17 types of tests UX teams run with UserTesting

Posted on March 15, 2024
12 min read


Optimizing the user experience (UX) requires a flexible understanding of user perspectives across various scenarios. Methodologies like card sorts, tree tests, and longitudinal studies each reveal unique insights, but applying user research takes time and coordination.

UserTesting consolidates an expanding framework of techniques through one platform. The ability to quickly configure and run studies provides UX designers with continual access to customer feedback for the right decisions at the right time. Here's a look at 17 essential testing capabilities UX design teams can run on UserTesting.

1. Concept testing

Concept testing gathers early feedback on a proposed idea, message, or design. The main objective is to gain insights into user understanding of the concept and their interest in using the associated product or feature. It's also useful for gauging user reactions to marketing campaigns or content ideas during the early development phase.

UserTesting simplifies the process of creating concept tests by allowing participants to provide feedback on images, documents, or mock-ups via links in the test plan. Through the note feature, UX designers can also set expectations upfront that the contributors are evaluating a concept rather than a fully interactive product. This helps focus the feedback on the concept itself rather than functionality. 

When reviewing multiple concepts, our Balanced Comparison feature can be used to reduce potential order bias (also known as sequence bias) in the testing process. It creates two sections in the test: Part A and Part B. This feature automatically alters the order in which contributors see Part A and Part B to counter any influence the sequence may have on the contributor's reactions.

2. Prototype testing

Once a concept and design direction have been settled upon, a prototype of the product or experience is created so that the basic assumptions behind it can be tested. UserTesting's integration with design tools like Figma gives UX design teams the ability to quickly gather feedback on how users respond to initial flows and screens before pouring considerable resources into creating a higher fidelity MVP (minimum viable product).  

3. Usability testing

When a product gets developed, it becomes time for teams to see how people respond to it in the real world. Whether it's done pre-launch or for an existing product, usability testing examines the functionality and intuitiveness of your user interface and design. Users are given task-based scenarios that they must complete within an experience.

Oftentimes they're asked to speak out loud as they do so or answer a series of questions afterword. Examples might include navigating a new website design, going through a checkout flow, or finding a specific piece of information. Tools like click maps are used to find areas of confusion within an experience. The goal is to understand users, identify pain points, and discover opportunities to innovate. 

4. Longitudinal study

Longitudinal studies involve observing and collecting data from the same group of people over an extended period. This method provides a key understanding of how people act and engage with products and services through their habits and routines over time. It involves multiple research touchpoints with the people, including starting interviews to understand needs, remote unsupervised check-ins to gather real-world behavior data, and final interviews to ask more deeply about concerns gathered throughout the study.

UserTesting supports longitudinal research by enabling UX teams to easily recruit contributors for an extended engagement. UX research teams can easily leverage desktop and mobile screen recorders to capture product usage over several days.

5. Surveys

Surveys gather data from a representative group of people, usually 100+ respondents, to understand a larger population. In surveys, people share information about themselves or their opinions on certain topics and experiences. UX teams commonly use surveys to gather demographic details, measure satisfaction levels, and understand attitudes toward different subjects.

Before launching a full survey, UX teams can pilot test questions on the UserTesting platform to observe whether research participants grasp the questions and the available answer choices. Teams can also integrate Qualtrics surveys with UserTesting by selecting a portion of survey respondents to elaborate on their encounters with the product through recorded sessions. Additionally, UX researchers can utilize survey-style rating scales and multiple choice questions within tests. By pairing surveys with UserTesting, teams gain both quantitative and qualitative data to truly understand user perspectives.

6. One-on-one interviews

During a one-on-one interview, an interviewer engages with a research participant to explore their unique perspectives, insights, and personal experiences related to a particular subject matter. Interviews allow for more flexibility in gathering in-depth details from contributors and may find details that quantitative data can't express. UX teams commonly leverage one-on-one interviews in the discovery phase of UX research to identify the features users want and understand their needs in context.

UserTesting's Live Conversation feature enables the automation of one-on-one user interviews. This solution can automatically set up and schedule two-way video interviews across devices based on target audience parameters. Live Conversation also facilitates screen sharing, where contributors can share their reactions to prototypes or content in real time. As Live Conversation is compatible with iOS and Android devices, testers can conduct interviews in various contextual locations, such as participants' homes or stores, or even while they're on the move.

7. Card sorting

Card sorting is a UX research technique where contributors organize items into groups, revealing how people sort ideas into categories. UX teams leverage these findings when assessing information architecture (IA) for products, ensuring the organization aligns with user expectations. This methodology is especially helpful in determining logical content grouping early in website or app design.

