Are you usability testing your campaigns before launch?

January 19, 2012

Customer Service

How not to do usability testing... (Image credit:


What’s the worst thing a communicator can do? Besides hire Tiger Woods as a spokesperson for an Ambien event in Vegas? It’s simple if you think about it and it sounds simple when you say it. But that doesn’t stop PR pros and marketers from doing it on a regular basis.

Launch a campaign without testing customer usability

Don’t do it. Please. It’s so easy to avoid and it makes our entire industry look bad. Plus, if you create a campaign without think about how the customer will — or won’t — navigate through it, you are setting your program up for failure before you even get started.

Most communicators don’t make this mistake on purpose. We get busy. Have to crank out a plan and meet an incredibly tight deadline. Not to mention all the other client work we have to do. Something has to slide. That’s often the nature of the beast. But here are a few reasons why that something that slides should NEVER be customer usability.

1. Your brand is what your customers say it is. The company’s reputation lies in their hands, not yours. And if what you’re asking them to do is a pain or doesn’t make sense, they’re going to let you know about it.

2. No one has time to take seven steps to complete a call to action. And really, five is too many. Three is even a lot. If a customer needs an instruction book to do what you want them to do, go back to the drawing board and find a different way. Because what you’ve got currently is too complicated.

3. “Would you do it?” Run that test. And be honest about it. Don’t put on rosy “this is my company and I want it to work” sunglasses. Walk through the customer experience yourself and take notes as you go. What parts work? What parts are way too complicated?

4. Simple is better. I just violated this one this week. I turned in a plan that has a lot of fun elements that make sense for the brand. But it’s too complicated. Too much. We’re going to have to simplify it or the customers will be like “I lost you at call to action No. 3 and you’ve already moved on to No. 5.” Don’t try to cram every last option into a plan. Just like you shouldn’t try to answer every question in a blog post. Simple is better.

5. Seamless = success. You want to know why Apple is so successful. Because its products just make sense. You don’t have to think when trying to use them. They’re intuitive. If your customer has to think too much, you’ve lost them. They’ve already got enough to think about.

What else would you add? Do you have a really bad customer usability experience? A really good one? What was the difference?

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