The importance of User Testing

I see it all the time, people just creating designs that look nice and shoving them up not giving any consideration to how users will interact with that oh so special design they made for the their clients. From experience I’ve noticed how people don’t really care about design that much but more how easy it is to use the site and do the tasks they went on the website to accomplish. Look at Facebook for instance, no one goes on there and compliments how well designed it is but you rarely hear a complaint about how people can’t find where someones photos are or how they can’t see updates from their friends.

What is user testing?

Just in case you’ve been stuck in the dark ages for the past 20 years I’ll cover what user testing actually is. User testing is what it says on the tin, it’s simply gathering some sample users and letting them loose on your website with the intention to do tasks such as find a certain piece of information or try and log in from this particular page.

It’s a simple way to find out how easy tasks can be completed on your website and can show you what needs improving. In essence you would use it as a way to test how the website flows and how easy it is for people to interact with the site. After all, you would probably click off a site after a couple seconds if you couldn’t find the information you were looking for and try the next result in googles endless stream of links.

Why should you use user testing?

Usability is quintessential to any website, no matter how big or small it may be. If a user cannot find what they want, they will go away and it’s your job as a web developer to get people to stay on the sites you’re creating. Why would anyone hire a web designer who can’t make websites people want to go to.

If you take in the results of your usability testing results then you will be able to build up a better and more coherent website people are more likely to visit and stay on. After all people are more likely to leave your website if they cannot find what they’re looking for within three clicks.

How we do user testing

Just like every web design agency out there we always strive to make the best websites we can and the biggest part of this is usability. It’s something we take huge amounts of care over but when it comes down to it, a web designer or developer is always going to to use a website in a different way to the standard Joe Bloggs around the corner. We know all the tips and tricks there are that web developers use to attract users and how to use them to our advantage. That’s why we use random users to test our websites, just to make sure that we haven’t missed anything out.

Luckily for us, there is a free app that does user testing for you. This app is called Peek and it’s actually really good. The way it works is, you give the app the website you want them to test and roughly a day later you have a screencast of your website’s user test. Here’s our websites user test below:

I can’t stress it enough how important it is to user test your websites, it will give you insights into how people will you use it which you didn’t even know. You might have even missed out a crucial link or page that could be the be all or end all of your website. All the big websites do it and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it either.