UserTesting enables remote card sorting. Contributors think aloud while sorting "cards" into categories, with their feedback and behavior captured via video. UX designers can then easily analyze the card grouping results through both quantitative data and qualitative participant clips. Built-in visualizations show patterns in how items were categorized, as well as relationships between content, saving teams significant analysis time.

By making remote card sorting simple to execute, UserTesting allows UX designers to incorporate user perspectives into information architecture quickly. Products can then better meet expectations around the content organization and intuitiveness.

8. Competitive comparison

Competitive comparison allows UX teams to assess the experiences provided by their own products or services in comparison to those offered by one or more competitors. Also called competitive analysis, this reveals where competitors excel and where opportunities exist for teams to meet user needs better. To formalize competitive analysis further, teams can choose a competitor for a benchmark, and establish a baseline test. Then, UX designers can conduct subsequent tests to track changes over time and assess the effectiveness of design improvements.

The UserTesting platform enables UX teams to conduct ongoing competitive comparisons through unmoderated tests and balanced comparisons. Teams direct participants to competitor sites and then capture feedback. UserTesting's competitive comparison templates help teams synthesize the results of this feedback into easy-to-share insight reports. UserTesting also offers professional services for in-depth competitive benchmarking. Conducting regular competitive testing provides health checks on how experiences stack up against others. 

9. Qualitative sampling of an online survey

Surveys collect quantitative data from a large sample to make statistical claims about a population. However, survey responses lack qualitative context into why users select certain answers. Pairing it with qualitative sampling enriches survey data by having a subset of respondents record themselves thinking aloud while completing the survey.

UserTesting enables integration with Qualtrics surveys to facilitate qualitative sampling. When respondents finish their survey on the Qualtrics platform, it redirects them to provide additional context through a recorded UserTesting session. UX teams observe these video clips to gain insights into thought processes, feelings, and behaviors during the survey-taking experience. Tests typically include up to 10 respondents, striking a balance between qualitative detail and scale.

The integrated setup takes just minutes within the UserTesting platform and Qualtrics. Tests are then deployed to users. While aggregate survey results come through the Qualtrics dashboard as usual, the recorded qualitative data is available on UserTesting's metrics tab.

10. Diary study

Diary studies are a type of longitudinal research where contributors create regular "diary entries" of audio, text, images, or video over a defined period. Diary studies provide insights into how users engage with and respond to products and services in their daily lives over time.

UserTesting supports self-service diary study execution through a phased approach. UX researchers start by pre-screening contributors to find ideal participants via an unmoderated test. They create a group of qualified contributors and send a sequence of follow-up test touchpoints. Touchpoints combine moderated interviews to probe topics and unmoderated tests to gather diary content. Teams can schedule the tests to automate the launch.

With each entry, participants capture in-context experiences as they occur. Researchers gain longitudinal insights that are not possible in one-off tests. All tests are accessibly organized for analysis while keeping contributors engaged through ongoing messages about the next steps. However, due to a high drop-out rate of participants, using an option like UserTesting's Professional Services can help optimize the execution and staying power of this process.

11. Tree testing

Tree testing for UX evaluates the findability of topics within information architecture. Also called reverse card sorting, in this methodology, contributors are shown text-only site maps and asked to indicate where specific items exist. Tree testing reveals UX issues with IA organizations and the routes that people follow to find content. Tree testing early in UX design projects validates IA approaches and uncovers needed changes to best meet user expectations.

UserTesting provides built-in support for remote unmoderated tree testing. After creating a test plan, UX designers link to the tree testing app to build out their sitemap tree and associated findability tasks. With a sample size of 30–50 contributors, teams gain qualitative feedback from video clips and quantitative data on accuracy and time-on-task. Results clarify where contributors struggle to locate information within the IA. By watching participant videos, designers gain context into UX decision-making and pain points.

12. Focus group

focus group is a moderated discussion with multiple participants that gathers attitudes and feedback on a topic of interest. While less in-depth than interviews, focus groups emphasize breadth by covering more ground across more people quickly. The methodology reveals user perspectives and insights from real-time interactions between contributors.

UserTesting offers focus group execution through Professional Services. The specialists usually recruit groups of five target contributors and host online sessions via Zoom. A researcher moderates the discussion, presents concepts, and asks scripted questions while the recording continues. With multiple sessions, UX designers and researchers hear from a diverse qualitative sample. Transcripts and session videos capture rich group dynamics. By prompting candid group reactions, focus groups provide powerful directional guidance during product development cycles.

