Test Management

The Definitive Guide to User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

So, you're deep into the software development process, and, let's be honest, you're seeking some validation from your users. After all, we all want to make something that people love. And that's where User Acceptance Testing (UAT) comes in. Also known as alpha, beta, field, or proof of concept testing, UAT is the process of putting your software into the hands of real users to ensure it works well for different people in different environments.

Why is UAT important, you may ask? Well, testing with end users not only satisfies the need for peace of mind but also ensures that the software meets the needs and requirements of your market and business. Without this testing to identify poor experiences and bugs, your product can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction, which contributes to low adoption rates, negative reviews, and even loss of revenue.

The benefits of UAT are numerous. You can ensure that your software meets user requirements and expectations, identify defects and bugs, uncover UX improvements, inform future development efforts, improve user adoption rates and software quality, and discover gaps in automated testing.

User Acceptance Testing Process

Like all software testing methodologies, UAT has a structured approach that involves a handful of phases designed to accomplish the test objectives. 

Phases of the UAT method

  1. Planning and design: This is where the scope and objectives of the testing are established, the UAT participants are identified, testing criteria are defined, and the test environment is determined. During this phase, the UAT team also creates the test plan, which outlines the testing approach and methodology.
  2. Recruitment and onboarding: In this phase, the UAT team recruits the UAT testers who will be responsible for conducting the testing. The UAT testers may be internal employees or external users who represent the target audience for the software.
  3. Execution: In the execution phase, the UAT team conducts the testing according to the test cases and scenarios developed in the design phase. The UAT team collects feedback and test data, triages and responds to issues, and determines whether the software meets the user requirements and objectives identified in the planning phase.
  4. Closure: In the closure phase, the stakeholders review the UAT results and provide sign-off on the software. This indicates that they agree that the software meets their requirements and is ready for release. The UAT team also prepares the final report, which summarizes the testing results and identifies any issues or areas for improvement.

How to Conduct User Acceptance Testing

1. Plan your test

In software testing, everything starts with a plan. This involves identifying your testing objectives, selecting the appropriate test cases and scenarios, and defining your testing criteria. You should also determine the resources you'll need for testing, such as tools and equipment.

Need a user acceptance test plan template? Download this free resource.

Determining Test Objectives

Begin your planning with the end in mind. What are you attempting to achieve with this test? There are several objectives to consider when narrowing what you are testing more specifically:

  • Usability testing evaluates software ease-of-use and user needs
  • Functionality testing ensures software performs intended functions
  • Performance testing assesses software performance under varied conditions
  • Compatibility testing confirms software works across devices and platforms
  • Security testing identifies and mitigates potential software vulnerabilities
  • Localization testing ensures software functions correctly in diverse cultures.
Test objective examples and how they are tested
  1. Usability testing: Ensure that the software is easy to use and meets the needs of the target audience. How? Testers will be asked to perform common tasks and evaluate the ease of use and intuitiveness of the software.
  2. Functionality testing: Evaluate whether the software performs the functions it is intended to perform. How? This will involve testing specific features and functions of the software and ensuring that they work as expected.
  3. Performance testing: Evaluate how well the software performs under different conditions, such as under heavy load or with limited resources. How? Testers will be asked to simulate different scenarios and evaluate the performance of the software under each scenario.
  4. Compatibility testing: Evaluate how well the software works with different operating systems, browsers, and devices. How? Testers will be asked to test the software on different devices and platforms and report any issues or compatibility problems.
  5. Security testing: Evaluate the security of the software and identify any vulnerabilities or weaknesses. How? Testers will be asked to attempt to hack into the software or exploit any security vulnerabilities to identify areas for improvement.
  6. Localization testing: Evaluate how well the software works in different languages and regions. How? Testers will be asked to test the software in different languages and regions and report any issues or localization problems.

Identifying test cases and scenarios

Appropriate test cases and scenarios are those that accurately represent the user requirements and objectives for the software being tested. Test cases should be specific and measurable, and should be designed to test a specific aspect of the software's functionality or performance. Scenarios should be designed to simulate real-world scenarios that users might encounter when using the software.

