User Acceptance Testing: Complete Guide with Examples

May 7, 2024

User acceptance testing is a testing technique performed to determine if the software system meets the required specifications. Find out more here!

User acceptance testing is a testing technique performed to determine if the software system meets the required specifications. Find out more here!

Whenever you build a product for customers or end-users, you must run tests to ensure it meets quality and safety standards. User acceptance testing, or UAT, takes testing one step further. With UAT, the aim is to test whether your new product delivers value for its users. We have compiled a thorough guide on UAT, including the best practices and key considerations as you perform UAT.

What is user acceptance testing?

UAT is a process that tests the usability of a product from the point of view of the consumer or the user. It is the final testing stage, so your product will already have been tested for bugs. 

Your primary aim in user acceptance testing is to assess how effectively the software delivers the intended solutions to your target audience. UAT testing closely mirrors real-world usage scenarios, allowing you to interact with the software and evaluate its functionality. This testing process can be executed not only for new software development but also for a new update, integration, or change in a software. You'll consider various factors such as features, miscommunications, and omitted requirements during this process.

Why is UAT so important? User acceptance testing example

In User Acceptance Testing (UAT Testing), you validate requirements, verify functionality, and assess usability before deployment. UAT also helps detect defects and mitigate risks to ensure a successful software launch. Even if the software has undergone multiple testing phases and seems fully functional, it may still fail to meet its requirements if it is not well-received by its intended users. This could result from unclear software requirements communicated to developers, project scope modifications during development, or premature testing in real-world environments.

The best way to answer that question is with an example. Let’s look at developing an app used for plant identification. Your developers can write sophisticated code that uses image recognition and machine learning to identify a plant. It will most likely extract the unique features that allow it to narrow in on the correct genus and species. However, your developers and testers are not botanists; they have likely used a library of plant images to develop the application. To evaluate the software’s accuracy, you need a botanist to test it in the field.

During a user acceptance test, you will receive invaluable feedback on any critical issues with the application’s usability. This will save you much time and money compared to releasing a product with issues. If you skip UAT, it will cost you far more to rectify any problems after release.

Types of UAT

When it comes to user acceptance testing, there exist multiple types of software tests. These tests encompass a range of approaches and methodologies. Here are several acceptance testing types:

  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT): This involves verifying the user’s requirements have been met.
  • Business Acceptance Testing (BAT): Here, you assess whether the product meets the business goals set out in the design.
  • Contract Acceptance Testing (CAT): These tests happen once a product goes live. In essence, the acceptance tests must all pass within a given period.
  • Operational Acceptance Testing (OAT): This type of test is known as Operational Readiness Testing or Production Acceptance Testing. It aims to ensure a proper workflow (backup plans, maintenance guide, and training) for the software.
  • Regulatory/Compliance Acceptance Testing (RAT): You use this to verify whether the product complies with all rules and regulations in any country where it will be released.
  • Alpha Testing: This is the last set of internally conducted tests before you pass the product for UAT. It is the last opportunity to make product changes, and the aim is to release a bug-free piece of software.
  • Beta Testing: This form of acceptance testing is done by real users. It occurs at the customer’s premises or the end user’s site. The aim is to ensure the product behaves as expected and to catch any last bugs before release.

What are the Uses of Acceptance Testing

  • Finding the defects missed during the functional testing phase.
  • How sufficiently the product is developed.
  • The result is what the customers need.
  • Feedback to improve product performance and user experience.
  • Minimize or eliminate the issues arising from production.

How to Perform User Acceptance Testing

Many studies and guides focus on the techniques and operating frameworks for user acceptance testing. One very detailed review can be found in the International Journal on Recent Innovation Trends in Computing and Communication.

Your user acceptance testing should follow these guidelines:

Step 1) Analysis of Business Requirement and Goals

Examine business requirements and objectives to grasp project goals. Develop test scenarios with guidance from essential documents such as Business Use Cases, Process Flow Diagrams, and System Requirements Specification (SRS). These documents inform the creation of tailored test scenarios aligning with your project's requirements.

