A Guide to Mobile App Usability Testing

Oleksandr Kruglyak
Head of Dev Department at TRIARE
11 min read
A Guide to Mobile App Usability Testing

Learn about the benefits and the methods of mobile app usability testing.

Who needs mobile app usability testing?

It’s easy to forget about usability testing while making an app. To the development teams, who are busy with everything else, it may seem like a minor issue.

Of course, testing is essential for making a user-friendly app before releasing it to the public. The mobile app industry is competitive, so it’s important to stand out by offering a superior user experience.

But, what is the process for testing app usability? Is there any benefit to it? Let’s find out.

Almost everyone from the app designer to the final user wants the app to turn out perfect. Here are some important players who need usability testing:

  • UX designers. These people make designs that are easy for people to use. It helps them go over design choices again. Usability tests help UX designers find usability problems and develop up-to-date data-driven solutions.
  • Product managers. Product managers are responsible for the creation and distribution of new products. They can improve the product, meet customer goals, and get feedback by testing its usability.
  • Programmers. Usability testing helps programmers find bugs in the code that might negatively impact the user experience.
  • Marketers and salespeople. By analyzing user actions and preferences, salespeople may better advertise a product or website to prospective customers.
  • Business owners. To better influence strategic choices and enhance the user experience, usability testing provides valuable insights into how consumers interact with a company’s digital assets.
  • End users. People who will really be using the app are at the center of usability testing. It’s a great way to gain knowledge, network, and have input on future changes to the app.
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Mobile App

Why is usability testing important?

It’s possible to do a good job of designing an app’s user interface on your own, but you can’t be sure it’s perfect until you get input from actual users. One of the most useful techniques for gathering that kind of input is usability testing.

Basically, with proper app usability testing, you can identify:

  • Issues with the UI/UX
  • Learn about user preferences
  • Boost user satisfaction

Identify the issues. Usability testing for mobile apps helps designers and programmers find and fix bugs before they launch. The more you test your app, the more you’ll learn about its strengths and weaknesses from the end user’s perspective. This is vital as 90% of users say that they’ve left an app due to poor performance. As a result, you may make the necessary adjustments and improvements, rather than having to wait until after the launch to fix any issues that may arise.

Learn about user preferences. Usability testing with mobile devices may tell you a lot about your consumers’ tastes, habits, and expectations. Watching how users use an app and listening to their feedback can help you better cater to their needs and wants. This insight allows you to tailor the app to each unique user for a more personalized and targeted experience.

Boost user satisfaction. User experience (UX) is crucial in determining whether or not an app can keep its users hooked. It’s why 80% of customers say that they are eager to spend more for a better UX. Having satisfied customers who keep coming back, leaving glowing reviews, and spreading the word about your app is a certain way to increase your app’s popularity and, in turn, your competitive edge.

Mobile app development

User testing methods

There are many methods for usability testing, but the right method depends on the app’s purpose and its stage in the development cycle. Plus, it depends on how you want to get feedback from the users. 

Here are some methods of user testing for mobile apps.

Method Description
Moderated In a moderated test, a moderator acts as a guide for the user. It’s also their job to search for further information or provide clarity. Therefore, the most insightful feedback often comes from moderated tests. However, they are time-consuming and costly.
Unmoderated In an unmoderated exam, users rely on their own resources to complete the assignments. It helps you record a user’s real actions while using the app app.
Remote Users may participate in usability testing remotely using their own devices. This method can be helpful since it reduces costs and makes it possible to use a larger and more diverse pool of testers. 

The testers can then complete the jobs and follow the instructions whenever it is most appropriate for them. Then, using specialist testing tools, you may record user activity, collect feedback, and analyze the data.

In-person In-person testing only includes the most qualified users. You might have to do usability tests in a lab or other controlled environment at some time. This kind of testing allows you to do an in-depth analysis of users’ actions in real time and gain invaluable insights.

There will be no surprises or disruptions during testing in the controlled environment. When doing deep studies or gathering extensive qualitative data, lab-based testing is the way to go.

Of course, there are many other methods available as well, but we only focused on the four basic ones that cover other, specialized options. 

Benefits of usability testing

How to run an effective mobile app usability test?

It is crucial to evaluate the app’s usability on a mobile device. If you want solid results, you need to follow an explicit plan with an efficient framework. Here’s how to test mobile apps: 

  • Finding your target user base. You need to first determine who will be using the app and what are the most likely scenarios for testing. It is important to design user personas that are closest to the target users so you can offer realistic test cases.
  • Plan out your test. After you’ve defined your target user base, you can start simulating their experience with the app by designing tasks. This means keeping a close eye on how users do things like creating an account and making a purchase inside the app. 
  • Select metrics. The best way to get useful information from tests is to determine which metrics will be measured. Time to finish the tasks, number of finished tasks, and user satisfaction are just some of the typical metrics.
  • Create the right setting. To effectively monitor the users without any interruptions or technical challenges slowing the procedure, you must also carefully design the test setting. This means setting up the necessary equipment, such as smartphones or tablets, with the application installed on them.
  • Run the test. Last but not least, test the app by letting users interact with it in a controlled environment. While doing so, you monitor how they act and record any problems they face, comparing their performance to established standards. After testing is complete, you can learn more about how users interact with your app and where you can make improvements by asking them follow-up questions.

