What Is User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Meaning, Definition

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) - definition, meaning

In the fast-evolving realm of technology-driven business, mastering the art of rapid innovation is the key to staying ahead.

With technology underpinning all business processes today, with the pace at which new technologies are emerging, companies need to introduce new products and services at a faster rate than their competitors using user acceptance testing forms and software to meet the needs of business users and the end user.

Why should they focus their efforts on quality assurance using the user acceptance testing process (UAT)?

Because of its successful implementation, it’s the most effective in reducing both time and cost while increasing customer satisfaction.

🐴🐴 hold up little ponies. maybe you need to take a step back, and get yourself the ultimate guide on customer feedback first. if so, we got you covered cowpokes 🤠🤠 ok, back to UAT!

What Is A Good User Acceptance Testing Definition?

User Acceptance Testing (UAT), known as end-user or application testing, validates software in real-world conditions by its intended audience, an essential phase in software development cycle.

User acceptance system testing phase (UAT), otherwise known as User Acceptability Testing, Beta Application, or End-User Testing, is often the last phase in the web development process, the one before final release or installation of the website or software for the client, or final distribution of it.

Meaning of UAT testing

UAT testing means the usage of the software by people from the target audience and recording and correcting of any defects.

The closest thing to a “_real world_” is user acceptance test. It gives users the chance to interact with the software and find out if everything works as it should after considering the features, miscommunicated, not communicated, and so on.

DevelopMentor puts it most succinctly when they describe user acceptance testing (UAT) as:

The goal of User Acceptance Testing is to assess if the system can support day-to-day business and user scenarios and ensure the system is sufficient and correct for business usage.

What’s the Purpose of UAT?

The purpose of User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is to validate and ensure that a software application meets the specific needs and requirements of its intended users before its official release, ensuring a high level of functionality, usability, and alignment with real-world scenarios.

UAT serves as the final quality check, helping to identify and address any issues or improvements necessary to achieve user satisfaction.

Whilst UAT – User Acceptance Testing –  is essential, typically, it’s not able to be undertaken until the application is largely feature-complete. Guru99 lists 10 prerequisites, which must be met before UAT can begin. These are:

  1. Business Requirements must be available
  2. Need to to fully develop Application Code
  3. Ensure you complete Unit Testing, Integration Testing & System Testing
  4. No Show stoppers, or High or Medium defects in the System Integration Test Phase
  5. Only Cosmetic errors are acceptable before UAT
  6. Complete Regression Testing with no major defects
  7. Ensure you fix and test all the defects reports
  8. Complete traceability matrix for all testing
  9. UAT Environment must be ready
  10. Sign off mail or communication from System Testing Team that the system is ready for UAT execution

As we were saying, User Acceptance Testing, also known as UAT (or UAT testing), in a nutshell, is:

A process of verifying that a solution works for the user.

Here’s an example of how this can be done through screen recordings with Usersnap (click on the image):

And the keyword here is “user”.

This is crucial because they’re the people who will use the software on a daily basis. There are many aspects to consider with respect to software functionality.

There’s unit testing, functional testing, integration testing, and system and testing phases, amongst many others. As part of these processes, we regularly ask questions such as:

  • Does the application crash?
  • Do all the functions accept the correct inputs and give the correct outputs?
  • Does the application consume only the minimum amount of resources?
  • What’s the load time of the application?

Whilst these are valid and essential, ultimately they’re quite meaningless – if the application doesn’t perform as the end user expects. As software artisans, we need to avoid situations such as:

  • Can the user use the software?
  • Is it really what they asked for?
  • Do they have trouble using it?
  • Does it behave exactly as anticipated?

Recommended Reading:

Who should be involved in User Acceptance Testing (UAT)?

The most important peer group to include in the UAT team and testing process are “real” end-users of your software.

Include every role and stakeholder group, which means that people from each group should be selected to join the UAT team.

How You Can Start With Actual Software Users Test Scenarios

Now we are done discussing the groundwork for what UAT is and why it’s essential, let’s continue by seeing how to start using it.

Normally, UAT consists of four steps but it can vary, based on whether the application is going to satisfy a single customer, or whether it should be off-the-shelf software, available for purchase by anyone.

Firstly, the criteria to consider for the software to be “working” needs to be assembled. These are likely to be collated from the system requirements, integration tests, and user stories.

Next, a set of UAT test cases must be created. Centric defines a UAT test case as:

A set of test steps, execution conditions and expected results developed for a particular objective, such as to exercise a particular program path or to verify compliance with a specific requirement

Each case covers a specific usage scenario of the software. It is normally a set of actions that the user can carry out and be able to verify if the software is working perfectly well.

With these in place, the unit tests have to be run and the test results are recorded. Were the tests successful, or did defects result? Any bugs then need to be corrected and re-tested.

