How To Plan User Testing

Nigel Tsopo
23 September 2022
13 min read

User testing is a process in which real users are asked to use a product or service to assess its usability. It is typically conducted by UX researchers or designers to gather feedback which can be used to improve user experience.

Although there are many methods for conducting user testing, the ultimate goal of each will be to gain feedback from real users in a naturalistic setting.

However, this does not mean that user testing should be used as a marketing tool or as a way to sell products. Rather, it should be seen as an opportunity to learn about how users interact with a product or service, and as a means of making improvements based on that feedback.

In Person User Tests vs Online User Tests

User testing can be conducted in person or online. In-person user testing is typically more expensive and time-consuming, but highly effective as it facilitates a more naturalized setting.

By contrast, online user testing is more economical and conducted rapidly, but is typically less effective as it is often harder to get users to behave naturally when not in a physical space.

User Testing As A Service

There are many firms offering user testing services, but not all these firms are created equal. So, it's important to choose one with a proven track record.

Startup House is the best option for user testing because we offer a complete package of services to help you get the most out of your testing.

We start by conducting a full analysis of your project so that we may understand your goals and objectives. Then we create a custom testing plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

This plan includes a testing schedule and a list of test cases with a set of instructions for each. We also provide you with a complete report of our findings that will include recommendations for improving your project.

When planning user testing, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  1.  Key Questions To Ask

  2.  Key Considerations For User Testing

Let's dive in for a better understanding of how to plan user testing.

Key Questions To Ask When Planning User Tests

Who is the target audience?

The first step in planning user testing is to identify the target audience. This will help to determine the best way to reach them and the best type of user testing to conduct.

What is the goal of running usability tests?

User testing can be used for a variety of purposes, such as assessing usability, gathering feedback about a new feature, or understanding how users interact with a product or service.

It is important to clearly define the goals of the user testing before starting the planning process.

What type of user testing is best suited for these goals?

There are many different types of user testing, such as usability testing, focus groups, and surveys.

Each type of user testing has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to choose the one that is best suited for the specific testing goals.

How will the user testing be conducted?

User testing can be conducted in person or online. In-person user testing is typically more expensive and time-consuming but can be more effective in some cases since it allows for a more naturalistic setting.

Online user testing, on the other hand, is less expensive and can be conducted more quickly.

How will the user testing be structured?

User testing can be structured in a variety of ways, such as by having users complete tasks, answer questions, or give feedback about their experience.

Whether you opt for remote testing or for creating testing scenarios to be conducted in person, be mindful of what your user testing requires.

How will the data be collected?

Data can be collected in a variety of ways, be it through questionnaires, surveys, video recordings, audio recordings, screenshots or written notes.

How will the data be analyzed?

Similarly, data can be analyzed in a variety of ways, such as by quantitative analysis or qualitative analysis.

Qualitative user testing is more focused on the user's experience and how they interact with the product. Quantitative user testing is more focused on collecting data and measuring results.

Key Considerations For A Usability Test Plan

Define Your Study Goals

Do you want to improve your product's overall usability? Or are you looking to identify specific areas that need improvement, such as the UX for first-time users?

Once you have a good idea of your primary goals, you can start developing a testing plan that will help you achieve them.

If you're not sure where to start, consider the following user testing goals:

Improve overall usability

Conducting user tests can help you identify areas of your product that are confusing or difficult to use. By making your product more usable, you can improve the overall experience for your users.

Identify problems with specific features

If you have a new feature that you're not sure is working as intended, user testing can help you identify any issues. You can then make the necessary changes to improve the feature before it goes live.

Identify areas for improvement

Even if your product is generally usable, there may be areas which could be improved. User testing can help you identify these areas so that you can make the necessary changes.

Make your product more user-friendly

If you find that your product is not as user-friendly as you'd like, user testing can help you make it more so. By making your product more user-friendly, you can improve the overall experience for your users.

These are just a few examples of user testing goals. Once you have a good understanding of your goals, you can start to develop a user testing plan that will help you achieve them.

If you're not sure where to begin, Startup House can help you develop and implement an effective testing plan.

Determine A Format and Study Environment

There are two main options when it comes to user testing: moderated and unmoderated. The format and testing environment you choose will depend on your goals for the user testing, the type of product you are testing, and the availability of resources.

In moderated user testing, you as the researcher are present during the entire session. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions and probe further into areas where there is difficulty or a lack of clarity.

Unmoderated user testing is just as it sounds: where users are left alone to complete tasks without any interference from the researcher.

While moderated user testing may provide more insights, unmoderated user testing is often more realistic and can be done on a larger scale.

By taking the time to plan and prepare for your user testing, you ensure the maximization of your testing and thereby create a superior product.

Determine the Number of Users

To determine how many users you need to test in a user study, you will need to consider a few factors, including your budget, the time available, the nature of your product and the goals of your study.

Your budget may be the primary driver of how many users you can afford to test. If you have a limited budget, you may have to settle for fewer users.

The time available may also be a limiting factor. If you only have a few days to conduct the study, you will likely need fewer users to complete all of the testing tasks required within that timeframe.

The nature of your product may also dictate how many users you need to test.

If your product is a simple one, you may only need a few users to test it. Should it be more complex, you will likely need a greater number to gather more reliable feedback.

Finally, the goals of your study will also play a role in determining how many users should test your product.

If you are trying to identify major usability problems, you will likely need more users. However, if you are only trying to gather general feedback about a product, you may only need to test a few.

Recruiting Users

Recruiting users to participate in a user testing study can be a challenge. However, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of success.

