User testing challenges: Ways to test microsites without the secret getting out

New attractions are widely anticipated throughout the amusement industry. They frequently come with changes to a park, zoo, or aquarium’s website. This could range from a mere mention of the new attraction to an entire website (microsite) created just for building anticipation for that new attraction.

How do we do usability testing in this situation? Do we have to wait until the microsite is live before we can test it?

No. There are several possible approaches.

3 ways for amusement parks to test microsites in progress with users

1) Non-disclosure agreements

One possible approach which requires less design work to be done is a non-disclosure agreement. Test participants are asked to read and sign the agreement before they can take the test. The agreement keeps them from doing the following:

  • discussing the fact that they tested your site with anyone else
  • discussing anything they learned in the test (e.g. about the new attraction) with anyone else

User testers normally also have to either sign a consent form when they do a study, or agree to a third party platform’s terms of use if the tests are conducted through a third party. The consent forms say how their test data will be used, what the session will consist of, and that they can cancel the test at any time.

2) Use alternate copy

Test sites can use alternate copy that obscures the real identity of a park, an attraction, and its related companies. This can be lorem ipsum placeholder text or text that refers to a generic attraction at a generic park. Alternatively, a test site could use copy and images related to a previous new attraction at the same park. User testers are always told to assume a certain test scenario when a test starts.

3) Make another site in parallel, and do the user tests on that until public launch

Some parks create viral marketing campaigns which lead the public to believe that they will add one type of ride, only to announce another. Similarly, if alternate copy is not enough, we can take a combination of these measures:

  • Add a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Password-protect the test site.
  • Hide the test site from search engines.
  • Create a second test site with the same design style but different copy, images, and (if applicable) videos.
  • Do the user tests on the second test site until the real attraction is announced and the real microsite launches.

Have us test your site with users

Want us to look at your website, test your site with users, or do a redesign? You can now schedule a free project consultation with us via our YouCanBook.me site, or contact us via our site to get more information. (An initial consultation is free. We sell our evaluation services separately.)

3 replies
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    • David Parmelee
      David Parmelee says:

      Hi,

      Our site uses the Enfold WordPress theme by Kriesi. We created a custom stylesheet for this site, which required extensive customization work.

      Here’s the demo which shows what Enfold looks like with no modifications: . You can customize page layouts pretty extensively with the Avia Layout Builder and set colors for many page elements. For our site, we created a child theme so that we could add the custom CSS. We treat our custom style sheet as a living document, making modifications to it as needed, since we are still adding new content to this site (and conducting tests with users) to serve our users better.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      David Parmelee
      Owner & User Experience Designer, Thrill & Create LLC

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