Finally, assuming that everything is working perfect, there is a need to complete an orderly sign-off . This is done with your client or the team they have assembled for other testing phases of the project, where they will state that what they’ve received is working as expected and meets their criteria.

What are the Legitimate Prerequisites for User Acceptance Testing?

Before you can carry it out, you have to understand what is UAT.

While you can pick any UAT definition, the simplest one is that it is the final stage of your software testing process that allows you to perform user acceptance testing determine whether the product built is suitable for the purpose that was intended in the first place.

Once you know that User Acceptance Testing is a verification activity, you can identify the key prerequisites:

  • Access to business requirements
  • A fully developed software code base
  • Completed unit, integration, and system testing
  • There should be no high or medium defects or showstoppers in integration testing
  • Regression testing shouldn’t lead to any major bugs
  • Every reported bug and defect should be addressed and tested prior to UAT
  • Completed traceability matrix for all types of testing
  • UAT environment should be ready

What are the Qualities of a Good User Acceptance Tester?

The user acceptance testing process is a detail-oriented task. Whether you are performing it manually or relying on UAT software, a UAT tester needs to have a keen eye for every detail.

UAT process is also referred to as end-user testing which means that you need to think and act like a person who has never used the software or app. The tester should be a critical and analytical thinker with the ability to identify and process different types of data.

Apart from that, it is always good to have a basic understanding of the business along with the right UAT Tools to perform the job.

UAT process and planning

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a critical phase in the software development process life cycle where the software or application is tested by end-users to ensure that it meets their needs and is ready for production release the UAT testing process helps validate that the system functions correctly, is user-friendly, and meets the specified requirements.

Here’s an overview of the UAT process and planning:

UAT Process

The User Acceptance Test (UAT) process is a crucial phase in software development and implementation.

It involves testing a software application or system from the end-user’s perspective to ensure its functionality, usability, and compatibility with real-world scenarios.

During the UAT phase, users or designated stakeholders engage in testing the software to validate whether it meets their requirements and expectations.

Any issues, discrepancies, or improvements are identified and addressed before the software is officially launched. UAT helps the project manager ensure that the software is ready for deployment and will deliver a positive user experience, ultimately contributing to the success of the project.

User acceptance testing

UAT Process Phases

  • Requirements analysis and test planning
    • Identify and involve key stakeholders, such as end-users and business representatives.
    • Understand the scope and objectives of UAT, including the criteria for success.
    • Create or review the UAT test plan, which outlines the testing strategy, scope, schedule, resources, and exit criteria.
  • Test case design
    • Develop UAT test cases based on real-world scenarios that end-users will encounter.
    • Test cases should cover both functional and non-functional aspects of the application.
  • Test environment setup
    • Prepare the UAT environment with the necessary hardware, software, and data.
    • Ensure that the environment closely mimics the production environment.
  • Test execution
    • End-users perform the defined test cases according to the test plan.
    • Users verify that the application works as expected, meets business requirements, and aligns with user needs.
  • Defect reporting and management
    • If any issues or defects are identified, end-users report them with detailed information.
    • The development team reviews and addresses these defects, releasing fixes as needed.
    • Defects are retested by end-users to confirm resolution.
  • Regression testing
    • Conduct regression testing to ensure that fixes or changes haven’t introduced new issues.
    • Retest previously validated functionality to ensure it remains unaffected.
  • Sign-off and exit criteria
    • Stakeholders evaluate whether the application meets the defined acceptance criteria.
    • If the application passes UAT, stakeholders provide sign-off for production release.
  • Documentation
    • Document UAT results, including test cases, defects, resolutions, and any additional feedback.
    • Maintain UAT documentation for reference and auditing purposes.

UAT Planning Steps

  • Stakeholder engagement
    • Identify and involve key stakeholders from different departments, including end-users, business analysts, project managers, and developers.
    • Define their roles and responsibilities in the UAT process.
  • Test scope and objectives
    • Clearly define the scope of UAT, including which features or functions will be tested and any specific scenarios to be covered.
  • Test environment setup
    • Ensure that the UAT environment is representative of the production environment and contains realistic data.
  • Test case design
    • Develop comprehensive test cases that reflect real-world usage scenarios and business processes.
    • Ensure that test cases cover both positive and negative test scenarios.
  • Test data preparation
    • Prepare relevant and realistic test data that reflects different user scenarios.
  • Communication and training
    • Communicate the UAT plan and schedule to all stakeholders involved.
    • Provide training or guidance to end-users on how to perform UAT effectively.
  • Defect tracking and reporting
    • Set up a clear process for defect reporting, including the format, severity, and steps to reproduce.
    • Determine how defects will be tracked and monitored throughout the UAT cycle.
  • Exit criteria and sign-off
    • Define the criteria that must be met for UAT to be considered successful.
    • Specify who has the authority to provide sign-off for production release based on UAT results.
  • Schedule and timeline
    • Establish a realistic UAT timeline that allows sufficient time for testing, defect resolution, and retesting.
  • Feedback and Iteration:
    • Plan for feedback collection and incorporate iterative testing cycles as needed based on UAT results.

