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Busting Website Myths: Installment #8 - Usability Testing is Expensive and Time-consuming

by Uriz Goldman
Post Date:03/08/2017

Website trends come and go, but some old-school best practices linger well past their expiration. This week, our certified user experience (UX) expert, Uriz Goldman, tackles a new myth – usability testing is time-consuming and costly.

Digital technology provides great opportunities to communicate, share information and engage with our community. However, creating an unusable website not only prevents users from fully accessing your website’s content, but it can also be frustrating and foster distrust in your organization.


Myth #8: User Testing is Expensive and Time-consuming

Have you ever come across a website that was difficult to navigate or use? Did you struggle to find what you needed quickly and easily? Unfortunately, this experience is all-too-common.

Being able to survey your users to identify their pain points and what they look for on your website can help you uncover great insight into how you should structure your navigation and content to better serve them.

In the early days of the Internet, collecting analytics from users meant that you had to physically find users, ask them questions, and record their responses and activity in order to draw conclusions. Because of this, many people believe that usability testing is an expensive, time-consuming process that’s not worth the investment.

Nowadays, faster Internet connections, countless people on the web, and the ability to capture quality feedback make it easier than ever to invite people to test your website. In fact, people can often do this remotely, so there’s no need to set up an entire usability lab at City Hall.

The Cost of Not Understanding Users

Relying on free site analytics alone can be costly in the long-run. While analytics are great for trying to understand what is happening on your website, – such as how many people visit your website each day, which links are being clicked the most, and for how long people are on a page – they give little insight to why these things are happening.

Consider the case study from TiVo, one of the pioneers of the digital video recorder business. Their user interface was complicated and often frustratingly difficult to use. By the time the company realized this, new competitors had popped up with a better user experience. In order to keep up, TiVo had to invest more money to revamp and relaunch its entire brand.

Investing in Actionable Results

Usability testing helps identify conversion killers so you can make changes to dramatically increase engagement, and ultimately revenue. While an investment must be made, usability expert Jakob Nielsen argues that you don’t need to spend a large amount right off the bag.

In fact, you don’t necessarily need to conduct a test with hundreds of people, which can often be costly. You can gain good insights from testing even just 5 users. While testing zero users will yield zero insights, you can learn almost a third of all there is to know about the usability of your website’s design from data collected from a single user. As you add more users, you’ll discover more and newer insights that can contribute to your redesign.

Observing someone unfamiliar with your website trying to complete a task, conducting community surveys and heatmap testing can give you real, valuable insight into how users are using your website and if they’re actually exiting your website as satisfied customers. Furthermore, if you can identify what services your residents request the most, you can easily implement and translate that onto your website. Homepage buttons highlighting popular services can make it much easier for residents to find and access.

Download our handy UX Checklist to help keep the users at the center of your website plans.

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