User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and User Testing sound similar and are sometimes misconstrued as one in the same, but User Testing (performed at the beginning or middle of the project) informs strategy, features and success metrics, while UAT (performed just prior to launch) is the final gate to ensure the system functions properly before releasing it to users. At Brown Bag, we believe all great digital user experiences need both.
User Testing – Will your users buy into your idea?
During User Testing, a user experience designer typically interviews and observes target users to explore ideas and identify features or changes that will be highly valuable to the users. Since business success hinges on solving a user problem or enhancing a user’s experience, it is important to validate that the user cares about the problem you are solving for them. When User Testing is performed at the beginning of the project, it is typically prior to a website or application redesign. It is used to pinpoint areas where the website or application is meeting user needs and identify opportunities for improvement. The goal is to augment the user’s experience and avoid frustrating the user with unwanted changes or features. User Testing helps design teams identify what is working just as much as what is not working.
When conducted in the middle of a project, User Testing is typically performed using a prototype of the future system prior to any in-depth development. The prototype simulates the design with target users in an effort to identify flaws in the design that can be fixed prior to development.
UAT – Does the system live up to the requirements?
User Acceptance Testing comes at the end of a project and can include target users, but generally it consists of client-selected employees who will maintain the website and its content post-launch. This set of users is not representative of the target user who will either make the website a business success or failure.
UAT is less observational and focused more on having the system approved for launch. The website U1group.com proposes that UAT is a process that “is meant to ensure that any system, before going live, meets all business requirements agreed upon. “ (U1group.com) Like the name says, User Acceptance Testing verifies that the system will be received well and functions properly avoiding any unforeseen failures.
At Brown Bag Marketing, we bring our clients the best of both worlds. Our User Experience team conducts User Testing to ensure business success, and our Technology team conducts UAT to ensure client satisfaction prior to launch.