Build-Measure-Learn is one of the central principles of Lean Startups. In my opinion this approach should not be limited to start-ups, the framework for establishing and continuously improving the effectiveness of new products, services and ideas quickly and cost-effectively can be used effectively on virtually all projects.
I encourage clients to embrace this approach to continuously improve their offering so they can fully understand and eventually deliver precisely what their customers want.
Usability testing allows you to see your website through the eyes of your user and allows the design and development teams identify problems before they are coded. The earlier issues are identified and fixed, the less expensive the fixes will be in terms of both time and possible impact.
Conducting testing doesn’t have to be expensive and is something that can be done at any point in the project lifecycle. I have experience conducting ‘guerilla testing’ on a tiny budget using low-fi prototypes and enlisting the help of colleagues and friends. I have also used tools including Lookback & Silverback to record moderated face-to-face interviews and at the other end of the spectrum I have worked with UX researchers and planned large scale research studies.
Another effective way to learn where an existing digital product or service can be improved is to conduct an ‘expert’ UX review or heuristic evaluation.
An expert review or heuristic evaluation is an inspection method designed to identify usability problems in an online product or service. It can be difficult for people who use a site every day to see the usability problems. Conducting a UX review can give you an objective view of your site, identify issues and opportunities to improve. The final output is a list of potential issues, how severe they are, how important it is that you fix them and recommended solutions. Some of the easy, quick changes can often result in large improvements in conversion.