usability-methods in web design

What are Usability Methods?

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

In Simple Words: They are basically different approaches to get different metrics for measuring different qualities of usability.

  • 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.

  • The purpose of formative evaluation is to identify usability issues and rectify them before the design goes into production.

  • Examples of methods used: Heuristic Evaluation, Usability testing & Discount usability testing.

Summative Evaluation

  • Done after the construction of the design/product.

  • The purpose for summative evaluation after construction is 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 needs to be fixed or push to next release and also to provide data to marketing to support claims of superiority over other competitors.

  • Examples of methods used: 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.

  • Examples of methods : Heuristic Evaluation, Expert Review. Cognitive walk through.

Testing Methods

  • Make use of end users.

  • Validate the end users 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.

  • Examples of methods: Usability testing, Informal usability testing, Eye–tracking.

  • 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: The cognitive walk through is 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 walk through is on understanding the system’s learnability for new or infrequent users.

  • Usability Expert Review: The review is carried out by a small group of usability experts (between 1 and 4), who analyses the product or service to identify any potential usability issues. This expert usability review is one of the few methods within the user centered design process that does not involve any direct contact with end users.

  • Thinking Aloud Method: In a thinking aloud test, you ask test participants to use the system while continuously thinking out loud — that is, simply verbalizing their thoughts as they move through the user interface.

  • Eye Tracking

  • First Click Testing: First Click Testing examines what a test participant would click on first on the interface in order to complete their intended task. It can be performed on a functioning website, a prototype or a wire frame.

  • A / B Testing: A/B testing is a randomized experiment with two variants, A and B. It 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 measures user’s experience in a website. We hope this article benefits you. Stay tune to our next blog post where we will be sharing with you on more tips regarding the various topics. Also, you can check out our previous blog post. Alternatively, you can visit our website for more information.