web analytics

Usability Testing vs User Testing: Explained!

When it comes to developing mobile apps and websites, we used to have to speculate or make estimates about a lot of things, but now, thanks to user testing and usability testing, we can rectify a lot of those issues with concrete, empirical data. This includes everything from the controls that people use to the colours that they want to see. You most likely have additional questions because you are not familiar with user and usability testing. They will all be answered in this guide, beginning with the most important question: what is the distinction between user testing vs usability testing? But before that, let’s learn the definition of user testing and usability testing.

What is User Testing?

Testing on actual end users is an essential component of any UX testing toolkit. End users are the focus of this type of testing, in which they are asked to evaluate and investigate a project or prototype, looking for potential flaws along the way. Researching the target audience and putting them through their paces are two essential components of user testing. Identifying their actions and reactions, as well as the purpose for which they will be utilising your product. Ask yourself “What does my end-user look like?”. This will assist in reducing the size of your target demographic and making adjustments that are appropriate to your user experience.

In an ideal scenario, this kind of testing is carried out in an iterative manner throughout the entirety of the project’s design and development. As more user testing is done, you will be able to get a more precise picture of who your end-user is going to be. This may have a significant bearing on the outcome of your project as a whole. During the course of the process, members of the team will frequently suffer from tunnel vision at some point. It’s possible that they’ll have no trouble using the brand new feature that your team just developed for your project. In contrast, this does not imply that the end user you have in mind will be able to use it the way you plan.

There are dozens of distinct approaches to user testing that you can implement for your project. In addition, there is still more to learn about usability testing and the most effective way to put it into practise. Other examples of user testing include the following examples:

  • Focus Groups
  • A/B Testing
  • Survey
  • Beta Testing
  • Card Sorting
  • Guerilla Testing
  • Heat Map Analysis

Defining Usability Testing

Although usability testing is generally considered to be a subset of user testing, we are able to provide a more precise definition for it. For the purpose of usability testing, a real user or a representative of your target demographic will be given a tangible version of the product or prototype to experiment with. An analysis of the finished work, in which ways to make it more user-friendly have been determined as a result of this process, is the result of this.

In contrast to user testing, which must be carried out in an iterative manner, usability testing should be carried out only when a section of your project is complete and ready to be evaluated. This point typically occurs somewhere in the middle of the development phase for the majority of projects. It is not the responsibility of the users to determine what their needs are; rather, it is their responsibility to ensure that the project is moving in the right direction. This kind of testing is helpful to teams because it helps them zero in on particular user paths and improves the finer details, such as finding the ideal microcopy. Although there are a few different methods for conducting usability tests, they may generally be divided into one of two groups.

Unmoderated Usability Testing: A prototype or demo is made available to a tester, but the tester is not provided with any guiding interactions from a member of the development team. Because of this, a large number of testers are able to demonstrate a specific functionality in an asynchronous manner. Additionally, the time of a member of the team who is supposed to walk users through a test is not wasted, and the overall cost of the process may be reduced. The absence of a team member who can provide direction to the participant is the most significant disadvantage of unmoderated usability testing. Because of this, the ability to respond to any additional questions or concerns that may arise is eliminated. The scope of the results can therefore only be restricted to the questions that were posed to the participants. In addition, if a tester gets stuck somewhere along the way, there is no assurance that they will be able to continue with the test, and they may give up in the middle of it.

Moderated Usability Testing: A tester will collaborate with a member of the development team who will instruct them, guide them, and watch them as they carry out tasks in real time. This is most effective when applied to workflow prototypes or processes that, in the absence of guidance, could be considered complicated. If the participants in the test need to have a comprehensive knowledge of the project in order for the prototype to function properly, then you should use moderated testing. One of the advantages of having a member of the team administer the test is that it provides you with additional insight into the people who are taking it. Follow-up questions can be posed and answered by members of the team, and additional insights into the workflow of the participant can be gained. There are some drawbacks associated with having a member of the team moderate the tests. This particular kind of testing typically requires a great deal more time and results in significantly higher expenses. Despite the fact that COVID-19 has caused a year’s worth of social isolation, we have definitely discovered ways to cut down on the time it takes to complete these tasks. You might be able to give examinations through the use of remote sessions, which saves you the trouble of arranging a physical site.

User testing vs usability testing: The main difference 

Testing for users and testing for usability are both essential components of the design process for mobile apps, web apps, landing pages, and websites, but they are not the same thing. When conducting user testing, you will have the opportunity to examine the many ways in which real people utilise a product. Testing for usability, on the other hand, focuses less on determining whether or not the product performs effectively and more on discovering and fixing specific usability flaws with the product. In general, you should perform user testing before launching a product and continue to perform usability testing throughout the entire process of product development and design. Testing for usability can also be done after a product has been released in order to collect feedback from customers.

