Getting user testing ROI in the amusement industry

Last week, we mentioned that hundreds of users provided feedback into our recent rebrand. They gave us input on company name ideas, tested first impressions of our site, sent us back to the drawing board many times, and walked through common scenarios to tell them what was and wasn’t meeting their needs. And our site became all the better for it.

An important metric in analyzing web traffic is bounce rate: how many users enter a website and leave it rather than going on to different pages within the same site.

Guess what our company’s site’s bounce rate is over the past 10 days – since several days after our site went public?

Zero percent. For hundreds of page views by people other than us. You can’t do any better than that! (Edit, 10/23/2014: While this was only for a 10-day span, the average bounce rate for a website is estimated at 45% to 50%. Ours still remains much lower than that.)

So we must be doing something right. And we’re ecstatic that our site is giving you something of value. In this post and our next one, we’ll be describing the benefits of user testing and ways to do user testing on a microsite without giving away your big announcement.

What user testing gives you

1) It tells you what users really think of your site – beyond the metrics.

Analytics will tell you how long people are staying on your site, what pages they are visiting, and if they are converting – among other things. But you may have created a good site or a site that people hate using, and they could look the same in analytics.

In a usability study, users think out loud to tell you what they really think. And participants are compensated, so they don’t rush through a well-written study like they do on free website surveys.

2) The feedback allows your site to improve your business’s key performance metrics.

Most people who would leave your site without buying anything will not tell you why. Users who walk through scenarios on your site are able to tell you what confuses them, frustrates them, or would cause them to leave your site.

If you hire us or an outside firm to address problems that users find, and then you address these items, future visitors to your site will be more likely to buy from you.

3) It helps your users to be less confused and lowers your support costs.

Sometimes, users have already made up their minds when they want to purchase from you. But something on your site confuses them and slows them down or stops them from purchasing. So they decide to contact your support team.

Fixing issues found in usability testing will allow your users to be less confused. That will get them through your sales funnel faster and keep them from needing to contact support. And that will allow your company to spend more of its budget on the products and services that make it great.

4) User testing gives you an advantage over your competition.

From what we have been able to determine, most companies in the amusement industry are not doing usability testing on their digital products with users outside their organization. Although some park chains gain much of their competitive advantage via user experience design in the physical world, most companies in the industry are not implementing UX design methods or user-centered design processes. Many amusement sites still cater to very feature-driven enthusiast market segments. Developing a site with great features is enough for many of them.

But the most successful websites today have invested substantial time and effort into creating the best user experience possible. Name any wildly successful online startup, and they have done this.

Users’ expectations are now changing to the point where they take startups’ strong investments in user experience for granted. Introducing usability testing on an existing site is a great way to start seeing the benefits of this way of thinking before investing in a user-centered redesign.

5) It lets you use development time and budget more effectively.

Imagine that you and your team have several months to redesign a website and you have not committed to usability testing. You hand your team a list of requirements, and they get to work. They design. They write code. They test the site on all sorts of devices, and finally they deploy. Launch turns out to not give you the results you were looking for in metrics like bounce rate and conversions. And it all turns out to be due to a flaw in the site’s design. You tell your team that the site needs to be changed.

Let’s assume that this change requires significant layout and interaction changes to a key page in your site. At this point, the developers on your team will most likely be pushing back. Weeks or person-months of effort will have gone to waste because the site was designed and built the wrong way.

This wasted effort could have been avoided with usability testing. A card sort study would have shown problems in the site’s navigation before any of the site was built. A test on a prototype of the purchasing path would have revealed reasons why people would abandon their cart before any code was written. Big problems can be solved in hours instead of weeks or months.

Usability testing, therefore, confirms or denies that you are on the right path with a design in progress. And if you’re on the wrong path, it is much easier to get on the right path if less effort was spent moving in the wrong direction.

If your users can’t see your work in progress yet

All of this is fine and good for most situations that parks or ride companies face during website design and development. But what about microsites for new attractions – where we don’t want the public to know about a new attraction until the big reveal? We’ll discuss that next. To find out about our new posts, subscribe to our newsletter (at the bottom of this page) or follow us on Twitter.

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 site, or contact us via our site to get more information. (An initial consultation is free. We sell our evaluation services separately.)

2 replies
  1. Jay
    Jay says:

    David, thanks for citing RocketFuel’s blog post on the bounce rate stat. It’s kind of old but I’m glad people still find some use for it.

    Anyway, wanted to let you know that anytime somebody says they have a 0% bounce rate the first thing I do is check to see if they’re firing their analytics code twice. You are, and that’s why your bounce rate is 0%. You’re using both the ga.js and analytics.js scripts for the same analytics account. That inflates (usually doubles) your pageviews and completely kills your bounce rate.

    A lot of people forgot to remove the old code (ga.js) after upgrading to universal analytics (analytics.js), so I see this a lot now. You should figure out which version you want to keep and only use that one.

    • David Parmelee
      David Parmelee says:

      Hi Jay,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The bounce rate issue appears to have at least partially corrected itself, although I will still look into this further with one of my vendors to see if their other customers are also experiencing this issue. The bounce rate for this site as of yesterday was about 10% over the past 30 days. I was able to also see users’ paths through the site and get a sense for where they are dropping off. This is all providing some good insight into tasks I can include in future usability tests of the site.


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