Online User Research – Tools & Techniques

online user research

Online user research can be a quick, cheap and effective way of gauging how customers use your website, what is working well and what is causing problems and what you might be able to do to make the site work better.

So if you are looking to improve your user experience by:

  • Making your order process simpler and quicker
  • Making your offer and promotions clear
  • Making your site easier to search and navigate around
  • Making your site informative and helpful

there are a number of tools that can be employed to help you achieve these and other improvements.

User research tools and how to use them

Nobody’s website is perfect – but perhaps yours is underperforming in ways you don’t even suspect. User research is one way to find out what is happening – and why – and many tools and methods are available to do this.

  • Survey tools
  • Remote user testing
  • Online focus groups
  • Card sorting
  • Text analysis

Surveys in user research

Online surveys are usually quite short self-completion questionnaires that are served to website visitors as they arrive (or leave). Ideally they should take no more than 10 minutes to complete or you run the risk of abandonment. There are tools available to help construct, brand and enhance surveys with reporting, email and pop-ups to make the user research itself an easy and comfortable experience.

Remote user testing

Remote usability testing is where you get people to use your site at home or in the workplace while you observe through a shared screen how they are interacting, what features they use and whether they have any difficulties. Tests usually last between 15-30 minutes and can be moderated or not. Software to help construct tests and analyse the results is available.

Online focus groups in user research

These provide the same benefits as focus groups but are conducted completely online thereby simplifying the logistics. Software exists enabling you to run these as one-to-ones or microgroups. More sophisticated tasks such as diary study analysis can also be accommodated within this form providing detailed, qualitative information about customers’ habits and feeling.

Card sorting/tree testing

These are techniques that analyse the architecture of information. Card sorting allows users to present information in a structure that they would find personally useful and tree testing points up parts of a website where people get lost. Both methods can be facilitated by software. Results from this analysis can indicate what sort of architecture might work best for your website.

Text analysis in user research

Another technical analysis that can give you good indications of areas you need to address. Text analysis tools enable you to review large amounts of input from emails, helpdesk enquiries etc to identify issues and patterns that can assist with future website structure and design.

Some of these techniques are quite complex and time-consuming and often the analysis is best done by trained, experienced operatives who know what to look for and can identify and interpret patterns and indicators. If you would like to talk to someone about online user research generally or any of these specific techniques why not give us a ring on 08000 246 247.

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