If you have already read our article about user experience design, you would have a fair idea about how designing a good user experience is no longer just about the aesthetic appeal of a website.
In spite of all the analysis and data-driven user experience design, there are a number of reasons why the visitors may not behave the way we expect or want them to. This could be because of changing market dynamics, changing visitor preferences, or even possible enhancements to the user experience that are lacking in your website.
This is where user experience testing comes in. In most dynamic and progressive websites that depend heavily on online visitors for their business, user experience testing is an on-going effort that is given almost as much importance as their marketing efforts.
What is user experience testing?
How do you know whether a given page in a website is performing as well as it can? How do you know whether it provides the best possible user experience? There is no better way to determine this than to test different versions and variations of the pages in your website. The process of using qualitative and quantitative methods to test different versions of a web page to test and optimize user experience is called user experience testing. The ultimate goal of user experience testing is to help a website achieve its marketing goals and get the maximum engagement and interaction with the visitors that the website gets.
User experience testing also helps a business identify visitor needs and can provide ideas and insights into adding new dimensions to your business or website. It helps you engage better and optimize the communication with the visitors to your website.
Testing user experience
There are many ways to test user experience. Below are the most common:
In A/B testing, you create two variations of a page design where the two versions are almost the same with just one element changed. The purpose of this form of testing is to see the impact of changing one element on a page on visitor behavior. By refining and fine tuning each element of a page, you end up optimizing the user experience on the page helping it perform better.
Unlike A/B testing, multivariate testing takes a more radical approach. Instead of changing just one element of a page and instead of testing two versions, you can testing multiple content / creative approaches simultaneously to check which approach works better with visitors. Often multivariate testing is used to compare completely different ideas to shortlist the ones that seem promising, before using A/B testing to refine the selected idea further.
The Google Analytics in-page analysis is a free tool that shows you where people are clicking when they land on a page in your site. Knowing what people are doing on your website is the first step towards making them do what you want them to do. Using this data, you can make refinements to the page layout, placement and design of your call to action elements, etc. Once the changes are implemented, you can study changes to visitor behavior and repeat the process till you are satisfied with the behavior of the visitors to your website.
While the above are data-driven and objective methods of testing user experience, a subjective method of testing user experience is focus groups. In focus group studies a pre-selected group of people who closely represent your target user group provide their feedback on the experience they had on your website or its prototype. This feedback can help you make refinements to your page prototypes till you arrive at a layout that your target group best identifies with.
One on one testing is reviewing the various aspects of your user experience with individual visitors to get feedback. Often this form of user experience testing is done with existing customers or visitors who have provided feedback about the site in the past.
Of course there are many other forms of user experience testing, but these are the most popular and common. The most important element of user experience testing is the analysis and interpretation of the results. Both the testing and the analysis is best done by professionals with experience in user experience testing and analysis.
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CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area