what is user testing?
User testing (or usability testing) is where test participants perform various tasks on your website, vocalising their thoughts throughout the experience. The people are usually your website’s target audience – often existing or potential clients/supporters. Both users’ feedback and their actions on your site is recorded and analysed. User testing can be done in person or remotely/online, either with just a user or with a professional facilitator also present to provide guidance and ask probing questions.
why is user testing important?
User testing provides clear and indisputable evidence about how people navigate your site and what problems/difficulties they encounter. It also gives information about how they understand your menu, how they feel about any visual/design elements, and what information they pay most attention to. All of this data can be used to optimise your site’s user experience and maximise its performance. It’s ideal to do user testing early on during a website design/build process so it can feed into how your site is structured, but it’s still beneficial to do later on when small changes – such as to wording or menu layout – can improve results.
what’s the best way to conduct user testing?
User testing can be provided by a digital agency or online UX testing service, or organised and conducted internally. However it’s arranged, we recommend the following user testing guidelines:
- Plan effectively – make sure you know exactly what you want users to test and give the same script/information to each user to ensure consistency.
- Recruit the right participants – make sure that the people testing your site are your current or target audience to ensure data reflects the people your site is trying to engage. You can ask current customers to test your site by providing financial incentives or encouraging them to play a role in shaping the development of your company.
- Let the user guide the process – ensure that you don’t provide too much information or explain how you want the user to behave so that you get results that reflect people using your website on a normal, day-to-day basis.
- Test a large sample size – whilst user testing is about qualitative data and even just a handful of users will generate useful results, it’s worth testing a large sample if possible to avoid data being skewed by anomalies.
- Listen to the results – take notice of what users say and struggles they have, and use this to make changes, whether big or small, to improve your site’s user experience.