A Guide to User Testing for Websites

Imagine getting the opportunity to work closely with someone navigating your brand-new website and accomplishing a few important tasks. During their testing he or she will be communicating in real time about what they see hear, think and feel about their experience. As they speak they can provide you with constructive insights into the way your site is operating and even make important recommendations or complaints.

Let’s take this a step further and imagine that the person testing your site is the definitive consumer you are trying to reach, a consumer who stands for all the consumers you are marketing to. While, this already sounds too good to be true user testing has become the gold standard for successful marketers, designers and developers for some time due to its intrinsic advantages.

  

User tester sites work to create the best representations of the target market in question with a variety of data from personal demographics and other factors to be selected as needed. There is virtually no limit to the value of this intuitive practice for websites, wireframes and every type of digital product you can imagine.

A wireframe is the important preliminary plans for a website before it is actually filled in and are especially useful to organizing the various elements of the site for maximum structural efficiency, usability being the most important objective. Now, what is the best way to test the usability of a site? User testing from every angle. The following article will include an overview of the most important insights provided by user testing and how this is so advantageous to your website development.

1. Makes Sites that Are Better Suited to their Goals

Sites that are cautiously constructed with every bit of coding and content directed to a single goal are far more streamlined and efficient. Are you trying to collect donations for a good cause? Generate leads? Sell furry bedroom slippers? Get People to download an app? No matter what the final objective is a user test can see to it that the objectives are being accomplished in the most efficient manner possible. If even a small percentage is having a hard time reaching the objective, your goals are not clearly accessible.

2. Identifies Problematic Points

Your users may experience issues when accessing your site. While it seems in-efficient, much about the web developers work include retouching, revamping and making many adjustments to improve usability and optimize organization. User testing lets you know everything is functioning as it should be and alerts you to anything unexpected before this becomes a major issue.

3. Settles In-house Disagreements

In any team production this guy may be all for adding one feature, option A, while another person may think that option B is a better plan. Instead of going duking it out in the parking lot, the debate can best be settled by including both ideas on a wireframe with instructions for users to provide plenty of helpful feedback.  This way both sides are evaluated from neutral perspectives.

4. Streamlines website architecture

If you are getting results that show an area of your website is not easily accessible, reorganization is the flavor of the day. Websites can have a complex or simplistic structure, but if parts can’t be found or accessed easily, user feedback can illustrate the most problematic areas and provide problem-solving insights that lead you to make necessary corrections.

5. Slashes costs

It is far cheaper to get it right the first time than have to pull in your campaign after errors reveal themselves later down the line. If you already have the designers and developers working full-tilt. It is a better idea to get the tasks done properly the first time around and avoid other issues in the future.

6. Effectively Engages the Audience

For existing websites, user testing can reveal much about the user experience and possible the reason behind a scathing bounce rate. Most often these are due to small technical issues that affect the loading speed or other smaller visual nuances that send a strong, though often subtle, message that this is not the site for you. Sometimes, user testing  can confirm suspicions and other times it can reveal issues that are covertly devastating your conversion rate.

7. Improves and consolidates your brand recognition

Your website is your essential booth in the greatest and most extensive market in the known universe, your face to the inline world. For this reason, you need your site to embody all the professionalism and attention to detail you exhibit in your business interactions. Site errors, dead end links, complicated navigation and even small spelling errors all detract from the professional appeal of your site and may cause customers to question your brand’s competitive edge. But, all this can be identified through effective user testing.

8. The Proof

Web developers have a treasure trove of insights and information available from user testing. Valuable feedback can lead to a better understanding of the objectives for a website and how they can be best accomplished. This valuable information extends beyond a single website and its elements to affect marketing approaches a s a whole. It allows a developer to know what type of practices are essential and which will fall flat. It also allows the creative and innovative to confirm or refute their hunches and brilliant ideas. Following are just some of the real-life examples of the information we have collected in some recent user testing and how this information has been deftly applied for great success. Check out some of these stories below.

9. Avoids Intrusive Pop-Ups

We performed a series of tests on a website for a provider of materials handling equipment. The web page featured a persistent chat box that would show up on the screen whenever the webpage was loaded and proved useful for providing further information. The problem was that despite the feature that allowed users to close or minimize the window, it would show up again each time the page was loaded. This in itself proved to be a poor idea in the user testing results.  Rather than being appreciative of the constant assistance, users found the popup window annoying. The solution was found in looking for navigable help screens and support requests.

10. If it Ain’t Broke…

Simplicity is an important aspect of any website looking to create long-lasting relations with their clientele. While running tests on a website for a human resources firm, we discovered that certain things, like verifying email and billing addresses don’t need to be changed. Results showed that keeping these elements simple and straightforward is really the best way to go.

11. But, what’s the damage?

Another of our tests was performed on a website for a provider selling personal defense equipment. The test showed that the layout and structure was very good and the usability received top-grades. The problem was that customers had a hard time locating the prices for the products they were interested in. This can lead to customers thinking a site is giving them a runaround and they will lose interest quickly and leave.

In Conclusion – Applying User Testing

So, when would be the best part of website production or managements to address efficacy with an effective user testing?  Today is only slightly as good as yesterday.  No matter what phase of planning or production your website is in or even if it is already up and functioning, a user testing can reveal much about the plans and process. Due to the myriad of benefits user testing can offer online marketing, it is easy to see why this practice is leading the way with web developers and designers everywhere.

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Claude

Web and mobile designer, founder of Layerbag. I started designing & I fell in love with Wordpress so I maintain a blog around my favorites topics and develop Wordpress themes myself.

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