Usability Testing

5 Reasons Why Website Usability Testing Can Be Your Brand's Secret Weapon

Jeff Hecker
SUMMARY: Because most brands don’t conduct regular website usability testing, and because usability testing delivers a different kind of customer insight than other research methods, it represents a huge opportunity for any brand that engages with customers online.

Website Usability Testing – An Underused Tool

So few brands are truly committed to supporting the experience their customers and potential customer have on their websites that website usability – and the testing that supports it – is a huge opportunity for many brands.  If you are not using regular website usability testing now, here are 5 reasons to consider starting pronto.

  1. Good usability is itself a brand differentiator.   Companies that are “easy to deal with”, and who offer a “frictionless” user experience are rare – and valued by consumers.  Indeed, successful companies like Apple and Google have proved that usability can be a “secret sauce” that drives brand-choice.  But getting there isn’t something you can do by gut-feel alone, because usability problems are often subtle.  They’re small things which, when numerous enough, constitute “death by 1000 paper cuts” for your users.  Usability testing is the only good way to uncover these subtle usability issues.
  2. Good website usability maximizes the ROI you get from other marketing activities that drive people to the site.  If you’re doing TV, radio, online, outdoor, or just about any other kind of advertising, having a site that isn’t optimized for superb usability could mean losing leads you’ve paid good money to generate.  Good usability also typically means good adherence to web standards, which results in better SEO (and even more traffic for your site).
  3. Regular usability testing constitutes an additional “reality-check” with
    consumers, which, frankly, marketers need more often than they think.
    This promotes customer-centrity, especially since usability testing is a different “mode” of checking-in than focus groups.  Usability testing is about behaviour, while focus groups are more about
    perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs.  Internally, usability testing is a bulwark against the common disposition amongst designer teams to design for themselves.  Your web design team might have excellent interface design skills, but they are – by definition- not
    the target audience for your site, they shouldn’t be depending on their own instincts alone when it comes to the design (and ongoing tweaking) of your web experience.
  4. Usability testing can make your team more efficient.  How?  Well, usability testing puts to rest – quickly – a lot of arguments that could otherwise occupy a marketing team.  Seeing is believing, and the psychological impact of actually seeing how real users respond to an interface or proposition tends to cut through politics and get team-members on the same page.
  5. Finally, website usability testing delivers superior ROI.  Effective usability testing can be conducted with as few as 5 users.  From a development perspective alone, the ROI on usability testing is estimated at $10 for every dollar spent.  Adding the benefits of marketing efficiency, customer loyalty, and reduced support costs, website usability testing becomes a tactic almost no brand can afford to ignore.

What’s Next?