4 Reasons to Leverage User Testing to Improve Your Bottom Line

ArticleJanuary 17, 2018

We’ve heard a lot of questions about user experience design from “What is it?” to “Why would I spend money on that?” The core value of user experience design is the ability to optimize the usability of your site for your end user. But why is usability so important?

Because a good user experience helps ensure that your users are happy and engaged.

Happy and engaged users convert.

Frustrated or bored users will leave your site and likely never come back, effectively ending your relationship with them.

How do we know that good user experience design can make or break the success of a digital product? User research and usability testing allow us to track and analyze user receptivity and abandonment ratios. We can know when users abandon web pages, forms, or steps in the checkout process and we can find out why. By entwining analytics with qualitative research, we can quickly evaluate and optimize elements on your site. This customer-centric approach makes the site easier to use and builds trust with users.

1. There is tangible cost to making assumptions

Think about the goals of your website. Whether you have a simple brochure site or a B2B marketing machine, all of your goals start and end with people, your end users. You are trying to influence someone to take action, which is challenging without an in-depth understanding of audience behavior. There is a lot riding on the quality of your website’s user experience.

Banner size usability test

 We were able to drive traffic to a homepage CTA by decreasing the banner's height.

Sure, you can rely on your gut and make assumptions that may or may not be right. But a bad guess is risky and will most likely cost you. 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. Including usability research in your project budget and timeline will reduce the risk of developing the wrong UX solution for your customers. UX experts, Nielsen-Norman, found that spending just 10% of your development budget on usability could improve your conversion rate by 83%.

Robert Pressman made an early business justification for investing in usability research in his book Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach. He wrote, “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.” And we have seen this at Elevated Third as well. Uncovering user goals and usability issues early in the process saves time and money. And we can better influence user actions to align with business goals.

2. Gathering data has never been easier

Beginning this data-driven journey can seem daunting at first, especially if you don’t come from a research background.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of powerful, convenient, tools available to get your user research project off the ground. Check out our recent post reviewing tools and how to use them. Between Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Optimizely, you’ll have all you need to get started on effective, efficient user research. And with Google Tag Manager, the setup can be as simple as a one-time code installation.

HotJar heatmap

HotJar scroll depth report

3. Can’t I just install Google Analytics and call it a day?

Short answer—No. Google Analytics is an incredible tool, but only tells part of the story. Real insight is born out of a partnership between quantitative and qualitative insights.

Quantitative data flags user pain points and identifies areas for growth. Numbers can tell you what is happening, but your research is incomplete without understanding why the instances are happening. You need context from real users to validate theories drawn from the data. Making assumptions from standalone data is just as dangerous as making assumptions from hunches and guesswork.

Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics Dashboard

Pair your Google Analytics setup with a tool such as Hotjar which garners you on-page insights such as scroll and click heatmaps and user session recordings; You can also ask users directly for feedback via Hotjar’s polls and surveys features.

3. It’s easy to talk to users and setup usability tests

Talking to users is a critical part of the process and much simpler than you might think. All it takes is talking to 5 people to understand 85% of user problems. With the information they provide, you’ll be able to identify patterns to base changes.

User testing is extremely powerful and easy to do remotely. Using tools such as Optimizely and Usability hubs, we can test everything from labels, where users might look for a specific navigation item, and where a user is most likely to click on a button. Testing can have a low cost and time investment while returning highly impactful insights.

User interviews are also very insightful. Speaking directly with users gives us the ability to keep asking, “Why?” in real-time, digging down to the root of a user’s particular behavior. For a truly in-depth understanding of user needs, at least five user interviews is a must-have in the user research process.

4. Small adjustments bring major payoff

After you’ve done some research, it’s time to take a step back and review the data. This part is definitely the hardest part—a wall of raw data is overwhelming to just about everyone. You can begin to organize your data by creating groupings of similar feedback or issues users had. These grouping will help you identify trends and set priorities. For example, you might notice that only 25% of users are scrolling far enough to see the call to action on your web page. Time to move that button higher on the page! Simple solutions like making a call to action visible to more users will earn you a higher conversion rate. Iterations may be small, but they are powerful when it comes to improving your Key Performance Indicators!

In summary, usability is a critical aspect of your site. Spending a little time and money on user research will save you a lot of time, money and headache. If you forgo research for assumptions, you won’t uncover major usability problems until after launch when it’s much more expensive and difficult to make usability adjustments.

Header image: Patrick Perkins