Score Better Customer Experiences and Business Results with User Testing

In this video presentation, Director of Experience Strategy and Insight (ESI) Joe Dyer discusses the uses and benefits of customer experience validation, including usability testing and iterative validation.

As Joe demonstrates, testing "gathers the voice of the customer," a valuable component in shaping a design and helping an organization improve its customers' experiences with their products, services and brands.

A transcript of Joe's presentation follows.

Hi, I'm Joe Dyer. I run the Experience Strategy and Insight Practice here at the Dallas office for projekt202.

I'd like to talk to you today about validation of experiences.

Let's get started with the basics. There are two different kinds of testing. Usability testing is if we have an existing application or experience that we can just take into a lab and find out what's working well and what's not working so well. Iterative validation is when we are creating something anew and we need to test the design decisions that have been made, and so we are going to build a little, test a little, build a little, test a little; hence, iterative validation.

Most tests are conducted in a lab setting, and this is so that we can control the environment and to also allow a place for stakeholders to witness somebody going through an experience.

The great thing about validation and usability tests is you don't need very large sample sizes to get the proper result. As you can see here in this curve, with as few as six people you can see that we're getting very close to nearly all of the issues. From that perspective, it's very cost-effective.

When it comes to sourcing users, we can source them using a paneling company. We screen for the very participants that we need for the test. If that's not possible, if this is a B2B application where we need access to employees in an organization to do the validation test, then that's something we will work out. Those are the two different ways of sourcing users.

Iterative validation scheduling is something where we can schedule a week of testing in such a way that we can test on day one, stop, make changes on what we've seen on day one, come back the next day, test again, make more changes. You have this on-again, off-again sort of test schedule, and inside of a single week you can make phenomenal improvement to any given application.

We can test across devices, so we can test mobile devices, laptops, desktop. We can even, as you can see in the next slide, we can test in any environment.

This particular test here was a two-part usability test where a person would use their smartphone and mobile device to register for some services that would be connected to their car, and then the second part of the test they'd actually go to the car, and as you can see where we had mocked up a nonfunctional prototype as the head unit.

We're able to test in any environment. We go where the people are.

This includes remote testing as well. Sometimes participants cannot be physically located with the facilitator or sometimes there are stakeholders that need to witness what's going on in the test, and they can only do so in a streaming or remote type of situation.

Here we have a Kano method. Things are not just about improving the interface, but also coming up with priority and understanding. A Kano method is a technique that helps us decide which features we want to include. It helps break away from that profit-minimizing mindset that says you've got to have as many features as possible in the product, and that's not necessarily true. This helps us build a strategic plan to what features to build in and leave out.

Why would you test? Why would you go about doing this? Well, we're continuing to use technology more and more, and, in fact, we're now having refrigerators sell with IP addresses. As these things propagate, we need to be able to determine whether these experiences are ready for the consumer yet. Our validation and usability regimen helps us do that.

Let's talk about the benefits. They are, that testing improves the design. It basically allows a designer to know how to solve a given problem or come up with a given solution. Having that upfront, they have something to push off against.

It also helps demonstrate the design's effectiveness, so that if you've made a number of design decisions and you take them to the lab, this is a way of finding those that work and those that don't, and eliminating those that don't.

Then lastly -- and this is very important -- it gathers the voice of the customer. The voice of the customer is going to be a valuable component in not only shaping what the designers are going to do, but it also is very effective in socializing within the organization. This is how a customer has reacted to our offering or service, and it's very powerful.

Jared Spool, a luminary in the user experience field, has coined this term of exposure hours. The companies that have increased exposure hours have better experiences.

How logically can a designer create an experience without context of what the user is needing? I mean, how is that even possible? This notion of exposure hours is a real easy metric to guarantee happens. Every six weeks, a designer should be spending at least two hours watching what somebody is doing using their product or service.

Delivering better customer experiences improves delivering on a much better customer experience. The benefits, as we can see, in the workplace, they increase efficiency. They increase the ease of use. They increase the productivity of a given worker, whereas when we look at them more on the consumer side, we're trying to find these insights to drive more downloads, create higher conversion, more usage, and greater engagement.

We'd like to put together a program to improve your business today. We'd like to do that with validation testing. Thank you for your time.

projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software design and development. We are passionate about improving the experiences that people have with enterprise and consumer digital touchpoints.

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