How (And Why) To User Test Your Own Blog

It is all too easy to develop tunnel vision on your own blog. After all, you made all the decisions about it and you spend more time looking at it than anybody else. But, it is VERY easy to assume that your blog is going to strike others the same way it does you… and it isn’t always true. User testing is how you get out of that tunnel vision. In this installment of our series, we’ll talk about various tools to help you do user testing for your own blog and to see what you’re doing from an outside perspective.

Episode #59 | Episode Date: February 28, 2015

It is all too easy to develop tunnel vision on your own blog. After all, you made all the decisions about it and you spend more time looking at it than anybody else. But, it is VERY easy to assume that your blog is going to strike others the same way it does you… and it isn’t always true. User testing is how you get out of that tunnel vision. In this installment of our series, we’ll talk about various tools to help you do user testing for your own blog and to see what you’re doing from an outside perspective.

And with that being said, let me welcome you back to Coffee Break Blogging!

Quick Review

This series is moving right along. If you have been tuning in midway, Episode 59 is a good record for me, actually. We switched over to the Coffee Break Model starting around Episode 30. And basically ever since, all these episodes go in order and it is all one big series and ends up to one hell of an overview of how to create a full information business on the internet based around blogging.

And so far we spent several episodes. At phase 1 we have been talking about selecting your niche and finding things that are marketable that you can sell and things like that. And then we have been spinning pretty much this entire month in Phase 2 talking about various aspects of setting up your blog in the right way. We were talking about colors, your blog categories, how to SEO your posts, reducing you bounce rates…

A Bit Of Testing

That is kind of where we are with this and in this one, especially after taking about a month of talking all about how to set up our blog in the right way, it makes a lot of sense to do a little bit of testing. And so that is what we are going to be talking about now; user testing of your blog. How to actually do a little bit of testing to make sure that what you intend your site to look like actually looks that way on the other end. It is really easy, newbie mistake to think that what you see in your web browser when you look at your own site is exactly the way it looks and functions for everybody else. And it is just not true. I mean, everybody has got different types of computers with different browsers. Some people are on a mobile device like an iPad or an iPhone or an Android; some people have different plug-ins installed that do various things. It is just a good idea to get an outside perspective.

The other thing too is we tend to get tunnel visioned about our own blogs because we are looking at it; we have made all the decisions so it is natural to think “Damn, my blog looks good.” But it does not, always. It is good to get that outside perspective because sometimes what you think makes perfect sense just might not resonate on the other end of things. So, that is why user testing exists. This is why it is good to test out your site and how it is working.

Do It Yourself

Now the first and the easiest way to get this done is to do it yourself. And the way that you can do that is to make a point to test out your website in other browsers. So for example, if you are using Chrome a lot, well, go make a point to try out your site in the Firefox browser or Internet Explorer. (Internet Exploder, as I like to call it. 😀 Although I heard it has got a little bit better) If you are on a Mac and you use Chrome a lot, well go and open the thing in Safari and make sure that it looks good there. And you just want to test these things out to make sure they look okay.

Check Navigation

But it is also not just “looks.” It also goes into how easy the site is to navigate. Again, we usually get tunnel visioned on our own site and so we will think “Well, the site seems easy to navigate. There’s this stuff in the sidebar, there is the header… It seems easy, right?” Thing is; somebody else who is not intimately familiar with your site might not feel the same way.

Have An Outsider To Look In

  • Fiverr.com –  this is a place where you can hire people to do all kinds of very random things for $5. Now, there are people there who will take videos of themselves literally just going through your site and talking out loud and giving feedback. And this is something that you can hire them to do for $5 and some people may cost a little bit more than that depending on if they have any upgrades on their gig (that’s what they call it over there.) But you can pay somebody very cheaply to then go through your site and just talk things out and give you their feedback on things. They do not have to be an expert in your field or even an expert in blogging. They are just an outside set of eyes. And that is very valuable. In fact sometimes it can be valuable to have that outside set of eyes that is not really a part of your tribe, so to speak, because they have got a really fresh perspective. So that is Fiverr; definitely one way to go.
  • UserTesting.com – It is a paid service and you can pay a monthly fee and you can get people; these are people who are screened by that company to go through and talk out and give you feedback and literally record a video and go through your blog and you will learn all kinds of really, really good things about your site. Now, if you don’t want to pay for it; the good news is they have a free option and it is called “peek“. You can find that on peek.usertesting.com. So when you go over to that site at peek.usertesting.com you will find the free version of UserTesting. Now they will limit these videos to 5 minutes. In fact, the byline; and I’m looking at the site right now, “Get a peek into the mind of your users. See and hear a 5 minute video of a real person using your site or app. It is super fast and totally free.” So there you go; there you have it. That is a pretty good darn USP if you ask me. That’s peek.usertesting.com and you will just get a 5 minute video.Now you may ask yourself why it is free… well, because they are using it as a way to promote their actual service at UserTesting.com. So I do not know if they have a limitation on this or what have you but definitely give it a whirl and see; it doesn’t cost you anything, right?

