Why Should I Set up a User Testing Experience?

An important stage in website development is to have users test your website. The greatest designers and UI experts can always learn a thing or two about how people really use your website by watching users in action. Most websites have a goal related to  how they want to guide a website user’s behavior. For a retail website you want someone to make a purchase, in fact you want them to buy multiple items from you want them to come back and buy more things. If you are a hairstylist you want people to book appointments with you. If your website makes money on advertising you want them to read more pages and be more active on your website. If you are an affiliate site you want the website visitor to click on the affiliate link and buy from your affiliate. If your website is frustrating to the user, they will leave your site and most likely never come back.

User testing can be very helpful in the decision making process for an established website, the early stages of website development, or if you are exploring redeveloping a website. Sometimes the quickest and easiest method to try to figure out how to improve your website is to have a few friends or family members navigate through your website trying to complete the main task that you want them to complete on your website (make a purchase, find your phone number, locate your business address etc.).

How to Set up a Basic User Testing Experience

I have set up user tests a variety of ways. You will want to prepare a set of questions for the user related to what you discover about the functionality of your website. In addition you will want to record the user experience so that you can come back to it if you decide to redesign or develop a new website. Make sure that use a reasonable number of users, I have usually had a decent amount of ideas from testing at least 5 people.

You want to try to set up an environment where you have the website user test your website without your interference. If you are in the room, a user will typically try to ask you questions to help them get where they need to go whether or not they could have found it on their own. They may also change their opinion or thoughts of the website so as not to displease you. Some ideas on how to set up a website user test include:

  • Set up a computer that has a microphone and use recording software such as http://camstudio.org/. Write down what you want the user to explore on your website or questions that you want them to find an answer to. Have the users talk their way through the website experience, why they are clicking on what and what they notice along the way.
  • You can also use fairly inexpensive paid user tests like those available to http://www.usertesting.com.

When selecting users to test your site, make sure you have users that are fairly close to your target demographic. If your website is for children, make sure you have some children actively using your site. Different demographics can have a tendency to use websites differently. You should also look for savvy internet users and beginners so that you know your website makes sense to both audiences.

What Questions Should I Ask a User When Testing My Website?

Typically you want to get an initial reaction to your website. In order to get the reaction, don’t already have the website pulled up, make them type in the URL (this also may show issues with your URL choice if developing a new site…). People judge your website in the first few seconds after they get there, they make the decision on whether or not they want to stay. Ask questions about their immediate reaction:

  • What is your initial reaction?
  • What pops out on the page once you load the site?
  • When you get to the website, what does it make you want to do?

Ask questions that force the user to find specific information on your website without giving away where it is. Of your site sells furniture, describe a piece of furniture for them to find. Give them generic directions such as selecting a new dining table and watch how they look for the information. If you have a store location ask them to find out how to get to your store and how they could contact you.

Ask questions related to guiding them through the user through your goal process. These questions must be specific your goal funnel, have them go through and buy an item, fill out your lead form or do what you want your website users to do.

A Recap

The most important goal in user testing is to make sure that your website navigation is clear and intuitive and that your users are able to find what they are looking for. You want to make sure that you have not created unintentional barriers for your website user. User testing is a very helpful and valuable step in your website development process. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but setting up a basic user testing experience will certainly pay off..

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