Do-it-Yourself User Testing: Get big insights for little (or no) cost

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Every year, companies spend billions of dollars developing new products and services for the web, only to launch them to an indifferent reception, or worse. Most of these struggling products share at …

Every year, companies spend billions of dollars developing new products and services for the web, only to launch them to an indifferent reception, or worse. Most of these struggling products share at least one thing in common. Their teams didn't get customer feedback early in the design process.

If you're like most Internet leaders, you see the value of testing early with your customers, but you don't have the time or budget to hire outside consultants. This white paper shows you how you can test on your own – quickly and inexpensively – and get insights you need to succeed.

Includes a list of helpful book resources.

More in: Business , Technology
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  • 1. MODUS ASSOCIATES : Do-It-Yourself SeriesDo-It-YourselfUser Testing:Get Big Customer Insights for Little (or No) Cost
  • 2. Do-it-Yourself User TestingGet big customer insights for little (or no) costWant a better website? Just ask.Every year companies spend billions of dollars developing new products and services for the web, onlyto launch them to an indifferent reception, or worse. Most of these struggling products share at leastone thing in common: their teams didn’t get customer feedback early in the design process.If you think it’s too costly or time-consuming to involve your customers in the design process, thinkagain. The cost of excluding them can be much higher. Research shows that correcting problemswhen a product is in development costs 10 times as much as fixing the same problem in design. If theproduct is already in the marketplace, it costs 100 times as much relative to fixing it in design (Gilb,1988). And that’s just the financial cost.If you’re like most Internet executives, you see the value of testing early with customers, but you justdon’t have the time or the budget to do so. Here’s how you can test on your own – quickly – and stillget insights that will put you on the path to success.When?It’s never too early to listen to your customersThere are many creative ways to get feedback and insights from your customers during the design “ When you know whatprocess. For example: problems people have, o Show customers your early page designs on paper, before they are built, to get their you are much less likely reactions to create solutions that o Observe customers using your current website to get impressions of their experience and address the wrong uncover pain points problem, or worse, no o Watch customers use your competitors’ sites or products to see what they think works and problem at all.” what doesn’t o If you are redesigning a process (e.g. a registration form or shopping cart), review any new steps with your customers to see if they are easy to understand Mike Kuniavsky Observing the User ExperienceWho?Small groups of customers can produce big insightsYou don’t need to show your ideas to a large group of customers. In fact, getting feedback from just ahandful of customers early can be more valuable than asking dozens later in the development process.A small sample size of six to eight customers is usually a good target for testing.Ideally, you’ll speak to members of your target audience, especially if you are creating a niche product.But if your new site is for a broad audience, showing your ideas to anyone, even your neighbor or yourUncle Max, can uncover important insights. Do-it-Yourself User Testing: Get big customer insights for little (or no) cost © Modus Associates, LLC www.modusassociates.com 2
  • 3. Where?You don’t need a formal testing labIf you are conducting a full-scale usability test late in the product development cycle, werecommend using a testing facility where you can track users’ reaction in a systematic way.But for testing user reactions early in the design process, the conference room down thehall will work just fine. All you need is a table, a chair, a moderator and a test subject. Justmake sure you audiotape the proceedings or have a colleague take notes to share with yourdesign team later.What?A simple sketch will doYou don’t need to show your customers a fully-designed and functioning web site in orderto get their reaction to it. In fact, reviewing a simple sketch or paper prototype is oftenall you need to garner important and sometimes surprising insights. Paper prototypes areespecially useful for: o Sharing new navigation schemes and naming conventions to find out if they About Us l My Account Shopping Cart Order Status My Swatches Sign Out are intuitive Client Logo Positioning Line for Brand customer service (800) 555-1212 find ideas my Account customer service International o Testing new features or changes to existing features, like a search form or Secondary Nav 1 Secondary Nav 2 Need Help? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing Secondary Nav 3 elitlest eros. Etiam tellus. Featured Brand shopping cart, to see if they make things better or worse product help link Secondary Nav 4 general help link general help link Secondary Nav 5 Ideas Internal Marketing Space Product Quick Finder that surfaces content from the Ideas section. Keyword, SKU, name Projects + Tutorials New Collections Only Visit the Making It Fun Blog Lorem Multi All Colors See all Brads All DesignersHow? Featured Featured Featured All Products Find Designer Product Category See all Designers See all Collections See all Specialty FabricLeave your assumptions at the door FooterThe process of validating design decisions and collecting feedback from customers is called Examples of paper prototypesa design walkthrough. The technique typically involves using a paper prototype, however,it can also be conducted with a functioning prototype or parts of a website that are fullydeveloped.A design walkthrough involves taking a group of participants through website designs usingreal-life user scenarios or tasks. Participants are asked to specify the actions they wouldtake on each page and to make comments about the usability and usefulness of each page.The trick here is not to over-guide your participants. Give them a general idea of what thesite or product is for, or describe a scenario or objective for them, then let them respondas they would when using a real website on their own. You’ll want to develop a script inadvance to ensure consistency from one participant to the next.Once you’ve gathered insights from your customers, it is time to analyze and act uponthem. You may uncover a “showstopper” that requires you to radically alter the courseof your product. More likely, you will come away with a list of important refinements andimprovements. The most important thing is to capture and share those insights with yourdesign team so they can act upon them. Do-it-Yourself User Testing: Get big customer insights for little (or no) cost © Modus Associates, LLC www.modusassociates.com 3
  • 4. Why?Customer involvement makes better productsInvolving your customers early in the design process lets you encounter roadblocks and surprisesat a time when you can correct them nimbly and inexpensively. It’s the most effective way to ensurethat your products will be valued and used by the people they’re intended for. Any effort you maketo get customer feedback, no matter how small and informal, will save you time, money andpossibly embarrassment in the long run.Additional ResourcesBooks > Observing the User Experience: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Mike Kuniavsky > Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug > Paper Prototyping by Carolyn Snyde Do-it-Yourself User Testing: Get big customer insights for little (or no) cost © Modus Associates, LLC www.modusassociates.com 4
  • 5. About Modus AssociatesModus Associates helps global brand leaders and visionary start-ups to more fully harnessthe business potential of the digital age, where customers rule, technology is everywhere, andcreating value for profit and social impact is the name of the game. Clients include NBC Universal,SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Wyndham Hotel Group, Sony Corporation, Coldwell Banker Real EstateCorporation and Comcast. Modus Associates is located in New York City and on the web atwww.modusassociates.com.Contact UsModus Associates37 West 20th Street, Suite 304New York, NY 10011Tel: 212-255-6768Fax: 212-255-6264info@modusassociates.comwww.modusassociates.com Do-it-Yourself User Testing: Get big customer insights for little (or no) cost © Modus Associates, LLC www.modusassociates.com 5