User testing can be painful… but it’s worth it

Originally published on sitepoint.com

Perhaps this is a familiar story. You’ve built a new website or app, dogfooded it with your team, and now you’re ready to test with real-life users. Excitedly, you gather a few people who are most likely to be your target audience, and begin the testing sessions.

Immediately you start getting some rather… painful feedback.

  • “I have no idea what this is”
  • “I would never use, or come back to this website”
  • “How do I log-in?” *Ignores giant log-in button*

User testing is often the moment where the rubber meets the road. All your ideas, decisions, sketches, and code comes together to create a real interface… one that a user is now attempting to use, and is forming their own ideas about.

Continue reading User testing can be painful… but it’s worth it

Knock Knock

Seth Godin is a legend. He’s an entrepreneur, consultant, and author. He’s written 14 books on marketing and all of them are best sellers. He starts companies, fixes broken ones and writes the most popular marketing blog in the world.

So the the man is brilliant. He knows nearly everything there is to know about web marketing.

Except, in February 2010, how to best embed a video.

The day started like most others for me: check email, RSS feeds, and read Seth’s blog. Godin posts little nuggets of wisdom nearly every day. But this one was different. This post had video. Not embedded video (where you click play and watch in the current page) but a link away from his blog to go watch the video on vimeo. I followed the link, but most people don’t.

Seth has button on his blog: “email me”. So I emailed him, suggesting a better way. He quickly responded, and we exchanged a few ideas. Then he embedded the video the way I suggested and emailed back “Better?”

So what?

Imagine you’re Seth. You have important meetings, phone calls, books to write, and 500,000 people reading your blog. Do you publicly post your email address? Do you stay open to advice?

Most of us don’t.

Most artists, organisations, board members, CEOs… we’re too busy to be bothered by the little requests, suggestions and feedback. We don’t believe the benefit is greater than the pain of an overflowing mailbox. I suppose the thesis behind much of social media and this post, is that it’s worth it. That for every 10 dead end requests, there might be a useful suggestion.

Sure there’s going to be a lot of distractions along the way. It’s a skill to know which emails to delete, which ones to quickly reply, and which ones to pause and think about. But is it worth it? Certainly.

If you have a Web site, it’s probably because you want to interact with your customers. So give me a phone number and an email address. A real one, one that goes to a person, and quickly! Put it on every page.

Seth Godin “Knock Knock” download the free ebook