Leveraging Usability Testing Services to Make Better Business Decisions

usability testing companies: user testing experts at computer

Making decisions for your digital experience sometimes feels like a guessing game. Without the specialized internal expertise, many businesses opt to use a trial-and-error approach to updates. While this can lead to progress, there are more efficient and effective ways to make calls about your business’ user experience. With the help of usability testing companies, your team gets detailed insights about how users engage with your platforms and use that information to implement updates that get reliable, measurable results.  

Usability Testing Services: What Are They?

What are usability testing services? Usability testing services leverage a brand’s target audience members to navigate and test the user experience on a platform, like a website or application. Typically, the tests are structured as a set of tasks that audience members attempt to accomplish within a set time frame. They can be posed as a one-on-one interview, a recorded unmoderated session, or a self-completed survey. The best methodology depends on the desired data and sample size. 

usability testing services: goals for AWWA project

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Usability Testing Services

Usability testing companies like Blennd gather both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data refers to the firm, quantifiable data collected during a test, for example, task completion time or clicks. Qualitative data refers to the feedback from the user, like comments and notes on response. Quantitative data tends to speak for itself – if no one can complete a task within the allotted time, there is likely an issue, but the qualitative data really allows you to step into the shoes of your audience and understand how they truly feel about your digital experience. 

When gathering qualitative data, empathy is key. As web designers and developers, it’s easy to stick to the processes and designs you’re used to. User testing provides a platform to constantly improve the way you do things – and meet your audience where they are. Marketers can gain a lot of insight from stats, but raw, real-time feedback from your customer base is truly invaluable when making business decisions.  

“More empathy. It’s about getting ourselves out of the driver’s seat and understanding what the users are really doing. It breaks the mold, it breaks down the fluff, breaks down what really matters. That’s user testing. That’s human.”

Brian Brooks, Senior UI/UX Designer

How Usability Testing Companies Support Decision Making

Stakeholder Interviews

One of the first steps usability testing companies embark on is the stakeholder interviews. During this process, our team engages people within your organization to uncover more about the brand. We go over priorities, pain points, and other key components of your business’ current state. Asking questions to stakeholders within various departments uncovers what they believe the organization can benefit from and assists in building the right questions to engage their audience. These people may work with customers more than a CEO or CMO, so they likely hear feedback on their digital experience. With these insights, we can build clearer goals for the testing. 

“This is a chance to single out stakeholders and learn where they’re having issues in their specific department. Unlike the marketing teams or CEO, they don’t know what’s down in the weeds. We’re able to formulate, get one-on-one interviews and create a space to get real feedback on what’s happening.” - Brian Brooks, Senior UI/UX Designer

Brian Brooks, Senior UI/UX Designer

Identifying Personas

Who is this digital experience built for? Ultimately, a beautiful site is meaningless if it’s not structured to empower goal completion for actual customers. That’s why understanding your customer perspective is key to business success. Once a usability testing company works with stakeholders to identify the key personas for a platform, we must engage people within that demographic to participate in the testing. Getting qualified participants is one of the more time-consuming aspects of usability testing. Blennd typically delivers incentives, like a gift card to those that participate. Then, we go through a detailed vetting process to ensure they truly align with the brand’s personas. 

“Personas are key, if they’re going after a certain demographic, we lay that out and then we can get into the research and create solutions to their problems.”

Syrah Burke, Project Manager

Creating the Tasks

After uncovering insights from stakeholders and auditing the current platform, usability testing companies create a set of tasks for the users to complete. Based on the conversion goals of the site (form fills, downloads, calls, or direct purchases for example), we build questions that set the stage for a hypothetical situation, and then tell them to find the right resource. For our client, the American Water Works Association, we wanted to track their members’ success rate to find AWWA online learning courses, so we created tasks that directed them to sign up for one. The task was phrased as follows:

“You are interested in taking an online course. Can you locate the sign-up page for the free ‘Small Systems eLearning Course’?”

“There’s so many different answers and interpretations for what a website should do. Just like we have all these different answers, we have all these different ways to understand their perspectives.”

Brian Brooks, Senior UI/UX Designer

KPI’s and Methodology

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that measure the success of any given task – which can be both qualitative and quantitative. Some of the KPIs a usability testing company may track include drop off rates, system usability scale, conversion rate, time on task, level of difficulty, search vs. navigation usage, and more. The methodology comes down to running interviews that engages audience members to complete the tasks and share their thoughts as they go. 

“Sharing thoughts” is taken literally in user testing. At the onset of the test, we ask users to speak exactly what’s going on their head as they try to complete a task. This results in an honest audience narrative. Sometimes those thoughts are “I’m going to try the search bar to save some time.” – and some of them are emotional reactions, like “I can’t get this [expletive] download to work.” Regardless of the language used, it’s all extremely valuable to inform the user experience and website design. Beyond their words, a usability testing company looks at body language and facial expression to read into how the task in front of them makes them feel.

Usability testing volunteer providing feedback on UX

“A lot of the communication we have is reading the physical emotions of the users. We want to dig out what’s frustrating them and you’ll hear us trying to get those direct responses.”

Syrah Burke, Project Manager

Performing the Test

When recording interviews, there are several variables that can impact the results. Ultimately, we try to address these to ensure accurate data. However, no user test is completely perfect. Luckily, there are steps to take to mitigate skewed results. For example, a formal interview set up feels dry, awkward, and inhibiting for most. Our job is to create an environment – virtually or in-person -- that makes users feel comfortable so they can focus fully on the task. We engage them on a human level and create a friendly and welcoming environment so they feel like they can trust us with their real opinions. 

However, at the end of the day, it’s called a “user test”. With that, some people have trouble remembering that we test the platform -- not them as a person or their technical abilities. A good usability testing company reassures users that the goal of the interview is not to judge them based on their ability to accomplish something, it all about documenting their honest experience.

Usability test findings and statistics

“We’re trying to make people feel comfortable and make sure they know we’re testing the website and not them. That’s why we try to make the environment very casual and comfortable.”

Syrah Burke, Project Manager

Gathering Insights

After performing a pre-determined number of tests, the Blennd team gathers all those insights and finds common themes. Which tasks did people struggle with consistently? What features did they use throughout the test? How did they react emotionally? We then build a complete deliverable that includes highlights from the tests, all the interview recordings, all the notes from the Blennd testers, and our recommendations to solve the identified issues. 

Usability test results data

“There’s always going to be a bias if you design and build something. Having a real user check usability is so important.”

Syrah Burke, Project Manager

Delivering a Better UX

Typically, we can then take those action items and jump right into building a user experience that addresses it all – and more. As a usability testing company that specializes in web design and web development, we can create a data-driven platform that speaks directly to your users and their goals on the site. Through specific features, strategic component placement, clear content, and custom technology recommendations, we build a path to conversion and better business success. Usability testing enables spot-on solutions that a traditional website design company simply cannot compete with. 

“You design, you test, you redesign, you test. That’s how you come up with the best design from a usability standpoint.”

Syrah Burke, Project Manager

Usability test UX recommendations

Leveraging Usability Testing Companies for Better Outcomes

Ultimately, this all culminates in a web design that leads users to the right information seamlessly. Blennd leverages usability testing data to remove any friction points on your website that impede conversions. That, combined with a beautiful design refresh, cutting edge technology, search engine optimization, and killer digital marketing sets your business up for next-level return on investment. 

Work with a Leading Usability Testing Company

Are you ready to test your platform to increase its profitability? Blennd can help. Contact our brand strategy agency today to get user testing insights from your audience, and implement them in a new, powerful digital brand experience. 

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