So I was reading several articles about usability evaluation methods and when I discovered that methods like cardsorting or treetesting ARE usability evaluation methods I got super confused. Specially because some articles mentioned all this methods as part of a group called "usability evaluations" and some called it "usability testing" methods. But if these are ALL usability testing methods, then: how do you call the usability testing that is done in labs or remote?

So I started creating a list of what I understood would be all the methods and I decided to follow a NNgroup name for the group since in an article they mention these as "usability evalutions" (not usability testings).

And I wanted to check if my understanding is correct. I will add below the list I came up from my research.

"Usability evaluation" methods list:

  1. Usability testings (moderated/unmoderated,remote/virtual)
  2. First-click test
  3. Tree testing
  4. 5 second test
  5. Form analysis
  6. card sorting
  7. Content evaluations (such as "online feedback pop-up window", "Comprehension survey" or "highlighter test")
  8. Eye tracking

Is this list of methods correct? and is it correct to call this group of methods "usability evaluation methods" and inside include the "usability testing" method?

Thank you in advance,

  • 1
    I wouldn't consider card sorting and tree testing "usability tests." They're more like up-front research to help you determine how the Info Arch should be designed. Usability testing has users interact with a designed system to test its usability. Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 12:46
  • The 'testing' bit implies that users are given "a task" to complete. It's a test as there can be a success / fail outcome ( as well as all the observational data you can collect ).
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 12:56

3 Answers 3


I wouldn't get too hung up on the labelling. All of these techniques could be labelled 'measuring'. User Testing implies there's a user to test on. Tree testing could be user tested (where are users looking for or would expect to find content in a large navigation set) or non-user tested where it's simply laid out into manageable chunks for specific reasons - e.g. cash machines do a LOT of tree testing.

Evaluation is simply a catch-all for both evaluating and testing. See the following:


Your list is not complete (if you wanted an extensive one it would be huge). And personally, I think a list like that is not instructive as to the purpose.

I did a piece of work for a client that mapped out the types of research they would use in different situations (I think most of it is stolen from elsewhere). From Qualitative to quantitative and behavioural and attitudinal - each one comes with a playbook listing on how to run them. It's also not comprehensive (there's no Kano modelling or tree testing on there as I felt they lived under user testing which itself is extensive) but I'm sure a well seasoned UX research would put you straight.



My organization does a fair amount of Shadowing, where researchers just sit with users to see how they interact with the system. We're also learning more about what they do in their job, essentially getting a fuller knowledge of their needs and behaviors.

This is different from Usability Testing in that we don't assign tasks and the user doesn't think aloud. We're as invisible as possible, just observing.


You can 'evaluate' usability as an 'expert' user (i.e. someone with lots of experience in the design of usable interfaces), and you can even test the usability of interfaces with internal design teams (e.g. a 'sanity' check).

So I wouldn't get too hung up on the terminology as mentioned in other answers, but focus on the type of answers you want to get, the audience for the activity/method, the way it is carried out and then label it something that makes sense to all the people involved. You'll find that most of these activities/methods already have defined terms.

I am sure we'll keep coming up with new methods as more tools and technology become mature and used more commonly (are there some AR/VR tools out there?), so it is hard to keep a list of all the methods, like it is very hard to keep a list of all the tools (not that it stops people from trying).

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