing to use, you can consider the tools you can use. There is a wide range of usability testing tools available. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Maze: Maze allows you to run a variety of different test types at high speed, providing both qualitative and quantitative results.

  • Lookback: Lookback is a screen recording application. It provides researchers with a real-time view of users' interactions and reactions when testing a product.

  • Optimal Workshop: Optimal Workshop is an easy-to-use platform offering a variety of tools and pre-formatted tests.

  • Usability Hub: Usability Hub is a platform that offers a wide variety of test types. It is an intuitive application that analyses user information to help make the application or web design decisions.

  • Loop11: Loop11 is a testing tool that also provides access to a pool of potential participants.

  • TrymyUI: TrymyUI provides a variety of testing tools paired with screen recording capability.

  • Hotjar: Hotjar is an analysis tool that allows you to track the interactions of real people using your product outside of testing parameters.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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