Identify the features to test

Begin by identifying the specific features of the software that need to be tested. This will help you to focus your testing efforts and ensure that you are testing the most critical aspects of the software.

Need a user acceptance test case template? Download this test case template for free

Create test cases

Create a set of test cases for each feature that you want to test. Each test case should be specific and include the steps that the tester needs to take to test the feature. It should also include the expected results of the test.

Ensure specificity and measurability

To ensure that your test cases and scenarios are specific and measurable, make sure that each test case has a clear pass/fail criteria. This will help you to evaluate the success of your testing efforts and identify any areas that need improvement.

To identify appropriate test cases and scenarios, you should review the user requirements and objectives for the software and determine which areas are most critical for testing. You can then develop test cases and scenarios that are specific to each objective, and that accurately represent the user requirements and objectives. You should also ensure that the test cases and scenarios cover all aspects of the software's functionality and performance.

Figuring out the test duration

One of the key questions to consider when planning your UAT is how long the testing should last. This can vary depending on the complexity of your software, the number of features being tested, and the size of your testing team. Commonly, test and execution phases are between 3-6 weeks. This allows adequate time to get feedback and make product improvements before entering another phase of testing or launching.

Defining test benchmarks for evaluation

Testing criteria are the standards or benchmarks that are used to evaluate the success of the testing. These criteria may include metrics such as the number of defects or bugs identified, the percentage of test cases passed, or the time it takes to complete testing. Testing criteria should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the objectives of the test. 

Here are some guidelines for how to determine testing criteria:

  • Research industry standards: Start by researching industry standards and best practices related to the software or product you are testing. This will give you a good idea of what benchmarks and criteria you should be aiming for.
  • Consult with stakeholders: Speak with stakeholders, including end-users, product owners, and other members of the development team, to determine what criteria are most important for the software.
  • Review previous versions or other similar products at your company: Looking at UAT projects that have been done in the past is a great way to see what was accomplished and how your project can measure comparatively.

Examples of UAT test benchmarks

  1. Usability: Metrics such as task completion rates, user satisfaction scores, and usability scores can be used to benchmark the software's usability against industry standards.
  2. Functionality: To benchmark the functionality of the software, you might use metrics such as bug detection rates, defect density, and code coverage.
  3. Performance: For performance testing, benchmarks might include response times, throughput rates, and error rates. You might also compare the software's performance against similar applications in the industry.
  4. Compatibility: To benchmark compatibility, you might test the software against different operating systems, browsers, and devices, using metrics such as the number of issues found or the percentage of features that work on different platforms.

Need a benchmark and evaluation template? Download it for free.

Want to see a testing industry report? Download the free 2022 report.

Understanding resources

The resources needed for UAT may include hardware, software, testing tools, personnel, and training. The specific resources needed will depend on the scope and objectives of the testing, as well as the size and complexity of the software being tested.

To determine the resources needed for UAT, you should first review the user requirements and objectives for the software and determine which areas are most critical for testing. You should then identify the resources needed to conduct the testing, such as hardware and software requirements, testing tools, and personnel. You should also determine the training needs for the UAT team, and ensure that they are adequately prepared and trained to conduct the testing. Finally, you should ensure that the resources are available and allocated appropriately to support the UAT process.

2. Create a UAT sign-up page

The purpose of a UAT tester sign-up page is to recruit testers who can provide feedback on the software being tested. The page should provide information about the software, including its purpose, features, and benefits. It should also provide instructions for how to sign up to be a tester and what is expected of the testers during the testing process. The sign-up page should collect information from the testers, such as their name, email address, and any relevant background or experience, to help ensure that the testers are qualified to provide feedback on the software.

Need a UAT signup page checklist? Download it for free.

