Today, many companies understand the importance of improving customer experience and use all means to keep the users as long as possible, trying to offer them the most relevant products and services.
You can invest lots of money in a new project and launch it, but contrary to expectations, get negative reviews and decline sales. Such situations happen if companies skip a critical stage ー User Testing.
After the design is created, you need to make sure that the product will be understood and useful for the user. To do this, before entering the market, you need to carry out user testing. Some companies neglect this check. They release a beta version, track user feedback and then modify the main product version. But this method does not work if the problem goes beyond the interface design and users do not understand how it all works.
Watching how current and potential customers use your product allows you to obtain information that is not provided with a simple data analysis.
Let’s consider in detail the process of user testing, why it is needed and how to improve your product using such kind of testing.
The importance of user testing and how it is usually carried out
User testing is the process of viewing and examining how typical users of the service interact with the product and perform the main tasks. Using this type of testing, you can see and understand what works and what is not.
Imagine that you have an online store selling clothes. With the help of the web analytics system, it turned out that the percentage of visitors adding the goods to the cart is rather low. But the reason for this you could not find out.
Perhaps users cannot find the “Add to Cart” button or don’t get enough information about the product they want to buy. User testing will allow you to know what you need to work on and what to fix!
The results of user testing should be considered in combination with data obtained from web analytics systems. Some results can be very obvious, and others are more complex to understand.
User testing should be carried out at an early stage of product creation. It is much easier to change something in the design if it is not completely created.
However, user testing can be performed at all stages of the product’s life. The new generation of the audience can use your product differently than permanent users.
When conducting surveys, respondents do not always give reliable answers. Testing allows you to reveal these inaccuracies.
Testing prototypes helps save time and money, as well as increase the reliability of the future product. Making changes to the product at the prototyping stage is significantly cheaper than when the product is designed and programmed, especially if the prototype exists so far only on paper.
User testing helps check most of the user’s actions, the interaction of services and components. Some developers believe that it is better to carry out tests on the final version of the product because it is already a working system. Therefore, the results will be credible. But this is a risky approach ー the customer may lose money if it turns out that the designers made a mistake at the very beginning.
Why should you conduct user testing?
You can understand a lot of things seeing how people interact with the system:
- what works and what not;
- why some functions are used, and some are missed;
- what can confuse users or slow down their interaction with a product;
- understand what is missing in the service for successful work.
Many people wonder why not go the easy way and analyze the same problems independently.
Here’s the answer:
- You know the product and its functionality too well. You will not be able to find something that the user will face when seeing the service for the first time.
- You do not know how typical users are coping with the tasks. What way they solve problems and how they think during direct interaction with the product.
Of course, your experience is essential, and an independent analysis of the product will also give the result. But this result is not enough to implement a successful project.
The main idea of user testing:
- Find potential users.
- Suggest completing the tasks related to the service.
- Watch how the tasks are held.
- Ask a few questions about why some tasks caused complexity (and others, depending on the situation).
- Write down all the things needed to pay attention to based on the results of user testing.
These are the basic concepts that you need to know by learning user testing.
The main stages of user testing
Plan, requirements and deadlines
First, you need to prepare the work plan and acquaint all parties with it. You should specify the details, deadlines and testing purposes. Then organize a meeting with all participants of the testing process to highlight the main points.
All information for the testing must be prepared in advance, so users have no problems.
Setting the test environment
In the testing process, you need to prepare the environment. During tests, it may be necessary to return the product to its initial state periodically. In order not to have problems, users need to be instructed.
Contacts for support
It would help if you gave users contacts responsible for support. If they find mistakes, they should know with whom to discuss them.
You need to give users information about test status: what was done, where there will be delays, what errors are revealed. So they will be able to assess the overall picture and understand their task.
Report and results of user testing
Users need to provide a final report. It should include all information about the testing process. Users should tell about the problems they found, what they understood and what not, whether the product is user-friendly or not, etc.
Additional communication with users
It is necessary to establish informal communication with the participants of the testing process. You can call them and ask questions about how work is going, if there are any difficulties and even simple “how are you?”.
How thanks to User Testing, Northell improved the Referrizer platform
Referrizer is a marketing automation platform that is aimed to empower local businesses. It is a large platform that includes many aspects and individual sections. The company came to us for the platform redesign. Since the product included many details, the Northell team worked with each part of the functionality separately.
The Referrizer platform has an audience that actively uses it. It was vital for us to apply redesign in such a way as not to lose the loyal audience. Our main task was to make a platform easy and convenient to use.
Before starting work, we conducted a series of user interviews. Users were divided into two age groups and we received recommendations on the platform improvement. We determined what problems users see, what they do not like and how they interact with the platform. Then we had several calls with the Referrizer where we discussed who we now should focus on more and whose opinion we should take into account first. Based on this, we further developed an interface.
Then was a stage of testing. We wanted to check usability and whether the platform is easy and convenient to use. Our task was to make a platform such that a person who does not know the platform’s specifics could easily use it.
When wireframes were already created, we demonstrated them to one of the customers. He gave us feedback and also showed them to his colleagues and asked them to test.
Thus, thanks to the user testing, the proposed solution was thoroughly checked and edits were made. At the end of the whole process, we were able to more confidently say that the solution works and can really help users.
In such projects as Referrizer, user testing is a critical stage that we do not recommend skipping. It is a perfect opportunity to show your solution to people with extensive experience in using various products and get an honest review.
User Testing allows us to understand how users interact with the product at each stage of the development process. It helps create better and more efficient products, which, in turn, facilitates the promotion on the market, the involvement of users and increases the level of retention. Do not neglect this step when developing your product.
Now you know what the user testing is, why it is necessary to use it while developing the product or service and how to hold it. You can apply user testing in the project on which you are working right now! Ask your client for an additional day of work and contact five loyal users. Make a meeting and show them prototypes. Wait for reviews. Now you can go drinking coffee with friends with peace of mind, knowing that, today, you made this product a little better and more user-friendly.
And if you want to bring your project to a new level, the Northell team is ready to cooperate!