Desirability testing
Last modified on Tue 19 Dec 2023


Let's get real—people are not just logical, they're emotional. A well-functioning product might tick off practical boxes, but what turns users into advocates is how a product makes them feel. Desirability testing is a controlled vocabulary test of software's or brand’s look & feel. It can help you capture user preferences and evaluate the emotional and aesthetic appeal of a product.

Why conduct desirability testing

Desirability testing gives you quantifiable data on those subjective attributes that users might otherwise struggle to articulate. Here are some examples of user research questions that can be answered using desirability testing:

Getting It Done: The Execution

Desirability testing is one of the fastest user research techniques, and you can combine it with other methods like user interviews, usability testing, etc. You can use Useberry, Typeform or any other tool of your choice to conduct desirability testing.

The test itself is very simple — you give users the list of product reaction words and ask them to select those that best describe the design (normally three out of them). Next to the words, you can simply show the screenshot of your screen(s) or brand attributes.

This extensive and comprehensive list of 118 product reaction words can be used for the study. You will see that it includes words that display visual appeal, copy used, functionality, user experience as a whole…

Now, choosing your vocabulary list is an art in itself. Aim for a balanced mix, like a well-crafted playlist. A list of 118 product reaction words may sound like overkill, but the words are there for a reason'. Here are some pro tips for list selection:

When it comes to the number of participants in desirability testing, think of it this way: one is better than zero, but a hundred is leagues ahead. While even a single participant can provide valuable qualitative feedback, ramping up the numbers—especially if you're looking for quantitative insights—gives your data the kind of robust, statistical clout that makes your findings both compelling and credible. So, in the world of desirability testing, the more the merrier indeed!

Data Analysis

With the help of Useberry (or Typeform, or any other tool) we suggest that you:

Did You Know?

The first-ever desirability test was coined as "Microsoft reaction cards" back in 2002. And now you’re carrying the torch.

An example of six opposing design perception attributes