User Research is an essential part of digital development.
Users can mean anyone using a website or browser based system. The Online Estate Services Programme is primarily focusing on prospective students, current students and members of staff.
Definitions of user research include:
- Usability testing: Testing a service to see how easy to use it is
- User testing: Testing a service with users, could be more than usability, not testing the users!
- User research: Researching users needs and how they use services, may include testing
The distinctions are very subtle and all three terms are used interchangeably by most people in the industry.
However it’s important to note that User Research (including usability testing and user testing) is not the same as User Acceptance Testing.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT):
- Verifies that the deliverables meet the agreed requirements
- Tests whether code works as intended
- Evaluates the development phase
Whilst User Testing:
- Verifies that the user can use the system
- Tests whether the product meets the user’s needs
- Evaluates the whole product development process
User testing should be factored into all digital development at UAL and throughout the life cycle of the project.
Leaving user testing until the end of the project means that changes will more than likely not be able to be made easily to the system/website.