Usability testing. Answers from the horse’s mouth
When you want more direct and qualitative data from real website visitors nothing beats a usability test. A website usability test typically consists of a few scenarios on either a live or proposed website flow. For instance, starting one page A how would you get to page B? These website visitors are asked questions by a moderator, whether it be a remote or in person test. As the participants continue through the scenario the moderator will ask them questions about why they did or didn’t do something.
It is important to note that these questions are typically quite vague in order to not ‘lead’ the participants. We have found that many usability testing plans have questions that drive a participant directly to what the client wants, therefore it’s not really a ‘test’ but more like instructions. Additionally, we have found usability participants also don’t want to do something wrong, so it is also important to remind them that it is more like an ink blot test than a final exam.
Despite the disclaimers in the above paragraph, usability tests are invaluable before launching a new website. We would recommend conducting a usability test before launching any new site redesign or new website flow. Why not get real responses from real visitors about whether web pages work or not ‘before’ pushing it live to everyone? It’s a very small investment that could save you from thousands of lost conversions!