Here are some components of a successful UAT sign-up page:

  • Branding: Use your company's branding, colors, and logo on the sign-up page to maintain brand consistency and increase trust with potential testers.
  • Introduction: This section should provide an overview of the software being tested and why it is important. It should also explain the purpose of the UAT and how the feedback will be used to improve the software.
  • Instructions: This section should provide clear instructions for how to sign up to be a tester. This may include a form that collects information from the testers, such as their name, email address, and any relevant background or experience.
  • Requirements: This section should outline the requirements for becoming a tester, such as having access to the necessary hardware and software, and being available to participate in the testing process for a specified period of time.
  • Expectations: This section should explain what is expected of the testers during the testing process, such as providing feedback on specific features or functions of the software, and reporting any issues or bugs that are identified during testing.
  • Benefits: This section should outline the benefits of participating in the UAT, such as having an opportunity to provide feedback on the software and being among the first to use the software before it is released to the public.
  • Security: Provide information about the security measures in place to protect the testers' personal information and data during the testing process. This may include using secure data storage, encryption, and firewalls.
  • Privacy: Outline the privacy policy for the testing process and explain how testers' data will be used and protected. Be transparent about what data will be collected and how it will be used.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA): Include a clear and prominent call-to-action (CTA) on the sign up page to encourage testers to sign up. This may include a button that says "Sign up now" or "Get started" to guide potential testers through the sign up process.

Need a template for outlining your sign-up page? Check out this Tester Recruitment Kit.

3. Find and invite testers

To conduct effective UAT, you need qualified testers who can provide valuable feedback on your software. However, finding the right testers can be a challenge, especially if you're not sure where to start. In this section, we'll explore some strategies for finding UAT testers, from reaching out to your user base to using social media platforms and online communities. By following these strategies, you can recruit qualified testers who will help ensure the success of your UAT and the quality of your software.

Do you need to find out how many testers you need? Check out this free calculator.

Reach out to your user base

If you already have a user base for your software, consider reaching out to them to see if anyone is interested in participating in UAT. Your existing users are likely to be familiar with your software and may provide valuable feedback during testing.

  • Email to marketing database: Send an email to your user base announcing the UAT and inviting interested users to sign up.
  • Company website: Include links on your company website and support pages.
  • In-app notification: Use an in-app notification to notify your users about the UAT and encourage them to sign up. This can be an effective way to reach users who are already using your software and are likely to be interested in providing feedback.
  • Social media: Use your social media channels to promote the UAT and encourage your followers to sign up. 
  • Company forums: If you have a user forum, use it to promote the UAT and encourage users to sign up. This can be a great way to reach users who are already engaged with your software and are likely to be interested in providing feedback.

Use your sign-up page to generate organic traffic through search

Optimize your sign-up page for search engines by including relevant keywords and meta descriptions. This can help potential testers find your sign-up page when searching for related keywords. 

Common keywords to generate traffic for signup pages include:

  • [company name] tester
  • [company name] beta test
  • [company name] beta sign up
  • [company name] early access

Use social media platforms

Promote your UAT project and encourage potential testers to sign up. You can also join relevant groups or communities where your ideal testers may be active and engage with them directly.

Engage in external forums or communities where your testers would be

Participate in online forums or communities related to your software's niche or industry. This can help you connect with potential testers who are interested in your software.

Use word of mouth and ask for referrals

Encourage your existing testers to spread the word about your UAT and ask for referrals from their network. This can help you reach new potential testers who may not have heard about your UAT otherwise.

Use sites like Betabound.com

Betabound.com is a platform that connects software companies with beta testers. You can use this site to find and recruit qualified testers for your UAT.

4. Onboard testers

Onboarding testers to a project involves bringing them up to speed with the testing process and providing them with the necessary information to perform the testing effectively. 

