Last Updated Jun 24 2019

12 templates to get you started with usability testing

Usability testing is most effective when the plans behind it are detailed and thoughtful. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get started: you can save time by using resources that are available online as a blueprint for your process.

In this chapter, we've assembled 12 useful templates, checklists, and scripts you can start from to make your usability testing plan as effective as possible.

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Usability-Testing-Checklist

12 of the web’s best testing templates and checklists

The following list contains some of the internet's best free templates and checklists to assist you in running a usability test. They range from planning lists to test scripts to templates for reporting test results; plus, they are all completely free to access.

1. Template for a usability test plan

Usability.gov was created by the US Department of Health and Human Services as a resource for UX best practices and website guidelines. The site has a huge library of templates and resources, including consent forms, report templates, and sample emails.

➡ About this template: this ten-page, text-heavy template is a blueprint for a comprehensive moderated usability testing proposal. Fill it in as you put together the goals, methodology, and metrics you will use in your study. It also includes structures for designating researcher roles, setting impact parameters, and defining usability tasks for testing.

🔗Get the template at usability.gov

✅What this template is good for: this pre-testing document, perfect for creating a usability testing plan (or a testing plan proposal to share for approval), helps ensure everyone is aware of the parameters of the study.

❌What it’s not good for: the methodology is specific to moderated lab testing. It's not as useful for other methods of testing, including remote and unmoderated ones.

Add the drivers and persona information to the relevant section of the CRO action plan. Once you’re done, move on to investigating what might be causing visitors to leave.

2. Checklist for planning usability studies

Nielsen Norman Group is a leading UX research and consulting firm, widely regarded as a leader in the world of user experience. They offer e-courses, in-person training, and events on UX research, as well as a very useful blog.

➡ About this checklist: the NNgroup’s Usability Test Checklist details nine steps to help researchers determine the goals, parameters, and best methodology for any kind of usability study. It includes in-depth information on selecting the correct format of study, deciding how many and what kind of users to test, and writing testing plans and tasks.

🔗 Get the checklist at nngroup.com

✅What this checklist is good for: use this if you're just getting started with planning any kind of usability study, be it moderated or not, remote, or in person.

❌What this checklist is not good for: written as an essay, it's more of a guide than an interactive document that you can manipulate or literally check boxes on.

3. Template for writing usability tasks

UserZoom is an online UX insight testing company that has run user testing for major brands like Google, Sears, and Oracle. They've created a template for writing moderated usability testing tasks and scenarios.

➡ About this template: this usability task table can help you break down each of your testing tasks into goals, inputs and outputs, and success criteria. Completing each task will help you write better scenarios and more carefully assess what success looks like for each exercise.

🔗 Get the template at userzoom.com

✅ What this template is good for: use this template to organize your thoughts when creating testing scenarios or in conjunction with other stakeholders to align on testing goals.

❌ What this template is not good for: this very basic exercise can only help you sketch out the purpose of each task. It won't help you script the task or integrate it into your testing model.

4. In-person usability testing checklists from Steve Krug

Steve Krug is a user experience expert and the author of Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. His website, Advanced Common Sense, offers downloadable examples of the templates featured in his book, including instructions for usability test observers, a recording consent form, and a script.

➡ About this checklist: all of Krug’s resources are worth considering, but the most valuable resource here is the collection of usability testing checklists, which guides users through each testing task.

🔗 Get this checklist collection at Advanced Common Sense

✅ What this resource is good for: a very thorough checklist of tasks for in-person tests, the document includes minute details like “find a place for participants to sit when they arrive” and “order lunch for debriefing.”

❌What this resource is not good for: because it's so heavily geared towards moderated in-person testing, it is less useful for remote testing. It was also developed in 2010, so many of the technology references are out of date.

5. Remote usability testing script framework

UserZoom (mentioned above) has also developed a checklist to help you prepare a framework for an unmoderated, remote usability test. Researchers have the least control over this form of testing, so developing a research framework and solid script is essential.

➡ About this framework: this framework walks you through defining research objectives, choosing test subjects, selecting questions, and creating testing scenarios.

🔗Access the framework at userzoom.com

✅What this framework is good for: for help optimizing your remote usability testing procedure.

❌What this framework is not good for: the information only applies to remote testing using an online platform (like UserZoom) and can't be customized.

6. Usability testing checklist template

Process Street is a free workflow management software that can be used to manage recurring systems and checklists.

➡ About this template: this incredibly expansive usability testing checklist can be customized to fit your testing aims, metrics, participant details, and more. The final product is a process guide that details everything from preparing customized consent forms to tidying up after the participants have left the testing area.

🔗Access the checklist at process.st  (must sign up for a free account to modify the file

✅What this template is good for: use it to create a guide for in-person or remote moderated testing. It can also be integrated with software like Zapier to auto-import data.

❌What this template is not good for: the checklist only takes you through the end of testing. It won't help you with analyzing or reporting results.

