USABILITY TESTING is a type of testing done from an end-user’s perspective to determine if the system is easily usable.

Usability Testing

Merriam-Webster’s Definition

– capable of being used
– convenient and practicable for use

ISTQB’s Definition

usability testing: Testing to determine the extent to which the software product is understood, easy to learn, easy to operate and attractive to the users under specified conditions.

CSTE CBOK Definition

Usability Test: The purpose of this event is to review the application user interface and other human factors of the application with the people who will be using the application. This is to ensure that the design (layout and sequence, etc.) enables the business functions to be executed as easily and intuitively as possible.


Systems may be built 100% in accordance with the specifications. Yet, they may be ‘unusable’ when it lands in the hands of the end-users. For instance, let’s say a user needs to print a Financial Update Report, every 30 minutes, and he/she has to go through the following steps:

  1. Login to the system
  2. Click Reports
  3. From the groups of reports, select Financial Reports
  4. From the list of financial reports, select Financial Update Report
  5. Specify the following parameters
    1. Date Range
    2. Time Zone
    3. Departments
    4. Units
  6. Click Generate Report
  7. Click Print
  8. Select an option
    1. Print as PDF
    2. Print for Real

If that’s the case, the system is probably practically unusable (though it functions perfectly fine). If the report is to be printed frequently, wouldn’t it be convenient if the user could get the job done in a couple of clicks, rather than having to go through numerous steps like listed above? What if there was a feature to save frequently generated reports as a template and if the saved reports were readily available for printing from the homepage?

Think smart, folks!


Usability Testing is normally performed during System Testing and Acceptance Testing levels.


  • Understand who the users of the system are.
  • Understand what their business needs are.
  • Try to mimic their behavior.
  • Are you good at role-playing? If not, practice.

Usability Testing is NOT to be confused with User Acceptance Testing or User Interface / Look and Feel Testing.