Here are some instructions and resources that you should provide to testers during the onboarding process:

  • Instructions: Provide clear instructions for how to access the software being tested, how to use the testing environment, and how to report any issues or bugs that they encounter during testing. Be sure to also explain the timeline and expectations for the testing process, including when feedback is due and how frequently they should provide updates.
  • Resources: Provide testers with access to resources for the hardware, software, and testing tools required for the testing process. This may include user manuals, set up guides, and known issues.
  • Agreements: Ask testers to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to ensure that they keep any confidential information they may come across during testing private. You may also want to have them sign a testing agreement that outlines the terms and expectations of their participation in the UAT.
  • Feedback: Provide testers with clear guidelines on how to provide feedback and what to test. This may include a template for reporting issues or a checklist of features and functions that need to be tested. You can also provide them with a resource that outlines what to expect in the upcoming weeks and how to provide feedback effectively.

5. Distribute the software

Before testing can begin, you'll need to distribute the software to your testers. This may involve providing a download link, sending an email with installation instructions, or providing access to a cloud-based testing environment.

6. Communicate test cases

Once your testers have been onboarded and have access to the software, it's important to communicate the test cases and scenarios to them. This will help ensure that they understand what needs to be tested and how to test it. Here are some ways to effectively communicate test cases:

  • Create a centralized location for the test cases: Consider creating a web page or document that lists all of the test cases and scenarios, along with instructions on how to execute them. This will help ensure that testers have easy access to the information they need.
  • Use a tool for managing test cases: There are many software tools available for managing test cases, such as TestRail and Zephyr. These tools allow you to create, organize, and track test cases and scenarios, as well as share them with your testers.
  • Send regular emails or messages about testing activities: It can be helpful to send out regular reminders to testers about testing activities and deadlines. This can help keep them on track and ensure that testing is completed in a timely manner.
  • Separate testing into a schedule: Consider breaking down the testing activities into a schedule, such as weekly or by sprint. This can help ensure that all testing is completed within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Provide instructions on how to provide feedback: In addition to providing test cases, it's important to provide instructions on how to provide feedback on the software. This may include instructions on how to report issues or bugs, as well as how to provide general feedback on the user experience.

7. Collect user feedback

One of the key goals of UAT is to gather feedback from users to improve the software. To collect feedback effectively, it's important to have a structured approach in place. 

Here are some ways to collect user feedback during UAT:

  • Use feedback forms: Provide testers with feedback forms where they can report issues, suggest ideas, and give praise for the software. These forms should be easy to access and use, and should include fields for testers to provide specific details about the issue or idea they're reporting. Need a UAT feedback form template?
  • Ask UAT survey questions: Survey questions can be used to gather specific feedback about the software and the testing process. It's a good idea to ask UAT survey questions both during the test and at the end of testing. This will help to identify any issues or areas for improvement early on, as well as provide an overall assessment of the testing process. Do you want a free UAT survey template? Download them here.

8. Manage user feedback

Managing user feedback during the UAT process is a crucial aspect of ensuring that the software meets the user's needs and expectations. It involves triaging, responding, and making necessary changes based on the feedback received.

Triage feedback means prioritizing the feedback based on its impact on the software's functionality and the severity of the issue. This helps to focus resources on fixing critical issues that may be hindering the user's experience. Responding to feedback is equally important as it shows the tester that their feedback is being heard and addressed. This builds trust and fosters a positive relationship with the testers.

The end goal of feedback management is to ensure that the software is functioning optimally, meeting the user's needs and requirements. Managing feedback can follow a workflow that outlines the steps for addressing feedback. 

This workflow can include steps such as

  1. Reviewing feedback: Review feedback received from testers to identify issues or areas for improvement.
  2. Prioritizing feedback: Prioritize feedback based on the severity and impact on the software's functionality.
  3. Assigning tasks: Assign tasks to team members responsible for addressing specific feedback.
  4. Making necessary changes: Make necessary changes to the software based on the feedback received.
  5. Testing changes: Test the changes made to ensure that they have resolved the issues identified.
  6. Closing feedback: Close feedback that has been addressed to ensure that it is not repeatedly brought up.

