Have You Been Putting Off That New Site Or Site Tweaks?

June 11, 2009
By Robbin Steif

Do you know that you need a new site (or changes to your site) but have been putting it off?

I sure have. Every Monday, at our weekly meeting, I have a good excuse for why I haven’t written or thought too much about our new site. And they really are good excuses….

Then I tried UserTesting.com, and will have a hard time procrastinating any more (in a few minutes, I’ll explain what one has to do with the other).  You might have tried the service or heard about it already. They only charge $29 per user test, you get to specify who the tester needs to be, and what questions you want answered (or activities accomplished.) UserTesting.com got back to me with five user tests within a few hours, each of which I was able to listen to in its entirety and watch the screen (and mouse) of the user. The users were clearly in the demographic that I asked for, and they definitely knew how to be testers.  (For example, one guy kept saying, “I’m sorry to be so quiet, I have to think about this issue.”  He knew that the person watching the test can’t read his mind, and that unless he talked the whole time, I would learn very little.) A couple of the tests were only ten minutes or so, but others went over half an hour. All the testers went out of their way to be sure that every question was answered.

I want to add a note about the company’s great customer service. I was asked to give stars to each tester, on a scale of 1-5. A couple of people got 5’s and a couple got 3’s, but I gave one tester a single star. (This was the only time where I had to explain why I had given the tester a certain score. )  Then the next day, Aimee Williamson, the director of customer support at UserTesting.com, wrote me and offered to refund my money for that tester! (I was already impressed with the company before she wrote, her knock-your-socks off service truly made me consider sandals.)

So I can’t procrastinate any more (much) because of the things that I heard the testers say. I knew that we needed a facelift, but I didn’t have time, and it always felt like my little dark secret — after all, we get a ton of business from our site (or as one tester wrote after looking at our Alexa profile, “It feels like this site succeeds despite itself.”) But hearing the feedback from real people (who are brutally honest when they are only talking to a recorder and a video cam) was quite the wake-up call.

Check ’em out.

Robbin