User Testing and the Testing User approach explained

Sunday 25 September 2011 - Filed under Usability News

Do you know what your Users think about your web presence? Do you know which aspects need improving? Are your users satisfied with the interface design of your website? These are all questions which most businesses with a web site want answering. As I write this blog though comprehensive User Testing is mainly a luxury for large corporations with the capital to do so.

Suser testing information User Testing and the Testing User approach explainedtrange to think though that User Testing or Usability Testing can answer all these questions and is so unobtainable for most businesses. I mean the web site is the most important and central part for the majority of businesses, second only to the actual products or services that they sell. Its too important a question not to ask. Why do users leave your website?

Since the beginning of the decade bad Usability has been blamed for e-commerce sites having to watch up to 70% of their potential online sales slip away. This was billions of dollars in a time when even the ‘big players’ were having to let up to 50% walk on by.

In recent years a lot of businesses have seen the potential in the clever analytic tools e-commerce takes for granted. However Usability despite being identified as a crucial early stage investment, essential to a projects ultimate success, has largely been ignored by all but the large corporations who see it as a standard practice in product development.

All organizations can now go beyond their traditional barriers to reach a larger audience and its about time comprehensive User Testing became available to all businesses, but we have to ask the question. Why has it taken so long?

Well even for those with the money to spend Usability Testing has been seen as a necessary evil in which you have to play Russian Roulette with the different methods out there until you discover one that is fit for purpose. On that note I can tell you it’s no secret that there has been an apparent laziness amongst the User Testing industry to bring dated testing models up to date. It is that bad. Despite Usability Testing being a multi-million dollar industry, the attitude seems to be that you have to spend thousands to get any meaningful data. For a small or medium sized company that wants to experiment in the world of User Testing they have to go down the same road as a organization ten times their size and often get ten times less of a result.

In short so far good value Usability Testing has not resulted in good value results.

I mean the choices are very limited. Both organizations large and small can take their pick from either conducting a usability study themselves or commissioning User videos as a way to get feedback. Conducting a study yourself is costly. Yes its true you may get some Usability data, but really when considering the investments of cost and time associated with lab based User Testing is this really a solution for a small or medium business?

On the other hand you may go down the other route, where User Testing Videos are commissioned. These videos may also give some usability insight, but at an average of $40 each for what is essentially one persons opinion in a You tube style video, where is the full package?

The times we live in demand that the User Testing industry brings itself up to data. By that I mean the full Usability package. Businesses of all sizes are frustrated with the lack of choice and value for money. The Testing User package is the full package. Why should clients have to spend thousands to access a good enough size User Testing panel? Why should they have to waste time extracting, analyzing and presenting this data themselves? Why cant the technology available allow for this to be done in a comprehensive and affordable way?

Web Usability surveys are now very powerful tools. Since the massive expansion of the internet at the beginning of the decade it has become a key method employed by most Usability experts. User Testing can deliver better sales, better retention, better perception and a better brand.

2011-09-25  »  Sam

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