1 Crucial Step to Improve Your Website
There is no such thing as the “average user” on the Internet. No matter how good your insights, you are going to need input from people who do not think like you. The most effective way to do this is through user testing.
User testing is not a focus group. Focus groups are where users tell you what they think they want (or sometimes what they think you want to hear). Focus groups have a place, but they are not the same as user testing. User testing is the most often overlooked phase in development projects.
Simply defined, user testing is when you observe a person using your application or website. In an ideal scenario, you'd provide no instructions. Tell them to do what they would do if you were not there to guide them.
You will discover that nothing beats sitting with your customers and observing them utilizing your site. Things that are natural to you are not natural to your buyers.
Next time you visit your customer, ask them to do a few searches on your site with you watching. Start by asking them to visit your site as normal. You might find it surprising that they may Google your name (or company) rather than type in the domain name. That alone will be insightful and make you think about how customers get to your web site.
Once on your site, do they then use your search bar or the categories to find their item? Do they use the filters on the left or do they click through items? I’ll bet that the majority of your users do not use your site the way you think they do.
User testing will give you so many useful insights. You will need to take action on those insights, but you also will need to decide which insights are unique. Some issues are specific to a single user rather than a broader group. In some cases, you can use marketing to better educate your customers on how to use your site. In others, you’ll have to make changes to the site. In some cases, you'll have to decide that the change is not worth it for the majority of your users.
User testing is significantly important to your success on the Web. With so many online competitors, your customers can leave your site and visit a competitor with a single button click.
One final piece of advice: User testing is a great excuse to visit a client face to face and spend time with them. So many clients no longer want you in their office, so asking them to allow you to observe them interacting with your site is a great excuse to visit them. You and your client both might be surprised at the insights, and you just might leave with a sale.
E Dale Denham Author's page Dale is a business leader who is best known for providing business-focused I.T. leadership. He believes technology is not limited to increasing efficiency, but is essential to driving revenue. Dale strongly believes having great people is the critical ingredient to success no matter how great your technology might be.Known to many in the promotional products industry as a leading technologist, Dale is using his mix of business and technology to help drive the industry forward. One of the leaders and founders of the PromoStandards effort, Dale and others are working hard to address industry inefficiencies. Dale also is a board member of PPAI through 2018.Follow Dale on Twitter @daledenham or connect with him on LinkedIn via http://www.linkedin.com/in/daledenham.