User Testing the Waters: The Scoop on Usability Testing Your eCommerce Website

You’ve just created your website, or you’ve just gone through a major remodeling. You’ve looked at your webpage so many times you feel ready to throw your laptop out the window and your sanity after it. Is your site easy to navigate? Is it welcoming? Any typos? Does it appeal to your target audience?

You’re not quite sure. You’d like to think so, but you’ve spent so much time fixing glitches and worrying over color palettes that you’ve gone site-blind.

You heard me. Site-blind.

Even if you’ve had help setting up your website, even if you use a template, the amount of time spent on a web project can make it harder to notice any little issues. Of course you think it works perfectly—it’s your thought process that created your site’s layout. It’s your brain-child. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a fresh-eyed Internet user will have an easy stay on your corner of the Internet. 

So how do you know if your website’s pleasant, inviting, and user-friendly? Usability testing.

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Usability testing is pretty self-explanatory. It tests the usability of your website. 

Please, hold the applause.

Usability testing services allow you to watch and assess how the average Internet user reacts to the layout and feel of your website. And your website is your customer’s gateway to your product and brand—if it’s not performing well, neither will your sales.

The research behind usability testing is solid; there’s a direct correspondence between proactively ensuring your customer experience and greater revenue growth rate, for one.

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Look at those beautiful numbers.

And the same study done by Watermark shows that companies who take advantage of usability testing are proven to not only have increased revenue, but decreased support costs, increased user satisfaction, and greater savings on development and redesign efforts.

But you’re a really competent business owner who’s looked at the competition’s websites, and you’ve spent a good chunk of your recent life designing your online store. Why hire someone else to just give you feedback?

Well, that’s what we, as CoreCommerce, asked ourselves. And ultimately we decided that the benefits of usability testing made the service worth the investment. The research supporting usability testing might speak for itself, but if you’re not firmly convinced, consider letting us speak a little for it too, based on our own experience.

We recently relaunched our website, which you may have noticed if you’ve been with us long enough to realize that we’ve gotten new threads. Our Director of Marketing, Kayla Marginean, handled our work with usability testing post website puberty.  

For our usability testing, we worked with the company UserTesting.

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UserTesting takes your business’s online site or mobile app and assigns ten Users to explore your site. The users chosen for the test are specified to your company’s target audience to make sure you get feedback from your intended customers. Each user has a specific set of tasks assigned to accomplish on your site; our users accomplished a couple of different goals on our website, including describing what they thought of the webpage and its navigation as they completed their tasks. The Users film their experience with live commentary that you’re then able to play back for observation, and their responses are sent back to you within one hour. We’re still not sure how they’re able to pull of that efficiency. It might be magic.

Here’s a little Q&A straight from the heart (and from Kayla) to share our experience. 

See if some of our concerns and goals going into usability testing sound familiar—usability testing might be right for you!

Q: Why did CoreCommerce try usability testing?

A: The recent website relaunch was a perfect opportunity to conduct user testing. And, as many of our eCommerce clients know, you can get so involved in the details of the site that you become blind to really basic problems on the site–things that are clear to you from the inside, may not be clear to first time visitors of the site. We wanted to get some objective feedback from people who were brand new to the site to see what trouble spots there might be, what could be confusing or difficult to understand.

Q: What’s a UserTesting feature you found really helpful?

A: The note taking feature was extremely helpful. As you watch the video, you can take notes in the sidebar – the user testing platform timestamps the note which makes it very easy to refer back to the video as you review your notes. 

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Q: One useful takeaway from the recordings?

A: We gained a lot of really valuable feedback – and have begun to implement changes already.  One piece of really helpful information that we learned was that on the free trial sign up, we requested a “temp web address” –and in the field itself it said “Enter store name.” We realized from the user testing that people were confused about this field. They did not know whether or not they should include .com or whether the store name would become part of a their temporary domain. So, we are revising the form to make this more clear.

We know what you’re wondering. Endgame, million (or $49 per video) dollar question:

Q: Was it worth it? Would you recommend this service?

A: The service was absolutely worth it–and I would highly recommend it. The feedback was invaluable. We want our customers to be able to easily get the information they need and have a high-quality experience on our site. We want the process to be simple and easy-to-understand. 

Ultimately, usability testing is all about helping you diagnose the final tweaks that your site needs before it’s user-perfect. Then it’s up to you to take advantage of this knowledge and apply the feedback you’re given to make your site the best it can be.

A question for you, now, and for your company: you’ve heard some of the benefits—creating a better and more compelling site for your customers, making your website clear and understandable—do you think usability testing is the best next step for your company? Let us know what you think!

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