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As your customers and prospects interact with various digital touchpoints of your business, their perception of your brand is formed and influenced by their experiences. According to one Forrester report, a well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversions by 200%.

Gaining an understanding of how people use your website or digital experience platform (DXP) is vital if you want to achieve high user satisfaction and improve brand perception. A key tool for this goal is usability testing — the process of talking to and observing your users as they interact with your site or app to uncover their needs and concerns. This testing helps your customer experience (CX) teams discover if your target users can complete desired tasks successfully and without issues.

By focusing on your target audiences’ needs and improving user experience (UX) with your digital touchpoints, your company will be able to provide a better customer experience, increase customer loyalty, and gain more conversions.

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The benefits of user testing with your target audience

Usability testing measures behavior, not preference.
Usability testing offers a more accurate view of the user experience with your digital assets than other forms of research. For example, focus groups allow users to state their preferences and enable researchers to draw conclusions about how users react to an experience. However, focus groups can be influenced by one or two dominant people in the session, which can make the output very biased. On the other hand, usability testing examines each user’s individual behavior and allows them to perform tasks in their own “natural environment.” These testing conditions offer further insight into users’ goals, motivations, and frustrations. By examining the insights gained from usability testing, we can better determine the functionality of the product or service — and how to improve it.

Understanding your target audience delivers conversions and value.
We all intend to keep our customers in mind when we design a website or app. But how certain are you that you really understand your users? Can you honestly say that you know exactly how your different audiences make their purchase decisions? Do your digital experiences let your audiences find and do everything they want to at each stage of their customer journey? The time you invest to better understand your target users’ behaviors ensures that your end product will be relevant and engaging.

User feedback at an early stage improves product performance.
Early-stage feedback can tell you what your customer thinks about your digital experience and how it stacks up against your competition. Knowing about the potential threats from the competition will give you an advantage to act on and improve your product's weaknesses. According to Roger Pressman, author of Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.” Moreover, early testing helps the team focus on user priorities and needs, while balancing them with the business goals.

Greater user satisfaction builds customer loyalty.
Once you improve your digital tools based on testing results, their usability is enhanced, which leads to greater user adoption, more leads, and increased brand loyalty. You can measure how these factors improve over time by using tools such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), System Usability Scale (SUS), task success rates, and other quantifiable metrics. 

See how user behavior changes on different devices.
The functionality that your target users may want on a desktop or laptop may be different than what they need on their phone or even on a smart device. CX teams can test multiple devices to see how the user’s behavior changes between channels. In doing so, the team arrives with valuable insights into the customer journey.

Debunk the myth that “We don’t need to test our design — we’re the experts.”
Even if you are an experienced stakeholder, designer, or developer, it is impossible for you to know everything about your users and their needs. Chances are that we still have our own experiences and knowledge influencing our ideas, which is why it is so important to empathize with users and understand why they view things differently.

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Three tips for making your usability testing effective

With all these reasons to implement usability testing for your own digital experiences, you may now be wondering how to go about it yourself. We have three recommendations to share for any usability testing project:

  1. Create a testing plan or proposal. As part of your testing plan, determine the objectives, questions, tasks, and what type of usability testing your team should move forward with. For example, explorative methods, such as paper prototyping, present the design of a product to users and are typically used during the earliest stages of the design process. Assessment methods, such as eye-tracking and moderated testing, track users’ reactions and errors and are used with more interactive prototypes or live websites and mobile apps. 
  2. Recruit the right participants. Before diving into usability testing, it’s crucial to recruit the right participants to test. Your participants should represent your target group of end users, or else your results will not translate into something you can use. For example, if your website’s objective is to aid in selling a house, you wouldn’t want input from people who are not looking at buying houses. Conducting effective user research and creating user personas based as much as possible on information about real users can be integral to recruiting the right participants for usability testing.
  3. Conduct the tests and synthesize results into a report with actionable items. Consolidate and analyze all test observations, recordings, and notes to create an insightful report of the findings. Include quantitative and qualitative feedback in the report, such as user quotes, task success/failure rates, observations, NPS metrics, SUS scores, and a list of actionable items that can be improved upon based on feedback.

For additional information about usability testing, feel free to check out our quick guide to improving your customer experience.

Improving your customer experience is not a linear process, nor should it be a one-time activity. At its most effective, it involves an iterative cycle of analysis and optimization at multiple project stages. By incorporating your customers’ input as part of the development process, you can identify barriers and roadblocks more quickly and ultimately improve the customer experience. If you need help with this process, let’s talk about how we can help you create a digital experience that meets your business goals and satisfies your audience’s needs.

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