website usability testing and. ux design

Introduction to website usability testing

When you finish designing a website, your work doesn’t stop there. In fact, you could argue that work is only beginning. The next step in the process is to get feedback on the site’s user experience. This is where website usability testing comes into play. Without the user’s view of your design, you can never know the flaws or correct them.

Website usability testing is the process in which random users are asked to browse your website  and share feedback on its usability. It has the following advantages:

  • Helps you identify flaws in your website’s user experience
  • Identifies the most intuitive workflow for the website
  • Allows you to upgrade the bugs and other minor fixes

All of these points result in overall stability and improved website performance. The ocean of website usability testing is intense. If we dive into it without guidance, we may get lost in its depth. To ensure that you have the right knowledge about it, we will focus on the two main types: moderated vs. unmoderated website usability testing.


Moderated website usability testing

Moderated website usability testing is defined as a real-time meeting in the presence of an observer/moderator who guides the users through the user testing process. It can be done face-to-face or remotely on a hosted web platform. This type of usability testing is best used when you want to:

  • Observe users’ real-time response to see their instinctive response the UX
  • Guide users deal through problematic parts of your website’s interface. If they feel confused, you can assist them quickly
  • Encourage shy users to share their opinion more openly
  • Study the behavior and self-confidence of the users during the whole process


Unmoderated website usability testing

In unmoderated testing, tasks are prepared and assigned to the users. The users perform these tasks in the absence of a moderator/observer. This means that the users are on their own while performing these tasks. The user gives feedback as the tasks are recorded and usually after the test is completed as well. They also decide the time and place to initiate testing.

The significant difference between moderated and unmoderated website usability testing is that there is no moderator in the latter. This means no direct communication with the users. The researcher watches the recorded sessions later to identify the progress. It’s best to conduct unmoderated testing when:

  • You want to save time. With no interaction between the moderator and users, the tests can be completed at a faster rate.
  • You want to get the neutral opinion of the users. In some cases, the presence of a moderator that has control over the users may influence their view.

Read More: Remote Usability Testing Tools


The comparison

When we compare moderated and unmoderated website usability testing, we consider the following points:

Moderated Testing

Unmoderated Testing

A real-time meeting allows the moderator to ask questions to the users and gather feedback on the spot. Feedback obtained is neutral as there is no influence of the moderator over the users.
Provides real-time help to the users. Unmoderated testing saves time and helps you focus on other tasks.
Possible to organize it remotely or physically in person. Not controlled by a moderator, unmonitored.


Which is better?

Well, if you want the answer to which mode of user testing is better, there is no clear-cut answer. Both moderated and unmoderated user testings have their own pros. Either option could be best depending on the circumstances under which they are implemented and the desired outcomes. If you have a lot of free time, you can go for the moderated testing, as it requires a moderator to control the flow of the process. Similarly, if you are short on time, opting for unmoderated testing would be better, as it doesn’t require a moderator to control the flow of the process.



There are two different. types of  website usability testing to enhance user experience – moderated and unmoderated. On one hand, the moderated approach comes with a moderator that assigns and controls the tasks. The moderator can communicate with the users in real-time and assist them. On the other hand, unmoderated user testing doesn’t have a moderator. All the users perform the pre-assigned tasks on their own. Both ways are ideal for user testing, in order to enhance UX. It all depends on the circumstances of your usability testing.


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