How to Leverage Usability Testing Within Your Digital Business

Usability testing is the process of testing a website, process, or app with the help of real people. This data is invaluable because it is based on the direct behavior of your consumers. If the handful of users you test encounter problems, then the vast majority of your customers will likely have the same issues. Usability testing can help digital businesses troubleshoot problems that make their websites difficult to use.

Let’s explore how you can leverage usability testing in your digital business to improve your web experience and customer perceptions.

How Can Usability Testing Help Your Brand?  

The measure twice, cut once principle can be applied to web development. Test twice, deploy once. The steps you take to conduct usability testing can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Consider these statistics on the user experience and internet behavior:

  • 33% customers will abandon a purchase because they can’t find the right information.
  • 46% of customers say a “lack of message,” will cause them to bounce from a website.
  • 52% of users say a bad mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company.
  • 61% of users who can’t find what they want immediately on one site will abandon it for another.
  • 90% of users say they stopped using an app because of poor performance.

When your customers can’t find what they want or get confused about your app and website, they won’t make a purchase and they won’t return. You’re wasting your marketing and lead generation efforts on poor design and bad usability.

usability testing
The Niagara Falls website makes it easy for users to find what they need.

Why Do Most Brands Conduct Usability Testing?

Whenever a company plans to launch a new digital experience or update their current one, they turn to usability testing. Usability testing is a risk management step for launching a new concept. There are typically three types of testing that companies perform:

  • Comparative testing: this test compares two systems against each other. This can be done as a before-and-after model for updated content or used to compare two layouts to see what users like best.
  • Exploratory testing: this test introduces users to a new concept. The goal is to see how long it takes them to get used to the format and to understand where they get stuck.
  • Usability evaluation: this test reviews new features or layouts for a website or app before they launch. Developers want to make sure their changes will be effective before they release them.

Usability testing allows brands to make sure they’re making the right changes before they fully invest in their development and push them out to their full user base.

usability testing
Rooms to Go could test a new layout or filtering options for users.

How Can You Conduct Effective Usability Testing?

The amount of time and money you invest in usability testing can vary depending on the size of your company. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on usability testing for a low-budget project. However, the goal of usability testing is to make it easier for customers to use your site, and usability insights could save you a significant chunk in revenue that otherwise would have been lost in a bad experience. There are three common ways that most brands conduct usability testing:

Guerilla Usability Testing

If you want to test your website with the help of novices who are unfamiliar with your brand, set up your testing station in a random location and ask passersby if they are willing to spend five minutes helping your company. You might set up your station at a conference or other event where your target audience gathers. Consider offering incentives like small prizes or coupons as a way to thank the participants.

Contracted Usability Testing

If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to conduct usability testing on your own, there are contracted services that you can work with that will test the website for you. Like professional focus group companies, these contractors find people and ask them to use your website or app and then provide a detailed report after. This option is fast and thorough, but often more expensive than the others.

Automated Usability Testing

If you need to push a new update before testing it, consider investing in tools like Crazy Egg or Mouseflow that run usability testing in the background. You can record the customer experience and watch it later. While this data is easier to collect, watching the user videos is more intensive than if you were evaluating someone in person. You can also A/B test changes to your website so you can compare and contrast the usability of each page before publishing a definitive update.

Modern tools make it easy for almost any company to understand what customers like about their website and what they don’t.

What are Usability Testing Best Practices?

Whether you’re picking up an off-the-shelf A/B software tool or personally conducting usability testing on your own, there are a few best practices you can follow to run an accurate and useful examination of your future digital product:  

  • Limit the number of changes you test. This will prevent data confusion about which changes were effective.
  • Develop a prototype to test before you build the whole product. This will allow you to catch problems early before they’re irreversible.
  • Create a hierarchy for the most important features and potential problems. This will give you the biggest impact from your changes.
  • Use qualitative and quantitative data when running your tests. Direct feedback from a user can demystify data and make you realize why your results look the way they do.
  • Test and retest your theories. One test is never enough. Go back and continue to make sure you’re providing the best user experience possible to your customers.

Your user testing process will likely require a trial and error process on its own. Hone your evaluations until you are able to get the information you need to make effective changes.

Take the First Steps Toward Better Usability

Even if you only have a static website, you can still take steps to improve its usability for your customers and leads. Sign up for a Free 25-Point User Experience Check-Up to see where your website strengths and weaknesses are. By creating a better experience for your customers, you’re creating a better future for your online brand.