304: How to Do User Testing for Your Product
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In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about user testing. They lay out the steps for how to do user testing for your product, your startup and your market.
The purpose of user testing is to collect data to show ease of use, user satisfaction and highlight any issues on your interface. With the results of these tests you can optimize your interface to deliver an exceptional experience to your audience.
It is difficult to predict the success of your designs if you don’t test them. If your product can help people achieve their goals easily then you will find yourself on the road to success. They will interact with it and share it with others. Testing is not just an important step in the creation process, it is an imperative one.
Tune into this week’s episode of The Startup Chat to learn about user testing and why it is a required step in your creation process. They also share how to get started with user testing and offer you support to get you started. As well as Steli and Hiten’s gold nuggets for how to use user testing to get a head start over your competitors.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
00:50 Introducing User Testing.
01:46 Services you can use for user testing.
02:18 How to get a free full guide on user testing.
02:48 How to use user testing on your competitors.
04:25 Learn about the setup process.
05:28 What are the weaknesses of user testing?.
06:01 Top reasons to do user testing.
07:22 Launching vs Testing.
08:00 How to get a headstart.
10:20 Make a commitment to your success.
3 Key Points:
- Within an hour we had videos with people spending 6-10 minutes telling us about their experience.
- The barrier to people doing user testing is that they don’t want to spend the time.
- These are people getting paid to tell you where you suck, it’s like having a trainer.
Steli Efti: Hey, everybody. This is Steli Efti.
Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. Today on the Startup Chat, based on Steli’s request-
Steli Efti: Yes.
Hiten Shah: What are we going to talk about Steli?
Steli Efti: We are going to talk to the master of user testing. You know? Recent black belt, if I’m correctly informed, in use testing on how the fuck to do user testing for your startup your product and your market. So Hiten, I know that there was a time where you probably didn’t do a lot of user testing, like actually paying strangers, or taking strangers, putting them in front of your product, having them click around and try to use the product, and then express their opinions, their confusions, and their experience so you have more data on what works and what doesn’t work with your product. There was a time you probably didn’t do much of that. Recently, you have done a shit ton of that. Like, you’ve done a tremendous amount of user testing. So, I just wanna tap into that black level mastery of yours, and take some of those golden nuggets that you’ve acquired in terms of your learnings, share it with everybody that’s listening to us.
Hiten Shah: Yeah. Absolutely. I could write a lot on this, and I already have. I could say a lot on this, but what I really believe is that there’s basic building blocks to everything, no matter how complicated or daunting it seems at first. Through practice, you find those basic building blocks, and then it’s just on and you build from there. So basically, with user testing, we use usertesting.com all the time. It is the tool to use. We also use UsabilityHub.com for certain types of user tests. So there’s these two tools. Everyone asks me what the fuck do I use to do user testing if I’m gonna do it. I also get a lot of people who ask me, “I can’t do this myself. Can someone else do this for me?” Here’s the deal. I don’t know anyone that can do this for you, unfortunately. I have written up instructions that are shared on my email list that I haven’t written into a guide or blog post yet, but if you email me at Hiten H-I-T-E-N at producthabits.com, make sure you sign up for the email list first, but I will … If you’re already on it, great. I will send you those emails personally if you’re really into this after you hear what I have to say about it. Okay, I had to get that out of the way, Steli, ’cause the amount of emails I get about this is pretty high, especially when we were doing these. So we user tested a bunch of sites Duolingo, Mixmax, and Grammarly, to understand onboarding. Onboarding, meaning that process people use to sign up for a product. We user tested those three products because we thought they had fantastic onboarding, and we learned a ton about them. We did this about late last year, or actually, early this year. I don’t remember anymore. I think it was late last year. We learned a ton about user testing. In the beginning, I thought it was for experts. I have people at my company, different companies actually, that do user testing all the time; but that’s part of their kinda holistic job, and they do a bunch of other stuff. And so, I really wanna learn it myself because I realize that it’s actually easier than I thought. The key to user testing is whether it’s your own website, prototypes before you actually build them, but you’ve already designed them, or someone else’s website or app or mobile app or whatever. You can user test it. I’ll give an example. The other day, a company launched in my space, one of the spaces I work on in terms of product and one of my businesses. Within 10 minutes of knowing they launched, I had a user test running on their home page, because that’s all they had. It was like some early access page they launched.
Steli Efti: Nice.
Hiten Shah: It was like really thorough. What I wanted to know was, how is their message resonating with people? Period. Does it make sense? Is it clear? They had a bunch of messages different than ours, or our proposed messaging in the future. We’ve done a lot of user testing on this business already, and we wanted to learn that. So literally, I set the test up in 10 minutes, while my team and I were actually just looking at that competitor just for fun. It was later in the evening, and we realized that they had something new. Within an hour, we had videos with people spending six to 10 minutes talking about that home page to us, and telling us everything that confuses them, what they understand about it and what they don’t. The amount of information we got in just that one user test with five people looking at it, is probably more information than they have about their home page. You know how I know that? We learned a lot of things that they’re doing wrong just by that user test. For me, it’s like this come to Jesus, so to speak, moment, once I realized that this is a tool in my tool belt that’s really powerful for many different things. Now here’s the weakness, I just said that there’s five videos that are six to 10 minutes long. Holy crap. I have to watch them. I don’t just have to watch them, I have to watch them and transcribe them, and then I have to … Literally, I would watch them, I would transcribe them, then I’d analyze them. It takes time. You can pile these up and do it. It’s easy to set up the test actually, but the harder part and why I believe people don’t do it, is the amount of time it takes to analyze these results. You know, you can outsource it or you can try to and all that. But at the end of the day, I believe the barrier to people doing it is the fact that they don’t wanna spend the time. Think about it. If a competitor launches something, don’t you wanna know what’s up?
