I have just spent the last five months working on a redesign of our product description page. It is a really interesting project not just because we have been unable to update the website for a couple of years, but also because of the constraints we are working to.
One of the things I wanted to do was test our current page to see whether what we thought was important to a customer really was. I also wanted to test the prototype once it was built to make sure we were hitting the mark.
Should be easy right, just think of some questions and create a WhatUsersDo test to see what they do, or go down to the coffee shop downstairs and ask some people what they think. Except when I tried these things I hit a problem.
People doing these tests did not really want to buy my product, so they did not do all the stuff you do when you are thinking about spending a lot of money on a bike or some running shoes. They just had a quick look at the page and hit the 'add to basket' button.
We did accidentally get one guy who was actually interested in bikes and gave us some great insight into what he would be looking for, but you cannot base everything on one user.
So how do we move forward? We have discussed this a lot in the team and still have not quite worked out how to do this.
Our main problem is if you ask someone to find something they like on the site then they can get lost in the thousands of products we sell, and there is no way we can prototype that journey, but if we ask them to look for a particular product then we run the risk that they are not interested in the product so we do not get any useful feedback.
We could just ask people what they look for when looking to buy something, but I know from experience what they say and what they do can be very different things.
In the end we have decided there is not much we can do except make it live and see what happens.
Look out for some major changes to product pages on the Wiggle site early next year!