User testing should be baked in to every stage of experience design, but when time is short and budgets are tight it can become a one-time-only box to be ticked, or even not happen at all. Here are some reminders of why user testing is so important in designing successful products and experiences.
It can double your conversion rates
Driving more traffic to a website is great, but web traffic alone won’t improve the bottom line; these users need to convert. Usability testing will uncover what’s working and what isn’t. It will reveal any barriers to conversion such as a lack of clarity, lack of information (or too much of it), confusing navigation or overly long checkout process. No matter how diligent and experienced the team is there are always likely to be points in the journey where users stumble over issues that were not foreseen.
It reduces the risk of failure
In our everyday lives we constantly look for ways to mitigate risk, whether it’s trying a sample size product or taking out insurance. User testing is a solid way of reducing the risk, so it’s perhaps surprising that sometimes it’s one of the first things to be cut or reduced because of tight deadlines or budget constraints. If a project is low risk then perhaps it might not matter, but if the risk is substantial then it’s worth reconsidering. That extra month on the timeline or increase in costs might save you from an expensive failure.
Every business is unique
And so is their audience. Strategists, CX, UX and UI designers and other practitioners may have a strong hunch what will work, using best practice and drawing on all their collective experience, but user testing is crucial to validate the thinking. It may also offer fresh perspectives which have wider significance to the business – perhaps a service needs to be re-thought or additional back-end processes need to be put in place to improve a customer journey. Conversion will only be optimised when experiences are genuinely built around the user.
Test subjects are a useful counterpoint to superusers
Client stakeholders are fundamental to the project team. They know the product inside out and have vital understanding and experience. But as ‘superusers’ they may not realise that what seems straightforward to them might be baffling to people viewing it for the first time. Clients may also be under pressure to make decisions that suit the business, but don’t provide a great experience for customers. Feedback from usability testing will arm them with the facts. It will enable them to see things from the customer’s point of view and empower them to change mindsets within the business if necessary.
It provides neutral ground for conflict resolution
User testing provides an excellent way of reaching a consensus. On any big project with a multitude of stakeholders there are likely to be times when opinions differ. User testing can take the heat out of the situation and show a clear direction forward based on real human behaviour. Once there is evidence that something is, or isn’t, working, or that one course of action is more effective than another, it’s no longer about who has the loudest voice in the room, it’s about the reality of the situation.
User attitudes may have changed since Covid
The world today is a different place from the one we knew in 2019. Things that we took for granted – holidays, concerts, popping round to each other’s houses – have been off limits for months and now come with levels of risk attached. Safety has become a central issue for everything from events management to retail and travel, and customers need to feel confident and reassured that businesses are doing everything they can to mitigate both health and financial risks. User testing is the best way to stop would-be customers voting with their feet if they don’t like what they find.
In the end it will save money
It’s a false economy not to carry out usability testing right from the start. In a complex project like a web or app build, fixing problems early on in the process will cost a fraction of what it would take further down the line. one wants to rack up hundreds of hours of time and resource developing features that it turns out users aren’t interested in or abandon because it’s confusing. Creating satisfying and intuitive features drives conversion, while dealing with issues often raised with customer support teams may allow savings to be made there too.
At BIO, getting fresh perspectives from usability testing is just one of the methods we use to create outstanding experiences based on real human insights. If you’d like to talk to us about current business challenges contact us here