User Testing vs. Usability Testing: What are the Differences?

Andrew Chornyy - 001
Andrew Chornyy

CEO Plerdy — expert in SEO&CRO with over 14 years of experience.

User Experience (UX)

Dive into the intriguing intricacies of testing methodologies in product development – User Testing and Usability Testing. While these two techniques orbit around the same fundamental goal – enhancing the user experience – they follow different paths ?.

  • User Testing focuses on the interaction between a user and a product. It’s like a tour guide, steering the development process based on actual user feedback.
  • Usability Testing, on the other hand, is like a diligent detective ?️‍♂️, meticulously investigating the product’s design and interface, aiming to ensure its seamless functionality.

Master these distinct techniques and harmonize them in your testing process. Strike the perfect balance to push the boundaries of your product’s usability and effectiveness ?. Discover the magic of Plerdy – a stellar tool designed to elevate your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and User Experience (UX). Let Plerdy equip you with robust insights to supercharge your product’s performance.
Don’t just settle for mediocrity; strive for perfection in your product’s usability. Remember, success lies in the details, and the art of testing can turn these tiny details into giant leaps for your product’s success! ? Embark on this enlightening journey today.

What is User Testing?

User Testing vs. Usability Testing: What are the Differences - 0002

Imagine a conductor masterfully steering the orchestra’s performance – this is user testing in the domain of product development. It’s the process where actual users interact with a product, and their experiences and feedback shape its evolution. Picture a streaming app, for example – user testing ensures the app’s layout, functionality, and content hit the right note with the audience.

Here’s how it works:

  • Potential users engage with the product, performing specific tasks or simply exploring features.
  • During these interactions, data pours in – invaluable insights into the users’ experience, their struggles, their eureka moments.
  • This feedback is the lifeblood of user testing. It illuminates the path to fine-tuning the product, eliminating hiccups, and amplifying strengths.

User testing is like a mirror that reflects the product’s usability from the users’ viewpoint. It bridges product design and customer expectations for e-commerce platforms and fitness apps. It can transform a user’s journey from a maze of confusion into a smooth, enjoyable ride. So, fasten your seatbelts, fire up the engine, and embrace user testing as your roadmap to building top-tier, user-approved products. Gear up for this remarkable journey, and watch your product zoom down the highway to success! ?️?

Why do you Need User Testing?

Step into the world of product development, and user testing emerges as an undeniable powerhouse. It’s the compass guiding you to create products that resonate with users, foster engagement, and drive success. But why does it hold such a pivotal position?

Consider a tech startup launching a revolutionary health app. User testing for this product would reveal what users find intuitive, what seems alien, and where they stumble. It doesn’t stop at identifying bottlenecks – it illuminates the path to improved navigation, streamlined features, and an engaging user interface.

Here are compelling reasons to integrate user testing in your product development journey:

  • User testing zeroes in on what users need and desire, paving the way for relevant and impactful products.
  • It’s the antidote to tunnel vision. By capturing diverse user perspectives, it safeguards against design and usability blind spots.
  • It equips you with hard-hitting data to make informed design decisions, eliminate guesswork, and navigate development with confidence.

Envision a popular eCommerce giant – imagine if they didn’t tap into user testing. They could end up with an overwhelming interface, confusing navigation, and ultimately – a dip in user satisfaction. But by embracing user testing, they can morph potential pitfalls into enhancements, amplifying user engagement and driving profitability.

In a nutshell, user testing is the beacon guiding you toward creating products that are not just used but loved. Ignite the potential of your product – harness the power of user testing today. ?

What is Usability Testing?

User Testing vs. Usability Testing: What are the Differences - 0001

Imagine a detective meticulously investigating every detail to solve a case. That’s usability testing in the realm of product development. It’s the analytical examination of how users interact with a product and how effectively they can use it.

Take, for instance, a mobile banking app. Usability testing could pinpoint where users get stuck when transferring funds or highlight how intuitive the bill-paying process is.

