Learn / Guides / Usability testing guide

Back to guides

12 templates and checklists 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: save time by using resources that are available online as a blueprint for your process.

In this chapter of our Usability Testing guide, we've assembled twelve useful templates, checklists, and scripts you can start from to make your usability testing plan as effective as possible.

Last updated

10 Oct 2023

Reading time

11 min


Take your first usability testing step today

Hotjar helps you understand how visitors use your website.

12 of the web’s best usability testing checklists and templates

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’re all completely free to access.

1. Usability testing plan template 

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’ll 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 testing methods, including remote and unmoderated ones.

💡Pro tip: Hotjar also has you covered when it comes to making a usability testing roadmap. Follow the 5-step process outlined in this guide’s chapter on how to plan and run a moderated usability test. This process uses an ecommerce website as an example, but it also works if you want to test a prototype, non-transactional website, or product.

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 as a starting point for 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

Yale University offers a streamlined and frequently updated resource site that details its own approaches to web usability and accessibility. Along with sections on usability best practices and how to make sites accessible for people with disabilities, this resource provides a 5-step guide for usability testing that includes a template with practical examples for writing moderated usability testing tasks and scenarios.

➡ About this template: this document, which offers both empty and filled-in (with examples) versions, can help you break down your top five testing goals into scenarios, inputs and outputs, and success criteria. Completing this document will help you write better scenarios and more carefully assess what success looks like for each exercise.

🔗 Get the template at usability.yale.edu

✅ What this template is good for: use this template to organize your thoughts when creating testing scenarios or 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.

💡Pro tip: if you still need to determine the goals you want to achieve with your usability test, try polling your users to uncover pain points along the user journey that need addressing. Use Hotjar Surveys to gather real user feedback with a simple website usability survey to identify UX goals that you can turn into specific tasks and testing scenarios.

Polling your users with a survey is a great starting point for developing task scenarios for a usability test

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 moderator 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, this 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’s less useful for remote testing. It was also developed in 2010, so many of the technology references are out of date.

5. Remote usability test planning framework

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

An easy way to get started with user testing is through Hotjar Recordings, a user testing tool that helps you identify usability issues with your site by watching session recordings of real (anonymized) people interacting with your site pages and elements on their own terms. We developed a planning framework to help you set up and analyze session recordings as a form of unmoderated, remote usability testing.

➡ About this framework: this framework walks you through the ‘organic’ method of conducting unmoderated, remote, and unscripted usability testing with session recordings. Our 6-step research plan prepares you for defining goals, analyzing data, and creating actionable insights.

🔗 Access the framework at hotjar.com

✅ What this framework is good for: the method outlined in this framework is probably one of the most hands-off yet rewarding ways of conducting usability testing—it’s great for beginners or for coming up with ideas for future in-depth testing.

❌ What this framework is not good for: the information mainly applies to remote testing using an online platform (like Hotjar), and the method won’t be that useful if you want to conduct a systematic usability test with more controlled parameters.

Take your first usability testing step today

Hotjar helps you understand how visitors use your website.

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 digital collaborative design 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, UXPin's 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 is useful for any type of testing.

10. Remote usability testing script 

Hotjar (see point 5) has more tools for conducting remote usability testing, as well as structured user interviews. We’ve put together a customizable script for running a remote usability test based on screen sharing via Hotjar Engage or the video conferencing app Zoom.

➡ About this script: this remote usability testing script includes specific language for obtaining recording consent, introducing the testing process, and running through a set of questions. There’s also a template for taking notes on user feedback and answers.

🔗 Get the script as a Google doc

✅ What this script is good for: are you running a remote usability test focused on a single specific website or product 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.

💡Pro tip: Hotjar Engage lets you conduct remote, moderated usability testing with your own users or testers from Hotjar’s pool of 175,000+ participants. From recruitment and scheduling to hosting and recording, Engage automates the entire user research process so you can devote your energy to conducting the test. 

To get further clarity on how real users experience your live site or a UX design prototype, conduct a user interview with each participant immediately after the usability test—we’ve got plenty of interview question ideas to get the conversation started.

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

Shawn Lawton Henry's website, UIAccess, is focused on accessible, user-centered design.

➡ 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 template

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 summary 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 (although users can gain access to one document free of charge, you’ll 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 next steps.

❌ What this template is not good for: you’ll 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.

💡Pro tip: for more guidance on how to analyze results and prepare a report after your usability test, read our guide on analyzing and evaluating usability testing data for a straightforward, 5-step approach.

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’re 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 so you can start watching session recordings or launch a simple usability survey to brainstorm ideas of what you can accomplish with usability testing in the future.

Take your first usability testing step today

Hotjar helps you understand how visitors use your website.