Sometimes the smallest changes yield unbelievable results.

User experience and snake-oil salesmen

One of the most surprising things that often come from usability testing is what a dramatic change can be achieved for very little technical investment and how often that change doesn’t get made for months or sometimes not at all.

A recent project I worked on for a high street bank showed that users who clicked on commonly used, important link could not get back to the application form they were completing. Hitting the back button through an error. The form data was gone, and so at that point was the user and the sale of the product, also gone was any good will on the part of the user toward the bank, the user was not going to recommend that bank to any friends. In short a lot of business could be generated for a small, trivial, easily fixable issue.

The will was there to fix that issue, estimates were made of the increase in business but it took months to make the change. Why? Well the estimates were in the tens of millions. Who would believe that making a little change would yield such huge results? The credibility of the recommendation was undermined by the crazy-huge estimate.

What bought this back to mind was a recent article by Jared Spool, the $300 Million Button. Jared talks about an increase of $300 million dollars from changing the text of button to read ‘Continue’ rather than ‘Register’. Simple, logical, unbelievable. I’d love to use this as a case study to sell usability testing, I dearly would, but I can’t see any business believing such a dramatic claim.

So, I hear you ask, how do you sell the benefits of usability testing? In a word modestly.

Finance Directors, without fail, always ask me “How much extra conversion can we expect from making the changes you suggest?” My experience may lead me to think 4%, 5% maybe 7%. I’ll always say 1 to 2%. Partly because I don’t want to to be held to this (who would?) but mostly 5% is a huge increase. For an average client I work with that could be millions of pounds. Who would believe that?

As always if you’d like an informal chat on the benefits of user testing get in touch. I can be honest, modest and realistic. By the way you don’t want to buy some of this oil I’ve got do you? Clear up that problem of yours in no time…

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