Lindsey Allard February 4th, 2022

7 Common Usability Testing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

The goal of usability testing is straightforward: get volunteers to try the app, obtain statistical data from the findings, and determine how the app can be upgraded.

Usability testing does not always imply that you will complete the product correctly. Occasionally, mistakes occur along the procedure, affecting the test results.

In this article, we'll go through seven frequent mistakes made during usability testing and how to avoid them.

1. Failing to set a decisive business goal

One of the most common missteps is neglecting to establish a clear business goal for the usability program. Instead, you need to consider why you're testing in the first place. That is the first step to ensure that the testing will produce the best results for your company to improve the product in the future.

Identifying your company goal will establish the tone for the entire usability testing process, but if you don't know what it is, the test will be aimless. As a result, there is a risk that the activities and demographics will be incorrect, which results in losing time and resources.

By being specific about what you want to obtain from the testing, you may avoid making the first problem. Posing a pragmatic question, like "Will the information minimize calls to our customer support service?" will boost your test results significantly. The more specific the question, the better the outcome.

2. Choosing the wrong activities

Creating the activities for users to do is the foundation of any usability testing program, but how can you determine whether you're doing it correctly? To minimize your expenses and time, you should highlight the significant issues. For example, see if the tasks are aligned with the test’s goal, and adjust them according to the company’s standard.

Where do you think there needs to be more explanation on the site, spots where you feel there could already be trouble? These are the locations where you should concentrate your efforts to ensure that people finish the task on your website. The correct attitude for the usability initiative will be set by assuring that the tasks will address those questions.

3. Recruiting the wrong users

Another common blunder is failing to gather the appropriate participants for the study. Moreover, you should establish demographics for usability testing since you want a true reflection of your subjects. That way, you can get the most accurate replies. And that is why, while creating a user test, you should match the demographic profile of users to the demographic profile of the individuals who will really visit your site.

Suppose you have a website for saving accounts and your testers are adolescents or people in their early twenties. Will they provide the most relevant feedback? Probably not.

Instead, you should choose adults between the age of 30 and 40 who are more likely to be your target audience.

Obtaining the most accurate answer from your target audience provides excellent input that can be included in a new website design or converted into an A/B test to improve conversion rates.

4. Lacking a dedicated staff

We frequently find a lack of time and resources dedicated to usability testing, leading to the testing's true potential not being realized. In addition, it might be challenging to find the time to analyze feedback accurately and transform it into precise results. As a result, issues highlighted on your site may go unnoticed.

You must thoroughly examine the recordings of your study to ensure that you’ve found all relevant discoveries. That can include analyzing what users do on your website, how they navigate, where they click, and so on. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of time to observe and analyze this data simply. That is why it's occasionally best to consider usability testing programs so that you can have a team of dedicated UX researchers perform the tests and get the most remarkable results for your company. It might also be worth it to consider outsourcing those services.

5. Not thinking about ways to deliver results

A usability test can generate a plethora of data, but if the individuals who make design choices are unaware of the results, the test is a loss. Therefore, it’s important to get the data to the design team. Creating test reports is one way that many usability specialists try to overcome this challenge. Such statements seek to simplify the testing and observations into a single document.

The majority of reports are never reviewed. The very few who do read usually generate more questions than solutions. In addition, writing a high-quality report that adequately expresses every part of the test demands exceptional writing and composing skills. Sadly, most usability specialists do not have access to these writing resources.

The most excellent communication tactics include having review sessions soon after each test, forming an email discussion group to analyze the test and multiple interpretations, and doing interactive workshops to evaluate the design.

6. Not putting possible solutions to the test

Prepare a preliminary sketch of how you plan to use the data before you start your usability test. For example, if your examination reveals that the design of your website is complex for users, you should prepare a solution as soon as the testing is completed.

The issue is deciding which approach is the best to adopt. You can't know what solution will work just on the original test, which identified a problem. So you have to do the test once more, this time with a functioning solution.

The answer to this dilemma is to organize a round of testing to confirm any yet-to-be-discovered possible solutions. You should do this well before you realize what the issues are going to be. Then, of course, you can simply cancel the evaluation if you don't have any problems.

7. Conducting tests to validate your ideas

Confirmation bias is a human trait that causes us to gravitate toward particular views. In usability testing, individuals forget to be objective and design the entire test around their preferences.

You're undermining the objective of usability testing if you use it to validate ideas. The goal of the test is to see and analyze how people engage with the product. It's not about living up to your own ambitions.

When performing usability testing, you must be honest and neutral.  Maintain an open attitude and be willing to let data speak on its own. However, when it comes to analyzing the outcomes, make it a group operation.


For any company, usability testing is a significant time and resource commitment. Therefore, it is vital to have a clear grasp of what you want to gain out of it. By providing proper time and resources to the program, you can prevent the most typical missteps and ensure a successful usability testing project.

Featured Image by David Travis on Unsplash

Lindsey Allard

Lindsey Allard is the CEO of PlaybookUX, a video-based user feedback software. After seeing how time consuming and expensive gathering feedback was, Lindsey made it her goal to create a solution to streamline the user feedback process.

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