13. Preference testing

In preference testing, test participants compare and choose their preferred option from several designs. This type of testing evaluates elements such as visual appeal, user interactions, and the quality of content to determine what appeals most to users. These comparisons provide directional guidance for teams on elements to carry forward or leave behind. 

Following the preliminary context setting, participants engage with each option and then indicate their preference while explaining their decision-making. As concepts evolve, preference testing provides validation that UX teams are moving in the right direction by capturing user perspectives early and often.

14. A/B testing

A/B testing is a method that involves presenting different groups of users with alternative versions of a design to see which performs better based on conversion rates and other analytics. While it quantifies success, A/B testing UX does not provide qualitative data on why certain versions outperform others. That's where UserTesting delivers complementary value in an end-to-end solution.

Rather than conducting split tests themselves, UX teams leverage UserTesting to inform A/B approaches in two key ways: 

  1. Unmoderated platform tests quickly gather feedback to uncover pain points and opportunities in current designs. By flagging areas of weakness and confusion, UserTesting offers clear direction on where to focus experimentation through A/B testing. 
  2. After identifying a top-performing variation, UserTesting tests explain exactly why users responded better through recorded qualitative data. Watching sessions clarifies how messaging, layout, interactions, or other elements specifically boost performance.

In combination, UserTesting fuels continual optimization by spotlighting improvement areas for A/B testing and then contextualizing successful changes. UX teams spend less time guessing what to test and derive more meaning from the variants that work. Combining both practices delivers comprehensive design refinement tailored to user needs.

15. Omnichannel study

An omnichannel study analyzes experiences spanning digital channels like mobile apps and websites as well as brick-and-mortar stores and physical locations.

UserTesting supports omnichannel evaluation through a sequence of complementary tests. UX researchers first plan tests reflecting real-world cross-channel behavior, such as researching a product on a smartphone and then price-checking on a desktop. The same contributors take each test, providing cohesion. Over time, teams can understand a user's device preference patterns, identify usability issues earlier, and iterate experiences catered to habits. Capturing struggles and successes guides better interactions at every touchpoint, enabling brands to adapt and continually serve customers across various channels.

16. Multichannel study

multichannel study analyzes experiences across different devices and channels by having users complete identical tasks on each. It's different from omnichannel testing, which evaluates connected journeys spanning channels. The goal of multichannel testing is to ensure consistency for users across stand-alone touchpoints.

The UserTesting platform supports the easy implementation of multichannel studies. UX teams can assign device-specific groups to test independently or have individuals perform cross-device testing. Structuring tests to reflect key tasks, these studies reveal usability issues that may get overlooked while testing channels in isolation.

While traditionally more demanding to coordinate, UserTesting reduces the complexity of executing multichannel tests. As new channels continually emerge, ensuring usability keeps pace across touchpoints is vital to brand experience. Multichannel testing through UserTesting future-proofs products through informed consistency.

17. Benchmark study

Benchmark studies measure usability metrics over time to analyze progress. Teams establish a baseline test and then rerun iterations regularly. Benchmarks fuel ongoing optimization through persistent feedback compared to traditional one-off usability tests.

UserTesting makes benchmarking studies easy. UX teams start by determining the key questions and metrics to track over time. Then, they write a consistent script focused on basic, goal-oriented tasks without descriptive instructions that may change. After each task, they ask evaluative questions using rating scales or multiple choice to generate comparable data. When setting up the next round of testing, they can simply click "Create Similar Test" to replicate the study details. 

While teams don't need the same contributors each time, UX teams select the same number and type of users to match the demographics from the initial benchmark. Keeping the script and testers consistent allows for tracking performance changes over time.

Unlock breakthrough user experiences with UserTesting

UserTesting equips UX researchers designers to run diverse research methodologies with one end-to-end solution. The techniques detailed, from tree testing to diary studies and beyond, capture holistic insights across the product design life cycle.

As organizational needs evolve, UserTesting continually expands testing capabilities for UX teams. Integrated access to methodological breadth and depth fuels a greater understanding of customer perspectives. Designers can uncover nuanced pain points while benchmarking the progression of successful changes over time.

With flexible and scalable execution, UserTesting liberates the potential of human-centered design. The platform makes incorporating a wide range of techniques easy, allowing more focus on optimizing experiences people love. Let continual user insights guide your products to new heights. Book a consultation today.

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