Have you ever wondered what the difference is between user testing and usability testing? Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a significant distinction between the two. The similarity between the two is purpose. Both aim to discover functionality issues and UX design flaws that impact the overall user experience.

Because of this crossover, it’s no wonder why so many business owners, web designers, web developers, and digital marketers mix them up. So in this blog post, we’ll break down the differences between user testing and usability testing and explain why both are essential stages in understanding your users’ needs.

We’ll also discuss usability and user testing tools like our FullSession that helps you gather user feedback and optimize your website, web app, and landing pages accordingly. Our team of researchers has worked tirelessly on creating a comprehensive tool that lets you collect quantitative and qualitative data efficiently. FullSession includes session recording and replay, interactive heatmaps, and customer feedback.

So if you want to learn exactly how customers interact with your website and what sparks their interest, start a 14-day free trial and test FullSession now or learn more about it in this blog post. 

Let’s get right into it!


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User testing vs usability testing: The main difference 

User and usability testing are essential parts of designing websites, web apps, landing pages and mobile apps, but they’re not the same. User testing lets you observe how real-life users interact with a product. In contrast, usability testing focuses on identifying and solving specific usability problems and determining whether the product works correctly.

Generally, you should conduct user testing before launching a product and do usability testing throughout the development and design process. You can also do usability testing after a product is released to get feedback from users.

User testing vs usability testing: The purpose 

Usability and user testing help you identify how people use your product or diagnose issues before launching your product or service. Types of user and usability tests are very versatile. Standard user tests include multi-variant tests, heuristic evaluations, cognitive walkthroughs, and feedback gathering. On the other hand, popular usability tests include moderated and unmoderated tests, session recordings, heatmaps, and in-person testing.

User testing vs usability testing: When to use each

Start with the user and usability testing as soon as possible. Usability testing is critical during the development process because it helps you ensure that your product meets the needs of your users. However, you shouldn’t stop performing usability testing even after the product launch, especially if you plan to introduce new software features. Usability testing determines how easy it is for customers to use your product or website, so it’s essential to approach it thoroughly.

On the other hand, user testing is vital throughout the entire product lifecycle. User testing methods like surveys and market research are great before launch to gather ideas. Other techniques, like A/B testing, should be done post-launch to ensure that your product meets the quality levels that your customers expect.

You can use convenient usability testing tools like FullSession to identify potential usability issues and weak spots on the website, web app, or landing page by using interactive heatmaps, customer feedback form, and session recordings and replays. FullSession combines important user and usability testing features to help you analyze user behavior and provides insights on friction points that may lead to cart abandonment or affect conversion rates.

Interactive heatmaps work in real-time, and they show you exactly what the user pays attention to. It uses visual data to showcase results – red and warm-colored areas users interact with the most, while blues and colder colors represent areas users interact with the least.

FullSession Tool

Session recordings are a unique way to determine which parts of the website users have issues navigating. FullSession session recording tool captures each user session in detail, which you can replay and see what caused the customer to leave your website.

FullSession Insights

The customer feedback form lets you collect insights directly from website visitors. FullSession has a convenient editor that enables you to create accessible and attractive website feedback forms in minutes. We’ll discuss creating a user feedback form with FullSession below, so stay tuned.

User testing vs usability testing: The testing process

Types of usability tests

Several different usability testing methods help you discover usability issues and improve the final product. Let’s see how you can use them to optimize the overall user experience.

  1. Unmoderated and moderated usability testing

Unmoderated usability testing includes choosing a group of participants who would test your product or service on their devices, at home, without researchers monitoring them. It’s excellent for simulating real-world experience.

On the other hand, moderated testing requires researchers to participate and observe users. At the same time, users perform specific activities, such as setting up the application, browsing products, or navigating your website. You can conduct moderated testing in a lab setting to ensure that all users have the same equipment.

  1. Guerilla testing

Guerilla testing is a great way to get feedback on your prototype by presenting it publicly. It is more cost-effective because you don’t need to spend funds gathering a dedicated focus group. You only need random people on the street who agree to see or test your product.

The only downside is that this method doesn’t show how the product would appeal to specific user groups — it focuses on the general public. Because you’re testing random participants, not all of them will be in your niche interest group. So if you’re in early-stage development, you might want to lean towards more traditional methods such as surveys and user feedback.

  1. Session recordings

Session recordings and replays are one of the most effective ways of seeing how users navigate your website. Tools like FullSession let you record a user’s every move while on your website. So, for example, if the user bails before finalizing a purchase, you will identify the exact point at which the user decided to exit. It helps you diagnose potential issues and lets you modify your pages accordingly.

How to conduct a usability test?

The best way to conduct a usability test is to use a tool like FullSession for analyzing your website and identifying specific usability problems. You can watch user interaction with your website and analyze user activity through website heatmaps and session recordings. We also provide a customer feedback feature that lets you create customer feedback forms quickly. Setting up FullSession is easy, and it only requires a couple of steps:

  1. Sign up for a free account
FullSession signup
  1. Confirm your email address and connect your website to FullSession
  2. Get your recording code
  3. Confirm installation 
  4. Access each tool through your dashboard

Types of user tests

You can use various user research methods to gather actionable data on what works on your website and what doesn’t. We’ll mention several types of user tests below that are the most common and most effective.

