This week’s Podcast has a special guest, Paul Veugen, who comes to us via Skype from the Usabilla Headquarters in Amsterdam Holland. Conducting the interview I was a bit nervous – I stumbled, said ‘um’ too many times, but regardless of that, we had a pretty good time. I think you’ll enjoy it.
We talked about the tool and how it can be used, naturally. But we also discussed, what I feel makes Usabilla stand out – it’s organizational culture. It’s a relatively new company,a start-up. Paul humbly describes it in a matter of fact tone. He needed a tool for his university studies and cobbled it together. Then, a friend convinced him to build it as a scalable app and they started a company. He got some clients and then got some external funding. “See, it’s fuggin’ simple”, says the Tenacious D frontman Jack Black. The Usabilla team’s creativity is evident in their use of social media – in blog posts, updates, and interesting uses of the tools – like a report created for the wider community on UX on eCommerce Sites. They get it and it shows.
It’s not so much what they do (usability testing) but how they do it. Plainly stated, I think they are having fun. And, fun is contagious. So, thank you Paul and the Usabilla gang, for sharing with us. Good luck and Enjoy!
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Today it’s “Show and Tell” time on the podcast. I’ve brought “Usabilla” to the front of the class for you to enjoy – in living color. Podcast #15 is ALSO Screencast #1. Your welcome internet community – the future of communications technology is here (may not be available in all markets)
[Note from Ben: The upload choked. I’m uploading it again and it’ll be here soon. It’s the screencast to go with the podcast, but you can enjoy the podcast without watching the screencast… That said, I’ll have it up as soon as possible.]
Ben and I discuss to the process to create a test and how it might fit into a site design / revision process. We also brought in our old friend Feng-GUI to help ‘triangulate’ the results. We agreed that the standard questions were lacking and probably not going to reveal actionable data. And, we finish the show with the love triangle between chocolate, peanut butter and jelly. ENJOY!
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Posts we reference in the podcast:
BUX Post: Simple Usability Tests with Usabilla
Usabilla Blog post – Five things you can test under five minutes
Destiny’s Child – Bootylicious
First Impression with Usabilla
We have Usabilla listed in our ‘Conduct a User Test’ category along with Loop11 and Usertesting.com. In earlier posts, Ben and I have reviewed Usabilla and concluded it would be a valuable resource for simple usability tests for websites. Basically, if you are a business owner with a website, then Usabilla is a good place to start with user testing. It’s simple. It has a usable free service plan and support resources to help you get started today.
Website testing, in it’s simplest form, is observing people using your site with the intent to make improvements. Usabilla offers a way to test users completing tasks on the website. You give a task. The user completes the task with a click and/or a note. You can see where they clicked, what they wrote, and the time it took.
What is the experience of using Usabilla?
Before I started with my own test, I studied the Usabilla features. I first heard of Usabilla on review-type blog post where the founder and CEO of the company, Paul Veugen, commented and addressed issues uncovered in the review. That shows engagement and interest. This isn’t a dead-tool or a side project for someone. It makes me trust these folks. Points for Usabilla, right off the bat.
My trust in the company is further supported by their blog. The posts are relevant to the small business owner interested in user testing a website. Five-things-you-can-test-under-five-minutes and Guerilla-usability-testing-tools-improve-conversion-rate-satisfaction are two insightful and practical posts I read.
Additionally, I liked that I could test sites [using the screencapture tool] and/or uploaded images for my tests. This allows me to follow the advice of Steve Krug and test the napkin sketch of my designs [Maxim:Start earlier than you think makes sense]. Collecting users for the test was made easier by providing a javaScrip widget to embed on the site to get actual site visitors to perform the test. And, lastly, I want to give a shout out to the Usabilla Support. I had a question about the widget placement on the page [it was being covered by the content]. I followed the ‘Chat Now’ link on the dashboard to quickly get in touch with Paul v. A. who looked at my site and instructed me how to fix my problem. Try to find that kind of support in another free tool!
The Process of setting up the test
- Sign up
- Create a test
- give it a name
- custom logo – not sure where this was used
- Add a page – generated screenshot from a URL didn’t work on one page -had to use my own screenshot
- Choose a task – create a new task
- preview the test
- activate the test
- invite participants – via URL or Widget
- Pause test and Edit
- Analyze the results
The experience of using the tools was smooth and went as expected. No frustration or undo cognitive load. The real hard part is deciding what to test and how to test it. Thankfully the Blog was very helpful, even if the standard questions were not. Meaning, I think those standard questions won’t reveal actionable insights. More on this later.
How to get the most value from remote user testing with Usabilla
Just because you have access to a powerful tool, doesn’t mean you can produce powerful results. The tool is only as good as the user. If this discourages you, don’t let it. Everyone has to begin somewhere [and we’ve chosen Usabilla as that tool]. Here are some of my thoughts based on my first experiences with remote user testing like this.
First and foremost, what do you test? More specifically, what questions do you ask the user about your design in order to get actionable / profitable results? I’ve talked about this before in my post,”It’s the Questions, Stoopid“. Basically, everyone has impressions and they are generally unique and varied. That makes them both hard to test and [mostly] un-actionable.