App Usability Test

What should you think about before testing the app?

So, now you understand how usability can dramatically optimize the user experience, and boost your ROI. But, you can only get these benefits if you understand the basics of a good usability test. When usability testing a mobile app, you need to consider the following best practices:

  • Forget about the app prototype. First, you should scrap any prototypes or working models of your app if you want an accurate take on how users will interact with it in real life. You need to do tests on real devices and on a variety of device kinds (phone, tablet, etc.) to get an accurate picture of how it will function on various screen sizes.
  • Create a diverse tester group. When assembling a panel of users for usability testing, it’s important to make sure that the panel is reflective of the general population. While it is essential to do Beta testing with a group that reflects your target audience, a more diversified set of views can help you build a stronger app. You should also not have a test group with only people used to operating smartphones.
  • Pick the right size. Third, the size of the test group is important; most mobile app owners won’t need more than five people in a usability test. But if your app includes more than 25 screens, you could consider doing usability testing in three groups of five. That’s a great way to find almost all UX issues.
  • Keep it for less than 30 minutes. Scripted testing sessions should be brief (no more than 30 minutes) and should focus on a small set of typical tasks. Make sure there is a consistent flow across screens, and that users can easily understand where to go next.

Testing app

Why should you consider customer and competitor experience when testing?

In usability testing, the user is always the focus. During usability testing, designers and developers observe actual users in action and listen to their feedback to get insight into the product’s usability. They can use this information to make adjustments that will satisfy their users and keep them interested. 

Plus, by focusing on customers and competitors, you can:

  • Retain and attract more users. Users are more likely to enjoy their experience with a product or website, complete their intended tasks, and return for more usage if they do. Usability testing can help you provide the greatest possible experience, boost conversion rates, and encourage customers to remain loyal.
  • Get an edge over competitors. A great way to get noticed in a busy market is to provide exceptional service to each individual user. Businesses may better meet the demands of their customers by conducting usability tests to learn about their desires, expectations, and challenges. 
  • Boost brand loyalty. An efficient design increases user confidence and boosts loyalty to your brand. People become passionate supporters of a company and spread the word about it when they have a positive experience with one of its products. With usability testing, you can develop trust with users.

Customer and competitor experience

What might be the results of app usability testing?

You can tell how effective your app is via usability testing. Here, participants use the app to complete a task while their actions and verbal and non-verbal feedback are monitored.

The metrics you choose to measure usability with will determine the sorts of data you gather at the end. You search for trends and describe each of the issues as you analyze the data. 

When analyzing the data, you can see if the issue is mild, severe, limited, or universal. For example, you may find out that the users have issues with the shopping cart section of the app, but not with selecting the items. 

You can put test results in a report with graphs and charts to make it easy for everyone to easily understand your findings.

Results of app usability testing

How can implementing testing results optimize your budget?

It is much easier to find and fix usability issues early on when testing occurs throughout the design and development stages of a product or service. If issues aren’t identified until much later, fixing them can become more costly. In fact, this is so significant that a $1 investment in optimizing UX can save you $100 in return!

In addition to gaining user satisfaction, usability testing may determine which features and improvements are most important to users. Instead of trial and error, you can make the right choices from the start and save money by just implementing the features you know will be popular.

Plus, usability testing can be used with any budget, which means that you don’t have to invest a lot of capital upfront. Also, with a passionate user base that can automatically do word-of-mouth marketing for you, you can save a lot in marketing and customer acquisition.

How can you optimize your budget by improving the usability of your application?

Implementing testing results

What insights does TRIARE have? Cases of our testers

Developing and testing mobile apps and software is the biggest part of our work at TRIARE. Of course, a major part of that is testing the apps using manual and automated approaches in real-life scenarios to make sure they can create the perfect experience for the final user.

We’ve done usability testing on all of our mobile apps, including these two:

Nutrihorse. Our client came to us with an idea for an app that can easily monitor the health of horses. After getting the specific details and doing extensive research, our team identified the technical issues that could affect the performance and UX of the app. After several rounds of testing, we delivered an app that can monitor a horse’s health parameters, document them in logs, and set detailed training programs. 

Custom delivery SuperApp. As a super app that actually included six different apps, it was a major challenge to get all the elements right. Our team performed several rounds of usability testing in order to identify the issues during development. 

Since customer experience was the most vital part of this app, our experts closely monitored the navigation, shopping process, and transaction process to make sure that users did not face any problems in the entire customer journey. 


So, now you see how usability testing can help you develop an app that improves user satisfaction, boosts conversion, saves money, and gives you an advantage over other players in the market. 

Of course, this is something that requires a lot of expertise and experience in software development and testing. We at TRIARE have done this for many other apps and we can do the same for yours too. Just get in touch and let us help.

Oleksandr Kruglyak
Head of Dev Department at TRIARE