Moderated Testing Vs. AB Testing - What's the Difference

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Moderated and A/B testing are the types of usability and user testing that involve the use of distinctive techniques to ensure conversion optimization. In fact, they are not entirely different, but two sides of the same coin. Below we will discuss more about A/B and moderated testing.

One of the main purposes for using these usability testing methods is to optimize the overall website experience for the users and potential customers. Ultimately, the end results are higher conversions that lead to loyal and retained customers for your business.

However, they may have separate purposes depending on the use. Commonly, moderated testing is the first step to collect qualitative data regarding the test participants’ interaction with the product or service. Therefore, learning the key strengths and weaknesses (i.e., differences) between the two can help you choose the one most suitable for your use.


Moderated testing




Moderated testing allows you and your user experience teams to engage with the potential customers or site visitors who interact with your website. Moderated testing allows you to observe how people interact with your website. Moreover, you are able to assess the functionality, design help, and many features of your website.

For instance, people may find it troublesome to add products to the cart on your website. Therefore, you can run an error assessment and employ a much better user interface that solves the identified problem or others.


A/B testing




In simple words, A/B testing compares two separate yet similar web pages. The aim is to assess the success rate, relevance, and performance of each of the web pages.

Thus, one might offer a higher user-friendly interface, potential customer conversion rate, and better use of the available features. Further, comparing two web pages makes it easy to identify which one is offering better site conversions, sales potential, lesser cart abandonments, higher content engagement, and, of course, the bouncing rate.

However, the key limitation of A/B testing is that you cannot engage with potential customers and participants for all the goals at once. In reality, A/B testing limits you to one goal at a time (e.g., higher content engagement).


What’s the difference?

If you are looking for quantifiable results, A/B testing should be your ultimate approach. Conversely, if you are trying to determine the qualitative responses (behavior, usability, interactions, etc.) of the site visitors and potential customers, Moderated testing should be your choice.


A/B testing (strengths and weaknesses)


  • Flexible
  • Higher number of points of change on every web page
  • Quantifiable data and results (for example, ROI simulations or Key Performance Indicators)
  • Inexpensive and requires minimal effort
  • Real-time monitoring


  • Test results are often inaccurate or irrelevant
  • Extensive preparation criteria
  • Large site visits are necessary to generate statistical data and modules


Moderated testing


  • Potentially workable at every instance to improve user experience
  • Better customer behavior and interactive knowledge
  • Helps identify better sources of data to ensure improvement in new areas of the company (i.e., website)


  • The results are limited to a specific set or group of people
  • Requires significant time and investment
  • Largely theoretical results
  • Rarely any quantifiable and representable data for the company



Conclusively, it is valid to assume that both usability testing methods can complement each other under the right circumstances. In simple terms, you can begin with a moderated usability test to identify user pain points. Next, you can perform A/B testing to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of the changes that you consider.


Sweta Patel


Sweta manages omni-channel marketing at TryMyUI and has previously worked as a Startup Growth Advisor for Plug and Play Center and 500Startups.



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By Sweta Patel

Sweta manages omni-channel marketing at TryMyUI and has previously worked as a Startup Growth Advisor for Plug and Play Center and 500Startups.

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