New Context

New Context

AI Suggests Website Issues and Improvement Ideas for Innovative Usability Testing

About 30 years have passed since it became possible for individuals and companies to easily build websites. Today, we can say most of corporations have websites, which are directly connected to their brand image and revenue. Japan’s e-commerce market was established in the latter half of the 1990s. It currently exceeds 22.7 trillion yen for business-to-consumer and 420 trillion yen for business-to-business transactions (FY2022 E-Commerce Market Survey), and is expected to keep growing.

Usability testing is a tool that the person who is responsible for their website can employ to improve branding and sales amounts. Artificial intelligence (AI) offers increasingly advanced methods to create effective websites, including page verification and issue identification.

NaviPlus Co., Ltd.(NaviPlus) announced that it updated its “socratest” usability testing service at the 33rd Japan IT Week Spring, an exhibition that started on April 24, 2024. Daichi Tamura and Saki Asanuma told us what is happening on the front lines of AI-based usability testing.


Business Planning Division; NaviPlus Co., Ltd.

Daichi Tamura

Joined NaviPlus Co., 2019. Has worked in fields including marketing and customer success for e-commerce business operator marketing services. Currently plans and develops new services in the Business Planning Division, and helped launch “socratest”.

Sales and Marketing Division; NaviPlus Co., Ltd.

Saki Asanuma

Joined NaviPlus Co., 2019. Provided marketing service proposals and support to e-commerce business operators as part of the Customer Success Team. Is currently a member of the Marketing Team, where she works to promote sales of NaviPlus’ services.

Usability testing is important, but there are three reasons why it is not more commonly used

In usability testing, regular users are surveyed to find out what they liked about a website and what can be improved. Asanuma describes the importance of this testing.

“Website managers are often biased to the business operator’s viewpoint, which can result in websites that are not friendly to regular users. For example, companies may think that more content leads to better user satisfaction. But if they simply post more content, the user might be confused because they aren’t sure what to look at.” 

During usability testing, many businesses realize that efforts to improve their website actually have negative effects.

This suggests that usability testing is essential, but not all companies actually conduct these tests. Tamura explained the three reasons why this testing can be difficult for businesses, even those that are aware of the importance of a user-centered viewpoint.

“The first reason is the time and effort in searching for subjects, coming up with test types and questions, collecting responses, and analyzing information. The second obstacle is cost. External consultants can charge millions of yen. Finally, similar to the first reason, this testing also takes a great deal of time. Usability testing often requires several months because it involves so many decisions and preparations.”

“socratest” makes usability testing simple for everyone

NaviPlus launched “socratest” in 2023 to solve these issues. The entire process is automated and can be completed online, from finding test subjects to aggregating their results, and the questions are pre-set. Asanuma described the reaction to this service as follows. 

“We’ve received applications from many business operators who are struggling because they don’t know how to improve their website so it is more appealing to users, or because they aren’t sure that their updates actually made the site easier to use. “socratest” can clarify the website’s issues by having regular users compare it with competitor sites.”

With “socratest,” subjects evaluate the website’s usability on a five-point scale and provide comments about things they liked and parts that could be improved. “Before testing, many customers are concerned about the volume and quality of feedback. But they don’t have to worry—past customers say they received a great deal of feedback with many useful comments that led to improvements.”

Tamura said that “socratest”’s advantages include ease and speed. “Everything is done online, from signing up to viewing the results. You provide your URL, competitor site links, and the ages and genders of your ideal test subjects. Next, you just push the button to start the test. If you complete this process in the morning, results are ready as quickly as that evening, or on the following day at the latest.”

This speed is backed by NaviPlus’ established expertise in e-commerce website support and marketing tools, which is utilized in the pre-set questions. NaviPlus also develops and operates services to help improve websites, including recommendations, searching, and reviews. Both Tamura and Asanuma said that customers benefit because NaviPlus’ services do not end with usability testing, but also include further steps for improvements.

A new AI function that suggests website improvements

At the exhibition, NaviPlus announced that it added an AI-based function to “socratest” that suggests ideas for improvements. This new function is highly useful because it analyzes user comments and provides specific suggestions about what should be improved. Tamura explained the objectives of this function.

“Web developers are too busy with their daily work to read everything. Some “socratest” customers weren’t able to get through all the comments they received, which meant they couldn’t act on them. By having AI read these comments, our goal with this update is to accurately identify important points so customers can easily make improvements. We hope this will enable even faster actions.”

<Examples> Improvement Suggestions from AI 
Addition of Before-and-After Comparison ImagesTo concretely demonstrate the effectiveness of the product, we suggest adding before-and-after comparison images. This will allow users to intuitively understand the product’s benefits.
Inclusion of User Photos and Reviews for Giving A Sense of RealityThere have been opinions that the website looks too simple, reducing its credibility. Therefore, we suggest including user photos and reviews. This will enhance realism and increase trustworthiness.
Addition of Table of Contents LinksTo improve the efficiency of information gathering, we suggest adding table of contents links to important information on the page. This will allow users to quickly find the information they need.
Disclosure of Shipping InformationThere have been comments that the shipping costs after the second order are unclear. We suggest clearly stating the shipping information, so users can accurately understand the costs when purchasing.
Improvement of page Transition and  Concretization of “Customer Testimonials”We suggest making the “Customer Testimonials” more specific and improving the page transition after pressing the “Trial” button. This will make it easier for users to trust the product and enhance their experience on the website.
AI suggests specific points to be improved, including images, comments, and links

Tamura and Asanuma both said they have not seen any similar AI services in Japan, and they think “socratest” is likely the first AI-equipped usability testing product in Japan.

AI can help reduce time and effort. But in addition to these benefits, we asked Tamura if there are any concerns or disadvantages when companies try it out for the first time. He replied, “No, there are not.” 

“I helped develop this service, which offers nothing but advantages. Some customers might be concerned about the price, but we haven’t raised it even after the update. Usability testing can cost up to several millions of yen, but “socratest” is still just 50,000 yen per test.”

“socratest” can be used for yearly “checkups”

We asked Tamura and Asanuma about the future of “socratest” and usability testing.

“Companies tend to consider this type of usability test or survey when they are updating their website, for example. Our vision is for them to use “socratest” annually as a type of checkups.”

NaviPlus made “socratest”easy for everyone to use by understanding the multiple obstacles involved in usability testing and focusing on better convenience. In the near future, it will likely become an important service in our society that values the viewpoints of website users.

“socratest” compares the customer’s website with competitors, evaluates it according to standard scores, and collects a large amount of user feedback. It tests the website’s design, speed, and other qualities, and is equipped with a new AI function to summarize feedback. A free trial is available to first-time users who want to view some of the results they could receive.

“socratest” uses AI to suggest website improvements

This usability testing service from NaviPlus Co., Ltd. uses pre-set parameters to evaluate whether a website is easy to use, based on its track record of providing marketing tools for and improving over 800 websites. A new AI function was added in April 2024.