Steli Efti: Yeah.
Hiten Shah: Don’t you wanna know what people think about it? Isn’t that important to you? Especially if it’s a core feature that you’re building, or it’s a direct competitor? So, that’s one aspect. I’m not saying that’s the only reason you do user testing. Another reason you do user testing is if you are building something, and you don’t know what you’re building. Like, you don’t know. You’re just building something and you design it, how do you know that it’s the right thing? How do you know what’s wrong with it? Most people would be like, “Oh, yeah. I just build it, and then launch it, and then a bunch of people use it, and then I got find out.” I think that’s backwards. I’ll be crass a little bit. I think it’s ass backwards, because if you go all the way to building it and wasting all the engineering and design resources and time to go implement it, and then it’s not right, wouldn’t you wanna know that earlier if you could? So what user testing does is lets you put things in front of people and really figure out, and this is the key, what’s screwed up about it? What’s not working? What’s confusing? So the way I think of user testing is to understand where this experience, this home page, this design, this onboarding experience, this app, is failing people, where people get confused, where they understand what’s going on. Those insights are pure gold. I could iterate a whole product in probably a month, however expansive as you want, with just a designer and user testing, and nail it, and I still haven’t launched anything. Some people would be like, “Wait. Aren’t you supposed to launch fast?” Yeah. I’ve been launching it every freaking day to find people who could see it and tell me what’s crappy about it. Yes, I’ve been launching it. For sure. And then, I have months of learning that I got in a month, just because I didn’t waste time having to build it. I didn’t waste time. I focused on figuring out what’s the problem. ‘Cause here’s the thing, when you’re designing something or developing something, you don’t always know where the problems are until you launch it. Even then, when you launch it, you don’t get to ask the same type of questions to people. These are people getting paid to tell you where you suck. It’s like a trainer. I look at these user testers like training me to figure out where I need to double down and spend more effort, ’cause I missed the mark. This experience sucks, or this home page copy sucks. You keep iterating it without having to do it in public. You keep iterating it without having to launch something and waste all those precious resources on things that are not working. There’s my long rant on user testing. What else you got?
Steli Efti: I fucking love it. All right. So let me ask you one question, Hiten. If you had to guess, how many of these user test videos in total, I want the total number, have you watched in the past three to six months?
Hiten Shah: Damn. Probably easily a few hundred. Easily a few hundred.
Steli Efti: Easily a few hundred, huh?
Hiten Shah: Easily. Like, easily. We do a divide and conquer them sometimes, and like split them up and do half and half or three to two or whatever, but yeah, easily a few hundred.
Steli Efti: All right. So listen, even if we … To simplify this, let’s say it’s 300, right? Let’s say you’ve watched 300 user testing videos in the past three to six months. For those who are listening to use, that’s the reason why Hiten stays ahead of the fucking curve. When you’re like, “Huh. I wonder why is Hiten so knowledgeable?” It’s because, even after decades of being an entrepreneur and hundreds of products launched and all the success he had, he puts in the fucking work. He puts in the fucking work. Right? Let me translate that to you. Your competitors are not … I would bet money that there’s a 900% chance that your direct competitor hasn’t watched a single user testing video in the last three to six months. Right?
Hiten Shah: Easy. Easy to say that.
Steli Efti: Easy.
Hiten Shah: Yeah.
Steli Efti: Easy to say that, right? You know, people know we don’t make these types of generalizations often. It depends is one of our favorite things to say. But this is easily true. So here’s the challenge for everybody out there. You don’t have to be Hiten Shah to outrun your competitor. Right? Because most of us are in the pleasant position to not have to compete with Hiten directly in our lives. So all you have to do in the next two weeks is to commit to watching … What do we want to say, Hiten? What’s an easy number that’s still meaningful? Next two weeks, how many user test videos should somebody put in commission, and then watch?
Hiten Shah: You know what? Just run one user test.
Steli Efti: One user.
Hiten Shah: Just do me a favor. Watch five videos, and do it on your home page or your competitor’s. Literally, just ask people to explore the home page and for each section, explain it in their own words, and then ask them what’s confusing about this home page, and ask them if there’s anything missing on it. Those are like three or four questions. You go to usertesting.com, sign up, and just try it out. That’s it. Just a home page. You know, like a nice, little, long home page, or even a short one. Whatever. Make sure you run a five second test as the first sort of task. That’s it. It’s pretty simple. Do that, ’cause that’ll be more than what 99% of people are doing each week.
Steli Efti: If you do that, if you’re one of the people that take action and do this, send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, gmail.com. Tell us you’ve done the testing, tell us what you’ve learned, tell us what you’ve accomplished. I will personally, and Hiten, you’re welcome to join in or not, but I’m happy to fund the next two or three user tests you make as a little price to pay.
Hiten Shah: Sure.
Steli Efti: Right? We’ll fund your next two user tests, and we will free consult you on the results. We’ll give you feedback on the results of what to do with it. How about that?
Hiten Shah: Yeah. Why not?
Steli Efti: All right. That’s it from us when it comes to user testing. Just do one, watch five videos in the next 14 days, and the chances of you gaining killer insights, and gaining an advantage towards everybody else who’s competing to serve that type of customer that you’re trying to serve, is gonna skyrocket. So let’s go and make something happen, and we’ll support you as much as we can. That’s it from us for this episode.
Hiten Shah: Later.