If you don’t conduct user testing on your website or application, you are limiting how much intelligence you have on how users are interacting with your product. This can mean critical usability issues can exist, restricting sales or conversions, without your knowledge.
User testing can range from low-tech paper prototypes to state of the art eye tracking and they can all be done at any stage of the development process, not just in the strategy phase. Here, Khaled Weir from Cyber-Duck presents some tips that will help you make the most of your testing session.
1. Plan, plan, then plan some more. Take a good look at your website. What is it you want to learn? What are some common tasks that user will need to do to make use of your product? How are you going to measure success or failure? When creating tasks for the test, be careful with the wording – be sure not to lead the user by including keywords in the task. It’s also important that the tasks are realistic, something the user is likely to do – don’t project a persona. Getting this bit right is essential to successful and valuable user testing.
2. Get the right users. In user testing, demographics are critical. Are you interested in your existing customers, your target customers or a combination? Getting the right number of users is also important; at around 20 users you’ll find most problems and a good amount of feedback. Of course you can test fewer users, you’re just likely to highlight fewer issues and not have the certainty you gain from a larger group.
3. Prepare to be surprised. That functionality you pushed for which took three weeks to code? Guess what, users might not like it, they might not even notice it. Even the best UX designers can be surprised by user behaviour so don’t be precious about your design and don’t be afraid of your mistakes; instead learn from them. It’s important to note that the tiniest change of colour, position or copy can have a huge impact.
4. Ask the right questions. In focus groups or interviews, think about what you want to find out and ask the same core questions to each user. Ensure that you record the answers you receive alongside any quantitative data you collect (e.g. eye tracking recordings); this will help you in the analysis and may allow you to segment the users into groups.
5. Never rely on one metric alone. When analysing the data captured, don’t just look at the pretty heat-maps generated by your software or the time taken to do a given task in isolation – apply some intelligence. By comparing one metric with some other related ones or segmenting the group you can better determine patterns. Getting good at this analysis can take time, but it’s worth it. Act on the issues you’ve found and test again, user testing is an iterative process.
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