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How to conduct usability testing successfully

December 16th, 2016 Goals of conducting usability testing

Let's be serious: How often did you already think about improving the usability and the user experience of your website? In the end, maybe nothing really changed and your investment was a waste of time and money. That is why you should consider a few crucial things when you plan to conduct usability testing.

1. What should happen BEFORE your usability studies?

Simply said: It does not make sense to improve something if you are not able to measure success. That is why you should document what is happening right now on your website or shop:

  • What is your conversion rate?
  • How high is the bounce rate of your website?
  • How long do visitors stay on your website?
  • How many of them do return to your service?

If you do not have this data, you should not start to improve it. Because you will not know if you did it right or wrong. If you did a basic setup of your Analytics Account, you can get this data easily:

In your basic overview: Important data for usability studies In the conversion overview: Measure conversions with Google Analytics

But there is one more important aspect you should think about before conducting a usability test:

How did you set the requirements of your conversion? It is not hard to set several goals for conversion but you should set and use the conversion that earns you the biggest ROI. Otherwise you will never know if you really improved the user experience and usability from A to Z.

2. Make sure you keep it real when you check usability!

Avoid changing the circumstances of your website when conducting a usability test. This means that you should not start with additional advertising, coupons or discounts just because you want to have better results. As a consequence, you should not plan the schedule of usability testing to coincide with a change of the whole look and feel of your website or mobile app.

The test should take place with the same conditions and circumstances that caused the unsatisfying results for your business. Only by doing user experience testing in this way will you receive results that are relevant to the core of the problem. Which is why you should also pay attention to the following:

Real circumstances for usability tests

3. Choose the right target audience

It may save in your usability testing costs if you do not care about who the testers are. Or whether they are “semi-professional testers”. However, this can lead to misleading results. Ultimately, the usage and understanding of a website or a mobile app depends a lot on culture, language and common habits.

That is why you should make sure that the usability testing takes place with people that belong to your target audience in relation to said culture, language and common habits. You can easily discover your target audience by using Google Analytics:

How to find your target audience

4. Keep usability testing cost effective

It is always a big plus when you see and hear real reactions rather than having a document full of text and numbers. This is why it makes sense to check the usability of a website with users recording and submitting a video to you. And if you care about who the participants of your usability testing are (and you should!), then make sure these videos are “Picture-in-Picture” videos, where you can see both the asset being tested as well as a webcam view of the participant. Otherwise, if the video is only a screen recording with an audio recording, the participant “testing” your website or mobile app could be anyone, anywhere in the world.

You are looking for a good service, which in this case means that you want to receive as much relevant qualitative insights as possible:

  1. Find out what is happening on your website or mobile app through Analytics or similar;
  2. Obtain a recorded user experience and usability test set of videos that shows both the participant and the asset that was tested (“Picture-in-Picture”);
  3. Repeat on an iterative basis as you address each issue with a specific Agile UX enabled design change.

If you keep the above in mind you can receive a lot more benefit out of your usability studies. And if you wish to scale the amount of usability testing you do, try Remote Usability Testing. Not only will it allow you to scale your usability testing, it will also allow you to reach out to participant audiences around the world.

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