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A Quick Guide to Content Testing And Why it is Vital to Your Strategy

Content testing right at the beginning of the process helps determine if your design is stable enough to go through the next round of tests.
user experience

UX (user experience) designers know how critical it is to have content that enhances user flows and interactions. To ensure your content and copy don’t lead users astray, it’s important to validate your content through content testing. The words you use on your products and services are a decisive factor in their success in engaging your users.

Well-tested content can make or break your design. It can turn an ordinary design into a powerful one, as UX teams understand how users interact with their word choices, tones, and content structures. Getting meaningful feedback on the written content of your website can help create usable websites that look great and are functional.

Quality content is your answer to everything, from how to improve bounce rate to how to engage users. It also plays a major role in bringing in traffic from search engines through SEO (search engine optimization). This makes it even more necessary to always consider testing your content before you make it accessible to the rest of the world.

Web content is usually in the form of blogs, articles, videos, and case studies, and testing it can be challenging. Regardless, it’s pertinent to test content at every stage of web or software design, including product testing and conference room set up discussions, to ensure you can meet and exceed your users’ needs.

What is Content Testing?
Also known as usability testing, content testing is the practice of analyzing your written content to ensure it’s appropriate and it adds to the user experience instead of limiting it. With content testing, you’re checking to see if your user finds the ‌information useful and if it’s accurate and readable.

Content usability testing reduces many changes to your copy, by validating it using feedback received from various tests. It points your design teams in the right direction and reduces futile back-and-forth copy changes. It helps users get quality information when searching what an io domain means or looking for the best guide to digital marketing.

Testing can help you gain a keen understanding of your content quality and presentation. It can be considered as prototyping the interactions you have with customers in a cloud hosted PBX business or niche as they react to the written word on your website. It helps you identify the conversations you need to have with your users to capture their attention.

Why is Content Testing Important?
Content testing results in a framework that drives a flawless user experience. It keeps you from reaching the end of your project only to find that your content isn’t doing any of the things it was supposed to do.

Content testing ensures usability. You test it to find if people can read and understand it and if it’s convincing enough to influence the reader. It ensures that answers to queries such as ‘What is a toll free number?’ or ‘What is marketing technology?’ are relevant and digestible. Compelling content is an essential cog in your web design machine, and without it, you cannot increase customer engagement successfully. Without the right content, it’s next to impossible to convert users and support their decisions.

Testing ensures that any new content idea matches customer requirements. Testing allows you to gather qualitative data to complement your analytics.

On its own, quantitative data cannot tell you why your numbers don’t add up. With testing, you find out what’s wrong and why it’s wrong‌.

Say, you have a business bookings website. Analytics can tell you that to increase business bookings you have to reduce your bounce rate, whereas content testing can tell you that the content on your website isn’t interesting enough to engage users for longer periods of time. Designers can discover the words needed to get customers to understand their message and create the right emotions with their information and design.

When Should We Use Content Testing?
Content testing can help every stage of the web design process. At the start of the design process, content testing helps you determine the conversation you want to have with your customer. You can do research on the language your intended audience uses and, on a micro-level, your research can include what information a user needs.

Similar to what is smoke testing for software design, content testing right at the beginning of the process helps determine if your design is stable enough to go through the next round of tests. Content testing at the beginning of a project makes certain you have the right level of transparency, information, and guidance for your users.

In the middle of UX design, content testing provides key insights into the existing framework. You can check if the words that passed the first screening meet your communication goals or whether they force users to seek clarification. Testing during this phase helps you verify if your words can achieve their goals and are received in the right context.

As you close your design, you can make final checks to see if your customer needs have been met. At the end you test the usability of every piece of copy, so you can confirm the iterations you made are having the intended effect. You may ask yourself, is your content a reflection of your brand? And is it leaving a good impression on the reader? Are users taking the right actions or are they leaving?

Types of Testing
There are a dozen different types of tests to validate your content. Let us discuss the best three that will be an asset in your testing toolkit.

Cloze Test
The Cloze test is a ‘fill in the blanks’ test to assess comprehension and context. You remove words from your copy and let your users fill them in. This helps you determine if the meaning of your content is clear and if the context is obvious.

Cloze tests can help you decide if your content is appropriate and informative. Especially if your copy is about complex information that the layperson might have a hard time understanding and that is filled with difficult jargon like legal or healthcare information. We can use a Cloze test for every website if your goal is to establish the understandability of any website, such as that of  Australia domains and other country code TLDs.

These are a few pointers to get started with a Cloze Test:

  1. Test every piece of questionable content, any piece users have had trouble with in the past.
  2. Take out every fifth word for people to fill in. You don’t want to exhaust your users by having too many blanks.
  3. Once the blanks have been filled in, score the content by deducting a point for every word that was wrong. If we have 50 blanks and a participant got 30 right, their score would be 60%.
  4. Rework content that gets scored less than 60%. Over 60% means the content made sense.

Highlighter Test
These tests are exactly what they sound like. Your users have a highlighter in hand and they will highlight the content depending on your chosen criteria. For example, you could ask them to highlight words or phrases that inspire trust in your brand and also those words that don’t.

You could have a moderated exercise where you discuss out loud why certain parts of the content were chosen. Based on popular opinion, you could rewrite content that doesn’t meet its requirements. Highlighter tests are an excellent way to gauge if you’re able to evoke the right emotions with your copy to enhance customer experience.

With content, less is often more. The highlighter test is one of the best tools to determine which part of your content isn’t essential to your goals and it can reduce the amount of text.

A/B Testing
A/B testing is one of the more popular testing methods in the software industry. A/B testing provides solid, quantitative feedback that allows you to make easy decisions between two competing variations of content. You let users interact with both variations on your live websites and check which performs better based on bounce rate, click-through rate, etc.

The only downside is that A/B testing isn’t instantaneous, and it takes a while to gather data to make the right choice. With A/B testing you have analytics from a real-life scenario. If you have a large sample size, you will have statistically significant data to make an informed decision.

Make sure your content variations are visibly different from each other. Focus on an important copy that has the most impact, like headlines and CTA, and test in higher traffic areas.

Content That Wins
Content usability testing is far too important for you to avoid. There is a test that suits everyone, depending on your budget and timeframe. It’s bound to improve your product or service as you publish concise and clear copy. You can also use AI (artificial intelligence) to perform something similar to what is automated testing for software but that requires a bigger budget and more time.

The digital transformation that we witness today, bombards us with new content left, right, and center. But not all content was created equal, and some content is more attractive than others. Testing can help you create content that is powerful and engaging with no multiple iterations. The quality of your content directly impacts your bottom line, and it offers exciting potential for brands who’re truly concerned about user experience.

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Severine Hierso, EMEA Senior Product Marketing Manager of RingCentral
Severine Hierso is EMEA Senior Product Marketing Manager for RingCentral Office, the leader in BYOC policy and cloud communications solutions, and is passionate about creating value, differentiation, and messaging, ensuring a better experience for customers and partners.
She has gained extensive international Product Marketing, Market Research, Sales Enablement, and Business development experience across SaaS, Telecommunications, Video Conferencing, and Technology sectors within companies such as Sony, Cisco, Cogeco Peer 1, and Dimension Data/NTT.

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