Turning Analytics Findings Into Usability Studies

Turning Analytics Findings Into Usability Studies


Analytics data is a great way to identify
possible issues occurring on your website. But once you’ve discovered
a possible usability issue, it’s important to then validate that finding
by conducting a usability test before jumping to design a solution, rather than
making an assumption about the root cause of the issue from the
analytics data alone. Usability testing and analytics together tell a
much more accurate story and will enable you to fully understand the issue so you can
ensure you would solve the right problem. Remember, analytics data only tells you what
behaviors are occurring on your site or app. So, in order to find out why
users are confused or not taking the actions you want them to take,
a qualitative form of user research, like a usability study is necessary. So, how do we translate an issue found in our analytics
data into an activity for a usability study? The key is to tailor your tasks to replicate, as closely as
possible the patterns you’re seeing in your analytics data. For example if you’re seeing
that people are starting a certain interaction flow, but fail to finish,
your usability test instructions can direct participants to attempt to
complete the end goal of that task, so you can observe participants interact
with that specific part of the flow. On the other hand, if the analytics data show
that people aren’t even starting that workflow, you should then conduct an
open-ended study so you can gather a richer set of information around why people
are choosing to take or not take certain actions. Leaving our instructions open-ended,
and asking people to simply learn about a service, and probing what
their next steps may be, allows us to observe this broader behavior, and discover what people are thinking leading up to the workflow we’re interested in. This less directed task is then closer to
that pattern that we saw in our analytics data. To sum up, use open-ended tasks to learn about
issues occurring high up in the funnel, and more directed tasks only when those issues occur
at those deep levels of the funnel in your analytics data. By combining analytics and usability testing, we’re able
to better understand and improve the user experiences of our designs.

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