User Testing vs Usability Testing


manav chugh

July 5, 2021

We use so many products on a daily basis. From day to day, our needs change and we end up buying and using new products that fulfill our needs and make our lives easier.

Let’s give you an example, When I want to buy some apples, I pick them up from the basket at the Farmer’s Market. I hold them and see if they are firm, look ripe and only then I get it. What was I doing? I was “Testing”. To ensure myself, the product I am getting is the right one from the pool.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Now let's talk mainly about software/ hardware products. Before any of these products are made available, they are vigorously tested. Product testing is important as it ensures the acceptability of the Product. It ensures that the product is delivering its value (at least for the product community). There is a long list of other benefits like Reliability, Safety, Costs etc. But the main is customer acceptability which eventually results in customer satisfaction.

Usually working in companies, we always hear User Testing and Usability Testing. Usability testing is very often confused with User testing. There are differing opinions regarding this question across the industry. We can see these terms flying in any product discussions. Knowing about them individually will lead to adding value to the product. And also to give myself a clear picture, I thought I will write it down.

So “User Testing” focuses on the overall experience with the product. A Product team will want to find the product they want to build is going to be accepted by the market. Is there a need for it? Do users need a product that is being worked on? Is there a product-market fit?

It is testing the value of your idea. It usually involves understanding the problem first, which leads to an idea or you are already working on a product and thinking about adding new features/ enhancements. The result of User Testing is the user persona of your target user segment. This is something you should do right after you have got the idea.

Lessons learned from User Testing are:

  1. Idea/ Feature Validation
  2. User satisfaction Validation
  3. Verify any doubts/ assumptions about user needs

Usability Testing” focuses totally on the User experience with the Product interface.

It helps Product teams understand if users can effectively use the product. It measures the results of understanding if the workflow is simple and intuitive to the user, where are they getting stuck and what should be done to solve that.

Lessons learned from Usability Testing are:

  1. UI improvements
  2. Workflow improvements, is it easy for the user to use the product?
  3. Detect problems in the user journey

Now we can go forward and know when to use what. They both are critical to all Product teams but it is important to know when to use what or if someone on your team uses either of the terms, then you know what they mean.

The goal of User Testing is to knowDo Users actually need my product?

The goal of “Usability Testing” is to know “Can Users use my product?”

Thanks for reading!

User Testing vs Usability Testing was originally published in Dynatrace Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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manav chugh