What is User Research and Usability Testing and How are they different from each other?



Jay Anthony

10 August 2020 8 min read

What is User Research and Usability Testing and How are they different from each other?

User research and usability testing are 2 different principles and methods of evaluating the user's viewpoint on the product or service. They are both equally relevant and add value to the entire design process. User Research and Usability Testing are often mistaken to be the same thing.

However, this is not the case, they have very different job habits and results. While the end objective is the same for the two work models described above, the implementation and result of User Research and Usability Testing are somewhat different from one another. 

User Research and Usability Testing are both implemented by companies to improve the entire user experience of a brand audience. They both aid in the interpretation of user perception and input. In order to ensure the best results, it is important for companies to respond to both of these research methods. In order to build user-centric products and services, companies need to ensure that user analysis and usability testing are also part of the design process. So then, whats the difference? How are they different from each other?

What exactly is User Research?

User Research is a concept that means getting an in-depth understanding of user needs, user requirements, user behaviour, and user perception. A compiled report of the above-mentioned data helps organizations connect with a section of their target audience and get first-hand feedback about their products and services. This is a process where participants are asked to complete a certain set of tasks like completing the check-out, adding personal details, finding certain options so on and so forth. A team of expert moderators then observe how these participants go about completing the assigned tasks and identifying difficulties and roadblocks they face while doing so. Once a report about the pain-points, problems, difficulties, etc. is gathered, design experts then use the data to create design prototypes that meet user expectations. This process is repeated at multiple stages during a project to ensure the best results.

If that is User Research, then what is Usability testing?

Usability Testing refers to a methodology or process used to assess how the end-user uses a particular product or service and how easy it is to communicate with it. This is done at the end of the day when a product is operating and consumers can actually use it and provide input. This helps to decide how good the product or service would be, how popular it will be among users, how much users will be comfortable paying for it, etc. 

The end goal of both User Research and Usability Testing is very beneficial for businesses. They both help understand user behaviour and user perception about a particular product or service. However, they both are still very different from each other and if magnified closer, they both also have different result metrics for brands. Now that we know what User Research and Usability Testing are, let’s further understand how they both differ from one another and how they have very different ways of execution.

2 reasons how User Research differs from Usability Testing?

Most people think that User Research and Usability Testing are very similar. This is however not correct. Yes, they do to some extend have the same end goal for any business yet differ from each other at multiple folds. User Research can be considered as an umbrella which has various kinds of techniques and methodologies that aim to identify and understand user behavior and perception about different products and services.

When they both should be conducted?

Whenever a design process is set there are different stages with different agendas. All aligned and well structured in a chronological order to deliver the best outcomes. Before a project starts the steps that need to be followed are laid and every department is allotted their specifications. In the same way, User Research and Usability Testing also have their well-planned slots in design processes. On one hand, where User Research can be done at all stages, on the other hand, Usability Testing can be conducted once the product or service is ready and functional. User Research can be conducted before the project begins, while the project is on, and even at later stages because this helps understand user behaviour throughout the journey to help and enhance the overall user experience at multiple levels. However, Usability Testing, it is done once the product or service is ready and users get to experience the product/service on their own and then give their feedback about the usability of that particular product or service.

So, User Research can be conducted at all stages during a project and can be done multiple times for better outcomes and Usability Testing is done once a particular product or service is ready to use and is functional.

What should one expect from each one of them?

Both, User Research and Usability Testing have different levels of expert techniques and methods to gauge user perception about a product or service. From User Research one can get complete insight about what users expect from a brand and how brands can enhance their product or service to meet user expectations. However, Usability Testing on the other hand is conducted to understand how usable and user-friendly a product or service is. In this, users are given a particular product or service and moderators observe the level of difficulty or ease users find while engaging with it.

With User Research one can expect answers related to how to enhance a product/service during the design process based on user feedback. Usability Testing gives answers to questions related to a product/service is made to check how users react to it and how they interact with it.

In conclusion

Both User Research and User Testing add equal value to the whole design process. Although User Research offers a deeper understanding of user behaviour and feedback, Usability Testing helps to identify usability problems for a product or service. Both of these approaches are extremely necessary in order to make every design a success.

Usability Testing refers to the ease of use of a particular product or service, and User research means to get an understanding of what consumers feel about a company or its goods and services that articulate universal principles. They both help to improve the customer experience of a product and add sense and relevance to what the brand has to bring to its target audience. If one of these approaches were ignored in any way during the design process, there may be greater issues in the future that brands may have to contend with.

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Concluding message

A well-designed website for users with disabilities is a site that is more accessible to use for all types of users.

A well-designed digital business can easily explain the process of online buying and selling for users with disabilities and can add more value to the business.

Therefore, add some mint into the users’ cup of tea and provide an accessible zest to your digital assets by making it more compliant.

Feel free to get in touch with TECHVED Consulting!

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Jay Anthony

Marketing Head | TECHVED Consulting India Pvt. Ltd.

He led efforts to develop a fully integrated marketing communications plan and growing team. He is responsible for successful corporate re-brand and update of all branded assets.

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