A great website is useless if it doesn’t serve it’s purpose. It should welcome users in, make them feel at home and guide them effortlessly in their journey from visitor to customer. They should be able to find answers to their questions and products that meet their needs, all without ever feeling a flicker of frustration. Before you launch your new website, run some tests to identify any potential problems.
UX (user interface) testing is a vital part of any website development project, ensuring the highest possible chance that your website will work hard to contribute to business growth. This type of testing doesn’t have to be complicated or done on a large scale and even small businesses will benefit from getting other people’s opinions.
Follow this checklist to get the most out of your next UX test.
Choose Your Audience Carefully
There are two approaches to choosing individuals to populate your test. You can include a wide cross section of people, getting a broad idea of how your website will be used by visitors. Alternatively you can focus on finding people who fit a particular demographic.
It may even be appropriate to organize your test into two groups: general users and a specific target audience. This is particular relevant if your business caters to multiple types of customers.
For example, a broad variety of people might give you feedback on how people of different ages, experience and interests interact with your website, while a test populated by IT professionals may be suitable if your site only sells to these types of customers.
Consider Real World Usage
It is all too easy to fall into the trap of creating a test that doesn’t reflect how a website will be used in real life. For example, a large percentage of visitors may not start at your homepage. Depending on how they found your site visitors may also have different information or goals.
Consider a few sample scenarios and give these to your testers. These could include:
- You are searching for “woolly socks” and clicked on a listing in the search engine rankings which took you to this product page
- You saw an interesting post on Facebook about the top ten must-have baby products and clicked through to this blog post
Don’t neglect to run your UX testing on different devices, screen sizes and browsers. These can drastically impact how visitors interact with a website.
Be clear on your expectations and instructions for the test. Ask testers to carry out specific tasks such as finding delivery information, placing an order, contacting you or browsing the site to find a certain product.
Any failure to complete a task is not theirs: it is either a reflection on the website design or your directions. Ensuring that your instructions are clear will eliminate this confusion.
Ask guided questions to get the best feedback about testers’ experience of the site. Remember that your testers may not be as knowledgeable about website development terms as you. Ask them clear questions about the site’s navigation, general visual layout, copy, images etc and if your test group is very green you might want to include a glossary to help them understand key terms.
Don’t Offer Help
The goal of an effective UX test is not to guide someone through a task, but to identify roadblocks.
Although it is natural for people to ask for help with questions such as “How do I do…?” or “I can’t find…” don’t lead them or make suggestions. The fact they can’t do something is a result to be recorded, not a prompt. These requests for help are what will drive your improvements to the website following the test.
Take Multiple Measurements
Using a survey for UX testing is a convenient and easy way to gather information from your participants, but it will limit the insight you could gain from any test. If possible, try to use at least 3 types of measurements to compile a big picture. These could include:
- Survey questions to get ease-of-use scores and open ended feedback
- Timed tasks to discover any areas that are slowing visitors from reaching a desired destination
- Heatmaps to identify which parts of a layout or navigation are working well
- Google Analytics to learn more about visitor paths and funnels
Without careful planning and preparation, testing can often become a messy and unproductive task that yields little constructive insight. If you have used a web development company to create your new website ask them if they will conduct UX testing for you and use the above checklist to ask them about the details of the test.
After gathering the results, spend some time thinking about how to solve any problems that have been identified to make sure that your final website performs as well as possible.