Standing in front of the mirror wearing my new jeans, I fix my hair just so, ready for a night out. Feeling pretty good I turn to my husband and say, "How do I look?"
Why do I ask this question?
I think it's because there's value in feedback, especially feedback on things we can't see objectively ourselves, like our physical appearance. If he thinks the outfit would look better with a scarf, he might be seeing something I'm not. It's so hard to really see yourself the way other people see you.
But what about your digital appearance? Objective feedback on a blog, website, or online shop would be tremendously valuable. Imagine if someone actually told you what they think, someone who didn't know you and wasn't afraid of hurting your feelings. Could that feedback help you improve your digital self?
Several months ago I had a great conversation with Bjork Ostrom of the incredibly successful food blog, Pinch of Yum. We were talking about how to create a blog that really works for users and Bjork recommended something called user testing. Essentially you pay a company that hires regular people to use your website and give you feedback. I thought this was an amazing idea, but not something I could pay for now. Could I coax a neighbor to come over and use my site while I watched? Wait, that's weird.
Then I heard about Peek. Peek is a free user testing service. You put in your URL and within a few hours you receive a 5-minute movie, with audio, of someone using your website for the first time. That was too good to pass up!
Asking a for feedback means you need to have a thick skin. A stranger probably doesn't understand what you're working towards. They don't know you or have any context to base their thoughts on. But to me, that's what's so interesting about user testing! Fire away!
Want to see my Peek video?
What did you think? Was she right? Did she miss something?
What if you want feedback on one specific thing, like your logo? Try UsabilityHub. This is another free service, but no video this time. Instead, you upload your image and it's shown to volunteer users for 5 seconds. Right afterward those users answer three questions of your choosing. Awesome!
Here's my logo:
I uploaded it and got six responses. When I asked what this company sells two people had no idea, one said glass, one said book, and one said stuffed toys! Four out of six respondents felt that my company seemed friendly.
Both Peek and UsabilityHub have paid plans if you want to dig deeper. I think usability testing is an incredible tool. Find out if the text on your site is hard to read or the sidebar is too distracting. Now if only someone would tell me if these skinny jeans are flattering.