A checklist for managing user feedback may include the following:

  • Is the feedback clear and easy to understand?
  • Can the issue be reproduced consistently?
  • What is the severity of the issue?
  • Is the issue already known and being worked on?
  • Is the issue a duplicate of another reported issue?
  • Has the tester provided enough information to troubleshoot the issue?
  • Is the issue related to a specific feature or function of the software?
  • Is there any additional context or information that would be helpful in addressing the issue?
  • Have any follow-up questions or clarifications been requested from the tester?
  • Have any next steps or actions been identified for addressing the issue?

9. Review the results

Reviewing the results of UAT involves analyzing the feedback and test results obtained during the testing process to evaluate whether the software meets the testing objectives. This review is important to ensure that any issues or bugs are identified and addressed before the software is released to the public.

To review the results of UAT, follow these steps:

  1. Collect and organize all the feedback and test results obtained during the testing process.
  2. Categorize the feedback based on severity and/or priority.
  3. Determine whether the issues reported are new or previously known issues.
  4. Evaluate the impact of each issue on the software's functionality and usability.
  5. Determine which feedback requires immediate attention and which can be addressed in future releases.
  6. Develop a plan for addressing the identified issues and making any necessary changes to the software.
  7. Update the UAT test plan and test cases as needed to address the issues identified during testing.

Challenges of UAT

  • Limited resources: One of the biggest challenges of UAT is having limited resources, such as time, budget, and manpower, which can make it difficult to conduct a thorough testing process.
  • Lack of stakeholder engagement: If the stakeholders, including end-users and business owners, are not actively engaged in the UAT process, it can be challenging to get their buy-in and ensure that the software meets their needs and expectations.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Sometimes, stakeholders may have unrealistic expectations for the UAT process, such as expecting all issues to be identified and resolved during testing or expecting the software to be 100% bug-free.
  • Inadequate test planning: Poor planning can lead to inefficient testing, missed deadlines, and inadequate test coverage. Without proper planning, the testing process may not be thorough enough to identify all issues and ensure the software meets the required standards.
  • Limited test environment: A limited test environment can make it challenging to simulate real-world scenarios and test the software in different settings, which can limit the effectiveness of the testing.
  • Communication breakdowns: Communication breakdowns between the UAT team, stakeholders, and development team can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and ineffective testing.
  • Lack of skilled testers: Without skilled testers who have the necessary knowledge and experience, it can be challenging to identify and resolve issues during testing, which can impact the quality of the software.

UAT Best Practices

User acceptance testing best practices refer to a set of guidelines or procedures that ensure the UAT process is carried out efficiently, effectively, and with maximum benefit to the software development project. These practices are important as they help ensure that the UAT process is thorough, consistent, and provides reliable feedback that can be used to improve the software.

Here are some UAT tips that can be useful:

  • Start planning early: Begin planning for UAT as early as possible to allow enough time for the process to be carried out thoroughly. This includes identifying test objectives, creating test cases, and identifying potential testers.
  • Define clear testing objectives: Clearly define the objectives of UAT, including what needs to be tested, who will be testing, and how the feedback will be used to improve the software.
  • Develop detailed test cases: Develop detailed test cases and scenarios that cover all aspects of the software that need to be tested. This includes both positive and negative test cases.
  • Identify qualified testers: Ensure that the testers selected for UAT are qualified and representative of the intended end-users of the software.
  • Provide adequate training and support: Provide adequate training and support to the testers to ensure that they are familiar with the testing process and tools.
  • Collect comprehensive feedback: Collect comprehensive feedback from the testers, including both quantitative and qualitative data. Use a variety of methods for collecting feedback, such as surveys, interviews, and observation.
  • Analyze feedback and prioritize issues: Analyze the feedback collected during UAT and prioritize issues based on their severity and impact on the software.
  • Collaborate with the development team: Collaborate with the development team to address the issues identified during UAT and make necessary changes to the software.
  • Conduct retesting: Conduct retesting after the changes have been made to ensure that the issues have been resolved and the software meets the intended objectives.

What is a UAT Software App?

A UAT tool is software that is specifically designed to help manage and automate the user acceptance testing process. It is used to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the testing process, as well as to increase collaboration among testers and stakeholders.