First, make sure that you have a clear and concise description of what the study will entail. This will clarify to potential participants what will be expected of them whilst aid filtering out those who are not suitable to take part in the study.

Second, reach out to your target audience directly. This can be done through online forums, social media or email shots.

Finally, offer an incentive for participating in the study. This could be something as simple as a gift card or a free product.

Create Tasks To Coincide With Your Usability Testing

When you conduct usability testing, it's important to have specific tasks for every test participant to complete. This will help you get the most valuable feedback possible.

Creating tasks that coincide with your study will help ensure that the feedback you receive is relevant and actionable. Here are a few tips for creating effective user testing tasks:

Ensure the tasks are specific to your study

Don't just ask participants to "explore the site." This is too general, and won't get you the specific feedback you need. Instead, ask them to complete specific tasks that relate to your study goals.

For example, if you're testing a new feature on your site, create tasks that require participants to use that feature. This will let you observe how well it works and identify any recurring issues.

Ensure your tasks are achievable

Your tasks should be challenging but still achievable.

If they're too difficult, participants will get frustrated and won't be able to provide helpful feedback. If they're too easy, the feedback equally be of little value.

Ensure the tasks are realistic

Don't ask participants to do things they wouldn't normally do in real life.

For example, don't ask them to find a specific piece of information that's well hidden on your site. This isn't realistic and won't give you useful feedback.

Give participants enough time to complete the tasks

Don't rush participants through the tasks. Give them enough time to complete each one so that they may provide thoughtful and detailed feedback.

Articulate your tasks clearly

Your tasks should be clear and concise. Participants shouldn't have to guess what you want them to do.

Using a usability test plan dashboard can consolidate all instructions and test objectives.

Creating effective user testing tasks is essential for getting the valuable feedback you need. Following these tips will help ensure that your tasks are specific, achievable, realistic and clear.

Facilitate A Study Of Your Pilot Or Launch

There are a few key reasons for the importance of testing your pilot or launch with users:

  • To make sure that the overall experience is intuitive and easy to use.

  • To identify areas where there may be confusion or difficulty.

  • To ensure all functionality is working as intended.

  • To gather feedback on the overall design and user experience.

Collect Metrics

Here’s why it’s important to collect metrics during usability tests:

To assess the effectiveness of the design

Metrics can help to show how well the design is working for users and whether there are any areas that need improvement.

To identify usability issues

By tracking metrics, you can quickly identify any areas of the design that are causing problems for users.

To track progress over time

By collecting metrics on a regular basis, you can track the progress of the design and see how it is improving (or not) over time.

To make data-driven decisions

Metrics can provide valuable data that can be used to make informed decisions about the design.

To justify changes

If you need to make changes to the design, metrics can help to justify those changes and show that they are having a positive impact on user experience.

Jot Down A Test Plan

Jotting down a test plan is a simple yet often overlooked practice.

First, it helps to ensure that all of the necessary tests are conducted.

Second, it can help to identify areas where test participants may have difficulty or need more assistance.

Finally, having a test plan can help to make sure that the user testing is conducted in a systematic and organized manner.

Step 1. Choose a feature to test.

Step 2. Define the scope of the test: which parts of the feature will be tested and which won’t?

Step 3. Choose your test type: manual or automated?

Step 4. Choose your testing methodology: black-box or white-box?

Step 5. Design your test cases: what input will you use and what expected output are you looking for?

Step 6. Create a test plan: what steps will you take to execute your test cases?

Step 7. Execute your test plan and document your results.

Step 8. Analyze your results: were all your test cases passed? If not, why not?

Step 9. Repeat steps 1 to 8 as necessary until you’re satisfied with the feature’s quality.

Step 10. Celebrate your success! You’ve just completed a round of user testing.

Create A Culture Of Observant Learning

User testing is a vital part of creating a culture of observant learning and continual refinement.

By continually observing users, refining your testing process, and testing new user research ideas, you can ensure that your products are always user-friendly and up-to-date.

This approach will help you avoid making common mistakes, such as one that assumes users will know how to use a new feature upon their first encounter with it.


User testing is a critical step in the design process, and there are a number of factors to consider when creating a usability testing plan.

To plan user testing you should budget time and resources, choose the right participants, create realistic tasks, and use valid measures.

We recommend using a professional user testing company like Startup House to ensure that your user tests are conducted effectively and deliver valuable insights.

By following the procedures outlined in this post, you will ensure that your user tests are successful, informative and that your product is launched successfully.

Thanks for reading!


User testing is critical for the success of any new product as it helps ensure this product meets the needs of a target market.

Typical steps in user-test planning:

1. Define user testing goals.

What do you want to learn from your users? What are your biggest concerns about the product? What features are most important to test? By identifying your goals upfront, you can ensure that your user tests are focused and informative.

2. Recruit the right participants.

When recruiting users for your test, it’s important to consider who your target market is and what type of users you need to test your product. For example, if you’re launching a new mobile app, you’ll want to recruit users who are familiar with using apps on their phones.

3. Create a testing schedule.

Once you have your goals and participants lined up, it’s time to create a testing schedule. When planning your user tests, be sure to allow enough time for each stage of the process, from recruiting participants to conducting the tests to analyzing the results.

4. Conduct the tests.

There are a variety of ways to conduct user tests, from in-person interviews to online surveys. The method you choose will depend on your product and your goals for the user test.

5. Analyze the results.

After you’ve conducted your user tests, it’s time to analyze the results. This is where you’ll identify any areas where your product needs improvement. Be sure to share your findings with your team so you can make the necessary changes before launching your product.

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