Usability testing for conversion optimisation: optimising UX to drive conversions

Junior Researcher

Involving real users is key in the conversion rate optimisation process to provide valuable insights into the user experience. Relying on assumptions regarding the user experience can lead to unsuitable design decisions being made and misallocated time and resources. This article will outline the usability testing process for optimising UX and driving conversions and how usability testing drives conversions

Usability testing involves observing users while they interact with a digital product. The purpose of usability testing is to identify potential points of friction that users might encounter while completing actions on the website or application. Usability testing can uncover multiple insights regarding the user experience, such as understanding users’ goals and behaviours while interacting with a digital product that provides a data-driven approach to driving conversion rates. 


Usability testing and understanding user goals

Usability testing reveals nuanced user behaviours that can lead to more effective conversion strategies. Observing how users navigate an interface can help identify friction points and usability issues that could contribute to high abandonment rates.


Creating a test plan

Before running the tests, it is crucial to plan each element of the research activity: 

  1. Scope: Establish which parts of the digital product will be tested (e.g. the entire website, the navigation, the content). 
  2. Purpose: Identify the concerns, questions and hypothesis that will be tested.
  3. Schedule and location: When and where will the test be run? Will it be in-person or remote?
  4. Participants: How many people are participating in the testing sessions? Do they have to be part of a specific demographic group?
  5. Scenarios: How many tasks and scenarios are the participants going to complete? What are they going to entail?


Preparation (recruitment, test plan and prototype)

Firstly, based on an agreed set of objectives, we create a test plan to outline the methodology of the usability test. The plan typically documents 3 to 5 research questions that the study will focus on. These questions will guide the tasks created and the resulting analysis. As a general rule, 4 to 6 participants are involved in each round of testing. If a wireframe design is being used, this is finalised prior to the script development.


Script and prototype development

A script is then created for usability testing based on the digital product being tested. This includes the tasks that each participant will undertake and the questions that will be asked of participants to help further understand their experience. Tasks are created using the research questions as guidance and then organised into a logical order, typically with discoverability tasks being completed prior to findability or usability-based tasks.


Conducting the sessions

Make it Clear will set up the calls, brief the participants and then facilitate the session.

Sessions are generally recorded with audio and video, although they will not be transcribed. If this footage is requested, we must ensure that it is appropriate to share and any checks made with participants. Notes are also taken to refer to during the analysis stage.


Analysis and reporting

Following the usability testing sessions, the team analyses the findings to produce themes and insights, which are then delivered as a report before being shared with the wider team to review and establish recommendations. 


How does usability testing drive conversions?

Usability testing is unique in its methodology compared with other research activities, such as interviews or user surveys, as the activity structure enables researchers to see the path users take to complete conversions. Acquiring an understanding of how users navigate interactions while using a digital product by seeing their screens enables streamlining their journeys (e.g. reducing the number of steps, minimising distractions, and overall creating a more intuitive experience). As a result, this will minimise abandonment rates as frustrations and challenges can be addressed, and it will become clear what might motivate users to engage further with the website or app. 

While the findings from usability testing reports might be useful by themselves, it is also worth considering the value of supplementing research outputs such as user journey maps with insights and findings from usability tests. User journey maps are valuable as they provide a comprehensive, visualised representation view of the user experience, allowing organisations to prioritise their resources and investment in areas that impact user satisfaction the most, consequently driving conversions. Visualising usability testing findings in user journey maps simultaneously encourages teams across different areas of expertise to collaborate and create a shared vision of the customer experience.



Ultimately, usability testing aims to enhance the overall user experience. A positive experience encourages users to stay engaged, explore more, and ultimately complete the desired actions, increasing conversions.


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