  1. A/B testing

The most famous user test is an A/B test or a multivariant test. It involves showing users two different versions of a product or service and then measuring which one performs better. A/B tests can be conducted online or in-person and often test a website or app changes.

  1. Focus group

Another popular type of user research is focus groups. It involves gathering a group of users to discuss their thoughts on a product or service. Focus groups can be conducted in-person or online and help you get feedback on a new product or service before it’s launched.

  1. Surveys and feedback

Finally, surveys and feedback are another user assessment tool that is great for learning more about what goes on inside your customer’s head. Surveys and feedback collection can be conducted online or in-person and can be used to ask users about their thoughts on a variety of topics or specific features on your website.

How to conduct user testing?

To conduct user testing, you’ll need to observe users while using your product. You can do this by watching them interact with the product or by asking them to complete specific tasks. You’ll also need to ask users for feedback about their experience using the product. FullSession can help you gather customer feedback with ease and in real-time.

Here’s how to create your feedback form with FullSession:

  • Confirm your email address and connect your website to FullSession
  • Open your dashboard and navigate to the Feedback section at the top of the page
Fullsession Feedback
  • Click on the New feedback widget option
FullSession feedback widget
  • Name your widget and add a description (for identification purposes)
FullSession Feedback Widget
  • Select language, position on the page, reactions style, and accent colors
FullSession Feedback Widget
  • Customize the messages your customers will see when prompted to leave feedback. Toggle buttons on and off to select different feedback form options
FullSession Feedback Widget
  • Choose the devices you’d like to collect feedback from
FullSession Feedback Widget
  • Choose whether you’d like to receive the data in your personal or team inbox by toggling the button
FullSession Feedback Widget
  • Before you finish, you’ll see a quick checklist that confirms you took all steps correctly before publishing
FullSession Feedback Widget
  • Once the checklist is complete, you’ll be able to activate the feedback form. Press Start incoming feedback to enable the widget
FullSession Feedback Widget

That’s it! You’ll receive notifications anytime a user fills out the feedback form. You can also access this data by navigating to the Feedback panel and checking the Incoming feedback section.

FullSession Feedback Widget

As you can see, creating interactive feedback forms has never been easier with FullSession. Start a free trial and see how our user analytics tool can help you boost conversions.

User testing vs usability testing: The benefits

User testing and usability testing are two important methods for evaluating the user experience of a product. Both have their benefits, so let’s compare them to see which one best fits your needs.

Benefits of website usability testing

  • Improved usability – When you fix usability issues, your website becomes easier to use, and people are more likely to achieve their goals on your website. It can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and increase conversions and revenue.
  • Increased efficiency – With a more efficient website, people will be able to find what they’re looking for faster and will be less likely to abandon your website  feeling frustrated.
  • Improved user satisfaction – A well-designed website that’s easy to use will make your users happy, leading to increased brand loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Increased conversions – When a website is easy to use, people are more likely to complete the tasks they set out to do. It can lead to increased sales and conversions.
  • Reduced support costs – Easy-to-use websites typically require less support, leading to reduced expenses.
  • Increased customer retention – Happy customers are more likely to stay with your company, while unhappy customers are more likely to leave.
  • Improved search engine ranking – A well-optimized website that’s easy to use is more likely to rank high in search engine results pages.
  • Increased market share – You can improve your market share and attract new customers in the process.

Benefits of website user testing

  • Diagnosing hidden issues – User testing can help you find usability issues that you may not have been aware of, such as problems with your website layout, design, or content.
  • Understanding users better – It lets you see how people use your website, which can be very different from how you think they use it. This feedback can be priceless for understanding what works well on your website and what doesn’t.
  • Improved user experience and user-friendliness – User testing can help you make your website more user-friendly by identifying and addressing usability issues. It can also help you understand how users interact with your website, which can help you make your website easier to use.
  • Improved conversions – User testing sessions can help you increase conversions on your website by identifying and addressing why customers decide to leave your website.
  • Fewer customer support inquiries – It helps you enjoy reduced customer support inquiries by identifying and addressing usability issues. If a website is easy to use, no one will have questions about how it works.

Improve website usability with FullSession

So what’s the difference between user testing and usability testing? User testing is the process of observing people as they use your product or website. On the other hand, usability testing is a more formal evaluation that measures how easily users can complete specific tasks on your site.

We offer powerful tools that make it easy to record and analyze user behavior so you can identify areas for improvement and create a fantastic user experience. FullSession helps you learn why customers exit the website, why your cart abandonment rate is high, or why some elements on your website don’t convert as well as others. 

If you want to conduct usability and user tests with FullSession, start a 14-day free trial. No credit card required.

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