Preference tests should take place early in the design process to help uncover what the target audience actually needs and prefers. But they are usable any time during the design process when you need feedback or to learn what users like better. Preference testing is similar to A/B testing but instead of focusing on how the variations of your designs perform you are focusing on what users prefer or explore the feelings, your designs evoke and why.
Once you have come up with different variations of your designs, show them to your users. Let them choose which one they prefer. Understand what is important to them and why.
What is Preference Testing and why is it so helpful?
In a preference study, users are presented with different variations of the design and asked to choose the one that appeals to them the most. Preference tests are useful especially in the early stages of the designing process, as they help you understand what your users like to see before the final prototypes of the design are prepared for developers. This can save you a lot of time and create a better perception of the product right from the beginning.
Another popular use case is to use preference testing during re-designs as you can test multiple new variations of the design or even include the already existing – you might even learn that you should leave it as it is. You can also use it to polish up your finished designs by asking your users what kind of copy or a shape of button they like more.
In summary, preference tests will make you understand
- What elements are more important or more appealing to your users
- How users perceive your design and how they feel about it
What can be tested using preference testing?
It depends on which part of your design you want to test. Is it the logo? The color scheme? Style of the icons, text, or the pictures used? Decide which element of the website you need to validate and create 2-3 versions of that element.
Participants will be then asked to choose their preference from these 2-3 design variations. Usually, the test is followed by a short survey (we highly recommend using questionnaires to ask follow-up questions) to identify the reasoning behind their choices. Remember that just 2 or 3 versions are enough for the test, as it will be much easier for the participants to decide.
Best online Preference Testing Tools list
Quick overview of our favorite tools that are capable of running preference tests.
UXtweak is a UX research platform with all kinds of tools for online user research and user testing in one place. Preference Test Tool is one of them. The tester is provided with all the documentation on How to set up Preference Test Study as well as how to Interpret Preference Test results collected in the study.
The UI of this tool is very simple and intuitive, where all functions can be easily found in the menu. It is completely up to the researcher what kind of questions will be asked, how the task will be presented to the user, and also, who can become a respondent.
With UXtweak you can:
- Add a welcome and a final screen with any text, images, or links
- Use preference testing to test images, text, and audio
- Set up the tasks
- Write messages and instructions for participants
- Create questionnaires
- Recruit users on your own or with the help of Recruitment Widget or in-app user panel
- Use your own brand colors
There is a free forever plan for small-scale projects, and the Pro plan starts at 70€ (83$) / month, where you get unlimited tasks and participants, access to all tools, custom branding, and PDF reports. For more information see UXtweak pricing.
UsabilityHub is a remote user research platform with different testing tools to validate any design decision on videos, logos, packaging, or animations.
Preference testing by UsabilityHub has a simple interface with a few basic functions
- Add welcome and final screen
- Add designs to be tested
- Write follow up questions
It can also automatically calculate statistical significance when comparing two designs to let the tester know the conclusivity of the results.
Free version is available only for testing that lasts a maximum of 2 minutes. and the Basic plan starts at 67€ (79$) / month, where you can test up to 5 minutes and the Pro plan costs 168€ (199$) / month with multi-user plans, unlimited tests, and custom branding.
A user testing service that collaborates with popular prototyping platforms such as Xd, Figma, or Sketch.
Useberry recommends testing microcopies, CTAs, variation performance, and design variations.
With their tool, you are able to:
- Select a preference type (image or text)
- Create a task
- Add follow-up questions
- Include intro and thank you screen
With a free plan you can collect up to 10 responses. The basic plan costs 28€ (33$) / month and allows 3 projects. Pro plan is 57€ (67$) / month, which contains an unlimited number of tests and responses.
SurveyMonkey is a survey platform that helps companies measure and understand feedback to drive their growth and innovation. It focuses specifically on collecting feedback from either users, customers, or employees through surveys. Its interface is suitable for more advanced users.
There is not a tool called Preference test particularly, but by creating a survey, you are able to collect feedback and other data in a way that can substitute preference study. This platform may be better for someone who wants to send out simple questionnaires because only the Pro plan lets you have access to all features and analysis reports.
However, there is also a tool similar to Preference Study called Product Concept Analysis – “Get your product concepts, feature optimizations, and ideas validated by a trusted audience – in less than an hour.” Using this advanced tool starts at 1566€ (1850$).
There is a free version of SurveyMonkey, but the features available are very limited. Personal plan then starts at 43€ (50$) / month, and the team plan (minimum 3 users) starts at 34€ (40$) / month. All plans are paid annually, which might be a disadvantage for occasional users.
Maze is a remote user testing platform that allows you to test anything from prototypes to copy. It gathers user feedback in one place and collects actionable insights across the teams.
Maze allows you to:
- Build your test as you want block-by-block
- Choose from pre-made templates
- Include welcome and final screen
Maze, as all the platforms above have its free version, allowing up to 3 projects. The Pro plan starts at 21€ (25$) available for up to 10 projects.
Pick your favorite tool and start testing today
We hope that this quick overview helped you compare these popular tools. The fact is that all of the tools above are intuitive and reliable. It is then up to you to decide which tool meets your needs the best. It is important that the tools you use always provide the right features for your case and can analyze collected data clearly.
If you are interested in learning more about usability testing, check out our article explaining how to formulate questions for your research.