Testing throughout the CX process ensures success
Since I last wrote about killing the spec document, I’ve been thinking a lot about the customer experience design process. It amazes me that even with all the access to technology that marketers have, we still don’t test things as much as we should.
When I talk about testing, I’m not just talking about doing quality assurance testing. What I’m talking about is all the other testing that marketers should be doing to deliver the best experience to the customer.
There are many different testing methods. I’m going to talk about a few of the most critical, when you should use them and why.
This method of testing is usually done at the beginning of the CX life cycle. It requires looking at various types of users and how they interact with an existing system. If you are tracking users, a lot of that information can be used in your baseline testing. What you’re really looking for are consistent themes. Are users frequently performing the same actions? How long do certain actions take? Data gleaned from these tests can help determine potential enhancements, or even which features need to be removed or added.
We usually call this IA (information architecture) testing, but in most situations it really comes down to how users navigate through an interface. If you are noticing specific breaks in how users are getting to your content, it could be that they aren’t sure how to get there. By doing navigation testing, you can see how users traverse your site, how they perceive the meaning of your labels and ultimately, how they expect to get to the content they’re looking for.
This is probably one of the most common tests that can be performed, and it makes sense: Do users respond better to concept A or concept B? The most important thing to think of when doing an A/B test is the desired outcome. You could have a test when one variant has a better response rate, but has an increased cost, while the other variant yields a better ROI.
When you start digging into the graphic design phase of a project, it is important to do some design testing to discover what users will have a better emotional reaction to. Yes, this may mean adding more up-front cost, but a better CX index score is directly related to revenue. So unless you want lower revenue, test your designs!
After you have started to develop a prototype or demo, it is unbelievably important to test. The earlier you test a prototype, the more insight you will have about how your methodology is being interpreted by users. Testing early also allows you to spot potential problems before you get further along in your process. When testing, it is also imperative to test with actual users, not internal resources. Actual users do and see things differently and won’t cloud your results.
Sure, you have a finished product now, but does it meet all of your goals? Your users’ goals? Acceptance testing allows you to make sure you are accomplishing your goals. Make sure your UX team is in sync with your development team throughout the entire CX process. If you work together from the beginning, you can ensure that the end product meets your goals without having to do a bunch of rework.
There are other testing methods I didn’t cover (QA testing, unit testing, etc.), but these methods are the most critical to the CX design process. You may not use all of these in your process, and that’s okay. Regardless of how many testing methods you’re currently using, remember this: Test early, test often, and most important, test with real users. That’s how you get accurate data and that’s how you get better results.