Usability testing typically includes:

  • User observation: Monitor users as they interact with your product, noting where they excel and where they stumble.
  • Task analysis: Determine how long it takes users to complete specific tasks and how many errors they make in the process.
  • User satisfaction feedback: Assess how satisfied users are with your product, lending invaluable insight into areas of potential improvement.

Usability testing is like a health check-up for your product. It unveils both its strengths and vulnerabilities. Without it, an education platform might have confusing navigation or an online retailer could provide a tedious checkout process, leading to user frustration and reduced engagement. But with it, they can fine-tune their platforms for seamless and enjoyable user experiences.

It’s simple: Usability testing is a vital player in the game of user-centric design and successful product development. It’s time to suit up and bring usability testing into your product playbook. Ready, set, go! ⚡

Why do you Need Usability Testing?

In the arena of product development, usability testing is like a magnifying glass – it brings your product’s finer points and flaws into sharp focus. Why is it essential? Think of a budding SaaS company with a groundbreaking application. Without usability testing, they might launch with a confusing interface or complicated processes, resulting in user frustration and a faltering reputation.

Here’s why usability testing should be your golden rule in product development:

  • Spotting the Snags: It helps identify design and functionality issues before they become user roadblocks. Remember, a smooth user journey is the best journey.
  • Boosting the Bottom Line: By perfecting usability, you’re increasing user satisfaction, fostering loyalty, and, consequently, improving your product’s profitability.
  • Outshining the Opposition: An impeccable user experience gives you a competitive edge. When users enjoy using your product, they stick around and spread the word.

Consider a renowned e-learning platform. If they skipped usability testing, they might have a disorganized course layout or an arduous sign-up process, sending potential learners scurrying away. But with usability testing, they can polish their platform to a brilliant sheen, enticing learners and setting the stage for success.

In essence, usability testing is the robust shield that safeguards your product from user dissatisfaction and underperformance. So, gear up and make usability testing an integral part of your product’s journey to triumph! Let’s get the ball rolling. ⚡

How Plerdy Helps With User Testing and Usability Testing

User Testing vs. Usability Testing: What are the Differences - 0003

Plerdy, a comprehensive platform for user and usability testing, is a key ingredient in the recipe for successful product development. It’s the secret ally that an online apparel brand or a cutting-edge mobile game developer needs to effectively understand and enhance their user experience.

Here’s a glimpse into Plerdy’s capabilities:

  • On-point Heatmap Analytics: Plerdy’s heatmaps give you a visual representation of user behavior. Hotspots show where users engage the most, allowing you to accentuate your product’s strengths.
  • Thorough Event Tracking: This feature of Plerdy enables you to monitor how users interact with different elements of your product, helping you refine and optimize these interactions.
  • Detailed Form Analysis: Plerdy assesses the performance of your forms, identifying fields that cause friction, hence enabling you to iron out any hiccups in the process.

Consider a burgeoning music streaming service. By implementing Plerdy, they can capture crucial insights into how users navigate their platform, engage with content, and interact with features. These findings can then be translated into actionable improvements that amplify the user experience.

In the grand scheme of product development, Plerdy is the navigational beacon that guides you towards your destination—unparalleled user satisfaction. With Plerdy at your side, you’re empowered to create products that aren’t merely functional but truly delightful. Time to crank up the gears and race towards product excellence with Plerdy! ⚡

What is the Difference Between User Testing and Usability Testing?

Let’s delve into the essence of two critical elements of product development – user testing and usability testing. These twins of the testing domain, while sharing the common goal of enhancing user experience, diverge on the specifics.

User testing embarks on a mission to evaluate the product through the eyes of real users. Picture an e-commerce website launching a line of sports gear. User testing here involves recruiting potential buyers, observing their interaction with the site, and gathering their direct feedback. In this case, the focus is on understanding users’ needs, preferences, and the journey they undertake on the platform.

