Mobile Usability Testing

Mobile usability testing can help you make sure that people are able to easily achieve their goals in your mobile app, even on a phone's small screen size.

Author: Daria Krasovskaya

Reviewed by: Marek Strba Marek Strba

Last update 24.05.2023

As technology is constantly evolving, we are starting to spend more and more time on our mobile phones. Phones are no longer just for calling, but a whole range of activities, such as ordering food, shopping or even booking a dentist appointment can now be done without speaking a word, through an app installed on your mobile phone. Which means that your users expect their favorite digital services/products to be as mobile-friendly as it gets. 

In this guide, we are going to discuss what mobile usability testing is, when you need it and how to do it.

What is mobile usability testing?

Mobile usability testing is a method of assessing the usability (or sometimes more broadly, the user experience) of your mobile app by watching the users complete specific tasks inside it. This type of usability testing helps you find out if people are able to easily achieve their goals.

This is key for mobile apps in particular, due to the limited screen size of mobile phones presenting a challenge to how to present information efficiently and how to make interfaces that are comfortable to use with phone in hand.

When do you need mobile usability testing?

Usability testing for mobile apps can be useful almost at any point during the design or development process. It’s best to run several rounds of testing throughout the entire process in order to catch problems early and fix them before the launch. You can start from your first sketches of the most important screens by doing a first click test.

Even once your app is available to download the App Store/Google Play, usability testing will serve as a perfect benchmark for how updates affect the users of your app.

Mobile usability testing best practices

1. Choose your method wisely

Testing mobile applications, unlike websites, might get a bit complicated. Therefore, there is no ultimate method that will suit every situation. Decide, whether it is better to run a Moderated usability test or an Unmoderated one, if you want it to be remote or in person. 

To help you with that, we prepared a handy overview of the Usability testing methods.

2. Choose the right type of device

In order to decide what devices you’ll be testing on, clarify if your mobile app is for a specific operating system – iOS or Android. In case your app has more advanced features which haven’t been supported by older versions of the OS, you may need to do some research on which versions are suitable for testing your app.

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3. Make sure your testers are familiar with the device

As Nielsen Norman Group states, in mobile usability testing, it is important to recruit testers who “have been using the device for at least 3 month already”. That way you can be totally sure that the people you are testing are completely familiar with the operating system and how the device works. Therefore, the test results will accurately represent real-life situations.

Ideally, you want your testers to participate in a study using their own devices. This is easily achieved when using remote usability testing tools.

How to conduct mobile usability testing

There are 6 main steps to follow in your mobile usability testing study:

mobile usability testing

Learn how to set up the mobile usability testing study.