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When should I get users to test my site?

February 12, 2020 - Fifteen

With any new website, either a whole new development or simply just a refresh if you feel your design is lacking in engaging your customers, then you need to uncover why?

User testing is important for any website project and it can happen at key milestones throughout the project from the very beginning planning stages right through to the live and completed version you just launched.

Below are some of the key milestones when you can test your site, to ensure that you have considered your user’s needs.

  • When you start your planning – obtaining data from as many sources as possible to inform each of your decisions is key. This includes your users, by getting them to conduct a series of tasks on your site, you can begin to get into the mindset of how your users are thinking and what they are looking for. These tasks can be based on what you think the user might be looking for, for example, it could be product descriptions on eCommerce sites or contact information for enquiries on a brochure website. Once you have defined these tasks you can then get your users to try and find this information, encouraging them to think out loud while on their quest. By conducting testing at this early stage, you can gain key insights into what your users might be thinking or expecting. For example, are the names of your pages obvious to your users or does your target audience really know that the three-lined burgers in the corner is your menu without it explicitly saying so?

  • When you have completed your design phase and your about to progress to build – before investing into the development of your site or paying a license fee for your chosen CMS, is what you have designed really fit for purpose? By creating high fidelity prototypes after design sign off and before applying the design to the CMS, now is an opportune time to test what you have done to date. At this stage, you can gain insight into how your prototypes are going to be perceived when they are a fully functioning website. With testing done at this stage, there is still time to make any changes needed to the site and ensure that everything you identified at the beginning is going to be worth the investment to your users.

  • Finally, when you have gone live and want to continue improving your customer engagement. As digital and technology continue to evolve, so does the way we interact with it. By continuing to test your site on an ongoing basis, you get the information you need directly from your audience. With this information, you can start planning future developments and phases to keep the user engaged and ensure conversion inline with your objectives.

Where to start with user testing?

The most important first step in any user testing activity is knowing who your users are.

Often classified as personas, this classification looks at your target audience segments and identifies similarities between them to create a stereotypical person who would be visiting your site.

Users of your site will fall between personas and outside of these parameters but by taking similarities, you can then identify a ‘typical’ user to your site.

Once these users have been defined, you then need to identify what you want them to achieve on your site and what they want to get from your site before they do what you want. For example, we want user A to make a purchase, but what we don’t know is what information they require or how they want to navigate the site to make a purchase.

With user testing, you can define your target audience and the different tasks we want them to achieve on your website. You might set 2 or 20 tasks for your users to try on your website, but the key factor is observing and listening to their thought process as to how they complete these tasks.

User testing can be conducted online via several different platforms or you can recruit participants into your own environment to conduct the tasks as you observe.

Whichever method you choose, it is crucial that your participants feel relaxed and comfortable in their environment to provide an honest account of their experience and expectations of your website.

We hope this information has demystified digital marketing a little. If you’re interested in pursuing a new digital campaign or would like us to do some user testing for you, contact us today.

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