APRONS ON! MY RECIPE TO IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL PLATFORMS
How do you give your digital services the best chance of being easy to use?
There’s a whole industry out there devoted to user testing. Labs with two way mirrors, complex calculations to invite just the right proportions of different demographics, software that follows the eye, A / B testing, video with high production values. And it’s all very expensive and something that not many of us can afford.
But you don’t NEED any of that to get some really good ideas for how to improve your digital services from user testing. In fact, I would argue you can get results that are 80%* as effective for very little cost and with just a little investment of your time.
. 5 - 10 people willing to give you an hour of their time, preferably not all the same type of person, friends / family allowed if they are potential consumers of your digital service
. Perhaps something to bribe those people with to give you their time (flowers / wine / book tokens, etc)
. Some devices with your digital services on them
. Some physical space
. A phone / device with video recording capability
. Something to write on (laptop / tablet / pen and paper, etc
. Look at your usage stats and identify the most common and least common tasks people use your digital services for
. When you’ve identified around 10 tasks (common and uncommon) translate them into customer speak (eg not “report a missed bin collection” but “your bin wasn’t collected and you want to tell us”)
. Write each translation down on a card
. Write down some general questions about your digital services (e.g. “what did you find easy to use”, “what didn’t you find easy to use”, “did it seem logical to you”)
. Book an hour with each of your testees (hahah – it’s like ‘testes’!!!) individually
For each session:
. Begin by finding out general info about the participants age, gender and experience using / appetite for digital services
. Introduce them to your digital services on whichever device your using for the session, and explain you want them to be as honest as possible in describing how they find using them - so you can see how they can be improved
. Ask if it’s ok to film them
. If it is, start your phone / device filming – (set up to point at the device’s screen)
. Ask them to pick a card from your stack of tasks, and then try and use your digital services to complete the chosen task
. Ask them to describe how they find it as they go along
. When they’ve finished one task, repeat again for as many tasks as you can fit in before you only have 10 minutes left (this will vary depending on each individual’s style)
. When there’s only 10 minutes left, ask them your general questions, expand on them where it’s interesting
. Ask them which other digital services they use that they find really easy, and which other digital services they’ve used that they haven’t
. Write down their answers, and thank them for their time / give them the bribe to say thanks
Over the course of your sessions some common areas for improvement should become apparent. There will also be other more subjective ideas for improvement uncovered. Make a list of all the common areas and the subjective areas you think are good ideas rather than just personal preferences. Sort those ideas into:
. Improvements that can be made quickly at low cost - do these straight away
. Improvements that will take longer but are low cost - start planning these changes in to your work programme
. Improvements that will cost money / resource - put together a presentation with video evidence from the sessions showing that investing in these changes make the services easier to use and so increase usage and ultimately return on investment
Remember to repeat on a regular basis
Use some new people, but also some people who previously helped (they can let you know if the work you’ve done has actually resulted in an improvement). Ultimately, it’s the end users who know how to improve your digital services best, and you don’t need a huge budget to take advantage of that.
*NB This is a made up statistic and not scientific, but you get the point