What can I test? What will I learn? How will it improve my website?
You can user test almost any aspect of your website, application, online marketing or digital communications.
New - test your mobile app or website.
You can run broad tests to get general insight or very precise tests to fine tune and optimise specific elements.
You can test your live website or a new site in development, test marketing communications and promotions before they go live, test applications as they are being developed, or test your online store and checkout process to increase sales.
You can also test your competitors' sites and see how you compare!
As long as you can write a task that describes what you want your users to do you can test virtually anything. Here are some examples. Click on any one to find out more or scroll down the page and read them in order.
Find out what users first impressions are as they land on your home page - what do they think of your brand? Is your site’s purpose and differentiation immediately obvious? Ask for users’ first impressions of your home page and use that as ammunition next time you find yourself in a drawn-out debate with the marketing manager, MD, CTO, designers and developers. You’ll win the “battle for the home page” by saying: “I’ve tested this with real people and they said....”
Find out if your SEO or PPC is effective by asking users to search Google for a key term and explain why they would choose one link over another. Google Analytics and Adwords can tell you WHAT is performing or under-performing, user testing tells you why.
Discover if the words you use to describe sections of your website make sense to users - do they look for "white goods" or "washing machines"?
Is your website navigation intuitive? Maybe your three level menu structure seemed to make sense to you while you were designing it, but it could be too confusing for regular users. User testing lets you observe real people interacting with your site navigation - so you can see how to make it more intuitive.
You know what you do.
You know why you're better or different to competitors. But, is this clearly explained on your website?
Asking users simple questions like:
"What services does this company provide?"
"What makes them special?"
will quickly reveal where you need to explain things better.
Some people will use your search box, others will use your menus, some will jump straight to your special offers. But is it easy for people to find what their looking for? And when they get there is your product information clearly presented and complete?
Ask users to find a product for themselves or as a gift for a friend and see which route they take.
If you made it even easier for users to find what they were looking for, you'd soon see a jump in online sales.
By observing how users go about finding products or services you'll soon see what needs improving - from obvious (to users, but not you) copy changes to search results that are useful even when they are empty.
It is vital that users can quickly and efficiently complete their task on the site (e.g. locating and purchasing an item) as research shows that more than 83% of internet users are likely to leave a website if they feel they have had to make too many 'clicks' to find what they are looking for (Arthur Andersen, 2001).
Increased efficiency (and therefore increased productivity) is also particularly beneficial when employees are using the website.
The best way to find out why people would leave your site is to observe people using it. Asking a simple question at the end of a test can reveal a lot;
e.g. "If this were not a test, what would have made you leave this site?"
With competitors just a click or two away and with it only taking a minute to compare websites it's crucial to discover what users think of you vs competitors. Setup a benchmarking user test where you ask users to perform the same task on two websites and pick which one they prefer and why.
You've been pouring over the copy for your next promotional email for hours and finally have sign-off (now the marketing manager has had her say). It's been through several re-drafts, BUT have you lost a sense of your customer and their needs?
User test your campaign by getting feedback from real users before you send it. Optimise your comms for your users, not your organisation!
People need flexibility when it comes to online booking - sometimes it has to be on a specific date or time, other times they can be flexible. Bring price into the mix and a booking process needs to be multi-faceted and easy to use at the same time. Set-up a test where users apply their own requirements and discover if your booking system is up to the job.
Ever wondered why bounce rates are so high on the shopping cart? Discover why by observing people shop on your site and ask what would put them off completing their order. Here's a tip: is your returns/refund policy clearly displayed on every page?
User testing can reveal what people dislike, find difficult or confusing and WHY so you can see how to increase conversions. Set users real life tasks to perform on your site and identify where they get stuck and might abandon your site entirely. And you only need test with 5 users to identify 80% of the usability issues!
How easy is it for users to subscribe to your newsletter, fill in your surveys or create an account ?
Optimise your landing pages by adapting them based upon real user feedback, not hunches. Your call to action may be prominent but is the landing page content and design persuasive and compelling enough for users to make that all important click?
Get instant reactions from real users by setting up a landing page user experience test.
e.g. "you clicked on an ad for product X and arrived at this page. What do you think? Does anything put you off going further?"
Watch real people use Google to find your website. Find out why they might choose a competitor over you. Are your page descriptions optimised for real people? Are your search snippets driving traffic or driving customers away. Are your keywords appropriate ?
Setup a user test like: "Starting at Google find three sites you'll come back to later to renew your car insurance. Don't spend too long on any one site. As you do this explain why you are choosing one over another."
Getting user feedback during development is a great way to keep designers and developers on track. From visual mockups, to wireframes to pre-production versions of your website the sooner you get user feedback the easier it will be to change things and reduce development costs. Just ask Waitrose!
By addressing problems early in the development of the website, the costs and time involved in correcting these issues is dramatically reduced (Galitz, 2002; Gilb, 1998).
When you've pinpointed a page or funnel that's not performing in your website analytics software run user tests to find out why. This is the time to be specific about the user task to get feedback from real people on the problem area and discover why performance is poor.
User testing is a great way to inform what to test using MVT and A/B tools. Running general user experience tests on your site will reveal where you should run alternative copy or layout treatments so that your split testing is based on real user feedback rather than your hunches!