User testing vs usability testing: The purpose 

Before you release your product or service to the public, conducting usability and user testing can assist you in determining how people use your product as well as diagnosing any problems that may arise. There is a wide variety of variety in user and usability testing types. The various types of user testing that are standard include multi-variant testing, heuristic evaluations, cognitive walkthroughs, and feedback collection. On the other hand, common types of usability tests comprise moderated and unmoderated examinations, session recordings, heatmaps, and in-person examinations.

Why do we do user testing and usability testing? 

The best way to map out and optimise the user experience is through user testing. To ensure the satisfaction of your clientele, it is essential that you grasp their mentality. User tests are a great way to get a comprehensive understanding of the preferences, idiosyncrasies, and motivations of the users you are targeting. They are the ideal accompaniment to your personas in every way. The information gleaned from user testing has the potential to improve the performance of those personas. Testing for usability serves a more straightforward purpose, which is to locate problematic areas that prevent users from making use of the product. In order to address issues in the earliest possible stage, it is best to test on a regular basis, as we will go over in the following section.

User testing vs usability testing: When to use each

Testing for the user experience and usability should get underway as soon as possible. Testing for usability is an essential part of the product development process because it enables you to determine whether or not your offering satisfies the requirements of your target audience. However, even after the launch of the product, you shouldn’t stop performing usability testing, especially if you plan to introduce new software features. Testing for usability establishes how simple it is for customers to utilise your product or website; therefore, it is essential to approach it in a comprehensive manner. On the other hand, user testing is an essential part of the product development lifecycle throughout its entirety. Before launching a product, it’s a good idea to gather ideas through user testing methods like surveys and market research. Following the launch of your product, you should employ additional strategies, such as A/B testing, to confirm that it lives up to the standards of quality set by your target audience.

User Testing vs. Usability Testing: Audience

It’s possible that you won’t have a clear idea of who your ideal customers are until after you’ve put a new idea or concept through user testing. When a general population includes a wide variety of participants with different demographic characteristics, you should plan a user test. This range will assist you in determining the demographics of your target audience and will establish the criteria for your product or service that will be used in subsequent research. When you have determined that there is a market for your good or service, the next step is to organise a usability test with participants who are representative of your ideal customer. These participants will have the demographics and characteristics of your product or service’s ideal customer, making them a good choice to test it out on. When you are trying to recruit for a specific audience, another option is to use screener questions.

User Testing And Usability Testing Help Make Your App The Best It Can Be!

It is not enough for an app to be streamlined, beautiful, and easy to use in order for it to be successful. Additionally, it should fulfil a requirement. Consider the example of Uber. It is simple to use and convenient, but more importantly, it helps solve a problem that has plagued us for decades: a taxi service that is slow and inconsistent. Because of this, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the dissimilarities between user testing and usability testing. Through user testing and usability testing, you will be able to ensure that you lay the foundation for a successful app or piece of software. This will allow you to ensure that you build apps that are both useful and beautiful.

User Testing vs. Usability Testing: Outcomes

By putting your idea or concept to the test, your company can reduce the risk of having a product or service launch that is unsuccessful. When you are in the stage of user testing, it is quite flexible to ask customers for feedback because you can ask customers about any aspect of your concept or idea. Not only can it help you avoid deciding on a poor course of action, but it. Not only can it keep you from settling on a poor idea, but it also has the potential to offer you a group of early adopters for the concept you’re working on. Testing for usability enables you to provide a better experience for your user, which, in turn, will result in the user making a purchase from your company. It may also reveal the aspects of your website or app that cause users the most annoyance. In addition to this, usability testing provides information regarding the amount of time required for participants to finish a given task. Usability testing can help you identify and address any issues in the system, which can eventually save your business time and money.


P., & Ellis, M. (2021, March 22). A guide to user testing vs. usability testing – The PickFu blog. The PickFu Blog. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.pickfu.com/blog/user-testing-vs-usability-testing/

Theorem, I. (2020, June 23). Usability Testing Vs. User Testing – Why it is important? – Idea Theorem. Idea Theorem. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.ideatheorem.com/insights/usability-testing-vs-user-testing-why-it-is-important/

User testing vs. Usability testing – 7 Main Differences. (2020, November 15). PlaybookUX. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.playbookux.com/user-testing-vs-usability-testing-7-main-differences/

Wood, S., & Smith, N. (2020, October 7). Explaining the difference between User Testing and Usability Testing. Loud Canvas Media. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://loudcanvas.com/user-vs-usability-testing/

1 thought on “Usability Testing vs User Testing: Explained!”

Comments are closed.