Alternative phrase for user testing



We are thinking to eliminate the word “testing” from our vocabulary to make it more user-friendly and human-oriented. We could start using the term “Design validation”.
On the other hand, Jakob Nielsen has said: “The phrase “validate the design” discourages teams from finding and following up on UX issues in user testing”

What are your thoughts?


I don’t think validate is the right word. It implies that you have a solution which you think is done and want validation of, rather than a work in progress.

I’m curious though – what is wrong with the word ‘testing’? Are you concerned that the user will think it’s them being tested (rather than the design)? If that’s the case, what about ‘product testing’?

(And welcome, by the way!)


Another solution is in how you word the initial question when trying to find participants. We ask people if they would like to join our ‘testing panel’ and help us by giving us feedback on new features. This makes it clear what you’re expecting of them from the start and they aren’t the ones being tested.

I do think ‘product testing’ could be a good solution though if you really want to get rid of the term.



I tend to go with ‘usability testing’ because we test usability, not users! :grinning:


We have a rule in our organisation - we never use “user testing” as we’ve never testing the user.
We just use “research”, “user research” or “design research”, as in “we’re doing some research on/about X”. This works for us as we do design research at all stages of our projects - the techniques and the nature of the research will change as the project changes.


User experience research or UX research is what I’d recommend.


What does everyone think of the term “experiment” instead of “testing”?


I think it speaks to a slightly different thing. You can do experiments as part of testing.


I think Hawk’s hit what I feel is an issue here.

When you’re developing models, simulations, predictions, or anything else, the Verification stage is done early on to make sure that your artifact matches the data you currently have. After you’ve built it, you Validate to make sure that what do did hit your goal.

Taken from that perspective, the use of “validation” in this context risks two things: watering down the importance of verification/validation, and pushing UX further towards the reactive, design-approval role that its constantly fighting to move away from. Validation is important to close the loop and provide the iteration that any human-centered design thrives on.