What’s the best way to understand what your users want? Don’t guess; ask them! User testing, or usability testing, is a way to get software—at any stage from wireframe to prototype to production—in front of real users. Talking to users is how you get valuable feedback to ensure what you’re building meets their needs.
We’re currently working with a client to build a new e-commerce solution. For online shopping platforms, it’s particularly important to understand the buying behavior of customers and site visitors. How did we go about discovering those behavior patterns? We asked! Well, actually, we helped our client ask.
Setting Up the Test
The most effective user tests have specific goals. For this test, we wanted to know:
How will users search the store for a specific product?
We worked with our client on a framework for in-person interviews with existing customers, guided by structured questions and an Invision design mock-up. This methodology was optimal because of the current stage of the product and the information we were seeking. The client conducted the interviews, following step-by-step instructions from us and using their domain expertise to dig deeper and ask follow-up questions.
Results from the interviews were recorded in Wufoo so the whole team could see the responses come in and can refer to them throughout the project.
The client conducted a handful of interviews—and patterns started emerging after just two. With in-depth interviews like this, you can get a lot of information with very few interviews—just 5 to 10 in some cases.
By asking structured, strategic questions, we learned exactly what we needed to know from the clients’ customers: how they would use the online store to find a specific product to buy. The five open-ended questions got right to the heart of what we were trying to discover.
Applying the Results
After this round of testing, the team got together to review the results and get the client’s informal thoughts on the feedback. We know the user testing was successful because:
- The client learned about their customers
- We learned about the client’s customers
- We uncovered valuable answers to our research question
- We were able to improve the shopping experience based on actual user feedback before ever writing a line of code
With the Invision mock-up in front of us, we prioritized the most impactful changes against the nice-to-have improvements. As we head into development, we’re confident in the store we’re building. We’ll continue to test additional touch points throughout the process to further refine the user experience.
If you want to know something about your customers or users, go right to the source: Ask them! Learn more about how we approach user research.