Usertesting.com is an amazing tool that allows you to run very inexpensive tests to help you fix problems that customers are having with your website.
Each test is about $39 and results come back easily within 24 hours. You can specify a certain amount of demographic targeting of what type of people you would like to perform the tests. You will get videos back that are about 15 minutes each. The videos contain the screen behavior as the users click through your website. You also get the audio file of the user as they are speaking into a microphone and describing what they like and dislike about your website. A text summary is also included so you can scan each of the reports to get a quick idea of what customers liked or disliked.
In order to get started you will need to fill out a form at https://www.usertesting.com/order/start
There are templates available so that you don’t have to make a custom set of recommendations but we think it is best to provide your own instructions to users. It can only take you 10 or 15 minutes to fill out the form. Considering running user tests in the past was the domain of larger companies with bigger budgets, this is an incredible breakthrough.
It is fairly common that we see two out of three coming back saying similar things. When you discover common flaws in your website or even things that people like consistently, it enables you to improve your website based on what customers like and not just what your marketing department wants.
Usability testing has never been easier or faster and I highly recommend you try at least a few tests.
I also recommend doing three tests at least once or twice during your website redesign process. Then you can test after the site launches, after having fixed some of the key issues in the development phase.
If you would like to learn more about user testing there is a great book that I recommend called “Don’t make me think” A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug.