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How to Make the Most of Your User Testing

One question I often get when I discuss user testing with a client is “but… we already have Google Analytics well-configured with Goals, and we do rigorous A/B testing, is that not enough”?

It’s a valid question, so I thought I would address that.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webinar about user testing where Sean Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Qualaroo, and Darrell Benatar, co-founder of, elegantly addressed this very issue, so I’ll restate and elaborate.

Why Do You Test Your Website?

Any user testing you do on your website improves your visitor’s experience while on your website. That’s obvious. But what does that actually mean?

Regardless of your business or organization's nature and the goal you have for your website, there is a metric that tells you that you are achieving your goal. Whether that metric is more unit sales, more revenue, more members, more signups to your blog or newsletter, or whichever metric means “success!” to you, your visitors complete some action on your website that takes them from the landing page – the point at which they enter your website – to some completed action, a conversion. That route from the entry point to conversion is your conversion funnel or path, or (for an eCommerce website) it is also your sales funnel.

That funnel should be laid out to make it very easy for visitors to get to their goal, aligning with your goal.

So the questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. What do visitors want when they come to my website?
  2. Is what I offer on my website aligned with what visitors are looking for when they come to your website?

If the answer to question 2 above is “No,” you should stop and take a hard look at your website strategy – we will cover this topic in another post. If your answer is “I think so, but I am not sure…” The situation is less dire than with a “No” answer, you should find out by testing. Have you asked the question? That’s another “can of worms” topic that needs an answer.

Assuming you answer is an unqualified yes (are you really, really sure?), proceed:

  1. What, if anything, is stopping visitors from reaching their goal?

To really get at that third question, you will be most effective using all the testing and analytics tools at your disposal.

And here’s how:

The Intersection of Analytics, A/B Testing, and User Testing

As a first step, you do want analytics installed on your website. If you’re like most users, Google Analytics is a good way to go. It’s powerful and free. Google Analytics will allow you to determine where you may have problem areas on your website. If a particular page on your conversion path has a high bounce rate or is a top exit page for your website, Google Analytics will help you locate it. So Google Analytics helps you answer the WHERE question.

But it doesn’t tell you WHY people are leaving your website. User testing is how you get that answer. By setting up a simple test with a group of users you gather at your location or (more efficiently and inexpensively) via an online testing platform like (no affiliation, but we use their tool and like it a lot), you will be able to see what happens when visitors reach that page on your website.

Once you have the WHY, you can then use the other tools at your disposal, either what is available in Google Analytics or using a third-party A/B testing platform like Optimizely (for your website) or Unbounce (for landing pages).

Look at the impact of the change in Google Analytics again, and focus on your next problem area. Then do a few more user tests. Refine by A/B testing again, and then… you get the point.

Lather – Rinse – Repeat

In time you will have worked through most of the obvious friction points on your website and optimized your conversion path, improving the user experience, helping your visitors achieve their goal on your website, and helping you achieve your goal in the process.

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