Trade Your Website

Of course your website is incredibly clear and easy to use . . . to the person who created it! While you totally understand that “the magic center” is where someone goes to purchase your services, your potential clients may be left scratching their heads.

You want a website that’s eye-catching, easy to use, and gets tons of traffic.  And you thought yours was doing the job, but looking at your stats, you know you need to make some changes.

One of the most effective ways to get a wake-up call on the problems in your website is to watch someone actually use it. I can promise you’ll be surprised at where they go and the conclusions that they jump to. Make sure to take off your defensive armor because I have to tell you, this can be an uncomfortable exercise!

I want you to find a local friend or family member and ask them to use your website. The less familiar they are with your site and your business in general the better. Ask them to perform specific tasks and speak aloud their thought process as they do it. Instruct them to do whatever you would want a customer to do on your site, which will be specific to your business. Don’t give them any hints! The whole idea is to see if your website is easy enough to use to complete the task without guidance. Some examples:

  • Find the services that I provide
  • Find my phone number
  • Sign up for my newsletter
  • Find the most popular basketball that we sell
  • Make an appointment for a free consultation

You can also have them look through each page of your site and give their feedback on what they understand and what they find confusing. Again, remember to put your defenses down – this is valuable information!

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About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.


  1. Laura,

    More awesome stuff as usual! I like to use my mom as my test subject because I know that if she can figure it out, anyone can!

  2. It’s amazing how we presume that using our websites is obvious. I had a friend tell me that there was no place to leave comments on my blog articles simply because he did not know to click on the title and fully open the post. I learnt a lot from that about assuming things.

    • Yes Ian that’s a great example! There are a lot of things like clicking on a blog title that are standard to more experienced blog readers, but are really difficult to figure out when you’re new.

  3. Great ideas to think about. I like James idea about finding someone who may not be as savvy as one who is constantly online. I’m sure you would get great feedback.

    Thanks Laura for an awesome post

  4. I used to work for a video game company, building their web sites. They had a test lab where they brought in people to test the video games. It had a one way mirror, like in the movies, and trained professionals that did the testing. They knew not to lead or to help or make faces or call the test subjects idiots.

    We built a site for teachers, so they brought in some teachers to use it. Our team sat in awe as these people couldn’t do the simplest things! We were all shocked. We wanted to scream, from behind the mirror “Just click that button! It’s right there!!!”.

    I thought I knew about user interfaces until that experience. I was humbled. The whole team started to approach design a different way.

    No matter what you think you know about your design, you won’t know anything until you watch someone else use it.

    Just try not to yell at them when you do it.

    • Joel Mark Witt says:


      I have to laugh at your story. I’ve been in the same situation – from both sides. I was recently helping a friend test some social media tracking software. He was VERY frustrated that I didn’t get the interface right away like him. I reminded him that his team built this and it was only my first time. Needless to say it was difficult for me and I’ve stuck with using Hootsuite as a result.

      ~ Joel Mark Witt

  5. Excellent advice! I had the same problem with people saying they were having trouble leaving comments. It’s important to try to see our site through other eyes.

  6. Joel Mark Witt says:


    This is an excellent idea! I think we will be very suprised by the things we take for granted on our site. Because I live and breath on there I expect everyone else to know their way around too. Thanks.

    ~ Joel Mark Witt

  7. Just to let you know your blog looks a little bit strange in Firefox on my laptop with Linux .