Ah, the omnipresent term “usability”. Every product manager hopes to eat, sleep, and breathe it—yet when it comes to measuring usability, the best strategy seems to elude most.

Why is that?

Well first let’s start with the fact that today’s app users are more complicated than ever before, with standards and expectations up the wazoo. They download apps for a variety of reasons, navigate and engage with apps in a range of ways (many unpredictable), and demand nearly perfect user experiences. Subsequently, this can make identifying and resolving usability problems a big challenge.

Second, it has a lot to do with the tools that are being used to analyze usability. There was a time when standard usability tests and in-person interviews/focus groups would suffice, but that time has long passed.

So what now? What can you add to your arsenal of tools to effectively analyze this critical KPI?

In this case, it’s a powerful combo of two tools that will do the trick: qualitative analytics and in-app feedback forms. Let’s explore how.

Qualitative analytics

As you probably have already figured out, qualitative analytics is the opposite of quantitative. But what does it mean when it comes to mobile apps? Quantitative analytics, or as some may call it” traditional analytics”, focuses on measuring aspects of an app that can be represented by numbers. Although quantitative analytics can supply product managers with important numerical metrics such as the number of specific conversions in a funnel or percent decrease in user sign ups, it does not provide direct insights that explain the “whys” behind those numbers.

On the other hand, qualitative analytics focuses on information that cannot be measured by numbers. Given that mobile usability is oftentimes such a unique, subjective entity, that cannot effectively be represented by numbers, qualitative analytics is perfect for analyzing it.

How exactly does qualitative analytics measure mobile usability? By allowing you to actually see how users behave within the app. Via user recordings and touch heatmaps, qualitative analytics enables you to obtain the most actionable insights on your users and understand exactly what’s working in your app and what’s not.

Currently, how do you know whether your users are frustrated with a certain screen section or confused by a feature? No number on a quantitative dashboard can effectively describe those specific usability issues. This is why qualitative analytics is so crucial when it comes obtaining a crystal-clear picture on your users’ experiences.

To top it off, qualitative analytics can provide powerful visual answers about your app’s usability on the single-user level and aggregate. Let’s dive into two short and sweet use cases.

In-app crashes

Eek, crashes—one of the biggest and toughest usability issues to solve. Let’s say that your quantitative analytics tells you that your daily app crash rate has increased by 60%. This percentage is important, but now you need to understand why this is happening. To obtain valuable visual context behind your crashes, you turn to your qualitative analytics and watch single user session recordings of crashed sessions from that specific day. This allows you to accurately reproduce a crash and discern the sequence of user actions that led to a crash. Thanks to this crash visualization, you can identify and squash the bug effectively without any guesswork.


Example of crash recordings via Appsee.

Unresponsive gestures

Every tap, swipe, and pinch that happens on your app contributes significantly to its overall usability. But what about gestures that your users perform yet receive no response from your app? This crucial KPI is called “unresponsive gestures”. An unresponsive gesture can have detrimental effects on your app’s UX and can spur major frustration from your users. Yet when tracked effectively, they can reveal UI bugs, design flaws, and important user preferences.

For example, let’s say you have an ecommerce app with a mandatory login/sign-up screen. You notice that a lot of users are quitting that screen, but why? By examining a touch heatmap of unresponsive gestures on that particular screen, you see that there are a lot of unresponsive “swipe left” gestures at the bottom of the screen. This can signal to you that most of your users expect to be able to swipe out of the login screen and proceed with their shopping experience. The powerful insight from this touch heat map should encourage you and your team to add an additional navigation button that caters to this exposed user behavior, which ultimately allows your users to start shopping right away.

Appsee heatmap

Example of touch heatmaps via Appsee.

In-app feedback

Qualitative analytics is a great way for you to gather insights on your users as they behave naturally with your app, but what if your users want to be explicitly vocal about their in-app experiences and any usability matters they encounter? As a mobile product manager, you probably have many initiatives in place to communicate with your users, but do your users have a way to directly communicate with you? This might come as a bit of a surprise, but most of today’s users are very willing to provide feedback to the brands they interact with.

But let’s be honest—do you think app store ratings and emails do the trick when it comes to gathering insightful feedback? Not really. They might organize things nicely for you and your team, but they are a total inconvenience for your users. Don’t forget that your users download your app to understand what it can do for them, not what they can do for you. That is why when it comes to asking feedback from your users you should aim to have it involve as little effort from the user as possible.

This is where the power of in-app feedback tools, like those of Apptentive, take center stage. By establishing an open, seamless, real-time communication channel with your app’s users, your users can smoothly share their thoughts or questions about certain aspects of your product. In addition, you can react instantly to what your users are saying—whether it’s positive, negative, neutral, constructive, or whatever it may be (instead of waiting to discover this feedback on the app store).

Moreover, the fact that this manner of gathering feedback is real-time and in-app enables your users to provide the most accurate insights possible, being that they can describe exactly what they are experiencing first-hand within your application.

For example, with Apptentive’s Message Center, users can even send screenshots to your team to precisely communicate exactly what they are encountering in your app whether it’s a confusing navigation button, loading error, bad ad etc. Not only can this help you quickly and accurately address usability matters within your app, it can also help you gauge users’ expectations and sentiments towards your product. Your ability to respond in real-time to your users should also emphasize your brand’s user-first focus and help strengthen engagement and loyalty from your user.

Apptentive Message Center

Example of Apptentive’s in-app Message Center.


Ultimately, when it comes to analyzing a KPI as nuanced and qualitative as usability, product managers need to go beyond surface level, traditional analytics. To gain the most comprehensive picture of your app’s usability, it is crucial that you gather both active and passive, actionable data on your users. The best way to obtain this actionable data is via a clever combo of qualitative analytics and in-app feedback tools. Qualitative analytics enables you to see exactly how your users are interacting with your app, while in-app feedback supplements those insights further by functioning as a means for users to vocalize their experiences. Armed with these two unique tools, you should be able to measure and improve your usability with full accuracy and confidence.