Product Usability 101: How to Measure It for a User-Friendly UX?

Product Usability 101: How to Measure It for a User-Friendly UX? cover

How do you evaluate product usability to guide the product design process?

If you’re after the answer to this question, you’re in the right place, because that’s exactly what the article explores.

Ready to dive in?


What is product usability?

Product usability refers to how easy it is for customers to use the product to realize their objectives.

Products that score high on the usability dimension, are easy to learn because of their intuitive design. What’s more, the UI is streamlined and free from bugs so that users can perform the intended tasks efficiently and in less time.

Usability vs. user experience

User experience and usability are closely connected but they refer to different aspects of product experience.

Usability describes how easily users can complete their JTBDs inside the product. User experience, on the other hand, is a wider term describing the emotional aspect users feel during all interactions with the brand.

So while usability focuses on such aspects as effectiveness and efficiency, user experience is about user satisfaction, their perception of value, and experiencing a sense of delight and fun during brand interactions.

Usability vs. User Experience (UX)
Usability vs. User Experience (UX).

Why is product usability important?

Product usability is one of the factors responsible for product success and can be a key differentiator in competitive markets. That’s because it directly impacts the user experience and satisfaction.

If a product is easy and intuitive to use, it will be more appealing to new customers.

What’s more, good usability removes friction and flattens the learning curve for new users. This reduces frustration and increases user retention.

It also influences the perceived value of the product. Thanks to user-friendly design, users can streamline processes, save time, and increase productivity. This may translate into increased sales and greater customer loyalty.

The five components of good usability

There are 5 key factors that affect product usability:

  • Learnability – how easy it is to start using the product
  • Efficiency – how quickly can users perform the intended task
  • Memorability – how easily can users start using the product effectively after a longer period of not using it
  • Errors – how many errors users make and how serious they are
  • Satisfaction – how enjoyable is the product to use and how well it addresses user needs
Elements of product usability
Elements of product usability.

What is an example of product usability?

An example of good product usability could be a product growth platform with an AI-powered writing assistant.

The writing assistant produces new content from scratch in no time. It is also an excellent tool for refining existing copy – allowing users to paraphrase, expand or shorten the text and fix grammatical and spelling errors.

The options are available from a drop-down menu triggered with a right mouse button click, just like in other apps. This makes it intuitive to use.

Thanks to the feature, the product team can create microcopy for their in-app messages quickly, efficiently, and to a higher standard. This frees up their time for other important tasks like product discovery or backlog refinement.

How do you assess product usability?

Product designers and managers can assess product usability with a range of methods and techniques. To get objective results, it’s best not to rely on one of them. Instead, use a number of techniques for a more complete picture.

Let’s check out a few of the methods that can help you identify usability problems and find ways to make your product usable.

Collect quantitative and qualitative feedback from actual users

Collecting user feedback is the most direct way to assess your product’s usability.

CSAT or NPS surveys can give you insights into user satisfaction with the product while Customer Effort Score (CES) survey will tell you how easy to use the product is for your customers.

You can use them to evaluate the product as a whole or specific features. For example, you could trigger contextual surveys immediately after users interact with a newly released feature.

To fully realize the potential of in-app surveys, make sure to collect both quantitative and qualitative feedback. While metrics like NPS or CES are great for tracking trends, it’s the qualitative open-ended questions that help you identify points of friction or customer frustration.

CES survey
CES survey created in Userpilot.

Conduct usability testing

There are lots of different ways to conduct usability testing.

Guerilla testing

In guerilla testing, you head to a public place, like a coffee shop, and ‘ambush’ unsuspecting members of the public with the prototype of your product.

What does the ‘ambush’ look like?

Basically, you approach people, ideally representatives of your target user population, and ask them to try your product. For example, you could ask them to complete a simple task.

As they do it, you watch them interact with the product and follow up with a quick interview once they’re done.

In this way, you can quickly test the UX design of your product with real users. Of course, they will be giving up their precious time to help you, so the coffees are on you.

Guerilla usability testing. Source: UX Planet.
Guerilla usability testing. Source: UX Planet.

Unmoderated remote testing

In unmoderated usability tests, users are asked to perform a specific task without any supervision. The researcher simply watches how they interact with the product and doesn’t interfere.

In this case, the testing is carried out remotely, so users use their own equipment, and their sessions are recorded using tools like Hotjar or TrueStory for analysis at a later time.

It is a cost-effective method of usability testing at a scale that allows you to involve participants in different geographical locations.

Hotjar session recording
Hotjar session recording.

Lab testing

Lab testing can be both moderated and unmoderated. It allows the designer to observe how users engage with the product in person and interact with them in real time. This gives them flexibility in the task design and a better understanding of the user perspective.

What’s more, labs can be equipped with complex testing equipment that will give you more detailed insights. For example, you could reliably track the eye movements of your users as they’re engaging with the product.

The main downside of lab testing is that it’s time-consuming, and requires complex logistics and expensive lab facilities. To encourage users to participate, you may need to compensate them for their time with vouchers, discounts, or free access to the product.

Modal recruiting test participants
Modal recruiting test participants.

Five-second usability test

Five-second tests are used to evaluate the first impression the product makes on the users.

To carry out the test, you show your users a part of the product for 5 seconds. After that, you interview them with pre-prepared questions to solicit the insights you’re after. Does it appear intuitive enough? Is it aesthetically appealing or exciting enough? Is it trustworthy? Do users understand its purpose?

The method may seem pretty straightforward but it requires good preparation to achieve its goals.

Five-second usability test. Source: Maze.
Five-second usability test. Source: Maze.

Map out the customer journey and measure usability

Mapping out the customer journey is necessary to carry out comprehensive product usability testing. When you know every touchpoint at which users engage with the product, you simply reduce the risk of omitting important aspects of UX design.

Analyze in-app customer usage

When analyzing user interactions at different touchpoints, you can use tools like session recordings or heatmaps. In this way, you can analyze user behavior in great detail and identify friction points and areas that could result in errors.

Apart from testing product usability at individual touchpoints one at a time, use funnel analysis to track how they progress between the key stages of the user journey. In this way, you will be able to test the efficiency of your product.

Funnel analysis
Funnel analysis in Userpilot.

Track product usability metrics

Tracking metrics at relevant stages of the customer journey allow teams to see where efforts need to be made to create a user-friendly and intuitive design.

What metrics should you track? Here are a few:

  • Success rate – measures the percentage of users who successfully complete a specific task or set of tasks without errors or significant difficulties. It’s an indication of how well users can accomplish their goals within the product.
  • Task duration – the time it takes for users to complete specific tasks. It helps assess the efficiency and ease of use of the product. The shorter the task completion times, the better the usability.
  • Error rate – the percentage of errors users make while performing tasks. It highlights areas of the product where users may struggle and may indicate potential usability issues.
  • Customer satisfaction – shows to what extent the product meets user needs. Apart from overall satisfaction, you can also focus on the product’s ease of use or intuitiveness.


Product usability is an important aspect of user experience.

Products with good usability are easy and intuitive to use. They allow customers to achieve their goals quickly and efficiently, which leads to higher customer satisfaction and retention.

If you want to see how you can use Userpilot to test your product usability, book the demo!

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