Useful questions for user tests

August 11, 2020

We’ve already covered useful questions for customer interviews. But how can you get insight on your content, and your site, from people who you don’t know yet? We really like services like UserTesting.com for this, and in this article we’ll suggest some questions you can ask during a user test to get useful feedback on what you’re doing.

By the way, this article covers a specific type of user test – a remote, moderated test. This type of test is conducted by the subject, using a list of questions you provide. Because you won’t be there to ask questions when conducting this type of test, it’s critical that the subject be encouraged to talk through why they are behaving in certain ways, and how they are thinking about their interactions with you.

Screening

Be sure to screen out testers who aren’t in, or related to, your target market. If you provide an accounting solution for small businesses, for example – you might want to select for people with some familiarity with competing products, or who have job functions that are related to accounting.

The 5 second test

In the 5 second test, you want to show users your site – most likely, your homepage – for just 5 seconds and see if they can understand what you’re about. This is a great test to see if you have a clear value proposition that people who don’t know who you are, can understand. Once users have had 5 seconds to look, specific questions you can ask include:

  • What do you remember? This is helpful for understanding if your value proposition is clear – and also for understanding if there are distracting (or particularly memorable) elements on your site.
  • Who’s this site for? A good test for seeing if the target persona is easily detectable. This is a question your visitors will typically ask themselves when they land on your site – and if the site isn’t for them, they will leave more quickly.

Home page exploration

Ask your user to take 30 seconds to get acquainted with the homepage. This attempts to simulate the experience a user will have if they become seriously interested in your product. Good questions to ask here include:

  • Without leaving the homepage, what are your initial impressions of the website? Explain your answer. This is a good way to assess a visitor’s initial level of trust in your website, when they arrive. Asking a visitor the reason for their impression is helpful, too – since the answer may point to specific issues you can fix.
  • Please describe what our product does. This helps you figure out whether your value proposition is easy to find, and if so, whether it’s easy to understand.

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And you don’t have to be fancy to be clear.

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Task accomplishment

The buyer journey on a B2B website is extremely complex. Your visitor is probably on your site to research your solution, and may also have the goal of being able to bring information back to the rest of their team. So, ask your users to accomplish information-gathering tasks that you commonly expect users to accomplish on your site. For example:

  • Determine whether our product supports Linux.
  • Get information about the ROI of our product.
  • Find information about how to most efficiently deploy a new bid management system.
  • Tell us how you would contact our sales team.
  • Explain how we compare with Competitor X.

Be sure to have users talk you through what they are doing, and why they’re doing it. “I’m going to click on ‘Resource Library’ because I think that’s where you keep whitepapers on this topic.”

Test your competitors’ sites

Lastly, consider running user tests against your competitors’ sites, too, to see where they’ve done a better job of helping visitors get the information they need. Whoever provides information is likely to be able to frame the conversation.

Conclusion

User testing is a relatively inexpensive way of seeing problems on your site that you don’t notice. And they can be a great way of convincing others on your team to take action – once you’ve conducted 5 - 7 tests, send out a highlight reel so everyone can see how real users interact with the content you’ve created.


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