7. The usability test plan dashboard

This template was developed by Dr. David Travis, a user experience strategist who offers a variety of free templates, guides, and lessons on his website UXTraining.net.

➡ About this template: the one-page worksheet is designed to function as a dashboard for simple, small-team usability testing. Use it to map out your objectives, create a step-by-step process, and designate who is responsible for what on the day of testing.

🔗Access the dashboard on medium.com

✅What this dashboard is good for: it’s easy to print out and distribute to make sure everyone is on the same page during testing.

❌What this dashboard is not good for: this is a lean test plan by design, which means it doesn't allow for great depth or intricate scenario planning like a longer template would.

8. The usability test plan booklet

Dr. David Travis (see point 7) also provides a fully fleshed out 28-page booklet version of his Usability Test Plan Dashboard.

➡ About this booklet: this is an extremely detailed testing plan workbook that advises users on evaluation procedures, researcher duties, testing goals, and data collection methods. In addition to a number of templates that can be filled in (including a data logging sheet), the booklet has sample usability test questionnaires, letters to participants, and consent forms.

🔗Get the booklet at userfocus.co.uk (requires an email to download)

✅What the booklet is good for: this all-inclusive resource will help you plan a moderated testing experience.

❌What the booklet is not good for: it's too long to print out and distribute or use as a reference sheet.

9. Usability testing kit

UXPin is a collaborative design digital platform that helps users design, build, and test prototypes for websites. Their website has many free e-books and webinars about web design, user experience, and product development, and their templates are created based on hundreds of hours of user testing.

➡ About this kit: a treasure trove of useful information, their usability kit is a zip file of the following five useful templates in both Word and Apple Pages format:

  • A Usability Test Checklist, including universal tasks to complete before, during, and after testing.
  • A Usability Test Consent Form to obtain permission for recording.
  • A customizable Usability Test Script that you can adapt for use during your moderated tests.
  • A Usability Test Notes spreadsheet for recording observations during testing.
  • A detailed Usability Report Template, for explaining your methodology and results in an academic layout.

🔗Get the kit at uxpin.com (requires an email to download)

✅What this kit is good for: use this kit to create a detailed report of your user testing strategy and results.

❌What this kit is not good for: most of the documents are geared towards in-person moderated testing, but the notes spreadsheet would be useful for any type of testing.

10. Remote software testing script

Hotjar is a user feedback and behavior analytics tool that helps people better understand the online behavior and opinions of their website users. The Hotjar team continuously runs usability testing on the product—and has also authored this entire guide (hi! 👋).

➡ About this script: this is a script for running a remote usability test based on screen sharing via the video conferencing app Zoom. It includes specific language for obtaining recording consent, introducing the testing process, and running through a set of questions. There is also a template for taking notes on user feedback and answers.

🔗Get the script as a Google doc

✅What this script is good for: running a remote usability test focused on a single specific website feature? This script is for you.

❌What this script not good for: the line of questioning is limited to specific software functions, so this template won't be helpful for getting in-depth feedback on overall user experience.

11. Accessibility in user-centered design: usability testing checklist

When it comes to usability testing, do not neglect people with accessibility issues like visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. Shawn Lawton Henry's website, UIAccess, is focused on user-centered design for accessibility.

➡ About this checklist: this document is derived from Henry's book Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design. It's a checklist for conducting usability testing specifically geared towards accessibility issues and focuses on the practical considerations of testing a differently abled or impaired user base.

🔗Get the checklist at uiaccess.com

✅What this checklist is good for: this is the only guide we've found for conducting an in-person usability test with differently abled test subjects. Put it to good use!

❌What this checklist is not good for: the template mainly focuses on the details of the testing process. It doesn't give much info on developing test questions or specific areas of usability to focus on when testing accessibility.

12. Usability testing report

Xtensio is a subscription-based library of modifiable and collaborative templates for a variety of business documents—including testing reports.

➡ About this template: this report template can help you create a thorough and professional-looking final report of your usability testing results. Included are detailed sections for explaining methodology and demographics, results and conclusions, as well as sections for reporting on technical bugs and listing out next step action items. Based on your inputs, the template can generate charts and statistics to support your findings.

🔗Get the template at app.xtensio.com (note: users can gain access to one document free of charge, although they will need to pay to download or use certain features)
✅What this template is good for: this is a professional and compelling template for compiling your usability testing results and identifying the next steps.

❌What this template is not good for: you will have to pay extra to download the document as a PDF or remove the Xtensio branding from the report, so this may be best used solely as an example.

Final thought: don't be afraid to get started

To preserve the integrity of your usability testing results, take a purposeful and methodical approach to testing. Using some of these checklists and templates gives you a head start toward an organized and effective usability study.

But if you are new to usability testing, you don’t have to go all in and use the templates above. You can start much smaller—and we recommend that you do. One of the first steps you can take is installing Hotjar on your site and watching session recordings: this remote and unmoderated technique helps you spot usability issues by just watching real (anonymized) people interact with your site pages and elements.  

Take your first usability testing step today

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