Forget the Red Bull and last-minute cramming, the all-nighters, and bribing your friends for notes. Forget grades and wrong answers. This isn’t that kind of test. Instead, this kind of test will make your digital product better and pay dividends for years to come.
It’s user testing.
If there is one guaranteed thing you can do to propel your product forward faster, it’s user testing. And amazingly, 55% of companies aren’t doing it! Many believe that their budget doesn’t have room or their current resources don’t allow for it. But in the long run, many companies find out that they can’t afford not to do it.
After all, no digital product is perfect. Even yours. There are always going to be features to iterate and processes to optimize.
When you jump into the eye-opening world of user testing, you find out pretty quickly how to invest your resources as effectively as possible. Because if you don't know where your issues are, you can’t fix them. Digital products with fewer issues mean stickier products (which customers love).
Put it to the test.
User Testing vs. Usability Testing — What’s the Difference?
In the design world, there’s a lot of talk about user testing. Often what designers mean is usability testing. This is easy to get confused. We’re here to help.
User testing is figuring out if your product will be used by your demographic. With user testing, you're discovering how people currently solve a problem (or a need people have) and what your product will do to solve that problem (or fill that need).
Typical user testing questions are, "How do you solve (problem)?", "Do you see yourself using an app that helps you solve (problem)?" and "Would you pay to solve (problem)?"
Usability testing is understanding how your users actually use your digital product.
With usability testing, you observe how users interact with your product to understand how they engage and where they're getting stuck. This kind of testing sparks ideas or helps a team uncover a different way of designing the product to help their users effectively.
Common usability testing questions include "How would you log in to this screen?"; "Show me how you might add 5 items to your cart," and "Talk me through what you're doing on this screen."
So, to recap: User testing is testing your users. Usability testing tests your digital product’s interface. In that way, user testing can mean usability testing but not vice versa.
7 Simple & Cheap Ways to Start User Testing
User testing may seem time-consuming, expensive, or just plain out of scope for your team. But fear not! Anyone can perform user testing and start building stickier products. Download our list of simple ways to get your testing gears moving.
It Takes Two: Using Quantitative and Qualitative Data in User Testing
Analyzing how users interact with your digital product or how effectively it addresses a need can be daunting. But by knowing what you should test, it becomes an easier pill to swallow.
You’ve heard about qualitative and quantitative data. As it turns out, both are important data points to include in your digital product testing.
Quantitative research includes utilizing methods like surveys, analytics, and formal experiments to gather statistical data about users and user behavior. It’s data backed up by numbers.
Qualitative research is all about the heart of the matter: user interviews and observations. This method helps your team go more in-depth as to why your users interact with your product the way they do.
The thing with qualitative research is, it cannot be 100% objective. Even though your team might go to great lengths to stay objective, sometimes results can be interpreted to lean to a certain bias.
In short, the difference between qualitative and quantitative research is knowing how your user feels when they use your product vs. how long it takes them to perform an action.
And you need both if you’re going to build your best product.
User Testing Your Digital Product is Good for Developers, ROI, and More
You may know that one secret to building products customers love is through A/B testing. And it’s true! There is so much you can find out about your user’s preferences by testing one option over another. It can be fascinating to experiment with what design elements resonate best with your users.
But user testing takes experimenting to a whole new level.
Here’s what you can expect when your team leverages user testing:
Helps you understand the why behind trends You see, A/B testing allows you to pick out trends but you may not always know why. User testing is the vehicle that drives you there. That’s because hearing directly from your users can give you validation as to why trends may be happening. As a result, you can iterate and design a product based on what feedback your users give you with an inevitable rise of conversion rates to boot.
Reduces Developmental costs Another undeniable perk to user testing is reducing your development costs. It’s a fact that engineering hours go up when user testing isn't a thing. That’s right, developers can spend up to 50% of their time fixing issues that could have been uncovered through a user survey or follow-up conversation about a user complaint. Plus, it's better to design things once, correctly, than have to go back and do it over again. You know— measure twice, cut once?
Higher ROI on user-test growth strategy If you’re not convinced that user testing can help your product yet, get this: A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that companies who put human-centered (read: user-tested) design methods at the core of their growth strategy see a 228% higher ROI than the S&P 500. User testing, hands down, gives you a higher ROI on your growth strategy.
Provides an unbiased perspective of your product Lastly, you get an unbiased perspective. When you’re too close to your product, you don’t notice what isn’t working simply because you lack a fresh perspective. It happens to everyone. You’re too close to it and too familiar. Cue: your users! They can give you the fresh eyes you need to wake you up to something that needs attention. Not a bad way to create some brand loyalty, either.
If you’ve needed a kick in the butt to improve your conversion rates or increase your digital product’s stickiness, user testing is waiting for you. Good luck!