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User experience testing: A step on the path to awesomeness

Changes are coming to the Pure Visibility website! In the not too distant future, we will unleash a new site architecture followed by content changes and a visual redesign.
As this effort got underway, we knew it was important to employ the same skills that we bring to our clients – to eat our own cat food, you could say. We did user research and captured that information as personas and then used those personas as the basis for our information architecture work. We then took our early website prototype out to real users to gather some data about how it worked for them.
We came up with our test protocols, which included topics that we wanted to hit on in each session, and then a scenario and specific tasks to get the participants interacting with the prototype. We also had to build out and print up a robust set of prototype pages for the participants to interact with.
User experience testing with a paper prototype is a great way to elicit feedback before you’ve invested lots of time into building a site. Although it’s obviously not the same as interacting with a prototype on a computer or a real, live website, the timeliness makes it a valuable, cost-effective tool for collecting data. It also means that you get slightly different kinds of data than a test with a higher fidelity prototype or live website.
We focused on the navigation of the site – how the pages fit together, and the labeling of the pages. We put together tasks that revolved around asking our participants where they would go to find answers to questions, like “what does Pure Visibility’s pay per click reporting look like?”
As we kind of expected, we found out early on that when our participants got the scenario (basically, “you are looking for an Internet marketing company”), they wanted to break it down into different tasks than we had planned for. We were glad that we’d spent so much time building prototype pages! This insight into how participants wanted to learn about a company like us was the most important part of our research.
When we built the prototype, we incorporated copy from the existing website. As we had hoped, this copy gave our participants something to react to. In addition to learning about how our participants wanted to research us, we gained insight into how our copy sounded to them, what they really wanted to learn on pages, and how to better organize our copy.
We’re baking what we learned into the website, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us. While user research activities are essential to to the success of any web design project, it’s not the only vital ingredient. We will turn our search engine optimization experts loose on the Pure Visibility site to take a fresh look at it from both a technical and a content perspective – and that means more blog posts yet to come!

Changes are coming to the Pure Visibility website! In the not too distant future, we will unleash a new site architecture followed by content changes and a visual redesign.

As this effort got underway, we knew it was important to employ the same skills that we bring to our clients – to eat our own cat food, you could say. We did user research and captured that information as personas and then used those personas as the basis for our information architecture work. We then took our early website prototype out to real users to gather some data about how it worked for them.

We came up with our test protocols, which included topics that we wanted to hit on in each session, and then a scenario and specific tasks to get the participants interacting with the prototype. We also had to build out and print up a robust set of prototype pages for the participants to interact with.

User experience testing with a paper prototype is a great way to elicit feedback before you’ve invested lots of time into building a site. Although it’s obviously not the same as interacting with a prototype on a computer or a real, live website, the timeliness makes it a valuable, cost-effective tool for collecting data. It also means that you get slightly different kinds of data than a test with a higher fidelity prototype or live website.

We focused on the navigation of the site – how the pages fit together, and the labeling of the pages. We put together tasks that revolved around asking our participants where they would go to find answers to questions, like “what does Pure Visibility’s pay per click reporting look like?”

As we kind of expected, we found out early on that when our participants got the scenario (basically, “you are looking for an Internet marketing company”), they wanted to break it down into different tasks than we had planned for. We were glad that we’d spent so much time building prototype pages! This insight into how participants wanted to learn about a company like us was the most important part of our research.

When we built the prototype, we incorporated copy from the existing website. As we had hoped, this copy gave our participants something to react to. In addition to learning about how our participants wanted to research us, we gained insight into how our copy sounded to them, what they really wanted to learn on pages, and how to better organize our copy.

We’re baking what we learned into the website, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us. While user research activities are essential to to the success of any web design project, it’s not the only vital ingredient. We will turn our search engine optimization experts loose on the Pure Visibility site to take a fresh look at it from both a technical and a content perspective – and that means more blog posts yet to come!

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2 Responses to "User experience testing: A step on the path to awesomeness"

  • Susan Weinschenk
    April 10, 2010 - 6:13 pm Reply

    Mike,

    Great write-up and kudos for “eating the cat food.”

  • Mike Beasley
    Mike
    April 12, 2010 - 8:18 am Reply

    Thank you!

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