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Tag Archives: a/b testing

Pairing Up Usability Testing with A/B Testing

Traditional usability testing involves several steps: creating screeners, sending out recruitment email messages, scheduling sessions, creating test scripts, conducting the test sessions, consolidating the findings, and making design recommendations. Large-scale usability testing can run for months, which is a big investment in time, money, and effort.

One of the challenges usability professionals constantly face is showing the value of usability testing through quantifiable results. Convincing a client to invest tens of thousands of dollars in usability testing often requires some concrete numbers that explicitly tell what the return on the investment in usability testing will be. A client might say, “Yes, the usability testing will tell me how horrible the Web site is and how much users dislike filling out the forms on the Web site. So what?” From the client’s prospective, the real question is: How do I know the usability testing will help me meet my business goals—making more sales, lowering costs, and increasing conversions? Just saying that the user-satisfaction rate will go up is not enough.

A report from Forrester titled “Need to Cut Costs? Improve the Web Site Experience” lists a few easy-to-measure indicators that reliably show the benefits of usability testing. These indicators include fewer customer-service calls about products and Web sites and shorter calls regarding complex issues. We can link changes in such indicators to improvements in a Web site’s user interface. However, there are many other factors that can lead to such changes—such as better product promotion, better support documentation, better internal communication, or simply a decrease in sales. As usability professionals, we need a clear way of showing what we’ve learned from usability testing, how our recommended changes have gotten implemented, and what positive outcomes have occurred because of these changes.

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