Should We User Test?

We explore the factors that influence whether you should invest in User Testing…

Since we launched Userfy 12 months ago, we have spent a great deal of time talking with clients about User Testing. Every discussion enhances our understanding, as each of our customers have their own slightly different set of needs, drivers and requirements. Over time, this has led us to spot the types of projects where User Testing can add maximum value and benefit.

Our approach to testing solutions with real users explores:

  • How effectively your value proposition is communicated and how to improve it.
  • Where users experience any confusion or frustration and how to develop a frictionless user experience.
  • How well the needs of your users are being met and what could be done better.

Here are four factors that affect the decision to invest in User Testing:

  1. How Much is at Stake?

One of the biggest factors in choosing whether or not to undertake User Testing is how much is riding on the project outcome.  By this, I mean for both the organisation and the individuals in the project team.

The organisation, may be entirely or heavily-dependant on the solution in question.  If the project falls short this can have serious consequences.

Additionally, if a project under-performs, it can reflect badly on the project team. It’s not a nice feeling being involved with a project that has missed the mark. Questions get asked, team members are left with nothing to shout about on their CV, and it can affect career progression.

Where the stakes are high and getting things right is critical, the case for User Testing is at its strongest.

  1. Solution Complexity

Even the simplest digital journeys benefit from User Testing as they can still cause a user to get confused or frustrated, leading to costly consequences.  But certainly, the more that’s happening, the more that can go wrong.  We’ve user tested the full range of solutions, from a brochure site with simple features, through to a financial application that was replicating an extended and varied off-line experience.

Whilst User Testing benefits the development of all solutions, more complex ones require thorough User Testing if they have any chance of working well and delivering a user experience that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

  1. Culture

Organisations, departments and teams sit on a wide spectrum when it comes to how customer focussed their culture is. When the loudest voice in an organisation or team (often a senior manager), thinks they already know all the answers, it becomes harder to champion the value of user research.

Fortunately, this type of culture is rare, as more and more companies recognise the need to develop a strong and effective user experience in order to stay ahead of the competition, retain existing customers and generate new ones.

At Userfy we have found that User Testing can be a catalyst for creating a more user-focused culture. Some of our clients have utilised short highlights of video footage from our User Testing sessions to help get buy-in from senior figures in their organisation – to show them undeniable evidence of the struggles users are having, and to help shift their perception away from thinking they already know everything about what their customers want, think and do.

  1. Previous Experience

People with previous experience of User Testing are often far more receptive to it. If they’ve already felt the reassurance and benefit of making evidence-based design decisions, there’s no going back to the old guessing games.

It’s a great feeling when we get inbound enquiries from a potential customer who already knows how they will benefit from User Testing. Once someone has witnessed the value that comes from testing a design, prototype or live solution with real users, they see it as an essential and integral part of the process and feel exposed without it.

Final Thoughts

In my own experience, these four factors all have a bearing on whether User Testing will be a good fit for a project. Crucially, they are interrelated, and can all affect each-other. A high-stakes project where a complex interface is being developed creates circumstances where User Testing is essential, yet if the culture isn’t right, the project can be put at much greater risk than necessary, by failing to engage with users as early as possible.

Phil Randall

Meet the author:

Phil Randall
Co-Founder and CEO at Userfy
07712669935

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