Last week we went to visit Space Interactive Media Labs in Media City. It was my first time down to Media City and was good to see a vibrant buzzing community. The Landing is home to the Space UX labs where you can hire the space and equipment to carry out user experience testing sessions. There are 4 rooms in total to set up as you choose, for mobile, desktop, television screens and even console gaming. Each room has a seperate viewing area behind one way glass where you can view and listen to the user and facilitator as they use test your site. The facilities are used by companies such as the BBC and Sony who rent the rooms out for a week or two at a time as well as agencies like ourselves who are looking for a retreat for the day.
The importance of user experience testing
User testing is a part of the website build and development process that tests the user experience (UX) on a website to assess whether it’s successful or if it has any issues that need to be ironed out with further planning and development. The practice of user testing isn’t anything new but its popularity and importance is now becoming more widespread. It adds value to the process as user testing with your target demographic is the only sure fire way to know that what you’ve planned and developed really works in the way it was intended to. Every user is different and even the most meticulously planned site is still informed by opinion. A website is an ever evolving project that should be monitored, assessed and improved in an iterative cycle.
As part of the talk we heard that not only does user testing help to improve the user experience and therefore conversion on e-commerce sites but it’s just as important for social services where a poor user experience can directly impact on people’s lives. Where people who took part in the testing got visibly upset about the poor experience and impact that could have on the people they’re trying to help.
In the past user testing may have been seen as an expense that was a nice to have but the question should be can you afford not to do it?