On the other side of the spectrum, usability testing takes the helm when it comes to gauging how ‘user-friendly’ a product is. Usability testing would evaluate how easy it is for users to monitor their exercises, navigate the app’s design, and sync their data with other devices.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • User Testing:
    • Puts the product in users’ hands
    • Collects direct feedback from users
    • Evaluates the overall user experience and satisfaction
  • Usability Testing:
    • Assesses the user-friendliness of the product
    • Focuses on ease of navigation and understanding
    • Pinpoints areas of friction in the user interface

While these two testing methodologies serve different purposes, their ultimate aim converges on one point: to mold a product that seamlessly meets user needs while providing a delightful experience. By strategically leveraging both user and usability testing, businesses can cut through the noise, bringing forth products that truly resonate with their users. In the symphony of product development, they are the harmonious duo that strikes the perfect chord of user satisfaction.

Let’s look at key differences between the methods:

Testing Tip #1: Plan

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 08

Planning is a prerequisite for effective testing. In the case of user testing, there are four elements to consider:

  1. Basis: Who, What, Where, When and How Testing.
  2. Purpose, key objectives and tactics. The analysis should understand whether the project works according to the chosen strategy. Does it achieve the goals, and at what points does it not meet the audience’s expectations? The goal of the product forms the strategy, and the course of its implementation forms the tactics.
  3. Parameters for measuring success in user testing.
  4. Possible scenarios and questions to ask.

Before starting usability testing, you need to answer the following questions:

  • Determine the scope of work: the entire site/application/product or part of it.
  • Project problems or questions that in-house marketers cannot answer – can visitors get important information from the home page?
  • Timing, duration, frequency of sessions, and the time required for the participant to solve the problem.
  • What questions to ask participants before and after the testing session?
  • The number of users, types, how to recruit participants, the type of equipment, and perhaps the size and resolution of the monitor, operating system, browser, etc., will be necessary.
  • Qualitative and quantitative data need to be collected, such as the percentage of successful completion, percentage of errors, and mission time.
  • Methods: Moderated or unmoderated interviews, A / B tests, usage tracking, etc.
  • Critical and non-fatal errors: deviations from scenarios that affect the authenticity of the results.

Testing Tip #2: Methods

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 09

Moderated and unmoderated interviews work well for user testing. This is how the audience tells themselves whether they need a specific concept and whether the idea is useful.

It is more convenient to determine user preferences and attitudes to specific elements using the A/B test method.

First testers can be found on crowdfunding sites. Subsequently, they will provide the site owner regular feedback as the product or service develops. Potential customers can be shown an introductory video about who needs the promoted product and what purposes on the same sites. Next – offer to make a preliminary order. Such testing is recommended at the stage of project launch. This will make it possible to save part of the budget if you find out in advance whether the planned startup will be of interest to the target audience.

Before launching a new service to the general public, the service can be tested on a group of regular customers. You will be working with people who already trust the store and are familiar with the brand – don’t waste resources on an introduction.

These methods can be adapted for usability testing. The topmost productive ones include:

  • Oculography (eye-tracking) and clickstream testing – Help identify screen areas that have attracted the most attention. The method is effective when combined with unmoderated or moderated interviewing.
  • Research Diary – Testers describe the process of using the product over a long period.
  • A/B tests work when needed to improve the existing email list, project design, call-to-action form, and other elements.
  • An unmoderated or moderated interview influences a visitor’s decision: a call to action or a site page. Evaluate the first impression of visiting a site/application and analyze the usability of similar competitors’ products.

Testing Tip #3: Results

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 10

After completing usability testing, developers receive data on:

  • The platform features that work well.
  • Problems that need to be fixed first.
  • Brief for a further action plan.

A usability test report consists of the results of all tests, their analysis, and conclusions:

  • User completion percentage.
  • Time spent by each user during a test.
  • The bounce rate for individual tasks.
  • User feedback on the degree of satisfaction.
  • Testers’ recommendations – what needs to be changed.

Data on usability issues should be systematized and prioritized according to their importance and impact on the project’s success, which will help you prioritize your decision. In practice, problems are segmented into five groups by severity: from critical to non-product impact.

In user testing, the team does not collect results at the end but in the process. Successful test completion depends on constructive customer feedback. So the marketer can get both the expected test result and completely new, unpredictable information about the product.

