In User experience design (UX) we can test a lot of things: the colour of a button, the impact of our copy, or the effectiveness of a layout, just to name a few.
Or we can launch a site.
We often think of the launch as the end of a creative process. But that process is uncertain: strategic decisions are just educated guesses; design is a matter of taste; people make irrational decisions all the time.
The only way to find out is to do some science, and good science always needs a hypothesis, an experiment, results, and interpretation.
The site is our hypothesis, which is based on our research and data. We think it will work because the evidence says it will work. The problem in digital projects is that we are usually so busy celebrating our launches that we forget to see if they actually do work.
Change your attitude: the launch is the experiment, not the result.
After you launch a site, you can get results like how long people stay on your site or how many register or buy. These are not guesses, they are facts. You may have to wait a month or two on a small site, but the data will come.
These facts may not agree with your strategy. They may indicate that your design — although beautiful — is confusing. And they might say your logo is obnoxiously large.
This is not a failure or a weakness, it is part of launching a site professionally. There are some things we just can’t know before launching. The site might also be mankind’s greatest creation, but we don’t know that either, until we test it.
Once we have results, we have to decide what they mean. They are clues in a mystery. Discuss them. Ask yourself questions and find the answers in the data. Choose a way to improve the results if you’re not happy with them. If you don’t get good answers, experiment again!
NEVER BLAME IT ON THE USERS. EVER. It’s tempting, I know, but contrary to what your ex-girlfriends / ex-boyfriends said: it’s not them, it’s you.
Convince the client
Testing saves money. Sometimes it makes money for the client. I once did simple tests on payment pages that increased global sales by 37% in a matter of weeks (on a site with millions of users). If you get 20% more registrations because of a test, you just saved them 20% on the cost of their activation campaign.
Don’t take a chance on buying more banners. Go with a guaranteed win and do tests to use existing traffic better!
And that is why you should see launching as an experiment.
Have a great week!
If you liked that ProTip, try ProTip Tuesday #6: Never Trust Your Gut.