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Usability Testing

    USABILITY TESTING is a type of software testing done from an end-user’s perspective to determine if the system is easily usable. It falls under non-functional testing.

    ISTQB Definition

    • usability testing: Testing to determine the extent to which the software product is understood, easy to learn, easy to operate and attractive to the users under specified conditions.
    • think aloud usability testing: A usability testing technique where test participants share their thoughts with the moderator and observers by thinking aloud while they solve usability test tasks. Think aloud is useful to understand the test participant.

    Table of Contents


    Systems may be built 100% in accordance with the functional specifications. Yet, they may be ‘unusable’ when it lands in the hands of the end-users. For instance, let’s say a user needs to print a Financial Update Report, every 30 minutes, and he/she has to go through the following steps:

    1. Login to the system
    2. Click Reports
    3. From the groups of reports, select Financial Reports
    4. From the list of financial reports, select Financial Update Report
    5. Specify the following parameters
      • Date Range
      • Time Zone
      • Departments
      • Units
    6. Click Generate Report
    7. Click Print
    8. Select an option
      • Print as PDF
      • Print for Real

    If that’s the case, the system is probably practically unusable (though it functions perfectly fine). If the report is to be printed frequently, wouldn’t it be convenient if the user could get the job done in a couple of clicks, rather than having to go through numerous steps like listed above? What if there was a feature to save frequently generated reports as a template and if the saved reports were readily available for printing from the dashboard?

    Think smart, folks!


    Usability Testing is performed at the later levels of testing: System Testing and Acceptance Testing.


    Usability Testing uses the Black Box Testing method where internal structure of the system is unknown and is always executed manually because of the need for human interaction and perception.


    • Understand who the users of the system are.
    • Understand what their business needs are.
    • Try to mimic their behavior.
    • Are you good at role-playing? If not, practice.

    Usability Testing is NOT to be confused with User Acceptance Testing or User Interface / Look and Feel Testing.

    Last Updated on September 6, 2020 by STF