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A Beginner’s Guide to User Testing

With the quickly approaching fall semester, departments across campus are preparing to provide positive experiences for students and their families. But how are your webpages contributing to that effort?

It turns out, bad experiences on the web not only frustrate users but can also deter them from visiting your site in the future. According to Econsultancy, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

One way you can improve the experience of your users and keep them coming back is by conducting a user test.

What is User Testing?

User testing is the process of evaluating the layout and content of your webpages as users navigate your site. With a user test, you can hear feedback from your users in real-time, including things they like, areas for improvement, and challenges while navigating your site.

During a user test, you should screen-record your participants navigating your site. This will help give you an idea of how your users are interacting with your site and ways you can improve it.

Recordings of user tests can also help your administration or management understand how people are interacting with your pages.

Conducting Your Own Testing

The first step before conducting a user test is determining what you’ll be testing. A good user test focuses on specific pain points or areas of frustration for your users. To do this, you’ll want to create a list of questions or tasks for your users to accomplish during testing. Here are some examples:

  • What are the GPA requirements for this program?
  • What services does your office provide?
  • When is your office/department open?

During the user test, you can screen-record your participants attempting to accomplish these tasks. Further, you should ask your participants to talk aloud as they use your site. This will help you determine if your content or layout needs to be updated.

Next, you’ll need to find your test users. We recommend finding users who are not familiar with your site or involved in your department. As your users are completing each task, here are a few things to note:

  • How long it takes for your users to complete each task
  • Which tasks users were not able to complete
  • Any comments they make as they navigate (both positive and negative)

(this list was adapted from usability.gov)

User testing is the best way to receive feedback from your users and make informed changes to your pages. Whether big or small, the improvements you are able to make will improve the overall experience of your users.

If your department’s site would benefit from a user test, we can help conduct one for you! Email us at webcontent@liberty.edu to get started.

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