Best Practice – Live User Testing during Severe Weather

When severe weather disrupts services it is important to clearly communicate the impact to
users who may already be stressed. Website owners, both public and private sector, should be
prepared to run live user tests during disruption to gather "as it happens" insight.

Snowman photoAs the first storms of the Winter approach the UK, website owners are already braced to rapidly update their sites to communicate service disruption. Although they may have already tested pre-live versions or mockups, we recommend running UX Tests in the wild as the disruption is occurring because:

more natural behaviour will be observed: there is no need for participants to imagine it’s snowing if they’ve just built a snowman or pretend that they’re starting to panic about delivery of a present for Xmas if it’s 20th December

behaviour on other live sites and starting from Google will be revealed: such as parents visiting local radio, rather than local authority sites to find out about school closures

copy improvements can quickly be identified and implemented to reduce incoming call-centre contact: despite most websites having a code freeze pre-Xmas, previous tests have revealed that even small copy changes can dramatically improve the experience (which can be safely implemented via a CMS).

Task Tips for Severe Weather Testing

We’ve picked some tips from tests that WhatUsersDo‘s clients ran last Winter, grouped by type of organisation.

Tips for Local Authorities (find us on Digital Marketplace)

  1. Start users at Google or their usual search engine
  2. Screen participants for parents (for school closures)
  3. Run more tests on SmartPhone and Tablet than Desktop

Tips for Utility Companies

  1. Set a “book an emergency repair” test
  2. Task SmartPhone users with finding (from Google) your service status pages
  3. Benchmark your experience with a competitor’s

Tips for Online Retailers

  1. Test “delivery disruption messaging” from both the Home Page and during a buying journey
  2. Run tests of your “we’re sorry but…” email copy with real customers
  3. Depending on how your logistics are setup, it’s worth running tests with non-domestic users (if local weather will affect an overseas delivery)

Tips for Travel Sector

  1. Setup longitudinal tests where the same users check back for updates to travel disruption
  2. Run the majority of tests on SmartPhones with users starting with an empty browser (rather than your site)
  3. If you provide a compensation scheme, observe how easy it is for users to find out how to claim

Please feel free to share your own tips for Severe Weather testing in the comments or get in touch to find out more.

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