User testing as easy as rocket surgery

Steve Krug wrote a book in 2000 that would change the way I thought about building websites going forward. “Don’t Make Me Think” inspired a generation of web workers to begin thinking unselfishly about the sites we designed and Krug’s brand of DIY usability tests was how we would finally be able to figure out what our visitors actually needed. No longer would we need to rely (fully) on what the highest paid person thought about our users or how we wanted to make something work. For the first time we were able to see inside our users’ heads. It put an end to what Krug calls “religious debates,” those meetings where every one has an idea of what they want, but no clear understanding of what is really needed.

Of course, in practice, this process happened very slowly. But once people saw the value of testing, the culture changed. I see a growing role for usability testing where I’m at and am about to attend a workshop with Steve Krug to discover a strategy for implementing regular user testing into our workflow. What I will come away with is the knowledge to coalesce the learnings conducting these tests previously to more effectively gather this knowledge in future testing. I’m also going to walk away with a concrete understanding of how to take the data and turn it into effective change. Most of all, I’ll be able to get out of myself and understand a bit more about what my visitors actually need.

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