The tool, powerful as it is, allows you to test whatever you like. You can use the standard questions. IMHO, this is likely to return superficial, un-actionable results. Or, dig a bit deeper into your design decisions and ask some targeted questions and will lead to concrete site changes, more conversions, better [smoother? more elegant? less confusing?] critical paths for your site visitor through your site.
Developing this talent for question creation is the real challenge for UX experts. It requires a scientific eye for data vs noise and the creativity to manipulate the tools to reveal actionable insights. It’s hard – try it yourself and you’ll see. Of course you could be the ‘chosen one’. For the rest of us, I suggest these test questions as food for thought and a good starting point (borrowed from the Usabilla Blog post mentioned earlier).
“Where would you click to start to use this product?“
Simple test of how and if the user notices the call to action and the Critical Path of the user experience. If they get it ‘wrong’ [or I should say, click where you don’t expect] or it takes a long time for them to click [nice feature of Usabilla measures this time], then you can review / revise your design and retest. Usabilla makes it easy to do this.
“Which elements make you trust on this website, and why?“
Trust is paramount on the internet. If I don’t trust a website, then I’m not likely to convert for them – buy stuff, give my info, sign up for anything. Could be just me… I believe good designers put in trust building elements into sites – certification logos, personal pictures – not stock, quality content, well known brands or imagery, etc. The question will reveal: Are users picking this up? Do they click on the elements you expect? And, because of a nice contextual note tool, the user can very leave a specific note about the design. Yep, that “…and, why?” is powerful.
A few final thoughts:
Where you get / recruit your test participants matters, I feel. If you are simply hoping to increase the efficiency of the ‘around the watercooler’ test – sure, go ahead and use your facebook and social media to get participants. They are returning users. And, I guess, if your site is based on returning users, then this would be fine and good. But, if you need first time users, then use the widget or ask via some other means than existing contact lists.
I saw an banner ad for Usabilla where the tagline was ‘We give designers quantitative ammunition to go with their qualitative insight’. I thought this was perfectly phrased. We do test insight. We do test the assumptions that lead to our design decisions. That’s why we test. We ask ourselves: Will making this button red attract more attention? Will adding a recognizable logo increase the sense of trust in the users? Until ‘the scientists’ develop a brain scanning and opinion deciphering device, we’ll have to be creative with the user-testing tools available to uncover the effect of our designs on the user.
I’m glad to add Usabilla to our tools and recommend it to anyone looking to quickly and easily start testing today.
I wanted to follow up with this blog post on the previous post from Ben. On Wednesday he surveyed many different website user-testing tools to find the best tools to use for his coffee shop website project.
Today I’m going to take a closer look at the tools he chose: Feng-GUI, Inspectlet, and Usabilla.
This service analyzes images and generates a heat map based on an algorithm that mimics the human eye and human attention.
I agree with Ben that it is worth a try. The price is certainly reasonable and the heat maps it generates could provide actionable data.
I did a sample analysis of the front page of a website I have been working on recently. When I look at the results (above), I’m inspired by all of the questions it begs. Do the in site’s web analytics support or refute this heat map? What would happen if we had used a different pictures in the sidebar? Why is the most eye-catching thing on the page that particular image? Is it due to something in the image or the position of the image on the page? And so on…
As a researcher and a scientist, I love asking questions. It’s where the magic of the whole user-testing process takes place. Feng-GUI provides a constructive way to approach the conversation surrounding a particular design.
Inspectlet is a tool that offers website owners to record their visitor Mouse movements, click heatmaps and real-time analytics.
They provide a demo of the recorded visitor mouse movements. I did this and it’s actually very good. I can see where it would be useful. The click heatmaps are interesting to me because they show more than what I use currently which is Google Analytics. For instance, you can record clicks in non-link areas. Google Analytics will only record clicks on INTERNAL links.
And, lastly, the real-time tracking is also an intriguing relative to Google Analytics, which doesn’t provide real-time tracking.
I definitely don’t want to set up Google Analytics as standard for these user testing services. it is simply because I’m familiar with Google analytics.
It’s a remote online testing tool that allows you to question users as they review your design. You can enter a URL of a webpage or upload a graphic.
It comes with predefined questions or tasks such as:
- Click on the most appealing images
- Click on the elements you like on this page?
- Click on the things you would remove from this page?
- Mark your most important features
- Where do you click for contact information?
- Where you click if you want to buy this product? Where would you click next?
- Mark the things you think we should improve
- Click on the things that draw your attention the most
When you analyze the test results, you can see the individual clicks or heat maps. Also you can see notes the testers created.
One last note about usabilla: While researching, I came across Juliette Melton’s Usabilla vs Loop11 post on uxmag.com. She pointed out a few problems she encountered with Usabilla and the CEO, Paul Veugen, politely commented and addressed the issues. That’s the kind of company I want to work with.
On a final note, it’s great that these tools are becoming available to the small business owner. It seems that user testing a few short years ago was available to only large businesses and corporations. I’m sure costs played a role, but simple awareness of the tools and techniques was also a factor.
Now that there are simple and inexpensive tools, I’m hoping that business owners will be willing to invest in quality user tests.