The Best Guide to Mobile App User Testing


The main crux of usability testing is about the interactions of real people with an app to observe their interactions, reactions, and behavior to it and incorporate respective changes. It is critical to ensure a valuable and enjoyable experience for the customers. 

This step in the mobile app testing and development process is highly crucial. It facilitates validating the choices already made for the app (like navigation, interface design, and functionality) and informing future selections like prioritization of new functions or virus fixes.

The Important Aspects

For the development of mobile app usability testing, three different aspects need to be considered: 

  • whether the tests are moderated or unmoderated
  • remote or in-person, and 
  • scripted or exploratory.

Moderated vs. Unmoderated

A moderator guides the participants through a testing session.It is conducted without any first-hand supervision.
It is helpful for detailed feedback about the user’s thoughts and feelings about an app.It is helpful to record the user experience and learn in detail about the thoughts and feelings during app navigation.
The moderator can probe participants for more details, with follow-up questions or elaboration on their reviews.The participants can freely interact with an app without any external input.
It provides the chance for in-depth feedback due to the direct interaction between moderators and test participants.The participant responses might be inadequate due to the absence of follow-up questions.
It can be expensive to organize and run.It is an economical option.
Lab Usability Testing and Guerrilla Testing can be employed as in-person testing options. Observation Testing can be employed as an in-person testing option.
Phone and Video Interviews, Card Sorting can be used for moderated remote testing.Session Recordings can be used for unmoderated remote testing.
It is used to evaluate the reasoning behind user behavior.It is used to observe and quantify unbiased behavior patterns.

Remote vs. In-person

The participants can join in from wherever they feel the most comfortable.The participants need to meet at a specified location to participate.
It is helpful due to the chance of a more extensive and more diverse pool of candidates.It reduces the chance of diversity in participants to some extent.
Facial expressions and gestures cannot be detected.The body language and facial expression can be observed and analyzed by researchers.
It is a more accessible and budget-friendly option since the participants do not need to travel to a specified location.It is usually more expensive and time-taking since a date needs to be specified, and participants need to be recruited accordingly.
It allows testing a more significant number of people in various geographical regions with fewer resources.It allows in-depth analysis of a person’s reasoning.
  • The best mobile testing tools for remote usability testing are Testbirds, UserZoom, UserTesting, UXCam, and Lookback.

Scripted vs. Exploratory

The users are provided with a specific script to be followed during app interactions.The participants are encouraged to explore an app without specified tasks or scripts.
It can be conducted in a more controlled and systematic way, both in-person and remotely.Many unique insights and missing bugs or glitches can be discovered organically.
Consistent and standardized feedback can be collected from a sample of mobile app users.The potential bugs and gaps in in-app functionality can be organically documented and identified in real-time.

User Testing Methods

Moderated Mobile App Testing

Lab Usability Testing MethodPhone and Video Interviews
Definition: Lab usability testing is a technique employed to evaluate the difficulty level for users to complete a particular set of tasks with an app in a specified amount of time. In this approach, the functions that users attempt to complete are controlled with caution, and the ambiance of this execution is precisely managed to reduce the real-life bias. On completing the tasks, the users are requested to provide remarks about their experience.Definition: With phone usability testing, the contributors are informed to complete tasks over a recorded video call, with their interactions and behavior being remotely observed.
Use: The prominent advantage of lab usability testing is the scope of control. All checks are run in stable conditions using this mobile testing technique, which makes it specifically beneficial for comparison tests. These tests are frequently more expensive and usually based on small population sizes in controlled environments, which is not the accurate image of the existing user base or use cases.Use: This approach is budget-friendly to check users throughout a massive geographical vicinity. It is also much less pricey than in-person interviews and permits more data collection in a shorter period.
Guerrilla Testing MethodCard Sorting
Definition: With the guerrilla testing technique, the test participants are generally selected randomly from public places, like malls, coffee shops, or airports, and then requested to perform a rapid usability test for small rewards like gift cards or coupons.Definition: Card sorting mobile app usability testing is a sequential and qualitative study technique that facilitates determining the most intuitive and effective manner for the organization of the app’s navigation structure. In card sorting, customers are asked to sort digital cards symbolizing unique items and categories within the navigation into categories they find suitable.
Use: Guerrilla testing is particularly worth checking the usability of an app throughout a random cross-section of human beings while also building interest and awareness for the app. The method can generate plenty of attention for the app due to engaging with real users and feedback collection in casual settings. It cannot be used for extensive testing since contributors are generally reluctant to follow up or provide personal data.Use: The idea behind card sorting is that the categories created by sorting the virtual cards frequently align with the developers’ intentions at the beginning. It also enables the discovery of missing or unnecessary functions and helps design a natural and easy-to-use navigation system.
  1. Unmoderated Mobile App Testing
Session RecordingsObservation Testing
Session recording mobile app testing out is a method of usability testing in which users’ sessions are recorded via mobile devices with audio and video recording functions. This technique is useful due to the fact it assists researchers and product designers take a look at consumer interactions with the app and perceiving usability issues as they occur.Observation mobile app usability testing is the method of observing users’ interactions with an app to assess the difficulty levels of use and discover usability issues. Observations can be carried out in laboratory settings, via cellular devices connected to computers that run a screen recorder, or on-premise at the users’ offices.
The best testing tools are recording apps like OneShot and AZ Screen Recorder for Android and AirShou and QuickTime for iOS.The advantage of this usability testing method is that it can discover the problems that might not be counted on or effortlessly reproduced with other different testing approaches. It also permits usability testing to be performed inside the context of real-world ambiances, which makes it useful for testing both the interface and the functionality of an app.

The Best Strategies for Mobile App Usability Testing

While conducting mobile app usability testing, the following are the best practices:

Discarding the prototype

To figure out how people would be using an app, it is crucial to discard existing emulations and prototypes. Radical know-how of how it will perform across only form factors can be gained by testing on real gadgets and throughout multiple types of devices like phones, iPads, and many others. With the global device infrastructure offered by HeadSpin, this can be achieved with a massive range of real, local devices without the use of mobile device emulators representing the real devices.

Enrolling the correct test group

Diversity should be a top priority while assembling a set of people to run the usability testing for any mobile app. While it is essential to Beta test with a group representing the target demographic, more significant and diverse opinions can help create a better and more inclusive app. Additionally, it should be ensured that the test group consists of smartphone users with a varied range of tech-savvy skill sets.

Size matters in the case of a test group 

It is recommended by the Nielsen Norman Group to employ a minimum of 5 customers for a usability test, which can cover the needs of mobile app users. However, if the app has more than 30 to 40 screens, the usability tests should be run on 15 participants in 3 consecutive batches. This can sufficiently discover up to 99% of the UX problems in the mobile app.

Being conscious of the surroundings

People can be using the app wherever they go, so it should be assured that the app is tested in more than one environment —indoors, outdoors, and places with a chance of faulty reception.

Keeping it compact and concise

If a script is being followed, the testing should be brief and crisp (under 30 minutes), and representative tasks should be selected for the users to perform. The flow of the app should be tested on multiple screens to ensure a clean course for customers to comply with.

Making plans

The contributors should be asked to point out where they might assume to find specific features on the app, even though they are not presently available. With this data, the interface can be made intuitive, besides helping in the plans for added functionalities in the future.


Mobile app usability testing is an important phase of the app-building procedure. So, armed with all the resources discussed above, highly functional apps that are smooth and easy to use can be developed.

Michael Caine

Michael Caine is the Owner of Amir Articles and also the founder of ANO Digital (Most Powerful Online Content Creator Company), from the USA, studied MBA in 2012, love to play games and write content in different categories.