Findability and discoverability are two concepts in UX related to accessing content within a website or app. While they’re related, findability and discoverability differ, and the methods used to test each are different as well.
Findability refers to whether or not users can easily locate a piece of content they assume exists. Think of it like when you’re trying to find your keys when you’re getting ready to leave your home. You know that they exist somewhere, you just need to find where they are.
Discoverability, on the other hand, refers to when users encounter new content that they weren’t aware of. They weren’t looking for it, they just came with it by chance.
Testing findability on a website or app is quite simple. In a usability test, ask what to spend to find that item. Of course, normal task writing rules still apply, such as not giving them the exact labels using the interface, and focusing on what the user’s outcome would be, and why they might wanna find that piece of information or use that feature.
Assessing discoverability is a little difficult. It’s about whether people notice something on their own, so you can directly ask about it.
In a usability test, you’re somehow forced to just wait and see whether the participant realizes that feature or content exists. If you probe or hint about it, you’re back to testing findability.
Analytics data is wonderful to analyze discoverability. It allows you to see the real usage data. If users aren’t using a feature or visiting a certain page, then they’re either not interested in it, or something about the navigation or UI design is keeping them from discovering it exists.
Designing for discoverability is about placing key content and features in areas that people are likely to see. Ensuring something is findable is about placing that item in its expected place.
So the next time you’re assessing content on your website or app, keep in mind these differences, and the different research methods used to uncover each.