I’m sorry to tell you, but you can’t read minds. It’s a bummer, I know, because it’d be really helpful with your customers. Wouldn’t it be great to know how they really felt about your business?
Of course, the answer is yes.
While I can’t offer clairvoyance – that’d be creepy – I can share a tool that’ll provide meaningful customer insight into one of the most important aspects of your business, your website.
It’s Usability Testing. It’s a proven method for reaching into the minds of website visitors and extracting the vital information that drives their interactions with your online brand.
- What makes them stay? What makes them go?
- What’s their frustration? How can you improve?
- How do they behave? Can they find things they’re looking for?
- What is flat-out not working?
Usability testing gives you the opportunity to put aside hunches, assumptions, and even best-practices and learn from humans as they interact with your website.
What is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is just what it says it is: a test of your website (or app, software, or other digital asset) in its usability. What is usability? It’s a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use, says usability expert Nielson Norman Group.
Sounds simple, right? But remember, everything rides on human interaction when it comes to your website. We web designers measure this interaction in standards of User Experience and it’s one of the most pivotal design stages in our work here at Liquid.
There are several formats for Usability Testing, and we’ll discuss this in a bit, but they all consist of a controlled group of users performing a predetermined set of tasks with feedback directly recorded. Imagine clipboard-holding scientists watching mice run through a maze looking for cheese, except the mice are your intelligent website users and they offer valuable insight during and after their experience.
How to Conduct Usability Testing
Because of its Q&A origins, Usability Testing can take many forms. Here are the two most common formats:
A select group of users perform tasks while a facilitator leads, observes, and records. Tasks can include specific or open-ended activities, or both, depending on the goals of the study. For example: you could observe a user’s experience as they log-in and purchase a product online, or you might ask them to show how they would find a specific piece of information.
Feedback is gathered by both listening to users “thinking out loud” and by recording the success rates of each task. Note: moderated tests can be performed both in-person and remotely through conferencing tools like Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams, which allow screen sharing.
Users perform a pre-programmed test at their own convenience. Similar to moderated testing in the tasks and activities, but data is recorded through online usability testing tools, many of which provide downloadable reports and video replay, and some even will provide a user group for a fee.
The upside of un-moderated testing is its convenience and low effort to host. The downside is the inability to interact with the user, which is valuable for assisting in any test glitches, asking follow-up questions, or recording verbal feedback that might not otherwise be captured.
Why Usability Testing is Important
As your investment into digital capital increases, so does the case for ensuring ROI. Online, users are gained through easy check-out processes, simple navigation, and logical information flow. Conversely, users are lost because of conflicting directions, broken links, and slow page load speeds. These are all just examples, but it’s a proven fact that the user experience of your online business is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Usability testing provides you real-world evidence of your website’s effectiveness in carrying out its purpose. For your business, this feedback can alter the course of your project planning, future investments, staffing and resources, and even the course of your business goals.
Usability Testing is a valuable way to learn how effective your website, app, or other digital asset accomplishes its role in connecting with your customers. There are multiple ways of carrying out these tests within the Moderated and Un-moderated formats.