User research through visual feedback

How should a website be designed to be understandable and intuitive for the user? How to best respond to user needs and what do you need to be aware of?
User research and user experience consulting deals with these classic topics.

Companies are often faced with the decision to implement Design A or rather Design B, and wonder where users see the strengths and weaknesses of an existing concept. This important user feedback can not always be obtained in the laboratory as part of a classic user experience test – so-called visual feedback tools also provide direct user evaluations of concepts and design concepts.

What is visual feedback and what does it need?

Visual feedback tools are also known as usability feedback tools. The goal of these tools is to improve the usability – the usability – of a website or app, as well as the design or concept assessment of websites by directly integrating user feedback. In an online survey, users are presented with pictures, forms or other options that they should rate and, if necessary, comment on. Such a study can, for example, be carried out prior to the start of a new website in order to make it as user-friendly as possible right from the start. But also existing pages can be improved with the help of these tools by uncovering optimization potentials.

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A big advantage of web-based visual feedback tools is the ability to collect broad samples, and thus the ability to perform in-depth statistical analysis of the user experience of specific Web sites.

Where does visual feedback apply?

In an internal study by Facit Digital various visual feedback tools were tested. While all these tools share the goal of optimizing concepts and visual designs, they are very different in their application:

Preference Testing

For example, you can find out which banner color the user likes best and where this banner should ideally be placed, by means of a classic one preference testFor example, the A / B test. Among other things, the product AB Tasty allows you to test two or more variants against each other, which are displayed randomly to the users. The efficiency of the two versions is then determined by statistical analysis to derive a user preference. The A / B test thus helps to determine the best variant of a website design from the user’s point of view.

First Click Test

Whether a new website is intuitive to use and whether the participant knows immediately what he has to click to achieve his goal, answers the so-called First Click Test, The user is presented here with a design to accomplish a task, e.g. “Please complete the order process!”.
An analysis of the click positions provides a good insight into the design. This will help identify usage hurdles and gather information about the users’ individual expectations.

Feedback Widget

In the age of digitization, the user is less and less palpable. A prospect can leave a website almost unnoticed again. One often does not find out what motivated him to visit the site. Possible usability issues that lead to leaving the page also remain hidden.
The remedy is provided by so-called feedback widgets: By clicking on a small “feedback” button that is visible, for example, on the side of the page, the user can leave praise and criticism in a pop-up window.

Comment pictures and concepts directly

Another application of visual feedback tools is to capture participant comments on images, concepts, or the like. The user marks areas on the picture without any specification, evaluates them (with likes or dislikes) and also has the option to point out problems or difficulties in understanding the use of the website in a comment field. For example, the Visual Feedback Tool Munk’s FeedMap allows participants to leave comments on graphical test material.

Which method should one choose now?

The classic user experience test in the laboratory optimizes the user-friendliness and usability of a website as a qualitative method. Visual Feedback Tools collect user preferences, comments and ratings on visual material in quantitative form and as part of an online survey. Which research approach is best suited to make your website user-friendly depends entirely on the underlying question and the individual goal of a company.

Anna Katharina Borufka is a junior consultant at Facit Digital specializing in quantitative market research. In addition to her enthusiasm for statistical method research and its applications, she is always looking forward to creative approaches: for example, to develop new concepts together with users and customers.

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