Step 2) Creation of a UAT Plan with Assignments

Develop the UAT plan, outlining the strategy to ensure the application aligns with its business requirements. This plan includes entry and exit criteria, test scenarios and cases, and testing timelines. Ensure specific test assignments cover all parts of the software, based on real user interactions. Use everyday language in instructions, considering that users may not be developers or business professionals.

Step 3) Identify Test Scenarios and Test Cases

Identify test scenarios from business processes and create test cases with clear steps. Concentrate your UAT testing on functional and/or UI/UX concerns. Check if all app buttons, drop-downs, and sliders function properly. Ensure there are no overlapping elements hindering scrolling. Confirm that all CSS styles render correctly and do not impede user navigation within the application.

Step 4) Test Data Preparation

It's suggested to use live data for UAT. To maintain privacy and security, scramble the data. Professional software testers are ideal for this task as they represent real users and specialize in testing.

Step 5) Run the Tests and Track the Results

Execute test cases and document any encountered bugs. After bugs are fixed, conduct re-tests. It's important to carefully comprehend the testing feedback provided by testers. Expect non-technical language in their responses. Utilize available templates to help craft a UAT feedback form.

Step 6) Confirm Business Objectives Are Met

Ensure that the project aligns with its intended business goals and objectives. It's essential to ensure that the created solution effectively achieves the specified business goals. 

UAT Acceptance Criteria

You can define acceptance criteria based on the following attributes:

  • Usability
  • Performance
  • Functional Correctness and Completeness
  • Data Integrity
  • Data Conversion
  • Timeliness
  • Confidentiality and Availability
  • Installability and Upgradability
  • Scalability
  • Documentation

Common mistakes you need to avoid during user acceptance testing

If you are new to UAT, it is normal to make mistakes. So, here are some common mistakes that are easy to avoid:

  • Incorrect users: You must choose the right participants for your UAT. It is worth taking the time to find suitable testers. It would be best to avoid users who aren’t interested in your application.
  • Lack of test planning: Provide your users with guidelines so the application is thoroughly tested.
  • Not enough data: You need to support your participants as much as possible. Allow your participants to use live data to get the most out of your user acceptance tests. This will ensure the experience is as close to using the live product.
  • Avoiding negative results: Often, tests are designed to look for positive results. Consider including environments where the product will likely fail to get more realistic feedback.

Common challenges of user acceptance testing

There are many challenges you will hit when you start doing UAT:

  • Determining your timeframe
  • Agreeing on test criteria
  • Providing the correct documentation
  • Understanding what the severe and priority defects are. 

Teamwork with your product owners, project managers, and the client is the best way to solve these. You need to ensure everyone understands the importance of UAT, and they also have to buy into doing it correctly and not look to cut corners.

In conclusion

  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) evaluates usability from the user's viewpoint, guaranteeing alignment with product design goals.
  • The goal of User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is to ensure software meets requirements, detects defects, and minimizes risks.
  • UAT feedback prevents costly post-release issues, emphasizing its importance.
  • The focus of UAT testing is on verifying value for end-users.
  • There’s no question that UAT is vital to ensure the stability and functionality of any software release. 

About the author

author photo: Tamas Cser

Tamas Cser


Tamas Cser is the founder, CTO, and Chief Evangelist at Functionize, the leading provider of AI-powered test automation. With over 15 years in the software industry, he launched Functionize after experiencing the painstaking bottlenecks with software testing at his previous consulting company. Tamas is a former child violin prodigy turned AI-powered software testing guru. He grew up under a communist regime in Hungary, and after studying the violin at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, toured the world playing violin. He was bitten by the tech bug and decided to shift his talents to coding, eventually starting a consulting company before Functionize. Tamas and his family live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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