Userfeel's Users: UX Consultant Matt Isherwood

Evidence based UX design

Welcome to Userfeel’s Users! In this new series, we’ll feature members of the Userfeel community and share a little bit about how they work.

First up: Matt Isherwood. Matt is a freelance UX consultant who uses qualitative and quantitative research to help e-commerce companies improve their site’s usability and conversion rate. Over the past four years, he’s worked with a wide range of companies both big and small. He particularly enjoys helping growing startups who haven’t paid much attention to design to learn the benefits of understanding what their users are actually doing. We talked to Matt about his approach to UX and how remote usability testing fits in.


Who is involved in UX and what is the process like?

I’m a one-man band, and I use a research-led process that I call evidence-based UX design. This means gathering a range of sources of evidence to get the full picture of user behavior. I typically start with quantitative data like Google Analytics to see where the problems are, and will always feature some user testing to understand “why” these things are a problem. I’ve written a blog post that gives an overview of my process.


When did you start conducting usability testing? What impact has it had?

I’ve been running user tests for years and first started running remote user testing back in about 2011/12. It’s pretty much unrivaled as a method for understanding what users are thinking and why they might be struggling to use certain features. I always come away from it with a bunch of ideas for how to design improvements.


When in the design process do you conduct usability testing?

It comes in what I call the “why” phase. First I understand “what” is happening on a website through analytics and visitor recordings, e.g. what pages users aren’t converting on, and what user journeys they’re taking. With this information, I can ensure I write a user test that hits the points of a real journey. The test then enables me to learn why users are having problems (as well as why they like certain areas).


How do you use Userfeel as part of your process?

I’ll write up my user test script in a doc first, and get it approved by the client. Then I can quickly set it up and run it on Userfeel. I typically run five tests on mobile and five on desktop but rather than do them all at once, I always like to run one for each first, then two more, then the final two. This way I’m able to check and tweak my tests in case I’ve made any errors in my script or if users are getting completely stuck anywhere. I’ve used a few other platforms, too, and I’m able to work with them all in a similar way.


Could you share examples of any particularly surprising or useful usability test findings?

A few classic ones that have been surprising to clients and helpful for me when designing:

  • If wording and labels aren’t incredibly clear, users will be left confused and not know what to do. I’ve even seen this apply to a brand name, where users didn’t know how to pronounce it and so didn’t know what to expect from the website.

  • Most icons tend to be meaningless to users, so when they are used to sum up a product’s features it just leaves them uncertain. Even common ones like hamburger menus and search icons will pass some users by. As a rule, they always need text labels.

  • If image galleries consist of thumbnails that each need to be clicked/tapped and can’t be scrolled or swiped through, very often users won’t bother to look at them.


How do you communicate and document UX research results?

I try to make a lean and to-the-point report that sums up the key findings and is as easy to digest as possible. I typically do it on Google Slides and use video clips from the tests to back up what I’m saying. I’ve written an article about how I make my user testing report and have even put together a template for it, both of which I’ve shared on my blog.


What advice would you give to someone just getting started in UX research?

Get involved! Don’t worry about being perfect as long as you’re getting insights. You’ll get better over time and will be able to work out a solid process you can apply every time.

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