Discover What Customers Really Think — UserTesting Gathers Real-Time Reactions from a Chosen Panel of 1M+ Consumers
1.11.17 Consumer Surveys

Discover What Customers Really Think — UserTesting Gathers Real-Time Reactions from a Chosen Panel of 1M+ Consumers

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: UserTesting brings together internal teams from marketing to engineering to see how the end user navigates a site or app and why. Through UserTesting videos, a business can view and hear real consumer insights from a selected demographic and leverage them to enhance its website’s user experience. With actionable insights that go beyond the numbers, testing videos are being incorporated throughout the development process, not just for site rollouts. 

Most user questions don’t come up in a survey, focus group, or during the research and development phases of building a website. They surface while using the finished product.

Consumers ask questions aloud to no one in particular, like: Where is the category I am looking for? Why is my online shopping cart empty after I just added five items? How were no results found in my search for a product I know this website sells?

These relevant user questions just evaporate into thin air, and companies suffer when they’re unable to address those issues and provide better websites. As online retailers roll out new designs, they depend on teams of marketers, advertisers, designers, programmers, and user experience teams to bring an idea to fruition. These teams often combine for great results, but it can be challenging to really incorporate the consumer into the equation.

UserTesting provides real-time product testing by end users — an idea that was born when Co-Founder Dave Garr began taking an interest in user experience while working at Apple.

“He was watching unboxing videos of Macs, and thought the reactions were incredible,” UserTesting VP of Marketing Brian Smith told us about the company’s origin. “And 15 years ago, getting usability testing videos like that was very difficult and very expensive, and very, very slow.”

Photo of UserTesting VP of Marketing Brian Smith

Vice President of Marketing Brian Smith talked to us about the actionable insights UserTesting can provide a company.

What struck Dave was the organic customer reaction, whether it was joy, disappointment, or any subtlety in between. So, in 2007 Dave and Darrell Benatar started UserTesting to enable anyone to do remote, unmoderated testing, which connects with the core of the consumer experience.

UserTesting allows a business to test out its websites or mobile apps, at any stage, on a panel chosen from more than a million users. These tests are more personal than focus groups because they allow the user — many times alone at their own computer — a higher level of comfort. This more intimate connection with the product leads to more constructive and actionable insights, especially when most tests are completed within hours. Many businesses work with data that explains how the website is doing as far as traffic, page views, click-throughs, and conversions are concerned. But UserTesting answers an even more important question: “Why, from a user standpoint, did all of those things happen?”

With all that is riding on every product rollout and website redesign, UserTesting is a tool that any company can use to see how its plans match up with the actual demands of the consumer.

Defining Demographics to Get Feedback From Your Target Audience

Testers go through a screening process at UserTesting to prove they can give constructive feedback. In each test, a person sits down at a computer or in front of a mobile app and records his or her experience in real time, with audio. This approach allows a company to hear users’ thinking and see what surprises or frustrations they encounter.

But the testers aren’t just random; they are selected by a company to get a picture of its target audience’s experience. Testers can be chosen based on any information provided in their profile: age, sex, geography, interests, etc. They can also be screened for more exact targeting. The selection of a specific demographic leads to insights that are more constructive and precise.

Screenshot of demographic and tasks panels

Businesses can select a target audience easily and assign their own tasks or add popular tasks to be completed in a test.

“Our panel of testers is a diverse, interesting group of people,” Brian said. “We get them to speak their thoughts out loud and perform all of the tasks within the test. It’s like watching over the shoulder of your users as they use your app or website.”

The tasks are customizable and made to get right to the information a business needs. Whether it is a prompt for a user to describe his or her impressions of a website or a task to find a pair of shoes and put them into an online shopping cart, the user can take a company through his or her thoughts quickly.

When a real user’s experience is fully documented through audio and video, a company can see what is being clicked on and hear why. This marriage of consumer thought and action can reverberate throughout development.

When Data and Consumer Voice Meet, Smarter Decisions Are Made

Whether it is website traffic, page views, click-throughs, or conversions, data has always been an important metric to measure a website’s success. After all, numbers are what most businesses use to measure success.

But UserTesting answers more than the “How?” and delves deeply into the “Why?” When a business owner asks “How is the website doing this quarter?” he or she expects to be given a set of metrics to analyze. But if that same business owner asks “Why do we see these numbers on our website?” the information he or she is given is much less clear.

It could be a probable cause or the best guess, but the answer is harder to pin down. UserTesting answers this question by bringing the consumer into the mix.

“Data is incredibly important, but if you marry it with the voice of the customer it becomes even more powerful, and you can make smarter decisions,” Brian said.

Perhaps users are confounded by a button on the website, which was the case with online ticket reseller StubHub. When customers wanted to go to a ticket purchase page, they needed to click on a button that said, “See Details.” After working with UserTesting, StubHub realized that the button confused many users.

Screenshot of StubHub case study

Thanks to results provided by UserTesting, StubHub changed one confusing button and saw conversions increase 2.6%.

StubHub changed the wording on the button to say “Go” instead of “See Details,” and its conversion rate increased by 2.6 %. But UserTesting also delivered the results quickly.

“The user feedback that would have taken me two weeks to compile, UserTesting could deliver in just 20 minutes,” said Christine Young, UX Research Senior Manager at StubHub, in a UserTesting case study.

No matter what the case, UserTesting can help end the internal debates over which features are most desirable by opening a window into the customer’s mind. After seeing only a few tests, a company can be presented with a wealth of information on the features that work and the ones that fall flat.

Retailers Testing at All Stages — From Sketch to Product Rollout

More companies are seeing the value in testing early and often, not just once a project is nearing completion. Inserting the customer voice at every stage leads to a better product and allows companies to know why a certain function or feature works well.

Getting started with UserTesting early means fewer surprises later on because a company has been acting on feedback all along. Brian said companies are gathering continuous customer insights by testing a wide range of features throughout design and development.

“We see companies start at the sketch phase, well before they are putting in any engineering resources,” Brian told us.

Giving the consumer a seat at the table also leads to a better understanding of their needs moving forward. UserTesting then becomes a resource for all departments within a business to learn how to ask the necessary questions.

Continual tests are also used to benchmark performance over time, so a company can see what kind of growth has been made in its effort to understand the end user.

Continuing to Glean Insights Helps End Users and In-House Teams

When UserTesting is part of the process, companies gain access to many of those thoughts end users express aloud while browsing websites. Those frustrations and delights about a site’s user experience can be taken into account even while the product is being built.

And businesses are embracing how UserTesting can bring in-house teams together to solve user experience problems.

“To see people from marketing, product, and design come together and listen to what a customer has to say is a powerful thing,” Brian said.

UserTesting fosters important internal conversations by giving a voice to the most vital person in the equation: the end user. Empowered by consumer feedback that’s real and thoughtful, websites work better for users and businesses grow from the insights they glean.