Understanding the differences between user tests and usability tests will allow you to practically apply these concepts to your business; adding value to your product along the development process, and guiding your decision-making in a way that benefits you and your audiences.
When you reach that stage of the development cycle where you are looking to test your mockup, it is vital to consider what kind of feedback you’re looking to receive on your designs. User tests and usability tests are often confused for one another; in reality, they are two very different methods of testing. Learning about the differences between the two research methods will make you better equipped to conduct these kinds of tests when the need inevitably comes up. And it will. For every product, there has to be a user!
Without an audience, you have no product. Sure, it may be there physically - but without someone to buy it, you have no business.
What user testing does is ensure that there is a buyer out there who is willing to purchase and capable of purchasing your product. In fact, the more buyers we can line up - the better off we stand.
User testing seeks to gather values and opinions from people that can be used to measure the utility of your idea. Marketers often look at figuring out how to adapt a product or service to best fit the needs of the largest market possible. After testing, researchers are able to develop a clearer idea of what the average customer in their target market looks like, and how they behave.
Usability testing works to develop your existing prototypes into a more functional, user-friendly state.
If users are unable to properly interface with your app or handle your product, then the odds of them enjoying their experience are going to drop dramatically. Therefore, usability testing seeks to iron out all the kinks in your designs; gathering user input on performance, aesthetics, and quality assurance through product testing.
For starters, user testing almost always comes before usability testing. If a product has no users, then there is nobody to test it.
Usability tests, unlike user tests, involve giving your audiences an actual demo or mockup of your product to interact with; in the user testing stages, most businesses will not yet have a working development that is ready to be handled by the public.
While user tests may only be conducted in the early stages of market development, usability tests should be done iteratively.
User testing is one of the very first things any startup or fledgling business should invest in. Determining who your audience is and finding out what their pain points are will allow you to capitalize on their problems and develop a marketable solution.
Usability tests are conducted multiple times throughout the various stages of product development. Every time you reach a significant milestone in your product development, expect to run another set of usability tests; doing so will make it far easier to manage your product in the long run. Making multiple changes over time is far more effective than waiting until the least minute and having to completely revamp your designs.
The first step to conducting a user test is to clearly outline your goals. Determining what you seek to gain from these user tests will allow you to develop a more focused question-set.
Ideally, the questions you develop for your user test should be based around extracting what needs are not being met. Creating a successful product involves clearly identifying a product, and coming up with a pragmatic solution for it.
With a clear goal in mind, the next step is to choose the setting for your testing. Do you plan to conduct in-person user testing? Or will you be using a digital platform? Your answers to these questions will ultimately determine how you interact with your audiences.
There are a variety of methods researchers use to test users, including:
When your testing concludes, expect to spend some time analyzing the responses you’ve been given. Sometimes, the value of the feedback audiences give you might not readily present itself; after enough time, you will have the data you need to make an informed decision as to whether or not you should continue onto the next step.
Business development is a risky venture; but if your market is there, then we can start to work their insights into our product.
By now, you have already user tested your audience a handful of times. Since then, you have put in the hours developing your prototypes and refining your processes; now, it is time to test the usability of your idea.
A product’s mere existence does not present enough value to the customer to justify a purchase. It must be functional, reasonably easy to use, and at a price point customers are willing to pay. Giving users a prototype of your designs to toy around with - and even break (in a good way) - allows you to identify previously unseen flaws.
Usability tests are done on an iterative basis; with every new milestone your product reaches in its development, you need to run a user test. The new changes you have made to your designs could potentially have a dramatic effect on the way users handle your product; and you are going to want to know what those changes are. After every set of usability tests, developers incorporate the feedback they have been given into their designs - all in preparation for repeating the cycle once again.
If it hasn’t become clear by now, there is no good answer to this question; that is because user testing and usability testing both serve very important functions. In any situation where a business is looking to develop a new product or enter new markets, user testing and usability tests are going to be crucial components of their development process.
User tests are invaluable tools for identifying your target market. They allow you to paint a picture of your average customer so that you can better understand their wants and needs. The data generated by user tests gives you crucial insight into how you can tailor your product to better suit your customers.
Usability tests provide us with a constant source of feedback for your design changes. With every new prototype or mockup you develop, you can expect to receive feedback on your users’ experiences with the product, how they value the changes, and what you can be doing better in the future. Think of these tests as a way to make sure your product development stays on the right course; after all, changing things does not always make them better.
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