Benefits of Virtual Usability Testing

Patricia Hursh February 27, 2014

You know your website needs improvement, but…

  •    – Where do you start?
  •    – How do you deal with all the conflicting opinions?

Answer:  Ask your prospective customers!

There is a relatively fast, easy and inexpensive way to solicit very specific feedback on your website, from your target audience… the Virtual Usability Test.

The previous approach to website usability was to hire an expensive testing firm, pay prospects to come into a testing facility, observe their website experience, and interview them.  Very expensive!

The new way to do this is online, via a virtual testing platform, such as  This is much faster and less expensive.

I am a HUGE proponent of virtual usability testing!  Many of the companies I work with have created a very clear, prioritized website improvement plan based on actual feedback from their target audience.

Here is what always amazes me… the degree of consistency you’ll see in the feedback you receive!  The comments are definitely not “all over the map”.  Rather, you will see very consistent insights in terms of what works and what doesn’t on your website (even from less than 10 testers).

Critical success factors:

  1. Make sure your online testing audience matches your target customer profile – in terms of physical location, demographics, industry, experience, etc.
  2. Write an effective testing script.  Ask test-takers to engage with your website in very specific ways, ask them to find particular information, and complete certain tasks.
  3. Have a Usability Expert interpret the test results and help you prioritize the associated website improvements.

At the conclusion on your virtual website usability test you will receive:

  •  – a summary of answers to your script questions,
  •  – an audio file with running commentary as testers “think our loud”
  •  – a summary of mouse moves

Bottom line:

Why settle for opinions when you can collect actual, experiential feedback from prospective customers?

Why spend money on website improvements until you know exactly what you need to improve?

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Patricia Hursh is the president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing. Today she leads the Client Services division of the agency. She specializes developing digital strategies and full-funnel marketing solutions for B2B companies. Patricia leads multi-functional teams to ensure bottom-line business results for SmartSearch Marketing’s clients.