I’ve always been interested in user experience testing for websites, especially after reading Steve Krug, Don’t make me think! a few years back. So when I had an offer of a free usability test on my own website I thought it would be worth a shot.
The test was from UserTesting.com, an online user testing company offering inexpensive recorded user tests, so you can see how users interact with your website. There are others available and this is NOT an affiliate blog post!
Setting up your test is easy, and the process allows you to give the tester tasks to perform, such as testing a purchase path or a sign-up process. Then you can assign a set of questions to ask the tester.
It only takes a few minutes to finish and submit your test. A single tester usually costs $39.
I sat back and waited for the results to come through. Results arrived in my inbox after only 42 minutes, which is pretty impressive.
So, what did they tell me? Okay, so lets realise this is only one test, so I would be inclined to do a series, or set of concurrent tests to really get some value. This is the experience of one person, so I would not base all my actions on one tester.
I was quite surprised at the detail the tester went into. I like the way everything he was thinking was blurted out for me to hear. If i’d shown one of my colleagues my site they would probably have um’ed and ar’ed a bit and said they liked it, rather than explaining how they were thinking while they were browsing. It is great that they have no prior knowledge of your test, they have no preconceptions or outside influence to skew their responses.
My user test showed me a few things that I had not considered, and to be quite honest I was quite surprised. When you are so close to something it is very difficult to see the wood for the trees. An outside perspective is such a useful tool to help you back on the right path.
The tester also completes a short questionnaire with responses to my initial questions.
This kind of user testing isn’t new, but it is now available for small businesses for a relatively small fee, and I think it is a great option when building or reviewing your site. I would recommend my clients use a service like this to test their sites or landing pages in a very short timescale.
This quick test (which took me no more that 5 minutes to set up) has been a useful experience and better than I anticipated. You no longer need to spend thousands of pounds on simple user testing, when it is so easily available.
I have one free user test if anybody would like to try it.