Since appointing Patrick as our dedicated WooCommerce Product Manager towards the end of 2014, I’ve been able to view some really insightful feedback from customers, without customers even realising they’re providing this feedback. One of the tasks I assigned to Patrick was to conduct regular in-person user testing of WooCommerce, in order to pinpoint common pitfalls and benefits customers experience with our product.
The process involved here is Patrick contacting a customer and, in many cases, sitting alongside the customer, recording their screen (with their consent) and quietly observing how they get their online store up and running using WooCommerce.
Observing every moment
When many folks conduct user testing, they wait for the customer to wince with frustration, smash their desk or jump for joy, and quietly note down those moments. I’ve found the key to effective user testing is to watch the customer’s face and mouse clicks like a hawk.
While conducting recent user testing, we had a customer install WooCommerce and a few extensions on their shared hosting account. With little to no attention paid to the documentation, the customer proceeded to install WooCommerce via the plugin search within WordPress. As they’re on a shared host, there was naturally a directory permissions issue which prevented them from easily installing plugins on their WordPress-powered website (note to readers: inspect VPS or dedicated hosting).
After a few moments of hamster-wheeling, the customer installed WooCommerce manually via their web host’s file management console. This certainly isn’t an ideal first experience for the customer (especially when they blame your product for the installation issue, rather than their hosting provider).
Problem identified: installation is tricky.
Without realising it, this customer helped us to identify a key area of concern, which I’m certain other customers experience.
Take deliberate action
Since this eye-opening experience, we have taken deliberate steps to combat two core issues: installation and setup (expect more on this in the not-too-distant future). By carefully observing our customer’s interactions, we can tackle two root causes and minimise friction and pain points, rather than looking at where they click and which settings they ignore (also an important step, of course).
Look for potential hurdles and springboards at every step
If a customer sails through a step, take note of that as an area which works well. Use these areas as a benchmark to compare the pain points to. For example, if installation and setup of WooCommerce are as easy as setting your base store location, we’ve done our duty to the best of our ability. It is important to note both the positives and negatives received from user testing.
User testing is extremely important, and no two users are the same. Identify your personas, find key customers who prescribe to these personas (and some who don’t!) and conduct user testing with each, preferably with the same or similar criteria.
If you can conduct one user testing session per month, you’re on track to improve your offering while allowing time for expansion and exploration of other areas and tasks. Good job!
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