UX testing: How to get the best user experience

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In the world of the always-on connected consumer, it’s no longer enough to have a great product that carries a less than great customer journey. All aspects of experience with a brand are constantly being scrutinised, and these experiences will make a difference when it comes to consumer decision making.

If we take off our marketing hats, we’re all consumers; and we’ve all felt it… the frustration of a bad user experience:

  • That simple piece of product research that takes up more of your time than it should.
  • The clunky registration process that leaves you with doubts about an organisation’s credibility.
  • The promotional email you receive, but can’t quite figure out how to apply to your order.
  • The illogical flow of a transaction that leads to an abandoned basket.
  • Or, perhaps the most frustrating of all – the “contact us” journey which feels about as efficient as a carrier pigeon.

It’s easy to see how all of the above can have a damaging effect, whether it’s through a reduction in brand loyalty, or the failure to convert a prospect customer – bad user experience can seriously impact on the overall health of a brand.

There is a way to mitigate the risk. It may sound over-simplistic, but investing in a programme of UX testing will go a long way towards delivering a great experience and clear understanding of your offer.

You’re not a mindreader

UX designers will always strive to foresee and address every flaw in the user journey, but unless we get user feedback we won’t know how people really use and perceive what has been created. Time and resources are limited, and conducting UX testing, early and often, helps you invest them effectively. If you’re not already running user experience tests, here are a few reasons why you should:

Get a fresh (and neutral) perspective on your user experience

If you’re close to anything, it can be hard to look at it without bias. UX testing gives you the ability to see your design through the eyes of the end user. An unbiased process that identifies where improvements can be made, and where the development focus should be to deliver a truly delightful experience.

Increase revenue

Conducting UX testing early and often will help you do two things to increase your revenue:

  • Increase conversion rates. User testing will highlight which parts of your experience frustrate people, where they get confused and what prevents conversion. It’s the perfect partner to A/B testing and analytics, as it provides insights into why your users do what they do, allowing changes to be made to have the biggest impact on conversion rate. It’s easier to double conversion rates than it is to double traffic.
  • Improve retention and brand advocacy. Consumers have come to expect great user experiences. When they don’t get this, the competition is only a few clicks away. Thinking beyond the negative; incorporating user input into the design process can help develop excellent, game-changing user experiences – genuinely newsworthy, that consumers can’t wait to tell friends and family about.

Improve efficiencies and mitigate risk

Consumer feedback will help you make research-evidenced, user-centred design decisions. These user insights can help the avoidance of expensive development errors, and proactively address experience issues. This could be about ensuring the basics are absolutely right, or evaluating how far consumers can be stretched in terms of innovative design ideas.

Maximise valuable development time and costs by conducting UX research before you start building, and throughout the development cycle.

Just don’t be “that” brand

“That” brand being the one which fails to understand the basic needs of the consumer.

One of the largest, and most tangible, benefits of UX testing is the ability to uncover pressure points and breaks in the user experience; often the things that are hardest to spot without conducting the research.

An effective UX testing programme places real users on realistic missions with your brand – and can uncover all manner of issues, from confusing navigation to illogical search returns, via buttons that don’t work effectively on mobile. These will invariably differ from the issues you’ll find when you test it on your own (or with your team), in your office.

The removal of these types of breaks is the stepping stone to a user experience that can delight consumers.

Consumers not only recognise good user experience design, but they have come to expect it, and they are willing to vote with their spend if they don’t get it. UX testing is best implemented as early as possible in the development process – later on and it can be more difficult (and expensive) to effect change.

Sam Bannister, head of insight, Brass

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