Should I usability test my website? This is a question many business owners ask themselves at various points. If you offer products or services to customers through your website, the answer is a definite: “yes.” Below we’ll explain how usability testing all the technologies your company uses, including your website, can hugely benefit your customers, and ultimately your bottom line.
What Is Usability Testing?
In short, usability.gov defines usability testing as:
evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.
So, usability testing is a way of exploring how useful a product or service is to your customers, in other words. Why do this?
When conducting usability testing, your goal is to assess usability, which Jakob Nielsen defines as:
Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.
Your business has a lot of touchpoints that customers use to purchase your product or service. These may include:
- Your company website
- An e-commerce system
- Social media
- A mobile app
Usability testing can help you assess how easy all these touchpoints are to use. Can customers quickly and easily access and use each one in order to learn about your company, learn about your products and services, and make a purchase?
If you haven’t tested your company’s technologies, you can’t be sure what the answer to this question is. And if you aren’t sure how easy your technologies are to use, can you be sure they’re as easy to use as those of your competition?
And above all: your website is often the first thing that a potential client, customer, or user sees that represents your organization, who you are, and what you have to offer. Your website is also a gateway to help those people access the other technologies that your company offers, such as mobile apps, software, and other solutions.
Reason #1 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Your Company’s Credibility
One of the primary reasons that you should consider usability testing your company’s technologies is the impact that poor usability can have on your company’s credibility.
In a recent survey that asked, “Would you buy from a company that has a poorly designed, hard to navigate, or outdated website?” a staggering 85.8% of respondents said no.
If an overwhelming number of prospective customers find your website off-putting and immediately leave your website for a competitor’s, the hope that those customers will ever purchase from you greatly diminishes. Doing a usability test of your company’s website can help you figure out what problems your current design layout or content poses, and where improvements can be made. Fixing these issues means more people will want to stay on your site and browse through the other products and services that you offer.
You not only improve the design and experience of people on your website, but improve your company’s credibility as well.
Reason #2 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: You Don’t Need That Many Test Users
One of the common misconceptions that stops a lot of companies from doing usability testing is the belief that you need to test with hundreds or thousands of people.
That is simply not the case!
In fact, in order to find a vast majority of the errors that your website may have, you only need to test with about 5 users, especially if you plan on conducting multiple tests. 5 users can help you find approximately 85% of usability problems facing your website, and if there are major problems that exist, fixing that 85% can drastically improve the usability of your website and the perception of potential clients and customers. If your company offers a wide range of products and services and thus has a very wide-ranging customer base, however, you may want to test about with 3-4 users per customer group.
Our only caution with testing is that in order for it to truly be successful you need to test with people outside of your company. As Craig Tomlin cautions, you want to avoid any bias you have in testing your own website. People that work for your company may already know where things are, how things work, and may give you “false positives” that things are working well on your website. If you test with people external to your site, with those people who are truly coming to your company in search of a product or service, you’ll get a much better understanding of what is working or not working.
Reason #3 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Usability Testing Can Be Cost-Effective
Another misconception about usability testing is that it can be expensive to complete, even if you’re only testing 5 people. However, this is another misconception.
One of our favorite techniques in usability testing is what is referred to as Lean UX, a process meant for quick and efficient usability testing. Lean UX focuses on 3 main goals or stages:
If we focus on testing with small groups of users, and doing multiple tests, we can more quickly and efficiently gain insight into what is working or not working on our website. We take our design, get our test users, and test it, and then take what we learn and refine our design. Then we keep going through that process until we’re satisfied we’ve solved the problems with our design.
Going through this Lean UX cycle throughout the process of building or redesigning your website rather than at the end when it’s finished can help you spot a lot of problems or issues early on and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in billable hours or potential lost revenue.