Competitor Usability Testing

In Brief

Competitor usability testing is observing our target market use a competitor’s products or services to gain insights on the mindset of the user, common issues, and potential improvements in our own product. In some cases, the need for an entirely new product can be revealed. In other cases, we can gain insights on what parts of a competitor product are unnecessary.

This is almost identical but not to be confused with Competitive usability testing, which tests an existing product against existing competitors to establish which product is “winning.”

See also Usability Testing.

Helps Answer

  • What is the minimum feature set to solve the problem?
  • How important is design?


  • Value proposition
  • Key activities
  • Generative product research


The process of conducting competitor usability tests is the same as when testing our own product. However in this case we apply the same methodology to a different purpose by testing our competitor’s products or substitute goods.

Where usability testing is an evaluative test of our own product and seeks to verify that the product functions sufficiently to deliver the value proposition, competitor usability testing is a generative method intended to create potential ideas for a solution.

For example, to generate ideas on how to create a better U.S. tax experience, we could conduct usability testing on tax preparation in Sweden or India. The results and observations would not tell us whether the U.S. tax experience is good (it is not), but it may give us ideas around whether or not to improve the comprehensibility of the tax code, the tax submission process, the tax rules themselves, etc.

Time Commitment

See Usability Testing

How To

See Usability Testing but use a competitor’s products or a substitute good. For maximum idea generation, use different products.

Interpreting Results

Any results should be taken as generative and not evaluative. In addition, any ideas generated tend to be highly unstructured and piecemeal. So they must be properly integrated in a viable solution.

Before building a solution, any ideas should be tested via alternative generative product research methods such as solutions interviews or concierge testing.

Field Tips

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Case Studies



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