What Are the Three Types of User Testing? Usability Methods Explained

by Thijs Kok, on April 21, 2022

Summary: This article discusses the importance of usability testing in software development, explaining what usability testing is, why it's essential, and outlines three types of user testing (Moderated Testing, Usability Labs, and Guerilla Testing) that organizations can integrate into their workflow to ensure end-user satisfaction and product improvement.

After weeks or even months of software development, it can be easy to lose sight of the end goal that drives all the hard work: meeting end-user expectations.

However, failing to keep customer perspectives in mind can not only lead to costly and time-intensive reworks, but also make your customers lose trust in your brand.

That’s where usability comes in during the software testing phase.

So what is usability testing, why is it important, and what are three types of user testing your organization can immediately integrate into its workflow?

What Is Usability Testing?

Usability testing is a critical tool for developing great products that resonate with your target customers. 

Unlike other forms of software testing, usability testing involves an actual potential end user of the software instead of a software developer or quality assurance professional. This helps provide a more realistic test of the software’s functionality and ease of use without being influenced by any prior technical or development knowledge of the product. Instead, usability testing emphasizes the end-user experience by observing or recording their actual behavior with the software.

Although the development or QA team does create test cases, the end user will conduct the tests themselves, focusing on the performance, functionality, and any other feedback on their experience captured during the testing.

The development team then takes this feedback—which can range from minor design details to major functional defects—and prioritizes them for remediation.

How do you get started with test management? And what are the steps, processes,  and best practices involved? DownloadThe Ultimate Guide to Effective Test  Management for answers to these questions and more. >>

Why Is User Testing Important?

In addition to getting firsthand involvement from potential end users, user testing can also:

  • Flag design issues—both visual and functional—that may have been missed by the in-house developers and testers before more time and money are spent on development.
  • Give software developers more information about how well the designed software meets the desired requirements.
  • Understand more about how an intended user will use the product and identify potential future enhancements or releases.

An Overview of Three Types of User Testing

There are many ways organizations can perform user testing, but three types of user testing that are more prevalent include:

Moderated Testing

In this type of user testing, a moderator with experience in facilitation, quality assurance, and the product itself guides testers through test cases. In addition to end-user feedback, the moderator will also collect feedback and observations. Moderated testing can be done in person or virtually.

Usability Labs

Usability labs are structured sessions with recruited end-user testers running pre-defined tests on set functions. These testing sessions collect behavioral and end-user preferences using qualitative and quantitative scales. Although more preparation is required to conduct usability labs, the results are more specific and comprehensive.

Guerilla Testing

This form of testing involves approaching potential end users and asking them to conduct short (10-15 minutes) sessions focusing on particular test cases or objectives. Because guerilla testing can be as informal as approaching people in a coffee shop, testing costs are relatively low. However, the depth, scale, and focus of feedback can vary.

Amplify Your Impact with TestMonitor

It’s one thing to understand a written end-user requirement. It’s another to see firsthand how potential end users interact with and experience your software. Comprehensive insights into end-user preferences, needs, and reactions are immensely helpful in taking your design over the finish line.

TestMonitor is designed to help teams like yours organize, manage, deliver, and track quality assurance tests from end to end, including usability testing. Plus, testing with TestMonitor is easy and doesn’t require professional testers — users simply read instructions, click on feedback icons, and add comments or upload screenshots. No experience needed! TestMonitor also easily integrates with your existing software development workflow, allows for personalized tester dashboards, and makes creating, sequencing, and storing test cases easy.

Want to learn more about how your team can take your testing approach to the next level? Then check out The Ultimate Guide to Effective Test Management.

test management guide download the guide

Want the latest news, tips and advice in next-level software testing? Subscribe to our blog!