Creating a new website is a stressful, lengthy, and often expensive exercise for business owners. So, what do you do when you’ve finished? You give yourself a pat on the back, take some much-needed R&R and wait for those lucrative leads to start flooding your inbox. Right?
Well, not quite.
Creating your business website is just one step in the lead acquisition process. Observing how your potential customers are using and interacting with the information on your website can provide valuable insight and assist in making changes that will improve the functionality of your website. Understanding how your users navigate, search, convert, and spend time on your website will provide you with new information that you can’t get from just analysing click data in Google Search Console or Analytics. If you’re ready to discover how you can optimise your site for user experience and improve your conversions, read on.
What Does User Testing Involve?
User testing is a process that involves observing the way that respondents interact with your website. Rather than asking users to fill out of a form or make some suggestions about how to improve your website, user testing involves tracking interaction data (live or not) to gain a better understanding of how users are navigating your website.
When observing users onsite, you’re likely to gain insights that you cannot get from users by asking for feedback. For instance, let’s say you’re an Ecommerce business who is struggling to overcome a high bounce rate. Despite the fact that users are spending a lot of time on your product pages and seem to be interacting with the data on them, you’re still seeing users bounce away from the pages without ever adding products to the cart. User testing can unravel where the buying experience is falling apart and how you can create solutions to overcome the problem. The issue could be something as small as users not being able to find an ‘add to cart’ CTA, or it could be something that you had never even thought to consider.
Whether you’re an Ecommerce business selling products online or a service-based business measuring your success on the volume of enquiries you receive, user testing can provide valuable UX information that you cannot acquire through traditional data.
Why is User Testing Important?
User testing is important because it is a highly effective way to gain real-time information that can improve the functionality and performance of your website. User testing data provides valuable insight that can be used alongside the information that you accrue through traditional analytics tools. Some of the information that you acquire may be self-explanatory, while other data may require more problem solving and developing to create a solution.
User testing can be carried at any point in the life of a website. However, it is most valuable in the early stages of development. For example, when designing a new website, you could create a staging website to test data where you can record how test-users interact with your website, hotspots on the page, A/B (split testing) for various landing page styles, and much more. It’s much easier to implement changes before your website goes live than it is once you have launched it.
User testing at the early stage of development is ideal, however, user testing is still extremely valuable for existing websites and businesses. Technology changes and so does the way that users interact with content. As of 2019, more than 50% of total web searches come from users on mobile devices, which may be very different from when you first launched your website.
Different Types of User Testing
User testing comes in different forms, here are some of the most popular ways that you can test how users are interacting with your website.
Live User Testing With Moderator
The test is performed in the same room where the test is completed by the testers with a moderator at the same time. Live user testing with a moderator is valuable because it allows a free-flow of ideas and communication between the test-subjects and the moderator. The testers can freely provide feedback on how they think their experience can be improved and what they would like to improve about the experience. When grouped together, testers can brainstorm ways that they would collectively compromise on improvements for a website. The moderator can also feed into the process and ask users for specific examples, ideas of what they would like to see.
Remote Testing with Moderator
The tester and moderator will not be in the same place for this test sequence; however, they may be in contact on a video call while the test is being carried out. The tester will follow a predetermined set of instructions for testing various aspects of the website while the moderator observes the process and asks questions (if applicable). Remote testing with a moderator is a popular method because it is low-cost solution that provides a wealth of data that is strengthened by the interaction between moderator and tester.
Remote Testing Without Moderator
The most popular form of user testing allows a large scale of testing at a low cost. Testers will typically receive a set of instructions and they can conduct the test in their own time without the help of a moderator. The advantage of this method is that it can be conducted at scale with a lower cost. However, the drawback to this model is that it is positioned around finding problems, without any feedback from users on how these can be corrected. This method of testing is recommended when making small tweaks to a website or product, not for large overhaul projects.
The User Testing Process
Once you’ve decided what you want to test, the next step is to begin user testing. But, how do you start? Here are some tips for getting started with user testing.
User testing is not a one-off task. The way that users interact with data and how they access information on your website will change as technology and user interfaces evolve. Although you’ll want to test for usability repeatedly and often, once you’re confident that the wireframes that you have developed are offering the best user experience, it’s time to implement the changes.