Build Landing Pages Powered by User Testing

By , August 15th, 2013 in Landing Pages | 12 comments
User Testing

User testing sounds fancy. It sounds like white lab coats, checklists, two-way mirrors, and boringness. Plus, it has nothing to do with marketers; it’s for our UX and Design teams to worry about, right?

But, really, user testing is the exact opposite — it has EVERYTHING to do with marketers. User testing is not about boringness or lab coats, it’s about putting a computer in front of real people and learning from what they do.

Strip away all of the fanciness, and it’s a surefire way to make more money and delight our customers. That has marketing written all over it.

But, the proof is in the pudding, so here are three ways that you as a marketer can benefit from user testing:

1) Find Out What People Do Before They Visit Your Landing Page

Analytics tell you all about someone once they’re on your landing page, but what about everything they do before they arrive? Out of all of the possible sites, why did they choose yours?

If you can have a deeper understanding of WHY people are coming to you, then you can use that information to give your visitors an even better experience.
An example about Hawaii

Imagine you’re in charge of the marketing for a hotel in Hawaii and you want to know what people do before they get to your landing page. Recruit some people to, “start at Google and find a warm place to vacation.”

Yup, that’s it.

Don’t mention the name of your hotel. Don’t even mention where to vacation.

Instead, just watch them go through the process and take note of what they do.

  • What appeals to them?
  • What type of information are they looking for?
  • Is there particular ad copy that catches their attention?
  • What ads do they click on? Why?
  • What do they think of the landing pages?
  • Do they head over to Yelp, Hotels.com, or some other site?

Get a little more specific

After you’ve run these very broad tests, start to give users a little more information. Recruit some people to, “search like you normally would to find a hotel to stay at in Hawaii from August 10th through August 13th.”

This will allow you to see very specifically how they interact with the search results. You’ll be able to know what’s going on inside their head as they look for a hotel. Then, the best part is, you can see what they do when they click through on the results.

  • What do they like about the landing page? What do they dislike?
  • Do they bounce right away? Why?
  • Is there one thing that immediately turns them away?
  • Why do they eventually decide to stay where they do?

If you can find 5-10 people to do this type of test then you will have BOATLOADS of great information that you can use to inform your strategy, improve your landing pages, and make more money.

Hawaii-ocean

If nothing else, at least this post has you daydreaming about Hawaii for a little bit. ((Image Source))

2) Learn From Similar Landing Pages

Often times you can learn just as much (or more) from watching people use landing pages that you’re not responsible for. You’ll generally be less defensive, and more open to some great feedback.

An example about an ebook

Imagine you’ve just built a new landing page that lets people download an ebook about improving conversion rates. Rather than seek out feedback on your own page, find people to visit other landing pages that offer a similar ebook. Get their feedback on those pages and then take that learning and apply it to your own site.

Maybe you’ll discover that people are reluctant to download the book unless they can read a sample. Or, that people are generally okay with providing their email address, but are reluctant to fill out the other sections of the form like “company size” or “phone number”.

Take it a step further

Now that you’ve tested a few landings pages that offer a similar ebook, it’s time to add your own landing page into the mix.

Here’s what you do: ask a few people in your target market to visit your landing page, and two of your competitors’ landing pages.

Ask them what they like and dislike about each landing page. Which one would they actually download the ebook from? Why? Which one was their least favorite? Why?

(Psst. Don’t let them know which page is yours. It will bias the feedback.)

Comparing & testing your landing page to your competitors will give you some ideas that you can implement right away to boost your conversion rate. Plus, it will give you ideas that you can use down the road for A/B tests.

**Note: Please don’t read this section as, “See what your competition is doing and copy them.” The big takeaway ought to be, “See what your competition is doing so you can learn from them and generate test ideas”

Mortal Kombat for landing pages

It’s a little bit like Mortal Kombat for landing pages. Except there’s not really Kombat involved. And Kombat’s not a word. (Image Source)

3) Start With Wireframes

Next time you’re going to create a new landing page, don’t wait until it’s designed and developed to get it in front of real people. Instead, save your company time and money by testing the wireframes.

