User Testing Content

User testing products are, nowadays, common practice. Most product teams go through a rigorous process of ideating, testing their ideas out, then refining and publishing and then testing and refining some more. It’s a constant process.

They do this because they want to push out meaningful and helpful products that are not only easy to use, but also a joy. User testing helps product teams build products so users can accomplish their goals.

Content should not be any different. We create content to entertain or educate or for a plethora of other reasons. Our expectation is that the user should “get” a certain point or idea. To retain that idea. But, do we ever know if our users get the main message we intend for them to get?

Most product teams are great at this. If they are building an e-commerce solution, the main goal for the user is to complete a purchase. They run user tests to discover any friction in this process. They find it, resolve it, and then experience a higher purchase conversion rate.

Likewise for content. Do we make sure that our blogs and all other pages communicate our ideas well? Do we user test content? The concept is not new. We’ve all written papers either in school or college and had to go through a bunch of revisions. Painful bloody revisions.

Time to paraphrase one of my favourite comedians – Mitch Hedberg.

I wrote a script, and I gave it to a director. He told me I need to rewrite it. I said, “Screw that, I’ll just make a copy!”

So what should an ideal blog writing process look like?

Here are 6 things to help you write content that is meaningful and helpful. This is great for readers and great for SEO.

1. Plan

Also known as prewriting. Write an outline of your page with just headings and short sentences. Make sure your blog flows. You are building your idea and leading up to a point.

2. Write

This part needs no explanation. This is where you just write. Work on transitions between ideas or paragraphs. If you have to imagine you are a lawyer – either in My Cousin Vinny or one from any John Grisham novel making a case for your client, do it. Think clarity. Think about building a case for your main idea.

3. Revise

Read through your page or blog and edit. Sharpen sentences. Remove fluff.

4. Review

Have someone else read it. This is where you get external feedback. You might have pounded the keys in a Red Bull rage of inspiration but do other people understand the output? Ask them questions – what is the one thing you remember? What do you think is the takeaway from this blog? Was there a part that was unclear? Was it boring or did it draw you in?

If they didn’t get your idea, ask them why? Then edit some more.

5. Publish

Pffft. This is just pushing a button.

Example Time

I was working on a video campaign. The video had three main points or actions for the user to perform once it was over. I had a few people watch the video and asked them what they got out of it. NONE of them repeated ANY of the three most important things we wanted to communicate.

With this feedback, we recreated the video making the points clearer. We retested and were stunned. The amount of information people retained was staggering.

What you can do today!

User testing or in our case, reviews, can be free. I call it the “poor man’s user testing”. Get a colleague and have them read your blog, or watch a video then ask them what they got out of it. Do this with at least 3 people.

If you were surprised with the results, let me know. If you weren’t. Good job. Test all your content.

Why is this important you ask?

I’m glad you asked. Good meaningful and helpful content resonates better with users. They will likely visit your site again or share your content. Nobody wants to share something they did not understand or get anything out of. What’s good for the user is good for SEO. Good for you. Good for everyone.

Now, I will be retesting this blog with my wife and a few friends and will tweak a few times.

Happy testing!