User experience and web design
When creating a new website, or enhancing or testing an existing website, it’s easy to have a focus which is too narrow for the range of users who your business intends to attract.
There will always be edge cases which fall to the side of the main customer journey, and catering for all edge cases is not easy and not always practicable. Time, budget and complexity can all play a part in deciding how much effort should be given to some edge cases, but it’s surprising how often this within the main flow are overlooked.
Don't let somebody else find the problems!
Sometimes things are hidden in plain sight, and our own habits and familiarity of an environment, process, or customer journey can allow us to simply walk (or look) right past them. That is until somebody else spots the problem and suddenly it becomes so obvious and nobody can seem to justify why they had missed it... sometimes for days, weeks or even months!
This is a good example of why a fresh pair of eyes with an unbiased approach to using your website can be really useful. User testing can fill that task, and could end up saving you a lot of money in lost revenue, poor customer experience and some potentially embarrassing reviews which could damage your brand.
Isn't it obvious?
Sometimes things which should be obvious are sometimes too obvious, and we miss them!
When you have a new website built, or prepare a new marketing campaign or make some changes to your current buying process, you might be unintentionally biased towards what you believe is the
obvious thing that your customers need to do.
Your customers might have a very different opinion to you!
You will have invested time and money into creating something which to you looks perfect, and will be provide your potential customers with everything they need to find whatever product, service or information they're looking for.
That's what you think. But your customers might have a different opinion.
If your business depends on it, it needs to be right. Right?
Consider the benefits of usability testing
So before you make too many assumptions on what works and what doesn't, consider the benefits of usability testing and have your website user tested.
Usability testing could involve your entire website, your purchasing process, your contact form, your search tool, your enrollment process, your promotional pages and anything else on your website which might have an impact on your customers and your business.
What is Usability Testing for Websites?
Website usability focuses on the how easy and inutitive a website is, including individual web pages and component.
To have someone independent who can take on a persona for a certain customer type and report back to you on their experience is very much as the heart of usability testing.
The only way to get UX design right is to test it
Source: Nielsen Norman Group
Participants in Usability Testing will provide feedback about how they interacted with your website, describing what they liked or disliked about their experience, and whether they found anything to be confusing, distracting, cluttered, hard to read, etc.
There might have been requirements or expectations which were either met or missed, and they might have some useful suggestions for improvement. The tester might be required to take the steps they think are the most obvious to locate specific information, perform a specific task or fulfil an objective set for them, and then provide feeback on their experience.
This feedback can be very valuable, so don't overlook the importance of having someone independent test your website.
Some examples of things which can easily be overlooked are covered in detail in the following an article on Usability Testing and another about International ecommerce