Many companies shy away from user testing because it’s seen as an extra hassle.
It’s something else that’s going to cost money, take up time and might not provide any useful information.
But what if you’re missing an opportunity?
What if it didn’t take that long and didn’t cost anything?
Then you would think you’re being rather silly – wouldn’t you?
This article will explain how you can user test your website extremely cheaply.
What is user testing?
User testing is quite literally observing a user of your website running through a set of predefined tests and speaking their thoughts as they go.
Ideally the user would be someone from your target audience and would often be paid for their time.
The tests are to complete core tasks on the website like “purchase a [insert a product you sell here]” and answer questions.
You would take the opportunity to ask general questions like “What does this website do?“.
Overall, user testing is looking for issues with the design in terms of how usable the website is, and whether they can complete core website goals with ease.
Why do we need to user test?
A lot of marketing consists of listening to your customers.
What are their needs? What are their problem areas? What do they like? Who are they talking about? Where do they hang out online? etc. etc.
You should already be creating content that addresses their issues and builds connections with those readers.
But if your websites visitors can’t find the ‘Buy now’ buttons, or find a way to subscribe to your email list, or even know what your website is about on first impression then all that time spent on creating great content will be wasted as it will never convert.
User testing will show you how people use your website, where they click, what they are searching for when conducting certain tasks.
It will show you the areas that users have trouble with – be it not spotting a key item, or not understanding the wording of a button.
So how can we user test with minimum costs?
The first, and most obvious way to user test is to ask a member of family or a friend.
They might not be your target demograpic, but they will still highlight their process through your website.
The main problem to watch out for is getting frustrated at them – remember, just because they are family doesn’t mean they are as intelligent and web savy as you!
If the family is a no go, then ask a colleague – preferably one who hasn’t been involved in the building/designing of the website and ideally doesn’t use it that often.
For the cost of some food, you can often ask people passing by your office during the day. 10 minutes of their time for a drink and some food – bargain!
Instead of grabbing someone from outside the office, why not have a different company do it for you? And record the results?
Peek is a great tool for this, they offer 1 free user test where one of their testers will spend 5 minutes recording their use of your website and completing a few basic tasks.
This isn’t going to be as thorough as defining the tasks yourself, but it will certainly give you an indication on whether your website is doing its job!
Here’s a link to the video about StuffedWeb they created to give you an idea.
The point I’m trying to get across is that you don’t have to pay for your ideal user demographic to user test.
They don’t have to be experts or regulars in your industry.
They don’t have to have any knowledge on the subject at all.
No matter who you are testing your website with you will see results.
If you can get yourself a handful of users from your target demograpic, then brilliant! But if not, then grab a colleague or friend – they will still provide you with useful information and points that you can use to improve your website.