User test versus usability test

One of the main steps in designing an app or website is testing. There are two types of testing: the user test and the usability test. Both tests involve different targets, techniques, and phases of use in the life cycle. Every user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designer should be aware of these differences because they are important for the success of the project.

Knowing the differences and similarities between a user test and a usability test should be part of your training on how to get into UX design because many people often confuse the two concepts. When you apply for a job at a UI/UX design agency, one of the interview questions you’re likely to get is about user testing vs usability testing. This article discusses the similarities and differences between the two tests.

What is a user test?

A user test is a process of testing the user interface and functions of an app or website by real users. Users conducting the test are supposed to perform realistic tasks to determine whether the product is working as envisioned. This test helps assess the app’s usability and confirm whether the final product is ready to go live.

Although users are supposed to perform specific functions when testing the app or website, you shouldn’t direct them too much. Instead, you should allow them to interact naturally with the app or site to know if the product is comfortable and instinctive enough to be used by users who aren’t used to it. User testing helps you recognize areas in the app or site that have faults, omissions, or gaps.

What is a usability test?

A usability test is a process of testing an app or website using representative users. This is a guided test whereby the participants are asked to perform specific tasks while the observers watch and take notes. This enables observers to identify problems with the product or service and gather useful quantitative and qualitative information about the usability of the app or site.

User test vs usability test
User test vs usability test

There are many pros and cons of usability testing–for instance, it determines the user’s satisfaction with the app or website. It also enables you to identify problems with the product before they’re coded. Identifying potential problems early helps you correct them before it becomes expensive to fix them. Through this test, you’ll know how long it takes to complete specific tasks and make the necessary improvements if necessary.

Differences between user testing and usability testing


A user test allows you to see how real-life users of an app or website interact with it; a usability test helps you identify and solve specific usability glitches and determine whether the app or site is working properly. A user test is done at the end of the project before the final product is launched, while a usability test is done at different phases of the development and design process.

Types of tests

Each test can be done using various techniques. For instance, guerilla testing is one of the most common techniques for usability testing, and it enables you to obtain feedback on a prototype by releasing it to random people on the street willing to test it. This is considered more cost-effective than hiring participants.

A user test, on the other hand, usually involves A/B testing or multivariate testing. With this technique, you show users different versions of the app or website and let them assess the functionality and usability of each version, and this test can be done manually or online. Another common method of conducting a user test is to create a focus group, which involves putting together a group of users and allowing them to use the app or website for some time.

Then, you can ask for opinions on the app or website to see if there have been any problems. This way, you can determine which areas of the product you need to improve before it’s launched. Surveys and feedback are also useful in user testing, as they can help you learn more about what the intended user thinks about your product before you officially launch it.

Serhii Hyliuk

Head of Growth and Customer Success

I'm interested in design, new tech, fashion, exploring new places and languages. My mission is to make our clients happy.

I'm interested in design, new tech, fashion, exploring new places and languages. My mission is to make our clients happy.


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