Optimizing your website design through user tests
What are user tests?
There are many elements that go into the making of a new website for your school or nonprofit. A website needs to be clean and readable, attractive to viewers, and easy to navigate – it requires good overall usability. The most important information you’re trying to share should be easy to find, and the elements in your website should be simple enough to prevent lagging.
Truthfully speaking, internet users can have little patience when it comes to visiting new websites, especially when doing research. If one issue about the site sticks out to them, they may be inclined to look elsewhere, leaving your website behind.
Running user tests to experiment the effectiveness of your website is a way to avoid this unfortunate scenario. In user testing, real users will rate their experience with your website and provide you with real feedback.
Why you should run user tests
As stated above, potential clients will skip over your website if they initially have trouble navigating it; it doesn’t matter how beautifully designed the site is. Testing your website with users before launching gives you the opportunity to fix any kinks in your design before it is officially published to your public audiences.
Before running the user tests, we recommend considering the following questions:
- What is the most important information the clients of your school or organization are looking for?
- Research suggests that for school websites, most prospective families look for information on school statistics, tuition rates, registration processes, staff contact information, etc.
- For non-profit organizations, it would be beneficial to make the information regarding volunteering and donating easily accessible to potential new volunteers/donors.
- How does this impact what you currently have on your homepage? Do you need to make changes?
- Do potential users have easy access to this information?
Software to try for your user tests
There are user testing scenarios where in-person testing can occur. In these situations, real users will navigate the website and rate their experiences, while being monitored by the test runners in another room. After the users finish the tests, there is an in-person evaluation to go over test results. While effective, in-person user tests can be expensive, inconvenient and time-consuming, especially if you’re using your own space to perform the tests.
Luckily, there are many online user test options available for your user tests. Which testing software you choose will depend on your interface preferences and the needs of your website.
Below are two of our favorites that can be installed for free:
TryMyUI is a free user testing service that allows you to create custom task lists for your users to work through. You can narrow down the demographics of your users to fine tune and accurately represent your website audiences. Additionally, you have the option to install the TryMyUI streaming service on your website to track real-time users once the website is launched and catch issues faster.
Hotjar is another software that provides you with feedback to help you iron out issues in your website design. Hotjar utilizes heatmaps, which help you see which parts of your website users are most attracted to. This service has insightful tools like feedback polls, form analyses, and Conversion Funnel tests that track the navigation of the mouse on the website so you can understand the user’s path. Additionally, Hotjar will tell you when exactly your users are leaving the website so you know which features need to be improved upon.
Of course, there are options available that require a one-time or subscription payment to download the service, as different website needs
What is A/B user testing?
A/B testing is a marketing approach to user testing, where users will compare two different versions of the same web page. Users will be randomly assigned to either the first option, A, or the second option, B, and the results from the two tests will be statistically compared to see which performed better in terms of clicks, subscriptions, enrollments, etc. A/B Testing isn’t limited to your website design, it can also be applied to other marketing initiatives, like e-newsletters or email campaigns.
This type of testing can help optimize your website conversion – where schools and organizations will prioritize vamping up their digital assets to encourage clients to perform a certain action, like increasing enrollment for a camp or gathering donations for a certain fundraiser. There are plenty of online user testing services available for A/B testing, link AB Tasty, Optimizely, and VWO.
Bottom line, the software and method of user testing you choose ultimately depends on your user testing goals and the needs of your website. Contact us today to learn which user testing service would best fit the needs of your school or organization website.