How to Run an Effective True Intent Study

An effective way to assess the user experience your website offers is to understand who your users are and what tasks or goals they are trying to accomplish there. A True Intent Study helps you do just that.

What’s a true intent study?

As the name suggests, a true intent study aims at understanding a user’s objective as they browse your site. What are they there to do? And are they able to achieve it?

A true intent study helps you to:

  • Determine what your visitors intend to do and how they behave on your website
  • Determine the demographic makeup of visitors coming to your site
  • Determine whether your visitors were able to successfully accomplish their tasks/goals
  • Discover flaws in your website that might inhibit users from completing their intended task
  • Analyze the overall experience of your visitors

One interesting angle a true intent study provides over a run-of-the-mill usability test is, because you’re asking completely open-ended questions that do not make assumptions about the tasks/goals your users aim to accomplish, you might learn something surprising about the site. In other words, a true intent study helps you gather data that you probably wouldn’t have gathered if you were relying strictly on a highly controlled test with specific tasks or scenarios.

How does a true intent study work?

The process is pretty simple.  Site visitors are intercepted at random and their subsequent behavior is tracked. A lightbox poses questions like, “Why are you visiting the site today?” and “Were you able to successfully accomplish your goal(s)?”

We’ll illustrate this via screenshots in the next section.

How to run a true intent study with Loop11:

1.  Choose a website you want to test.

2.  Enter the details of your user test.

 Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.50.56 PM

3.  Insert a multiple choice question that aims to understand what the visitor came to the site to do.

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4.  Provide a range of response options covering the most common reasons people visit your website.   Randomize the order of the responses, make the question mandatory & offer an “Other, please specify” response at the end. In the example below, we ran a true intent study on

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.24 PM

5.  Insert an open task that starts on the homepage of your website.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.33 PM

6.  Insert the following three questions:

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7.  Enter the “User Test Options,” spelling out the max number of participants you’d like in the study, the “thank you” text and other details. It’s possible to include only a percentage of your overall site visitors in the true intent study.

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8.  Choose “Create a pop-up invitation for your own website” as the method of inviting participants:
Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.52.02 PM

9.  At this point, Loop11 will provide you a code snippet. Place the code on the page(s) of your website where you want the pop-up invitation to appear, launch the test and sit back whilst the data comes in.

A true intent study can be a valuable resource in discovering flaws in your website that are making it difficult for users to complete their intended task.  A true intent study sometimes casts a wider net than ordinary usability testing, as it dives into the goals of real users navigating your website and looks at how effectively your users are able to meet those goals. It’s an easy test to set up. Website owners can learn a lot from this exercise!

To learn more about true intent studies and how to run your first one, contact us at


This blog post was a collaboration between Jacob Young and Arijit Banerjee, who assisted with vital research.


Get the Usability Test Results You Need

Are your usability testing responses actually giving you the actionable information you need?

Not if you haven’t designed the right test!

In order to get the information you’re after, you need to determine:

1.  What you want to know

2.  What questions to ask to get the right answers

Figure Out the Usability Info You Need

Have you already identified problems with your platform? Are users routinely aborting at a specific point, or do you get a lot of queries about the same functions or processes? Then this first job is easy—you need to figure out what users are finding difficult, and possibly to test different options for making things easier.

If you’re beta testing or still in the early development phase, the information you’re after might be more general—how are various processes perceived, how quickly can users find what they need and accomplish specific tasks, what design elements are enhancing or inhibiting usability?

Get as specific as possible in identifying the information you need from your usability test, and you’ll make designing your test much easier while making the test far more effective, too.

Ask Your Usability Testers the Right Questions

The questions you need to be asking depend entirely on the information you want to receive but there are some general rules you need to follow.

When there are specific problem areas you’ve identified, or new features/design elements you’d like feedback on, be sure to identify those areas and ask your testers what you want to know.

Keep in mind, though, that when you identify a specific element you’re calling attention to it, and this might alter responses—if you want to see whether or not an element is noticeable or problematic on its own, ask questions that might allow users to identify the element on their own, without explicitly mentioning it yourself.

For more general feedback on usability, ask testers open-ended questions that allow them to not only to identify the specific elements or processes that caught their attention, but also the qualities they perceived in those elements.

“Which parts of the platform did you find most appealing?” is open-ended to a degree, but it still asks users to identify positive elements of the platform—a good thing to know, but not complete in and of itself.

“Which features did you find most noticeable?” allows users to give both positive and negative experiences. While this question is probably too nonspecific to be very useful, it can be tailored to your specific device or software platform in a way that yields more useful results.

Improve Your Emails for Better Usability Test Responses

Conducting usability tests requires usability testers—a group of people that matches your ideal user as closely as possible in terms of demographics and knowledge level.

Identifying those potential testers can be tough (and we’ll have some tips on how to do that coming out shortly), but even after you know who they are there’s still an additional challenge: getting them to respond.

Here are a few tips for improving your usability test request emails, getting you a better response rate and more accurate, actionable results.

1. Craft a Subject Line That Piques User Interest

You’ll never get a response if people don’t open your email, so make sure the subject line is catchy, relevant, and clearly shows that your request isn’t spam or fluff. It should also be short enough that it displays completely on mobile devices.

Something as simple as “Can We Do Better?” can be very effective, if you’re sending to a list that will recognize who you are from the “From” field. If you’re a company they’ve worked with before, that subject line is an offer—a way to add value to your users, and that explicitly seeks their input.

And that’s what usability testing is all about, right?

2. Give Before You Ask

All business communication is (or should be) about creating value. Don’t start your email body asking for people to help you with your usability testing; start by telling them what you want to do for them.

Again, this is easier if your recipients are already familiar with you and what you do, but it’s easy to make a “cold” email to a well-identified target work just fine in this regard.

Start by offering a discount or free trial to your service, a free report you have, or anything that will create value for the recipient, and then ask them to take your usability test in return. Show them you’re interested in helping them first and foremost, and they’ll want to help you in return.

3. Be Available to Users and Testers Alike

Always close with an invitation to contact you with questions or suggestions, and be there when they do.

Again, let them know that your purpose is being able to serve them better, and make sure you’re sincere about that. There’s no point in conducting usability testing if you’re not going to listen to your users, so make yourself available.

The more you want to create value for your users, and the more you make that clear in your communications, the more eager your usability testers will be to help you out.

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