User Testing Landing Pages Wireframes

Start testing as soon as you have wireframes

By testing your wireframes you can iterate quickly before involving anyone else in your organization. Create your wireframe in minutes with a tool like Balsamiq (or, heck, you can even draw it on a napkin) and then get it in front of people. Watch them interact with your wireframe, and ask them things like:

  • What do you think this page is about?
  • What can you do here?
  • What would you do first?
  • What would you expect to happen if you clicked there?
  • What benefits will you receive from this page?
  • If you had a magic wand, how would you improve this page?
  • Is there any information on this page that you think is missing?

Listen to all of their thoughts, change your design if necessary, and then get it in front of more people. By the end of the day you’ll have a page that is ridiculously better than the one you started with.

Now you can hand off this wireframe to your design team and have the best possible chance at a high-converting page.

The Tip of the Iceberg

Don’t be limited by these three outside-of-the-box ideas because they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Test your PPC ads, blog posts, emails and anything else that you can think of to get helpful feedback.

The more we can learn from real people, the better our sites and products will be, and the more money we’ll be able to make.

– Phil Sharp


About The Author

Photo of Phil Sharp

Phil is the Senior Marketing Manager at UserTesting.com. He uncovers insights about design, UX, and conversion rate optimization, and then shares them with the rest of the world. He’s kind of like Indiana Jones, but without the hat, whip, or dashing good looks.
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Comments

  1. Jack Josephy says:

    Point 1 is a really excellent idea for gaining extended insight from usability testing. As a UX researcher I had not really thought about taking this angle in my usability studies and focused purely on the actual site. But actually this is such a more natural setup for opening a session up.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Phil Sharp says:

      Thanks Jack! I’m always amazed what I learn (and the A/B testing ideas I get) when I simply ask someone to browse Google like they normally would :)

  2. Jack Josephy says:

    Point 1 is a really excellent idea for gaining extended insight from usability testing. As a UX researcher I had not really thought about taking this angle in my usability studies and focused purely on the actual site. But this is such a more natural setup for opening a session up.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Brian says:

    Love this post, Phil. #1 is great, and is in itself a competitor test of sorts. Your examples are really helpful.

    For #3, I completely agree about testing wireframes, but in many organizations, the designer may be the best one to create the wireframes (you indicated that the ‘marketer’ might hand off the tested wireframes to the designer). Many of today’s designers aren’t just focused on aesthetics; they’re UX and interaction specialists who know as much about those topics as anyone in the organization — maybe more. But you’ll still definitely save money by testing the wireframe, regardless of who designs it, because you’ll still save time in the costly high-fidelity and coding stages.

    • Phil Sharp says:

      Thanks Brian! And, you’re exactly right that designers are very likely the best folks to create the wireframes. I mainly want marketers to feel comfortable in giving wireframes a shot…at least to help communicate their vision to their design or UX teams.

  4. Thanks Phil for the excellent post. I think these kind of landing page tips will allow me to get my Adwords account approved lol.

  5. Matt says:

    I like the rapid testing idea but wouldn’t the wireframe test results not be indicative if it’s missing imagery for example?

    • Phil Sharp says:

      In my experience, you can get a lot of great feedback from wireframes even though it might be missing some design elements that will be helpful later.

      For example, you can learn if people understand what your page is about. And, if they can find the call to action that you’d really like them to click.

  6. Oliver says:

    Another great post – but here is a question for you to consider.

    What if you provide an extremely niche service, and you classify getting 10-20 highly charged visitors to your site per day a success?

    How can you test without the traffic volumes to do so?

    • Phil Sharp says:

      One of the great things about user testing is that you *generally* only need 3-5 people at a time. Instead of looking for statistical significance with user testing, we’re often just looking for those big, broken things.

      I often think of it as if you’re looking for a broken doorknob. If a doorknob is broken, you won’t need thousands of folks to tell you….you’ll be pretty sure after only a few people :).

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