Usability Test

Usability Tests are test procedures with which the usability of a website can be tested. Using empirical methods, a usability test conveys possibilities for optimizing the user experience. The result of such a test can lead to changes in the web design or wording, which should lead to an increase in conversions. This is particularly the case for e-commerce. Usability tests can also be an aspect of agile software development.


How can I improve my website or software, or develop the front end so that both the user and I have the best outcome? Or are there any potential usability problems on my website or application? Many methods can be used to answer this question. Analytical processes attempt to solve this problem theoretically, in that the user is categorized as a certain “User-type”. Empirical processes on the other hand work, like usability tests, on the basis of established fact.

With usability tests, methods are developed which provide for a clear factual situation. The implementation of the tests has the advantage that (particularly with the analysis of websites) they can be implemented online. This benefits the client in terms of cost, especially in comparison to more traditional methods, because the tests can largely be carried out on their own websites.

Of course, usability tests are not limited to web-based applications - they can also be useful for product design. Usability testing can also be carried out using in prototyping or in combination with user centered design or UX design. Usability tests are therefore useful for both software or product development, as well as marketing. The purpose of usability tests is to develop the best possible user experience (UX).

Types and methods[edit]

Usability Tests can be used for many different areas and methods. Possible aims of the tests are:

  • Testing the everyday usability of software in the development stage (for example using paper prototyping)
  • Analysis of definite scenarios within the framework of a purchase (for example in an online shop or to improve conversion rates)
  • Analysis of a website to explain phenomena like a high bounce rate or a low retention time.

The following methods can be used:

Depending on the type of test, the users can be actively asked to take part, either with or without specific tasks. Extra guidelines can be provided if more precise analysis of a scenario is necessary. It is also possible to implement usability tests without explicitly informing the user about it, for example through A and B versions of a website, in which case the database decides which version of the website the user views. The tests can also be implemented under laboratory conditions for obtaining the most neutral results. These tests would usually be carried out in a usability laboratory.

For online usability tests, website analysis tools such as Google Analytics or other digital analytics programs can be used. There are also many providers for click-tracking on websites. An alternative method of testing the user friendliness of a product is the cognitive walkthrough.

Usability tests can also be carried out within the frame of a logfile analysis. However, the data needs to meet certain requirements for this to be possible.

Significance for SEO[edit]

Usability tests help SEOs understand visitor behavior on their websites - whether the entire website, or just one page. Usability issues can therefore be easily identified and resolved, for example a low click through rate or high bounce rate in the ordering process. Usability tests usually use empirical methods, meaning the results are documented clearly and comprehensively. A webmasters changes to a page layout may be based largely on instinct, whereas usability tests produce clear results which can be used for shop optimization or SEO. Usability Tests are an important aspect of sustainable search engine optimization or conversion optimization, because Google measures the amount of time a user stays on a page after clicking on the result in the SERP, and allows this process to flow into the ranking of a keyword.

Usability tests have the advantage in search engine marketing that they can usually be carried out online using A/B testing. This keeps costs and time to a minimum. In addition, the easy-to-launch test procedures usually provide reliable information about necessary optimizations. However, usability tests are less beneficial for websites with low traffic, as they are less likely to provide conclusive results about possible usability problems that could contribute to targeted optimization.