Usability Methods

Table of Contents

usability-methods in web design

What are Usability Methods?

Definition: Usability methods are the protocols through which data can be collected for developing metrics for measuring usability.

Usability methods are simply different approaches to get different metrics for measuring different qualities of usability.


Types of Usability Methods

  • Formative Evaluation
  • Summative Evaluation
  • Inspection Methods
  • Testing Methods
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Usability Testing


Formative Evaluation

  • Done before the release of a design/product.
  • Can be done before and during the development of a design.
  • To identify usability issues and rectify them before the design goes into production.
  • Methods: Heuristic Evaluation, Usability testing & Discount Usability testing.


Summative Evaluation

  • Done after the construction of the design/product.
  • To measure usability against benchmark and against other products. It is also done to identify usability issues that crept up during production that are critical that need to be fixed or pushed to the next release and also to provide data to marketing to support claims of superiority over other competitors.
  • Methods: Usability Testing mostly. Heuristics Evaluation if applicable.


Inspection Methods

  • Does not make use of end users.
  • Done by usability practitioners.
  • Focused on identifying system level interface and interaction design issues and NOT end users usability issues.
  • Often make use of standard set of rules (Heuristics) to evaluate the interface and interactions.
  • Methods: Heuristic Evaluation, Expert Review, Cognitive Walkthrough.


Testing Methods

  • Make use of end-user.
  • Validate the end-user experience rather than the system and if users understand the interface, interaction, task flow and the various aspects of the design/product.
  • Uses tasks and scenarios to validate instead of Heuristic Evaluation.
  • Methods: Usability Testing, Informal Usability Testing, Eye–Tracking.


Heuristic Evaluation

  • Proposed by Nielsen and Molich.
  • Done by usability professionals.
  • Usability criteria (heuristics) are identified.
  • Examines the design to see if the Heuristics are violated.


Usability Testing

  • Tests with relevant test user groups.
  • Develops a test plan defining the tasks and scenarios to be tested.
  • Defines the metrics to be measured out before testing.
  • Develops both qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Identifies user experience issues and errors.
  • Moderated, Unmoderated, Remote and Informal usability testing.


Other Usability Methods

Cognitive Walk Through:

  • A usability evaluation method in which one or more evaluators work through a series of tasks and ask a set of questions from the perspective of the user.
  • The focus of the cognitive walkthrough is on understanding the system’s learnability for new or infrequent users.


Usability Expert Review:

  • Carried out by a small group of usability experts (between 1 and 4) who analyses the product/service to identify any potential usability issues.
  • One of the few methods within the user-centred design process that does not involve any direct contact with end-users.


Thinking Aloud Method:

  • Test participants use the system while continuously thinking out loud — that is, simply verbalizing their thoughts as they move through the user interface.


Eye Tracking

  • Record users’ eye behaviour when they are conducting a user test on an interface.
  • Usually equipped with a tracker that is installed on the device, where its camera is directly facing the user’s pupils.


First Click Testing:

  • Examines what a test participant would click on first on the interface in order to complete their intended task.
  • Can be performed on a functioning website, a prototype or a wire frame.


A / B Testing:

  • A randomized experiment with two variants, A and B.
  • Includes application of statistical hypothesis testing or “two-sample hypothesis testing” as used in the field of statistics.



In conclusion, these are what Usability Methods are about and how they measure user’s experience in a website. We hope this article benefits you. Stay tuned to our next blog post where we will be sharing with you on more tips regarding the various topics. You can also check out our previous blog post. Alternatively, you can visit our website for more information.