User testing, also known as usability testing, is a stage in the design process of a product or service that involves having human users try out and evaluate the product for further development. User testing seeks to record, describe, and analyze the user experience of the product, whether in part or as a whole. At its simplest, this process seeks to determine how the potential members of a product’s target audience will actually use it, which can often differ significantly from how the business developing said product imagines it will be used.
In web design, user testing can provide web developers with valuable information on possible usability issues or areas for improvement. However, at present, many small enterprises and website projects elect to deprioritize user testing or skip it entirely, mostly because they consider it a poor use of time and resources. What these businesses don’t realize is that engaging in even basic user testing can deliver substantial ROI—especially because usability issues are always much harder and more costly to fix after your website has gone live.
We at SearchWorks offer professional web design services that understand the value and potential benefits of executing extensive user testing. In this feature, we’ll walk you through why user testing is important for your business website and what it can do for your organization.
Saves You Time and Resources
There’s no way around it—user testing, if you’re set on doing it the right way, is going to take a significant amount of time. After all, you’ll have to gather a group of people to test your website in a controlled environment, execute the tests, gather their input, and apply revisions. Ideally, you’ll even need to do this multiple times, at different stages of your site’s development.
However, while this lengthy might look like a waste of time and money at the outset, it will actually save you time when you consider the long-term benefits. The larger and more complex your website becomes, the more difficult and time-consuming it will be to fix any problems that arise. In contrast, addressing usability issues is likely to take much less time if you catch them while your website is still in the design or the development stage, when its structure is significantly simpler.
The same is true when you consider the monetary cost of user testing. Finding problems with your website late into the development stages or even after launch means that you’ll have to pay hefty redesign and recoding fees. The more extensive the scope of work that needs to be done on your website, the more you’ll have to shell out. Ultimately, it’s a much better investment to run usability tests earlier on and fix any problems that crop up then.
Enhances the End User Experience
User experience has considerable impact on the success or failure of a business website. This is truer today than ever before, considering just how many people use the internet to learn new things, connect with others, and purchase products and services.
If people who find you online are having difficulty navigating your website for whatever reason, such as if it loads slowly or its elements don’t work as intended, then they probably won’t have much incentive to get to know your company or buy what you’re trying to sell. What’s more, most internet users are inclined to share their positive and negative experiences online with others, so you can anticipate a lot of bad press if your website’s visitors come away less than pleased with it. Conversely, if your customers like you enough, they may just promote you to their personal networks.
Performing comprehensive user testing is one of the most reliable, if not the most reliable, ways to achieve truly user-centric web design. User testing shows that you’re interested in real people’s thoughts, impressions, and feelings about your site, and that you’re invested in creating an experience that will satisfy them. Do your potential customers want an eye-catching layout? A simple, streamlined navigation system? Fast loading times, or mobile optimization? The easiest way to find out is through user testing, and once you know what your audience needs, you can work on providing it.
Gives You Access to Unbiased Feedback
You might be tempted to get around the need to pay for a proper user testing regimen by having your site tested by friends or colleagues, but you can’t expect nearly the same quality of feedback from such people. The input a coworker gives you may be influenced by certain biases, such as their personal desire to please you. You’re much more likely to receive useful input on how your site works from hired testers, who are obligated to be objective.
A fast-loading, attractive, easily navigable website can be a powerful tool to turn casual browsers into returning customers. Performing user testing for a better customer experience is the best way to ensure that your business website meets your audience’s standards. These efforts can only be good for your company’s bottom line.