UAT tools are important because they can help ensure that the testing process is more organized, effective, and efficient. By automating certain tasks, UAT tools can save time and reduce the risk of human error. They can also provide a centralized location for storing and managing test cases, test results, and other testing-related information.

Some common features of UAT tools include:

Tester recruitment and management features:

  • Ability to create and customize sign-up pages for testers
  • Integration with social media platforms and other recruitment channels
  • Automated tester qualification and selection based on criteria
  • Onboarding and training resources for testers
  • Ability to communicate with testers and manage their participation in the testing process

Test management and execution features:

  • Test case and scenario management
  • Collaboration and feedback tools for testers and stakeholders
  • Ability to track and prioritize issues and bugs
  • Integration with project management tools
  • Real-time reporting and analytics

Data management and analysis features:

  • Centralized database for storing test data and feedback
  • Ability to track and analyze test results and trends over time
  • Customizable reporting and dashboard options
  • Integration with other data analysis tools

Security and compliance features:

  • User authentication and access control
  • Secure data storage and encryption
  • Compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards

User experience and ease of use features:

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface
  • Customizable branding and visual design options
  • Mobile compatibility and accessibility options

Integrations features:

  • Connect to development tracking tools
  • Roadmap tools
  • CRM
  • Support systems

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about UAT

What is the purpose of UAT?

The purpose of UAT is to get the product out into the wild in real environments and tested by real people. During this testing, issues and improvements are identified in order to optimize the software before its release to a larger audience.

When should UAT be conducted?

Ideally, UAT is used at various points in software development, but its most commonly done just before the product is released to the market during the test phase. Another identifier of when to get the software into the hands of real people and out of the lab is when quality assurance (QA) has passed a handful of critical tests to ensure it can work in other environments.

Who should be involved in UAT?

Including teams involved in software development is important to maximizing the impact of UAT and providing validation of their hard work. Engineering, quality, product, user experience, and support tend to be the most common teams included in this testing.

How many UAT testers do I need?

About 50% of UAT tests have between 30-120 testers, however, the number of UAT testers needed depends on the size and complexity of the software being tested, as well as the expected user base. It is recommended to have a diverse group of testers representing the target audience, with a minimum of 25 testers. 

How long should the UAT project be?

About 50% of projects are between 3-6 weeks just for the testing period, although the length of the UAT project will depend on factors such as the scope of the project, the number of features being tested, and the complexity of the software. 

What companies do UAT?

The short answer is, if you have some kind of software it can be tested with users. UAT is performed by companies of all sizes, from startups to large corporations, across various industries such as healthcare, finance, and technology. 

Should I pay UAT testers?

Typically, testers are rewarded anywhere between 5-20 dollars for every week of testing, however, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it depends on factors such as the scope and complexity of the project, the amount of time and effort required of the testers, and the budget available. Some companies may choose to offer incentives or compensation to UAT testers to ensure their commitment and engagement during the testing process.

How does UAT work in agile environments?

Although agile has smaller windows, sprints still allocate time to testing. The product owner and UAT team collaborate to determine what features will be tested during each sprint, and the users provide feedback on each feature before it is released.

What are other names for UAT?

The most common include alpha testing, beta testing, field testing, user trials, end-user testing, user testing, and acceptance testing.

What's the difference between UAT vs Beta Testing?

UAT tends to be more focused on relating itself to quality assurance testing leading to more directive tasks for users. While beta testing tends to include a mixture of UX, product, and quality leading to more exploratory testing.

What's the difference between UAT vs Manual Software Testing?

Manual software testing refers to the process of manually testing software to ensure that it functions as intended by the internal QA team. UAT is a specific type of manual testing that focuses on ensuring that the software meets the requirements and objectives identified by stakeholders through real users.


This guide has provided a comprehensive overview of the UAT process, including how to plan and design UAT tests, recruit and onboard testers, communicate test cases, collect and manage feedback, review results, and address common UAT challenges. By following these best practices and utilizing UAT tools, you can increase the likelihood of a successful software launch and improve user satisfaction. 

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