Check The Heat Map

CrazyEgg is another way that you can go; and this one works a little bit differently, you are not going to get a video, per se… But it is CrazyEgg.com. Now Crazy Egg is one that was started by Neil Patel who is from Quicksprout and I think the same guy by KissMetrics but Crazy Egg is a site where you install a little bit of code on your blog and then you will get this map; a heat map on where people are clicking on your blog. And you will literally get all these dots all over the place where you can see where people are clicking and you will get these hot areas either in red or white that will show you the most popular parts of your site that people are clicking on. So it is a different form of user testing because you are not getting a video of a single person doing it. It is more of a collective thing and you are getting clicks in these maps. But the thing is they give you an idea where people are going on your site. I mean, where you think people might need to go to click, it might not be what they are actually doing when they get there. And so you can learn a lot about what is going on at the receiving end of your blog by doing some testing with Crazy Egg.

They actually have a much more robust version… I want to say it is called clicktale.com; I haven’t looked at it in quite some time but they have this thing where you could actually see user session videos of people interacting with your website. Quite cool. That’s clicktale.com; I’m pretty sure that is what it is.

Get Screenshots

Browsershots – One more way to go for testing out your site in different web browsers; especially browsers you don’t have access to, is a site called browsershots. And that is browsershots.org. And literally what this site does is take screenshots of your website in different web browsers. Browserhots.org and they have got a crap load of web browsers; not only the major browsers but all the different versions of those browsers. And you just check them off and enter their URL and it will take screenshots at what your site looks like inside those browsers. So it is a way to kind of make sure that your site looks decent. So that is at browsershots.org.

Inspect Element

Very related to the previous one is that you want to make sure that your site looks good on a mobile device. There are a lot of people who are surfing the internet on iPads or other forms of tablets or iPhones or Androids and your site needs to look decent. Now I am not talking about just take your current site and shrink it. It needs to literally adjust so it is very easily navigable on a touch device with a small screen.

So one way of finding out what your site looks like on mobile; if you have a mobile device, just pull up your site and see what happens. But another thing you can do is use the “inspector” which is built right in to the Chrome browser and it is also built in to Firefox. But if you go into Chrome and you right click in that little pop-up menu and click on “inspect element” (it will be the bottom menu option) then it will pull up this little frame where it will show you the entire html and all these geeky stuff. But over in the top left of that frame, you will see this little icon there that looks like a mobile phone. So if you click that, the Chrome browser will turn in to this thing where you will have a drop down at the top where you can select what type of mobile device you want your browser to act like. So you will say “Yeah, I want to see what my site will look like on an iPhone 6+” and you can just go to the dropdown and pick the iPhone 6+ and it will literally resize your site to the proper screen size and show you exactly what your site is going to look like on that phone.

Inspect element - snip


So, that is a real powerful tool built right in on your browser. I would imagine that a good chunk of you guys listening right now are using Chrome. And this “inspect element” thing is built right in to your browser and you may have never used it before.

So again, right click; hit “inspect element” and then look for that little icon on the left side of that new pane that pops up that looks kind of like a mobile phone and click that bad boy and you can do a little bit of testing.

People You Know

Lastly, I will leave you with a nice simple one… 😉

Ask some of your friends or family to go to your site and just start talking out their reactions to it. Again, it is an outside perspective. These guys, they probably know how to use the internet, they may not be a part of your target market but who cares? You just want to find out how your site hits them right off the bat! Ask them what their 5 second reaction is to what your site is all about. Or say, “Hey, if you came to this website, what is going to immediately strike you as what I can do for you?” and just sit back and listen to what they tell you. And just so you can do an informal survey like that. Literally with just people you know. You can pull up some of your best contacts on social media and have them do the same thing so you do not even have to be in person if you don’t want to be; but just people you know, your own personal contacts… you can go to them and have them give you an outside perspective on certain things on your site.

So those are all various ways that you can go to do some user testing on your blog. It is very important that you are not the only set of eyes that makes any decisions on your blog. It is just because we develop that tunneled vision. Okay?

One Last Thing

I have given you a lot of ways that you can get this done; either free or very cheaply. Now, the thing is, a lot of times the people who are going to make those videos are not going to have a whole lot of marketing knowledge or be able to recommend alternatives on how to get it right. Now obviously this is something that I have been doing for a very long time so if you like me to go in there and do a little bit of user testing on your blog, go over to blogmarketingacademy.com click on “Services” and you will actually see an option there to get me to do a blog audit on your site and I can actually do this for you. Now, my blog audits are a lot deeper than just going in and saying “Hey you know, your site does not look good on this particular browser” I can do that for you and I will spot design problems but where I come in is I recommend how to fix it and I look at it from a marketing and conversion perspective. Whereas a lot of these other guys might be good at pointing out flaws in the layout or giving you a first impression of the way you communicate the brand but maybe they don’t actually give you the alternative on how to fix it.

So again, that is under “Services“, it is over at the blogmarketingacademy.com; I’ll be happy to help you. And with that, I think I have talked long enough about user testing so hopefully you guys got some cool resources out of this one and found it valuable. I definitely recommend that you put some of these things to use to get that outside perspective on your blog… And I will see you next time on Episode 60 of Coffee Break Blogging!

Until then, have a great one! 😉