Remember that UAT is not only about identifying defects but also about ensuring that the software aligns with user expectations and business needs.

Effective UAT planning and execution contribute to a successful software release that satisfies end-users and stakeholders.

UAT vs. beta testing

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and beta testing are two distinct yet complementary phases in the software development lifecycle.

UAT core function

UAT focuses on ensuring that a software application meets the specific needs and requirements of its intended users.

During UAT, end-users or designated stakeholders actively engage with the software to validate its functionality, usability, and alignment with real scenarios.

This phase acts as a final validation step before the software’s official release, helping to identify and address any issues or improvements necessary to meet user expectations.

Beta testers are also needed

On the other hand, beta testing involves releasing a pre-release version of the software, known as a “beta” version, to a selected group of external users known as beta testers.

These beta testers explore the software in real-world conditions, providing valuable feedback on bugs, glitches, and user experience aspects.

It helps uncover issues that may have been missed during internal testing, allowing developers to make refinements and improvements based on user insights before the software’s full launch.

In essence, UAT ensures the software meets user requirements, while beta testing involves external users in identifying any final issues or refinements needed for a successful release.

Both UAT and beta testing contribute to delivering a high-quality, user-friendly software application that meets the needs of its intended audience.

User Acceptance Testing Framework

User Acceptance Tests are not always called User Acceptance Tests in some organizations. There are various buzzwords – such as alpha or beta testing – out there. And sometimes people love asking about the differences between the UAT tests and functional testing.

Therefore we decided to collect all our thoughts and knowledge on the different types of UAT in this article.

UA system testing phases next steps (where to find templates and examples)

And that’s what, why, and how of integrating User Acceptance Testing as a standard part of your web development projects. It reduces the likelihood of issues that is happening, which in turn reduces the amount of work required in development and maintenance.

Sure, it’s another process that you have to manage, but the reduction in overall cost and a higher level of user satisfaction more than offsets the associated costs.

Free UAT Checklist Download

To help you out, we’ve set up a UAT testing template that you can download. This covers everything from preparing your team, the test and separate testing environment itself, to writing test cases, execution and evaluation. Feel free to grab a copy to help you out with your UAT testing efforts.

We have also prepared interactive UAT testing template form here. Feel free to grab it and implemented on your project.

What’s Been Your UAT testing Experience So Far?

If up to now your UAT process is collecting emails to put into a PowerPoint presentation, then you have done it wrong.

If you are using Asana, Basecamp, Jira, or other ticket and project or product management platforms, but the UAT form still needs to be manually filled out, you’re still not right. Luckily, this article is about how to do UAT right, so read on 🙂

First, make sure it’s easy for users to submit feedback.

Find a tool that works within your UAT and testing environment so that users do not need to jump back and forth to report an issue.

Usersnap is a user acceptance testing tool that can be added to your website or app as a widget, your users can take screenshots or screen recordings whenever they see something wrong.

Because it’s so easy to use, your users will be eager to share problems, and even suggestions. Canva’s design community started sending double the amount of feedback once Usersnap was added to their product. This meant Canva had way more insights to improve its features and UX.

Second, don’t create a long questionnaire for your users. The purpose of UAT is to collect bugs and fulfill the requirements or expectations. You can leave the feedback field completely open-ended and let users tell you what they think. Our customers that are agencies have said 1-3 simple questions for every form are sufficient to understand what is missing and how important the issue is.


Lastly, make sure you act on the feedback of your testing results. It sounds obvious but what we’ve heard from many agencies or companies looking for a good UAT tool is that they have a hard time recreating issues, and therefore, can not fix it.

Usersnap automatically captures user metadata, including console log errors, when feedback is sent. Your engineers will get the context to start troubleshooting and finding a solution right away. Rachel Panush, VP of Operations at Executionists Agency says:

Instead of waiting days to get the necessary information to recreate and resolve bugs, we can now instantly capture the specifications and solve any issues that come up within our projects.

Bonus tip: Get FREE Usersnap UAT Trial

Last but not least, here is a heads-up on Usersnap, which is our very own visual user acceptance testing solution, used by companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

Start your UAT efforts with a free trial of Usersnap, the #1 visual feedback platform for QA or other UAT testers.

Resolve issues faster with visual bug reporting.

Visual bug tracking by Usersnap

Simplify and reduce issue & bug reporting efforts with screen recordings, screenshots, and annotations.

And if you’re ready to try out a visual bug tracking and feedback solution, Usersnap offers a free trial. Sign up today or book a demo with our feedback specialists.