How to perform user testing

How to perform user testing in your conversion optimization research

Have you considered including user testing in your optimization research but you’re not sure how and where to get started?

If you want to have any chance at running a successful conversion optimization program then you need to do your research.

I’ve been talking quite a lot about research and how important it is that you do it right. To me, good research starts with asking the right questions. There’s no way you are going to get valuable insights if you don’t understand what you are asking and why you are asking it.
This is something I’ve seen with junior optimization specialists that follow a user testing or survey template but they don’t really understand the logic behind what they are asking.

If you want to find out more on how to do conversion research, you can also check out this article that will guide you every step of the way.

So, today I thought I would bring some light to user testing and how to make the most out of it.

In my opinion, user testing can be such a gem for optimization programs and it’s so undervalued and underused by so many experimenters and marketers out there. We include user testing in all of our optimization programs and I can say that it’s one of the bits our clients LOVE the most in our audits. It’s so eye-opening and easy to understand – I truly recommend you start doing it right now.

Getting started with user testing

How do you get started with user testing so that you get the most valuable insights? It all starts with defining the scenario for your test – the scenario is basically the set of tasks you want your testers to complete. We like to keep it under 4-5 tasks per session and typically under 20 minutes.

Before we start the test, we select our testers so that they match our buyer persona as much as possible and also ask a pre-qualifying question which helps us make sure the testers are able to complete the tasks and offer valuable feedback.

To make things a bit more easy to understand, let’s take the example of one of our amazing clients, ByBiehl.com. They create really beautiful fine jewelry, with sustainable and 100% recycled gold and silver!) So we wanted to do a fresh batch of user tests as the website has changed quite a lot since we did the last set. Our main objective is to see how users perceive the website and how easy it is for them to find a product and purchase it.

Steps to setting up your test

  • We start out by asking the users to think out loud and to tell us what the website is about and what products they would be able to find on it.
  • Then we ask them to find a specific product, which allows us to see how they interact with filters, site search, product categories, and other website features.
  • After they go through the scenario, we also ask them to answer in writing about their experience and what they would change.

You can see our entire user testing setup in the images attached.

After you’re all done with that and you have recorded your tests, you analyze the user testing recordings and jot down anything that is relevant and can help you in understanding obstacles in the funnel as well as opportunities for improvement.

Combine user testing with heuristic research and you can get a ton of valuable insights even if you’re working with a new or low-volume website.

I hope this will motivate you to include more user testing in your conversion research. Even though it can be a bit of an investment, both in terms of money and time, it’s 100% worth it!

By Andra Baragan

Andra Baragan is an experienced conversion optimization specialist and a certified ConversionXL Optimizer and Data Analyst. She has worked with over 80 online businesses and has brought over 6 figures in increased revenue for them. She is the founder of Ontrack Digital Agency.

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