Testing content: Christine Perfetti

Testing content: Christine Perfetti

In her talk “Essential Techniques for Measuring Your Content’s Success,” Christine offered a lot of quick, easy-to-use tips for designing and running the content user test.

Running a test session:

  • Greet the user
  • Introduce user to observers
  • Explain to user how the test will work
  • Give the user tasks to complete and observe problems they experience
  • General Q&A
  • Debrief with observers

Signs of content and design failure:

1. Hitting the Back button

2. Pogosticking – if they click random links (click, back, click, back, jumping up and down the hierarchy)

3. Going to Search right away — it’s not true that “users just want to search,” and instead only tend to radiate there if it isn’t apparent where to go next

Some sample tests:

Quick and dirty: Show the page for 5 seconds, and then take it away. Ask users what they remember about the page.

Task-based: Show a home page and give users a task. Ask: “Where would you click first?”

Reading comprehension tests: Test the comprehension of complex content

Inherent value test: Bring in loyal customers and ask them what tasks they perform on the site. Then bring in prospects and have them perform those tasks, and probe to see if they see the same value as current customers. (Christine explained that there is often a gap between what loyal customers say they love and what is actually performed on the site. This test uncovers that gap.)

Catalog-based task testing: Give users a print brochure or catalog that describes the company’s products. Ask them to review the catalog and highlight the important content to them. Sometimes this is clearer than task-based testing to understand what users really need to know about products.

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