I mean do you really, really know what your customer experience is like? Have you gone through the processes you expect customers to? Have you used your site in the way you expect customers to? Have you done so on multiple devices on multiple platforms? You most definitely should.
Why, you ask? Well, the answer is quite simple – because it is so easy to overlook or gloss over real trouble spots or functionality issues in your online processes. All of the marketing in the world cannot make up for a poor web site experience for a customer or worse, a potential customer! You could have the most kick ass campaigns running out there and if what a person is lead to is a frustrating or difficult experience, you have just wasted all of that marketing money when they get annoyed and leave your client’s site.
I posted a rather snarky tweet to LinkedIn earlier this week on this topic:
Does anyone at @LinkedIn spend any time trying to use the site as people want to use it? Wow is the interface un-user-friendly.
— Julie F Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon) November 16, 2015
I got a very quick response from LinkedIn asking for more specific feedback, which I appreciated. But here is the truth – LinkedIn has gotten really hard to use. My general comments to them were that if what they want people to do is spend time on the site, working on building connections and using those connections to make other connections, well that is a painful process. The way the site functions has changed over the years, which is a good thing. But sometimes, as things change, grow or evolve technologically, things that used to be simple and useful are simply no longer either. I think LinkedIn is a great example of this phenomenon.
Have you tried to browse through your own connections, or even worse one of your connections’ connections lately? It is downright painful. Navigating from a larger list to then view a specific profile and then get back to that list to continue browsing where you left off is all but impossible. Wondering why engagement and time on site figures are dropping off for LinkedIn? This might be a clue, if anyone is actually looking for clues from the point of view of their users.
I’m not trying to pick on LinkedIn here. They are by no means the only site guilty of this type of thing. The bigger question I want you to take away from this post is to figure out if any of your clients’ sites are guilty of this. Start with the landing pages. Actually go through the steps you expect a potential customer to go through.
Questions To Keep In Mind While Testing The User Experience
- Are there any issues you encounter either on the page in general or during the desired conversion process?
- Does the page take forever to load?
- Are there places where things are not 100% clear in what a visitor is supposed to do?
- Are there places where the functionality is not functioning properly?
- Is there solid carry through from ad copy to landing page to whatever a person can do next?
- Are the answers to the above questions the same in multiple browsers and on multiple devices?
Expand Your Testing Pool To Include More Than You & Your Client
I also think it is a great practice to have others you can call on to do some of this user testing as well. Those testers, ideally, should be:
- Not overly technically savvy (unless the client’s target audience is very tech savvy)
- Not very familiar with the client’s site (having someone test Amazon who uses Amazon a lot is not the same as an unfamiliar tester doing it)
- Not told prior to testing what the end goal of the interaction is supposed to be
You don’t even need a huge sample set to get some really valuable feedback. For instance, if your site has major technical issues on an Android phone and you’ve only ever tested it on iPhones, you can find that out pretty quickly. If you are asking for information that people are hesitant to provide or have questions about how secure your site is if they provide it, you can find that out pretty quickly. If they have absolutely no idea what they are supposed to do on the page, you can also find that out pretty quickly. Are you sensing a theme here yet?
It is so well worth your time to do this kind of testing. Most clients don’t do it and they will be very appreciative if you are able to uncover issues on their sites that may be tanking conversions! Sometimes it is even as simple as changing one bit of terminology because a client has made assumptions about their potential customers’ specific knowledge about their industry, product or service. Or fixing an input type on a form to make it easier for mobile users to complete the task. You won’t know until you start investigating!
Developers and engineers, who are the most responsible for the way sites function and how they evolve, have a very particular point of view. They design and create things to function. They are given a set of parameters for what actually needs to happen and they create the code that allows those actions to happen. They are generally quite good at these tasks. But, again in general, developers and engineers are not looking at their work from your end users’ perspective. They are not taking into account anything about the people who will be using what they build. They are just trying to execute what you’ve asked them to execute. To really create online experiences that work for the intended audiences, you need a team effort with people testing and sharing “actual person” feedback with the development team so that the end result is a site or page that not just technically functions as intended, but works for the people you want to use it.
Always love to hear what you think or what you’ve tried in testing user experiences for yourself or clients. Sound off in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@NeptuneMoon).