How to Test Your App for Usability . . . Before You Have Any Users

As an app developer, you probably already know this unfair truth: Even after months (or years!) of creativity, coding, and hard work to create your app, it’s hard enough to get new users, let alone keep them.

That’s where usability testing comes in.

What is Usability Testing?

Usability testing makes sure that your app is user-friendly before it goes live: That it’s easy to navigate, intuitive to use, and more. Understandably, making sure your app is inclusive of all these elements can seem like a lot of extra work—but it doesn’t have to be! With usability testing your users do the work, actually interacting with your app and providing feedback that you can incorporate to make your app better.

This testing method is an imperative part of your app development process because it’s integral to the success of your app. Did you know that 77% of daily mobile app users stop using an app after 3 days? 77 percent! If you’ve done the hard work to create your app and you’ve gotten people to start using it, you’ll want to make sure they stick around by testing to ensure your app provides an amazing user experience.

How is Usability Testing Different?

Usability testing is just one of many different important methods to confirm that your app works as its supposed to—but it’s a bit different from the rest. It’s less “scientific” than functionality testing or security testing. Instead, usability testing simply requires new users, observations, and feedback.

Seems easy enough, right?

It can be. Unless you don’t have any users yet.

If you’re new to app development, or are simply creating something that hasn’t yet grown an audience, usability testing becomes a little less simple to execute. After all, how do you test usability without users?

All is not lost. You can test your app for usability before you have users, and today we’ll show you how.

How to Test for Usability—Before You Have Users

Icon of a group of people usability testing

1. Do Your Research

User research is essential not just in testing your app, but in developing your app. (After all, should you be developing an app that you haven’t yet validated in the market?)

Ask yourself: Who are the people who will be using your app? What are they like? What do they need?

It’s important to have a clear understanding of who they are—not just so that you can build an app that is accessible to them, but also so that you can have a better understanding of what they will find intuitive and appealing to use. This is especially important if you have a broad range of users (as many e-commerce apps do) or are hoping to reach a more global audience.

When you’re designing your app with a specific user in mind, you’re a lot more likely to naturally develop something that fits their needs and preferences. Make the app development process more easy on yourself from the start by doing your research.

Icon of Hands Holding a Smartphone for Usability Testing

2. Find the Best Beta Testers

Beta testers are a great option for usability testing at every stage of the development process—and who knows, they might even become actual users down the line! And while your mom might be more than willing to sign up for the job, it’s important not to beta test with just anybody.

Now that you know who your users are (see previous step), you can approach a segment of that target audience. You may already have a select group of people in mind, or you can find users through your email list or within communities on Reddit and Facebook.

Then you can use tools like BetaCrash to easily and efficiently distribute builds to—and receive feedback from—hundreds of testers at once.

Icon representing a QA tester's bug report when usability testing

3. Hire the Pros

As a professional QA company, usability testing is just one of several testing services we offer at PLUS QA. We hire professionals who are trained to test your application not just for usability, but for functionality, compatibility, accessibility, and more!

While working with a professional testing company might require a bit more of your budget, it has its benefits: The payoff is confirmation that you’re providing the very best app experience for users who are that much more likely to become loyal fans and offer a significant return on your investment.

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Testing your app for usability (even before you have users) is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll actually find—and keep!—users once your app launches. Follow our tips or work with us directly to make sure it’s done right.

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