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The Indispensable Art of User Testing

by Asher Kain

 Imagine attempting to explore an unfamiliar city without ever consulting the guiding map on your phone? Similarly, when organizations create digital platforms without conducting user testing, they risk leading their users on an equally disorienting journey.

Today, we’re diving deep into the transformative world of user testing, unmasking the common hurdles, and revealing how even with the most modest resources, your organization can harness its incredible power.

The Challenge: Why User Testing is Often Sidestepped

In the dynamic and often hectic environment of organizational operations, the practice of user testing is often lurking in the background and doesn’t always receive the spotlight it deserves. In delving into the reasons behind this, we uncover a landscape of misconceptions:

  • The Myth of Cost and Complexity: Many believe user testing is a luxury. It’s perceived as a complex labyrinth, requiring time and resources that seem scarce. However, it’s crucial to recognize that while there might be some additional time and budget required for user testing, these investments are far from extravagant. In fact, you may find that the benefits far outweigh the initial costs.
  • The Insider Bias: “We can test it ourselves.” This common refrain overlooks a crucial fact – familiarity breeds bias. Employees are inherently too familiar with the organization to be considered users.

UX industry Leader, Steve Krug, encapsulates this challenge: “If you want a great site, you’ve got to test. After you’ve worked on a site for even a few weeks, you can’t see it freshly anymore. You know too much.”

The only way to find out if it really works is to test it with users outside of your organization.

  • The Underestimation of Impact: Often, the value of user testing is underestimated. It’s seen as a nice-to-have, not a must-have, relegating it to the bottom of the priority list.

The Reality Check: Why Skipping User Testing Is a Big No-No

Skipping user testing is like setting sail without a compass. You might move forward, but are you going in the right direction? Here’s why it’s a critical mistake:

  • The User Experience Gap: Bypassing this step can lead to a disconnect between user goals and the product. Without user input, there’s a high chance of missing the mark on what your audience truly needs. This gap can lead to decreased engagement, frustration, and ultimately, a loss of trust.
  • Costly Post-Launch Fixes: Issues overlooked in design and development can lead to costly fixes post-launch. It’s like patching up a leaky boat mid-voyage – doable, but far from ideal.

The Solution: Smart, Budget-Friendly User Testing

The good news is that effective user testing doesn’t require hefty investments. So, how do we navigate these waters with limited budget, time, and resources? Enter the magic number: Five. Yes, testing with just five users can unveil most of the usability problems.

  • The Power of Five: Research by UX gurus like Jakob Nielsen shows that testing with five users can uncover about 85% of usability issues. It’s efficient, effective, and surprisingly economical.
  • Outside UX Expertise: Partnering with a UX expert offers an objective, fresh perspective. They’re akin to seasoned navigators, helping you steer clear of potential pitfalls.
  • Iterative Testing: User testing isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s an iterative process. Start with five users, make improvements, and test again. This cycle ensures continuous enhancement without breaking the bank.

User testing is not just about refining a digital platform; it’s about forging a deep connection with users. It’s not about having a colossal budget or endless resources; it’s about smart, strategic testing that focuses on real user experiences.

By embracing user testing, you’re crafting a user-centric experience that speaks, engages, and connects. It’s a journey worth embarking on, with rewards that go beyond the digital realm.

BONUS: Example

To bring the concept of user testing closer to home, here are some intriguing discoveries unearthed during my recent real-life user testing.

Initial Goal: A non-profit dedicated to providing accessible healthcare solutions to remote areas approached us to enhance their website’s layout. As the user testing sessions unfold, we expected to fine-tune the website’s already intuitive layout. But then, an unexpected yet pivotal insight surfaces.

What we discovered:

The issue lies with the website’s navigation and a key CTA.

  • Users are finding it difficult to locate specific health resources. Despite the clean and modern layout, the navigation menu is overwhelming, cluttered with internal jargon and healthcare terms. Users are getting lost, unable to find the information they need or how to contribute to the cause.
  • Furthermore, the main CTA, a button urging users to “Join the Movement”, is underperforming. Participants express uncertainty about what action the CTA is prompting – Is it for donations? Volunteering? Or something else?
How we solved that:

  • Armed with these insights, we simplify the navigation by categorizing health resources under easily understandable terms that resonate with users. This transformation makes the website more navigable, especially for those not well-versed in healthcare terminology.
  • Next, we tackle the CTA. Instead of a vague message, we create multiple strategically placed, clear CTAs: “Donate Now”, “Volunteer with Us”, and “Access Health Resources”. Each CTA is accompanied by a brief description and an inviting icon, guiding users exactly where they want to go.


In subsequent testing rounds, user engagement with the website skyrockets. Donations increase, more volunteers sign up, and users access health resources with ease. This experience is a powerful affirmation of how user testing can illuminate unexpected opportunities for growth and innovation.

Learn more about the art of user testing with Charity Dynamics.