Preference Test
By Owen Fay . Posted on June 2, 2022

There are a few ways to quickly get feedback about the opinions of your users. The fastest and most effective way is to run a preference test.

Preference testing is a survey approach for determining which options of two or more variations of a resource are preferred by your customers. Participants in the study are given two options and asked to choose their favorite.

In this blog, we will walk you through what a preference test is, the benefits, what it can be used for, and the three steps to running a preference test with Poll the People. If you want to see some specific examples of preference testing for logos, digital ads, content, landing pages, and more here is our examples page.

What is a Preference Test?

These tests are frequently used to identify whether designs are the most visually appealing, engaging, and understandable. It’s a technique to get proof of concept before spending money on something that users might or might not prefer.

For example, while creating ads for a marketing campaign, we often wonder if we are using the best designs, words, tone, etc. for our target audience. That’s where a preference test can help, there’s no reason to rely on gut feeling or luck when you can validate your designs in minutes!

It has numerous advantages for all business owners, organizations, firms, or anyone that needs the option of their users. These includes:

  • A simple and effective way to obtain user feedback.
  • Simulates how people choose from several options while purchasing products or services.
  • They’re simple, cost-effective, and straightforward, making them suitable for any business

A preference test can be used to figure out how you want your logo, icon, color palettes, layout, prototype, subject matter, copy, and text to look. This feedback aids in the construction of a larger and more comprehensive picture, to find the best design for customers.

Logo preference test

For example, you can provide customers with two different logo designs for a brand. Users’ comments will not only reveal which designs they like but also why they prefer one over the other. Consumer feedback will provide you with vital information regarding your design, enabling you to make changes until you find the best solution.

After you’ve prepared your test subjects, design variants, and research questions, you can use Poll the People to conduct your preference test. Poll the People preference testing provides qualitative and quantitative data, allowing you to better understand what and why your users prefer a particular design.

What Goes Into a Preference Test?

Preference testing is particularly useful early in the life cycle of a product when you want to make sure the designs you are making will resonate with your audience. As a result, you get feedback early in the process and make changes as needed.

Preference testing generates both quantitative and qualitative data, allowing you to understand both the why and what of user opinions. Preference testing is one of the most straightforward user testing methods. It consists of three parts.

The Questions

the question

Plan how you’d like test participants to share their opinions depending on what you want to get out of the test.

You might be compelled to use a preference test to settle a disagreement between two versions. A question like “Which design is the best?” could provide this result. The problem is that, while the users are equipped to give their opinion, they are most likely not design experts.

Alternatively, you can propose more specific questions, like:

  • How easy was it for you to understand the information in the design?
  • What part of the design is most appealing?
  • What do you like or dislike about the options presented?

The degree of specificity enables you to precisely analyze your idea. If you want to ask a more generic question, we recommend “What design do you recommend?” because it encourages participants to think about their own preferences rather than which design is better.

Participants are far more equipped to speak about their preferences than they are to speak about what constitutes good design.

The Design Options or Variations

The second step for preference testing is to identify the variations for your preferred test, whether it’s logos, icons, ads, websites, or any other design. Preference testing is great for different versions of the same design with different copy, colors, images, etc. Participants “spot the difference” and make a decision.

Participants are presented with the options side by side before being asked to study each one individually to make a selection. If your design alternatives are too similar, your participants may fail to distinguish what they’re being asked to judge. Cropping a full-page design to focus on a specific region of variation isn’t a bad idea. Make sure to be specific about what you are testing.

With Poll the People preference testing you can assess different design formats, including JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, MP4s, Audio, and more. You can also use a combination or mix of these formats. It’s also not necessary for your preference test design options to be the different sizes or formats. Don’t worry if your assets don’t appear in the same dimensions.

Feedback From Users

Feedback from users

The third and most important part of preference testing is to gather feedback from users and analyze it. With Poll the People participants are required to choose their preferred variation and give a detailed explanation of why they choose it.

The results dashboard will give you both quantitative feedback showing you what design won and qualitative feedback that comes in the form of user explanations. You will be able to view, analyze, and share the data to understand the insights that help you optimize your designs and help with future decisions.

You can filter the responses into smaller groups to obtain a clearer idea of how many people had similar opinions or preferences. Qualitative feedback is critical because it enables you to identify new areas for improvement, helping with future design decisions.

The process of analyzing the results of a test isn’t very complicated, it will need text analysis to categorize answers and uncover patterns that lead to actionable insights. If there isn’t enough of a difference in preference for one design over another in either situation, you can run the test again. This time you can do it with a slightly different version of the model to see if you can get more decisive outcomes.

Statistical Significance

Statistical significance can be defined as the probability that the best design is picked and does not outperform the other designs by chance.

Depending on the sample size, you’ll get a different level of significance. Of course, the larger the size, the more significant results you might get. It will also rely on the degree of difference in the designs, as two very similar designs will make it hard to distinguish one version from the other.

Preference tests should be conducted with at least 20-30 users to be significant. The panel should not only reflect your typical target demographic. But it should also take into account the specific situation and mindset that would be relevant to the design at hand. If you’re testing a design that’s meant to appeal to potential leads, you can also try to attract non-customers who somehow suit your regular user’s profile.


We hope you’ve gained a better understanding of what a preference test is and how to run one. If you’re not sure if it’s right for you or which platform to use, we can help!

Keep in mind that, despite some of the limitations, preference tests have a place in the early design phase as they can help you create resources based on the needs of your customers. Preference testing is also less expensive and easier to execute than usability or concept tests.

Preference tests are one of the simplest ways to collect feedback from your customers when it comes to user acceptance and Poll the People is the fastest and most cost-effective platform. Poll the People empowers product and design teams to create custom tests and gain user feedback in just one hour. Get closer to your users and capture real insights as they happen. Sign up for FREE with Poll the People and explore our website if you’re ready to start optimizing your business.

Owen Fay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *