Ever heard of Theory of Mind?
It’s a concept back from my psych student days that explains how children develop their sense of perspective, usually when they’re around 3-5 years old.
It’s an understanding that our thoughts are separate from others’ — that we can have different knowledge, opinions, and realities.
That just because I’m obsessed with Harry Potter and Nordic culture and #allcozyeverything doesn’t mean Johnny is.
(I don’t know this Johnny kid’s deal. I heard he also hates puppies and America’s Sweetheart, Michael Cera. I’m not saying he’s a sociopath. But like, he is.)
Theory of Mind teaches us that we don’t come pre-programmed to understand another person’s perspective.
And as business owners, that can really fail us when it comes to understanding our customers. Especially when our websites are involved.
It’s so hard to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who’s clicking around our sites for the first time — not knowing who we are, what we do, or where to go next.
We may think our site’s a breeze to navigate while visitors can’t find what the heck they’re looking for.
We could see our sarcastic copy as witty and hilarious, but users are left with a mean taste in their mouths.
Or we might love our modern black-on-slate color scheme, while visitors strain to read the text.
The only way you can truly know what someone else thinks of your website…is by asking someone else what they think of your website.
But you don’t want just anyone giving you their two cents on your site, now do we, Jake Gyllenhaal?
Why you need spinach-picking feedback
Friend, I’d like to introduce you to Peek. Peek, meet my friend here.
Peek is a service that connects you with another human who will test your website usability. For free.
Yep. A real, live, unbiased human being clicks through your website and gives you their unfiltered thoughts. (How awesome is that?!)
The “unbiased” factor is extremely important. Because when you ask a friend or family member for the feedback, they’re inclined to be kinder than a stranger would.
They won’t want to hurt your feelings or poo poo your hard work. So they might throw a little white lie into the mix like “No, Whit, I don’t think it’s lame that you included the articles you wrote for your college newspaper on your Press page.” (Something I actually did on my first website.)
You need someone who will give you their honest, go-pick-that-spinach-out-of-your-teeth feedback…so you don’t look like a fool.
That’s basically what Peek’s all about.
How to test your website usability (fo’ free)
It couldn’t be easier.
Just head to peek.usertesting.com and enter your domain name along with a few other deets (like your name, email, and company size.) Clickety clickety, DONE.
Then, Peek sends your site to one of their testers who, naturally, gets to testin’.
Within 24 hours, the tester sends you an email with their thoughts — what works, what doesn’t, their first impressions, what else they’d like to see.
Don’t forget to test your mobile site, too…
Word on the street is that Google is going to start penalizing websites that, as my biz manager Meg says, “aren’t friendly to the mobiles.”
Mobile + tablet usage surpassed desktop website traffic in November 2016. So even ignoring Google’s (potential) new algorithm, you need to make sure your site performs as well on devices as it does on desktop.
Luckily for us, Peek also tests mobile websites. (Seriously, how great is this thing?)
When you’re at Peek.com, click the dropdown next to “Test My Website” and click “Test My Mobile Site.” Follow the same steps to submit your site for mobile testing.
What I found by testing my own website with Peek
I tested both my desktop and mobile site usability with Peek’s system. In under one hour, I had an email waiting for me with nearly nine minutes of video footage dripping with ideas on how to make my website more user-friendly.
The best part, IMO? Peek sends you the immensely valuable feedback in video form. You get the tester’s real-time, candid reactions as they travel around your site.
Here’s what I learned…
Unclear about what I do
I think this one — and I don’t think I’m just being defensive here — had more to do with the fact that the testers were unfamiliar with the online marketing industry.
I think most entrepreneurs know what copy and content are. One of my testers kept pronouncing “content” like “con-TENT” (as in,“happy” or “satisfied”) rather than “CON-tent,” as in blog posts. So while she didn’t understand the jargon, I think my ideal client will.
But I didn’t want to ignore the feedback altogether. So I updated the headline and some header copy in my Work With Me page, in hopes that makes things a little bit clearer.
Mixed feelings about my script font
One of the testers really liked the script font. The other said it was too hard to read.
It’s great feedback to consider and maybe someday I’ll update it. But for now, the script font is a central part of my brand aesthetic and I can’t do a full overhaul.
As a middle ground, I made the script font bolder to make it stand out more. It’s a subtle change, but I do think the end result is more readable. So chalking that up as a win!
Thought my packages were hard to read
This is obviously a BIGGIE! Because if people can’t read about my packages, they might not click to learn more.
The tester’s specific feedback was that the sweater pattern made it hard to read the text. I brought down the contrast of the sweater image and bolded all the text across the board.
I definitely think the end result is more readable.
I also clarified what “capti-suading” means. It’s a word I made up but it wasn’t clear to the testers that it’s a mix of captivating + persuasive. So I added a context clue into the package description. 😉
Loved the fact that I give 10% back to charity (Yay!)
So seeing both testers click over to the giving back page within minutes and make really positive comments about it was comforting. It’s one of my favorite parts about my biz so I’m happy to see others appreciate it, too.
Felt a personal connection to me (Double yay!)
One tester said “I would want to work with her because I feel a one-on-one connection. You feel like she’s there just for you.” And the other said “You can see it’s a person behind this, rather than just a company. After reading what I’ve read, I really like her.”
That is my EXACT goal with my website copy, so I was really excited to hear that feedback. It supported my belief that conversational copy is the way to go to build a genuine connection.
Although the service isn’t perfect (it would be AWESOME to have industry-specific testers,) I highly recommend utilizing Peek to get a free website audit for your own site.
(And in case you’re wondering, I’m not an affiliate or anything. I just straight-up love this resource!)
If your Digital Theory of Mind isn’t quite up to snuff, it’s better to learn it now from a stranger than by missing out on future customers.
In my former life as a market researcher, I know companies pay top dollar for this type of valuable insight. So I’m honestly floored that this service doesn’t cost a thing.
My gut feeling is that a service this valuable won’t be free for long so I’d check it out now! Though your gut feeling might be totally different. You know…perspective.
join the convo
How do you put yourself in your audience’s shoes?
Have you ever gotten a surprising piece of insight when you asked someone else’s opinion about your website?
If you give Peek a try, let me know…what was the most valuable insight you gained? What changes are you going to make to your site?