Userlytics is a usability testing platform that allows you to conduct remote user testing of mobile apps and websites, uncovering usability issues and problems that help to optimize the user experience. I spoke with CEO Alejandro Rivas Micoud to find out just what Userlytics can do to achieve greatness in digital marketing and beyond.
Please describe the story behind Userlytics: What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
If we take a step back and think about how software has evolved over the past 15 years, the cost and time required to develop software have collapsed. Until we came onto the scene, the process of delivering user-centric feedback into the software development process was based on a system developed when software development took a long time, and when getting feedback was a lengthy, expensive process.
We came up with a system that leverages the fact that everybody has a webcam on their computer. By targeting a specific persona, you can invite participants that meet the profile, to conduct a series of tasks or answer questions on their own time.
While they’re doing it, we record both their screen and webcam. We call this Picture-in-Picture recording. As a client, you could be sitting with your developer and discussing, why are we losing conversions at this point in the customer journey? Why aren’t people signing up at this point in the form? etc. There could be different opinions in the room, but ultimately, it’s the users you should be asking, and that’s exactly what our service allows you to do. With Userlytics, you can collect 5-15 feedback videos and come up with answers within hours so you can continuously iterate on a weekly, even daily basis; test > design prototype > retest > tweak design > retest and so on.
What does Picture-in-Picture recording tell you about the user experience?
Firstly, as I mentioned, seeing the person who’s in front of you will confirm whether this really is your target persona.
Secondly, there’s a whole series of unconscious clues in the way that people look at the interface, how long it takes them to figure things out when they’re looking at the interface for the first time.
Certainly, this capability is important but it’s not the only feature we offer. We have automated transcriptions, capabilities to identify key issues, “highlight videos” (compilations of brief video clips of different users identifying a common pain point), tree testing, card sorting, and other information architecture and usability testing techniques and methods. All of these enable our clients to determine what is the mental model of the participants when they search for information and try to attain their goals.
Here’s a little preview of what this looks like on the Userlytics dashboard.
Imagine you have a website for grocery goods. You’re trying to organize the information and sort products into categories. One of the things our platform allows is to let the users see a series of “cards”, and ask them to place those “cards” in the category they feel is most appropriate. In addition to quantitative metrics, our system provides qualitative information with videos where you can watch people making decisions and understand why they do what they do. Tree testing is where you organize a menu and ask participants, if you were looking for this or that item, show us what you would click on to find it?
Why is user testing so important? How can it help businesses improve their public image?
User experience testing is different than market research. When you do market research, you’re looking to find out with a 98% or 99% confidence if they prefer Coca-Cola or Pepsi. That’s not what you do with UX testing. Imagine a bunch of people crossing a room with a rug and there’s a little fold in the rug. 90% of them will lift their leg over the fold, but the 10th person will trip over it. If you fix that fault, you will not only improve the experience of the person who tripped but also for all the others who were able to get over the fold, but had to make an extra subconscious effort to do so. Next time they cross the room, it will be a lot easier and they will subconsciously appreciate the ease.
What are some fundamentals that every marketer should know about user experience testing?
There are a few things that are important to keep in mind.
Firstly, it is far better to do five tests of ten people, or three of 15 people than one test of 45-50. Back in 2009 we launched the term AGILE UX to unite the concepts of agile software development and UX testing. The best way to use our system, which enables user-centric feedback, is to do it continuously and iteratively: get feedback, tweak the UX, test it, get feedback and so on. This is critical to keep in mind.
Secondly, when thinking about the target persona, it may not always be possible to find the exact same persona that you target. For example, if your person is someone earning more than $250,000 per year, who has shares in the stock market, and is a heavy user of financial apps, that’s a very specific persona. Is it necessary to get so specific, or would it be enough to just target people who use financial apps? Their approach to a good or a bad UX will be very similar; It’s important to get the right people but if you are too specific the costs and time required will be far higher.
Thirdly, our system allows you to see the participant. If you only see their screen and hear their voice, you’ll miss a lot of valuable insights. If you see them, you can tell a whole bunch of things, giving you subjective unconscious cues that you don’t get unless you see the participants.
Which technologies do you find to be the most intriguing these days and why?
One of the things that are having a big impact on human-computer interaction is what we call Chatbots, which are becoming increasingly prevalent. I think it’s important for the people who are designing these interactions to do a lot of user testing.
Chatbots are the modern-day equivalent to interactive voice response systems where you call a company, your bank for instance; you need customer support but you end up waiting for 30 minutes of an interactive voice response menu that was imperfectly designed, which is incredibly frustrating. Chatbots can be a very efficient way to assist customers and users, but make sure you test the UX extensively if you do not want your customers to end up dreading them the way they dread IVR systems.
One of the things we’ve noticed in the past 4-5 years is that the demand for services like ours has exploded in English speaking countries, and is starting to grow very quickly in non-English speaking markets. Up until 2015, huge companies only had 1-2 people in charge of what we call user experience research, but nowadays, we’re talking about numbers as high as 10-20 people, and that’s a reflection of what’s happening in the industry.
You may be thinking, why is a company like Slack worth so much if it’s just a messaging app? The reason is simple, it has a good user experience. CEO’s have realized that the key to market share and profitability is a great UX, and so they are investing in that area accordingly, and that is exactly what Userlytics is all about.