10 Ways to Generate Higher-Converting Test Ideas with UserTesting

| April 15, 2013
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In this guest post, optimization expert Rich Page (author of Website Optimization: An Hour a Day and co-author of Tim Ash’s Landing Page Optimization) shares how he leverages UserTesting to increase conversions for his clients.


Gathering insight from your website visitors using a tool like UserTesting is one of the most powerful ways to improve your website and its conversion rates. However, instead of just changing your website based on their feedback, you need to create high impact a/b website tests and see which variations result in the highest conversion rates.  Here are 10 ways to help you do this by using UserTesting… meaning increased online revenue for you!

1. Choose better test participants

Just like for any other tool, the acronym GIGO applies – Garbage In, Garbage Out! This means if you use test participants that don’t meet your target demographic well, you are likely going to get unhelpful responses, meaning poor website test ideas being created.

Ideally, recruit some users direct from your website. Getting testers who have previously visited your website means they will be more familiar with it and give you more useful feedback. Fortunately, UserTesting’s Enterprise product makes this easy as they help you test with your own customers or even recruit more-detailed demographics of visitors while they are on your website.

2. Choose at least 10 test participants

Use 10 or more participants

If you get feedback from fewer than 10 test participants you will risk receiving biased or unrepresentative responses, and as a result poorly performing tests might be created from their feedback. And the fewer you get, the greater chance of someone in your organization (HiPPOs!) demanding something changed based on something they heard in a limited sample of feedback. Yes it’s more expensive, but the extra feedback is really worth the money!

3. Create tasks about your homepage

Asking for visitors impressions of your homepage is really important because they often judge a whole website just by the homepage (often in a matter of seconds), and it can help create some great test ideas. Here are some good tasks to use:

  • Always run the ‘5 Second Test’ option.

    5 Second Test screenshot

    A 5-second test can be added to your test by simply checking a checkbox.

  • Ask them what part of the page they noticed first (make sure their eyes aren’t being draw to something un-important).
  • Ask them what they would click on first (often this may be something entirely different than you would expect).
  • Ask them about what benefits your website seems to offer – if they don’t understand it well, you need to test improving it. You can use the task in the task bank ‘What benefits will you receive from this site?’

4. Use web analytics to find problematic pages and create tasks for them

Leverage Analytics

Your web analytics tool is a powerful ally for creating better tasks in UserTesting! In particular you can use it to find high-trafficked pages with issues like high bounce or exit rate, and then create tasks relating to these pages. Once you have found these pages, ask them what seems confusing about them and how to better clarify or improve them. Getting test ideas to improve these troublesome pages is an excellent way to really boost your conversion rates.

5. Create tasks regarding your top entry pages

Use your web analytics tool again to find your websites’ top entry pages (not just your homepage), as these have a huge impact on your conversion rates. Doing this works really well because the 80/20 rule applies – 80% of your conversion rate success often comes from improving just 20% of your most important pages like these. Don’t forget to create tasks about your PPC landing pages too if you are using them!

6. Gain feedback about your newsletters and email campaigns

These sources of traffic often represent a huge opportunity for increasing conversion rates from these visitors once they land on your website. Therefore for a task you should point your test participants to a web version of your newsletter or email marketing campaign and ask them questions relating to it. For example, ask which features and content they like the most/least, and how they would improve the layout. This feedback will help you form some great ideas for improving these traffic sources.

7.  Gain feedback regarding your key forms and checkout flows

Test forms and process flow

The forms and checkout flows on your website often have critical influence over your conversion rates (for example your signup form or shopping cart), so it’s critical you create tasks relating to these to create high-impact test ideas. Here are some high-impact tasks to use:

  • Ask what difficulties or concerns they have using them (confusing layout, length of form, personal questions etc)
  • Ask whether they understand the fields you are asking them to complete.
  • Ask them if they understand the error messaging if they make mistakes.

8. Create a task asking about your website navigation options

Feedback regarding these can form great test ideas – this is because simple changes to navigation menus can make it much easier for visitors to get around your website, and increase the chances of them converting. Ask them things like whether they understand the options and wording in your menus (quite often they won’t), and whether they think the menus are easy to interact with.

9. Create high-impact questions when setting up each user test

Post-test questions

At the end of each user test you create, you can choose additional questions to ask your participants. These are key for gaining great insights for better a/b and multivariate test ideas. Here are some tips to get the most out of them:

  • Always ask what other competitor websites they like to use and what features they like on them (great inspiration for test ideas!)
  • Asking questions about overall design and color scheme isn’t really that useful here – remember your users aren’t experts in web design, and often don’t know how to describe a good one.
  • For the last question, add an open ended one so they can rant or rave about anything else that may not have been covered by your tasks.

10. Run user tests for every major change on your website

Lastly, don’t just run user tests on your website once and move on – you need to do it every time you launch or change something major on your website. Never just presume your visitors are going to like what your web designers or UX team launch or change on your website – always setup a new user test (using the tips above) to gain high-impact test ideas and help increase conversion rates for what you just launched or changed.

Now over to you – which of these have you tried, and what else have you found works for you best in UserTesting?