Usability preference testing is when two images/wireframes/screenshots are shown side by side, and users are asked to make a choice on which one they prefer based on the test criteria that you set for them – generally along the lines of a ‘which design do you prefer?’.
Preference testing is really useful for testing a range of different things: it can help you to better understand conventions in design (as shown in our ‘The User Experience and Psychology of Colour’ article on Spyre Studios), for example looking at preferences across cultures and understanding how small differences can affect your users. As with A/B usability tests, there is a huge range of different aspects you could test in this way, from colour palettes to navigation wording.
IntuitionHQ makes it simple to set up a preference usability test. Here’s a step by step guide:
Step 1 – Write your test
Follow steps 1 and 2 from our IntuitionHQ quick guide post in order to set up your test. Once you are presented with the first ‘Question for task’ screen enter a question worded to direct the user to click the screenshot they prefer for example:
Q. Click on the image of the buttons you prefer.
Then upload a screenshot that displays each design side by side, in this example the screenshot and question are testing wording preferences on the buttons:
In this case the testers would be familiar with the site and the process the buttons represent. Using a preference test gives an idea of what works for users and helps confirm initial thoughts on design and structure.
Step 2: Interpreting results
As with other types of usability testing with IntuitionHQ, view the results on each question/task by clicking ‘replies’ in the Project Overview:
Your results will show you where the majority of participants have clicked and therefore which design was preferred by participants. You’ll also be able to see the average length of time participants took to respond. A lengthy average response time can indicate a couple of potential issues – either your question was confusing or the differences between designs were indistinct. Either way it’s definitely an indication that something hasn’t been clear to participants.
With the rise and rise of mobile use and mobile applications, preference testing isn’t just for websites, consider testing your apps as well, here’s an example of a popular social networking site and how IntuitionHQ could be used to test user preference in navigation:
Q. Which navigation layout do you prefer?
Consulting users on their preference can be useful to either confirm the usability of your site or highlight areas in which there are problems. Once you have the results of your test you can decide if one route is more appropriate than another or make further changes and re test. Preference testing gives you an insight into what the user finds most effective.