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Customer Research Secret Weapon – UserTesting.com

Ken Chen

Ken Chen

March 16, 2012

I wanted to share with you a website usability tool called UserTesting.com that my company used a couple months ago to conduct a research study on several Facebook pages.

Initially, we conducted an audit of the pages with our internal team, interviewed 12 of the client’s employees and felt pretty good about what we were going to recommend. But something was missing: actual customer/user feedback!

I’m afraid to say that it’s far too common for companies to roll out new websites, landing pages, even offline collateral, without any user testing. Usually marketers feel like there is not enough time, money or expertise to conduct customer research, so they launch with their gut feelings on what works. I think this is a huge mistake.

Enter UserTesting.com. It’s used by many companies including Twitter, Zynga, EA, eBay, and WebEx just to name a few. The way it works is simple:

  • You create an interview script with 5-10 questions and provide some kind of online stimulus — usually a link to a website.
  • Then, you select a few filters to target the kind of users you want to test your site. You can recruit from their panel of experts or use your own list and invite them to interview.
  • UserTesting.com instantly records the user commenting real-time while capturing their actions on their screen. All of this happens virtually and remotely.

We conducted 50 interviews in less than three days. It’s very inexpensive — $39 per user. Amazing! Our staff would agree — here are some of their thoughts:

“I like it. It let us reach a large number of people in a very short amount of time, and with very little effort! Amazingly with our criteria, they were still able to get us 50 unique testers within 3 days. The testers were thoughtful, but even better than that was the ability to clip great quotes and annotate so we could go back and listen to something while being able to watch them move around on the screen.” – Kathy

“UserTesting.com is a great way to really experience how your customers interact with your web site. You can see what customers are seeing on their screen and hear them talking about what they see. You can even have them answer questions that you set up in advance. It is the next best thing to being there.” – Monika

Conducting research minimizes your risk, because you hear directly from customers what they think about your products. Marketers are often way too close to the situation to be able to anticipate how users interact and what they take away from those interactions. We’ll never make that mistake again.

Bonus Videos: If you have extra time, check out UserTesting.com’s webbloopers videos on YouTube. Learn where average visitors get stuck while using major websites like Netflix, FedEx, Facebook, BestBuy and more.

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