Depending on what we want to learn and the fidelity of the designs we are testing, there are a few techniques we can use within usability testing.

Concept test

We use this when we want to test a concept of a solution, rather than the interface itself. The concept test is the closest to generative research we have in usability testing. It does not require a fully designed prototype, and arguably it should not be too ‘designed’. We just need something to help explain the general idea of the solution. This could be a video, an advert, a simple drawing or a storyboard.

Prototype test

This is the most common type of usability test and usually includes some of the concept areas as well as larger interactions on the interface. With a prototype test, we focus on comprehension, learnability, information hierarchy, choice architecture, and value proposition. Even within prototype testing, we can have different fidelity levels of prototypes depending on what we learn. The more conceptual we need to test, the lower the fidelity needs to be, but the more detailed and interaction-based the test is, the higher the fidelity needs to be.

Live site test

This is the most statistically driven test with detailed task analysis. We look at the time it takes to complete specific actions and the success vs failure rate. This is the most accurate representation of what your customers will actually be experiencing with load times, real data, and a fully functional front end.