An essential element is the segmentation of responses. Marketers practice breaking one extended test into several short surveys. In this case, the specialist receives intermediate results and can change the direction of the test based on the problems that are understood until the process is complete.

Information for the final report needs to be structured and segmented by priority of problems; this can include atypical comments and feedback from usability testers that may affect the improvement of the service.

Testing Tip #4: Audience Test

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 11

Find a group that matches your ideal consumer or represents your customer base for optimum results. Many online platforms have access to an international audience for remote testing. There you can select your participants based on a variety of factors. Such solutions are great for user tests.

If you rely on guerrilla tests and other personal methods and cannot create a homogeneous test group, you should at least collect relevant data (age, training, profession, computer/mobile use). With this background knowledge, you can better evaluate any differences in the results.

Before and after the test, ask the correct questions to get good data.
To find the right mix, you should take time to brainstorm with your team and potential early beta testers.

Testing Tip #5: What to Test

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 12

The success or completion rate measures the average number of people completing a task. It is the most common indicator for measuring usability. In moderated tests, the moderators record the success rate. In the case of unmoderated tests, the participants report themselves. Or you can then analyze the session recordings.

However, to record the actual user experience, the success rate alone is insufficient. Therefore, you should also include other metrics, for example:

  • The number of errors: how many errors or unnecessary actions did a user make when completing a test? (0.7 errors per user are considered a benchmark.)
  • Task duration: the time indicates how long it takes a user to complete a test. There are no general guidelines because the requirements differ too much.
  • Task difficulty: Users can rate task complexity from 1 (extremely hard) to 7 (very easy). The average value is 4.8.
  • Single Usability Metric (SUM): this metric combines success rate, task duration, and task difficulty and thus displays the general usability. The average value is 65% across industries.
  • Task satisfaction: with the help of a website survey, you can record user mood after completing the task.

The more metrics you create, the more detailed and comprehensive your image of the test participants’ experience becomes.

Set a goal first. What do you want to learn? What answers would you like to find? If you set a clear goal, your success chances grow. If you’re building a sales app, you may want to test how easy it is to buy things.

Testing Tip #6: The Use Phase Test

User Testing vs. Usability Testing 13

The use phase is quite intuitive. A user test is needed to understand if people need what you offer and whether it is easy for them to utilize this or that solution. User tests can be called the beginning of a product’s life cycle. User testing is essential after you have a product idea. The usability test is carried out after a prototype or a design is made.

So, when should I run a user test? A user test is almost always needed. Because by observing the target group during a user test, important insights and potential for improvement can be identified. Ideally, a user test should accompany the entire course of the project. A user test in the planning and development phase can save costs. A user test ensures that the product meets the planned requirements and user needs even during and after the market launch. In addition, a user test not only supports the development of new products but also checks the added value of the innovations during a relaunch. The user test thus accompanies agile product development at all times and avoids major usability problems before they arise.


As we reach the conclusion of our exploration – “User Testing vs. Usability Testing: What are the Differences?” – we reaffirm the essence of these distinctive yet interconnected methods. User testing helps us navigate the thoughts and perceptions of real users interacting with a product, whereas usability testing evaluates the product’s user-friendliness – a crucial factor in creating a seamless user experience. ⚡

With tools like PickFu and, you can conduct user testing efficiently, while programs like HotJar and UXtweak offer valuable insight into usability. But let’s go beyond this – let’s optimize your testing efforts with Plerdy, the tool that elevates SEO & UX analysis. Plerdy, serving as an executive in the realm of testing, allows you to replay user sessions, label user events, and spot frictions in your UI. It’s like having a digital magnifying glass to examine your product from every angle! ?️‍♀️?

Ready to validate your ideas and start addressing those pain points? Let’s kick-start this journey now with a free trial of Plerdy. By adopting this comprehensive tool, you’re setting the stage for increased user retention and an impressive boost in your product’s efficiency. Remember, the path to success often starts with understanding and addressing your users’ needs! ⚡

Leave a reply for "User Testing vs. Usability Testing: What are the Differences?"

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *