User testing is basically what it sounds like – a person checks your website for clarity, functionality, design, and all the things that shape a visitor’s experience. Using audio and video, user testers record themselves as they review your site, and then fill you in on how they found the process to be. It’s also common for the tester to talk with you during the entire session so that you can easily understand what works well and what needs to be improved.
Why do I need user testing?
You probably know from experience how impatient you get if a website is hard to navigate. People visit a website and expect to find the information they need right away, so if your site doesn’t provide it, they’ll likely jump to your competitors to look for the answer.
User testing will resolve any frustrations people might have with your site. The easier you make it to use your website, the more likely it is that people will buy your products or services.
Why can’t I do user testing myself?
You already know your website too well! If you’ve already spent a lot of time on your site, it will be too hard for you to look at it objectively and recognize any problem areas that need attention.
And since you already know your website thoroughly, it will be impossible to accurately assess how long it would take new users to understand what your business is about, or to find a certain item or section.
What’s more, you chose the design and layout of your site, so while it might make sense to you, it could be confusing to someone else. You’ll never be able to know for sure unless you test it out on other people.
So what will I discover with user testing?
Goal #1: Is it clear?
Everything is clear to you, of course. You know your website, you wrote the copy, and you’re familiar with the products or services you offer. But are these things clear to first-time visitors?
The user tester will access your website for the first time and discuss their impressions. Does the design work? Does it look professional? What does the purpose of your website seem to be? Does it seem like a reliable source of information or does it seem like it’s been done by an amateur?
Once you have this feedback, you’ll understand if your website communicates the right message to consumers and what needs to be changed so that the reality of your website matches your intentions.
Goal #2: Can you complete this funnel?
This one is very important.
Divide your website into a few “funnels” – paths or processes that your users would take. In this test, you’ll ask your user tester to complete a certain process on your website, like your website’s checkout and payment page, for example. You should aim to make this process as simple and clear as possible – after all, you want your consumers to buy your products, right? And you probably know from your own experience that buying items on a website isn’t always straightforward.
User testers will make sure that their credit card details are kept safe and they’ll also check to see that there are no glitches in the payment process. It all comes down to whether they trust your payment system – if they don’t, it’s likely that many other visitors to your site won’t either. And this is just one of the many things that can go wrong that can make you lose business.
Goal #3: Can you find it?
Have you ever tried to find something specific on a website but, despite your best efforts, just couldn’t? Did you ever wonder if your customers experience the same frustrations on your site? In this test, you’ll determine how long it takes for new users to find what they’re looking for.
Once you know how long it takes user testers to find the item, you’ll also have their comments about how they approached the process. This will help you figure out how to make it easier for future customers to locate specific items or sections on your site. Remember that every unnecessary click that users have to make means it’s more likely that they’ll lose their patience – and take their business elsewhere.
Who should test my website?
Your user tester should be as similar as possible to your average customer. Choose people who have the same gender and age as the majority of your target market. If you sell clothes marketed for women in their twenties and thirties, for example, your user testers should be women who fall within that age range.
Significantly older or younger women might approach your website differently and draw conclusions that wouldn’t be relevant to your actual customers. To get the best results, choose user testers who will help you understand how your actual customers will use your website and how to make that experience better.
How should I begin user testing?
First, decide what you want to have tested on your website. Make a list of everything you think could be problematic for users and any page or process that is important to have in order to bring in their business. If you’re having a hard time determining what these problem areas might be, ask website analysts for help. They’ll be able to direct you towards the pain points that users might come across your site that could make them leave.
Second, start user testing with people who are similar to your average customer and ask them to check the funnels you want. It’s best to use at least two to three different user testers for each test. Make sure you don’t give them leading questions – their biggest advantage is the fact that they’re new users who have never seen your website.
Third, review user testers’ recordings and examine closely what went wrong and where during each session. You can fix these problems on your own, or you can consult a web developer if necessary.
After you’ve implemented user testing, you’ll know how to fix your website’s main problems. By taking time to address each of these trouble areas, you’ll enhance your customers’ experiences by making it easier for them to browse and locate specific items, check out online, and share information on their social networks. And remember – you don’t have to fix everything at once, but at least you’ll know what tweaks you can make to give your customers the best possible experience on your website.