5 Easy Steps to DIY Website User Testing

Tips for testing a website at any budget

People testing a website
Conducting a website user test.

Website testing is a process that intimidates many people, especially when it involves other people as part of user testing. This is, in part, because they assume that conducting user tests requires specialized facilities, equipment, and expertise. This is not true.

Yes, there are companies who focus on user testing who have these facilities and equipment available and there is value in working with those firms.

In some cases, however, this is not feasible, usually due to costs or other logistics.  This does not mean you must abandon your plans for testing a website, however. Any testing you do is better than no testing at all, and you will be amazed at what you learn about your site in the process.

Let’s take a look at 5 easy steps you can take for some quick DIY website user testing.

1. Pick a Place

The first thing you need is a place that you will hold your tests. In the absence of a dedicated testing environment, you can use an office or conference room in your place of work. Ideally this would be an area that is somewhat quiet and where you will not be interrupted.

If you do not have space in your office available, you can consider renting a room at a local hotel. Many hotels offer rooms or various sizes for corporate meetings, etc. and you can get a more than adequate room for a pretty reasonable price.

If your budget won’t even accommodate that small expense, you can turn to a public setting to meet people and hold your tests – either a coffee shop or public library. These places are obviously not ideal from a privacy standpoint, but once again, if the alternative is to do no testing at all, then these public places will be better than nothing!

2. Select Your Subjects

Once you have your testing location set, you next need to find the people whom will test the website for you. There are a number of ways you can find test subjects, including posting the request on Facebook, Linkedin, or other social media sites or even placing an ad on Craigslist. Just be sure to be specific in terms of what you are looking for, when you need people, how they should contact you for more information, and what you are offering in return for their services.

Yes, these people are rending a service to your company, so you should compensate them in some way. Make that compensation part of your request for testers so everyone knows what they are getting.

If you want to take a less formal route to finding testers, you can always ask other people who work in your building for their help as well as co-workers, friends, and family members. In these cases, just make sure to keep the tests short so you do not impose too heavily on these people. It is also a nice gesture to still have some kind of compensation ready, even if it is just a gift card for coffee or lunch.

3. Determine What You Want to Test For

Before you begin your tests, you need to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for.

This will largely depend on your specific site and the needs of your business.  If you are a real estate company, you may want to test to be sure that people can easily find properties that match their search criteria, as well as features like being able to save those queries for later use or the ability to contact an agent for more information.

The items that are important to you and which will help ensure your site’s success should be at the top of your testing agenda. Have this agenda established, and know what you hope to discover, well before the tests begin.

4. Assess Your Data

Having testing data is great, but you need a plan to assess that data and act upon it is you hope to gain any benefit from your testing initiatives.

When testing your website, ask participants if you can video the session or use screen recording software (or both!).

This will help you and your team to review the tests further.

When reviewing the test data, be sure to do so quickly. Ideally you should be testing at the start of the week and reviewing it before that week ends. This keeps the information and experience fresh in your mind and it sets you up well for the final step in our process – revisiting and revising based on the test data.

5. Revisit and Revise

You have your data, now you need to make some tangible changes based on what you discovered. When doing this, do not get overwhelmed by too many possibilities or too much feedback. Stay focused by looking for the most critical problems first. These are the items that need your immediate attention.

Secondary issues can be planned for later dates if need be, so long as you address the mission critical pieces right away.

Once your fixes are in place, plan to test again to ensure that those fixes resolved the problems and any new features did not introduce any new challenges along the way.

In Closing

Website testing can be incredibly involved and costly or it can be very informal and do-it-yourself. For more information on this subject, I recommend the wonderful book by Steve Krug, “Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems.”

Additionally, if you are looking for affordable online solutions for website user testing, you can try UserTesting.com or Validately.These platforms will allow you to conduct user tests for as little as $39/month.

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Your Citation
Girard, Jeremy. "5 Easy Steps to DIY Website User Testing." ThoughtCo, Jan. 25, 2016, thoughtco.com/diy-website-user-testing-3469887. Girard, Jeremy. (2016, January 25). 5 Easy Steps to DIY Website User Testing. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/diy-website-user-testing-3469887 Girard, Jeremy. "5 Easy Steps to DIY Website User Testing." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/diy-website-user-testing-3469887 (accessed November 17, 2017).