How Usability Testing Can Help Pinpoint Customer Pain Points

  • #PersuasiveWebsites
  • #UserResearch
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In the digital marketing industry, we often talk about customer pain points - the problems or needs that our solutions aim to address. However, sometimes the pain points originate from our own website designs. This is where usability testing becomes crucial.

Usability testing is the key to ensuring that your website design doesn't inadvertently create pain points for your visitors. It provides a comprehensive understanding of what each visitor expects, helping to eliminate common pain points and address usability issues.

Instead of only using pain points to identify a market’s need, we also need to be looking at how website design and usability might be producing unnecessary pain points during visitor interactions. They came to you with a problem, need, or want. They’re counting on you to be the solution and it’s up to you to hold up your end of the bargain. Usability testing can help you do this.

What is Usability Testing?

Usability testing is a method used in user experience (UX) design to evaluate a product or service by testing it with representative users. The goal is to uncover any usability issues, gather feedback, and understand how real users interact with the product or service in real-world scenarios.

During usability testing, participants are typically asked to perform specific tasks while researchers observe and collect data on their actions, behaviors, and feedback. This process helps identify any areas of the product that are difficult to use, confusing, or frustrating for users.

The Need for Usability Testing

You definitely need to pay attention to the elements of UX that matter most, but every customer and every detail matter. What might be a minor glitch on just one person’s radar could turn into a major UX issue further down the road. You want a complete picture of what your visitors, each of them, expect from you.

Usability testing makes sure there’s no UX stone left unturned. By testing your website and gathering UX feedback from multiple, it becomes possible to create a UX that eliminates the common pain points of your customers and address usability issues that might not have otherwise occurred to you.

Types of Usability Testing

1. Lab-Based Usability Testing

Participants interact with the product in a controlled environment, such as a usability lab. Researchers observe their behavior and gather feedback in real-time.

2. Remote Usability Testing

Participants conduct usability tests from their own locations, often using screen-sharing software. Researchers observe remotely, allowing for testing with geographically dispersed users.

3. Moderated Usability Testing

A facilitator guides participants through the test, asking questions and prompting discussions as needed. This type of testing allows for deeper insights into user behavior and preferences.

4. Unmoderated Usability Testing

Participants complete the test independently without direct facilitation. This method is efficient for gathering large amounts of data quickly, but it may lack the depth of insights provided by moderated testing.

5. Prototype Testing

Usability testing can be conducted on prototypes or mockups of a product before it is fully developed. This allows for early feedback on design concepts and helps identify potential issues before implementation.

6. Benchmark Testing

Benchmark testing involves comparing the usability of a current version of the product with previous versions or with competitors' products. This helps track improvements over time and assesses how the product stacks up against the competition.

7. Task-Based Testing

Participants are given specific tasks to perform using the product, allowing researchers to evaluate how easily users can accomplish common goals. This type of testing provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of the product's features and interface.

8. Cognitive Walkthrough

This method involves having participants verbalize their thoughts as they navigate through the product. Researchers analyze the cognitive processes involved in using the product and identify areas where users may encounter difficulties or confusion.

9. Heuristic Evaluation

Usability experts evaluate the product against a set of predefined usability principles or heuristics. This method can uncover usability issues quickly and is often used in conjunction with other types of testing for comprehensive evaluation.

10. Accessibility Testing

This type of testing focuses on ensuring that the product is accessible to users with disabilities. Testers assess the product's compliance with accessibility standards and identify any barriers that may prevent users from fully engaging with the product.

Each type of usability testing offers unique advantages and insights, and the choice of method depends on factors such as the goals of the study, available resources, and the target audience.

Addressing UX Pain Points: Recommendations from Usability Testing

You’ve designed your website with UX in mind and you’ve gone over every single element repeatedly. You’re certain it’s a smooth and seamless design. The only flaw in this is you’re working with a perfect scenario assumption. Not every customer is going to use your website in the exact same way. Even a minor shift can result in unforeseen usability issues.

While pain points can appear anywhere on the website, there are specific usability areas that are known troublemakers for UX:


With mobile optimization being so crucial right now, businesses are doing a better job of using responsive web design to make their sites more usable from multiple devices. This is a plus in the pain point battle. Still, companies need to be digging deeper. What happens when the user navigates away from the homepage? Are they still able to easily navigate when they’re 4, 5 or 6 pages deep? Each step brings them closer to conversion, the last thing you want is for them to end up frustrated at that point.


Whether they’re committing to a service or signing up for a free trial, the onboarding process should be frictionless. Too often, businesses make the onboarding process longer and more difficult than it needs to be.

Relatable Content

You’ve heard repeatedly that content is king. But, nobody wants to waste time sorting and navigating through content that has no purpose or relevancy. Users will bounce out if that can’t immediately identify the reason for being on your website.

Check out

It isn’t safe to assume that you’ve won a customer just because they’re ready to check out. You’re probably one of multiple retailers they can be getting this product, or something similar, from. A checkout process that’s unnecessarily long and involves multiple pages is going to be a quick turn off, especially for the mobile user. On the SeaWorld project, our senior leadership needed to optimize the check out process for SeaWorld’s online visitors to improve conversions.

The bottom line? Anything that interferes with the users’ ability to complete their goals can be considered a pain point. Even the most UX friendly design can be at risk. Usability testing will help identify pain points before they become a problem for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are UX pain points?

UX pain points refer to aspects of a user's experience with a product or service that cause frustration, confusion, or dissatisfaction.

How can I identify UX pain points in my design?

Conducting user research, usability testing, and analyzing feedback are effective methods for identifying UX pain points in your design.

What are some common UX pain points?

Common UX pain points include navigation difficulties, complex onboarding processes, irrelevant content, and cumbersome checkout experiences.

How can usability testing help uncover UX pain points?

Usability testing involves observing real users interacting with your product or service, which can reveal specific pain points and areas for improvement in the user experience.

What are some methods for conducting usability testing?

Usability testing methods include lab-based testing, remote testing, moderated and unmoderated testing, prototype testing, and cognitive walkthroughs.

Are there any tools available for usability testing?

Yes, there are several tools available for usability testing, including user testing platforms, screen recording software, heatmapping tools, and feedback collection tools.

How can I address UX pain points identified through usability testing?

Once UX pain points are identified, designers can prioritize and address them through iterative design improvements, user feedback implementation, and collaboration with stakeholders.

What role does customer usability play in UX design?

Customer usability focuses on designing products and services that are intuitive, efficient, and satisfying for users, ultimately enhancing the overall user experience.

What are some key considerations when conducting user research to identify pain points?

When conducting user research, it's important to gather insights from diverse user groups, consider both qualitative and quantitative data, and involve stakeholders throughout the process.

How can I ensure that my design effectively addresses user pain points?

Continuously gathering user feedback, testing design iterations, and staying informed about industry best practices are essential for effectively addressing user pain points and improving the overall user experience.

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Abdul Suleiman
Abdul SuleimanChief Experience Officer
Abdul Suleiman

Abdul has helped over 40 Fortune 500 companies make informed user-centered design decisions through evidence-based user research and UX best practices. As an Adjunct Professor, Abdul has taught in DePaul University’s graduate UX programs and for nine other universities.

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