What is User Testing and Why Should It Be Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Stephen McCance March 28, 2017
Understanding how people use your website is of key importance if you want to achieve high user satisfaction, keep visitors on your website and ultimately – get conversions.
A large part of this can only be uncovered by actually engaging with your sites visitors and watching them interact on your website. This is called user testing, and it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways of bettering your user experience and increasing your conversion rates.
One of the most important aspects of building a website is testing it for usability. Ultimately, your website needs to be attractive enough to ensure that people will want to look at it, but also contain all of the information necessary for them achieve the objective for which they visited.
As web users, we are accustomed to being able to figure out how to use a website quickly and with ease. The majority of users won’t take the time to figure out a site that is not user friendly, so if your website is unclear and difficult to navigate, visitors will simply go to the next website.
In short you can have one of the most beautifully designed websites in the world, but if people leave immediately because they’re unable to figure out how to navigate it – it’s not doing it’s job.
So, what actually is User Testing?
As the name suggests User testing, or Usability Testing is a technique used to evaluate your website by testing it on users.
Typically, when you set up a usability test, you construct a scenario in which a person performs a list of tasks that someone visiting your site is likely to perform. You then observe and listen to the person who is performing the tasks and get feedback from the tester.
Watching someone perform common tasks on your website is a great way to test whether it’s user friendly because it is immediately clear whether they are able to perform the tasks and if they come across any difficulties while doing so.
Why is User Testing important?
When a website is designed, a number of assumptions as to what is both functional and attractive to visitors are made. However, you can’t understand the wants, needs, and preferences of your users for sure without testing them. The design and development of a website isn’t cheap, so using user testing as a tool can assure that time spent on your website is not time wasted.
You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. UX testing will identify what is working well on your website and what could be better. It focuses on actual behavioral patterns and design solutions as opposed to solely relying on assumptions.
It’s obvious that having a user friendly design and an easy-to-use interface will increase user satisfaction. If a user is satisfied they will remain on your site for longer, and thus are more likely to convert. If your website goes against usability conventions and confuses users in will inevitably result in a decrease in conversions and loss of revenue.
One of the core principles of conversion rate optimisation through user testing is ensuring users can “checkout” with as few a clicks as possible and with ease. Having a good looking site is great and all but ultimately this is what makes a site successful. This is why Amazon dominate the market so much – because it’s so quick and easy to use.
This is clearly important for e-commerce sites, but also for lead generation websites. If your contact us form is hard to fill out – or hard to find – it could be negatively impacting the amount of enquiries you receive.
With Google introducing mobile first rankings and the huge amount of users searching via mobile, it is clearly hugely important to test the usability of a mobile website. Usability issues with a mobile site are vast and can be easily missed – even if the site is responsively designed.
Things like having large easy to press buttons with space between them on a menu instead of smaller, harder to click buttons that will ultimately annoy users. These things aren’t always instantly noticeable, so testing the UX of a mobile site can highlight these issues.
How do I test my website?
There are a number of different methods for testing the user experience of your site like the method described earlier. There are many forms of software that will allow you to do this with varied methods and at varied costs, so it’s important to find the best solution for you and your website.
Some other popular user testing methods include:
A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: you have two versions of an element (A and B) and a metric that defines the success. To determine which version is better, you subject both versions to experimentation simultaneously and then measure which version was more successful and select that version for use. While they are useful, A/B tests are very black or white. One variant wins, while the other one loses, so they only present limited evidence of the User Experience of a website.
Thermal mapping will allow you to better understand what users want, care about and interact with on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior through heat mapping.
With user recordings you can identify usability issues by watching recordings of real visitors on your site as they click, move their cursor, type and navigate across the pages of your website.
Again, as the name suggests, click testing measures where users click first and provides guidance on what is of interest and what is often ignored. Understanding what design elements users are attracted to is very important, especially when interacting with navigation structures and homepages.
It is a good idea to use the information you already have, for example, using Google Analytics data. For instance, if you know from your analytics that 50% of your traffic is desktop and 50% is mobile, you should be running an even amount of tests on desktop and mobile.
In addition, you should be paying attention to analytics data that stands out or flags an issue. For instance, if your bounce rate is much higher when people are visiting on a desktop, one of the things you should be testing for is why people are leaving the desktop version of your website so that you can identify and fix any issues.
User testing should be a big part of any digital CRO campaign. You can put as much money into bringing traffic to your website via ppc, social campaigns and search campaigns, but if users can’t use or don’t enjoy the experience of using your website they will simply look elsewhere.
Article by Senior Search Marketing Executive, Eimile Kerrigan.