Usability Testing Replaces the Educated Guess

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Usability Testing Replaces the Educated GuessUsability testing is a great tool to eliminate a common problem in website design and functionality …the educated guess. We’ve all been doing our jobs for a long time and surely we’ve gained the wisdom and experience to predict what will and will not work. In the end, though, without valid data your educated guess is still only a guess. Usability testing provides valuable information, which when absent contributes to many website failing or at a minimum, underperforming.

What is Usability Testing

Usability testing is simply the process of evaluating product usage by testing it on users. The result is that issues are discovered from a real world perspective verses the more theoretical perspective of your design allowing you to discover areas in need of improvement. For websites this usability testing involves assigning a list of tasks to an online visitor to complete, recording their audio and screen as they work through the tasks, and then reviewing the video capture of the entire event. A set of follow up questions allows the tester to provide additional feedback on what they experienced and their thoughts relative to the level of difficulty in completing the assigned tasks.

What Can You Test

With online usability testing you can pretty much test anything on your site. Some items might include:

  • The intuitiveness of your sites navigation – Can the visitor easily navigate throughout your site?
  • Clarity of message – Is the visitor getting what you’re trying to convey?
  • Organizational hierarchy of your site – Can the visitor easily find what they are looking for?
  • Level of credibility – Does your site convey trust?
  • Level of ease or difficulty in creating a task – How easy is it for the tester to complete a specific assigned task (s)?

The list could go on. Some tests will be page specific and other will be website wide. In many cases usability testing will uncover issues you have not contemplated.

Usability Testing Case Study

We recently worked with wellness foods company that sells nutritional bars and snacks. We ran a usability test on the site to see what testers remembered after viewing the home page for 7 seconds and assigned a couple of tasks to purchase products. The testing identified the following:

  1. Confusion in shipping costs
  2. Perception of high shipping costs
  3. Confusing field in checkout form
  4. Shopping cart security concerns
  5. Desire for more product nutritional details
  6. Nutritional details presentation needs improvement
  7. Value of a competitive product comparison chart
  8. Would like to see celebrity testimonials – more credibility
  9. “Buy It” button confusion on category pages
  10. Small site font causing eye strain
  11. Wide text areas with grey font on white background is hard to read
  12. Addition of company name to all product names makes it harder to see flavors

These are just some of the issues discovered from our testers. Each of these items introduces friction into the conversion process, thereby reducing conversions.

Usability testing is a great tool to use before beginning a conversion optimization testing process. It will help remove stumbling blocks that introduce friction into the conversion path, allowing your tests to focus more on the persuasive elements of conversion such as messaging, clarity, priority, etc.

We include a usability study in most of our conversion optimization plans. For more information on how we increase conversion rates call us at 678-951-9506, email us at info at or complete our FastForm.

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