200% increase? What?!
Lest you question the importance/validity of user testing, listen to this: I was recently listening to the Boagworld podcast (great podcast, by the way) and they mentioned a conversation that one of the guys had with Jason Fried (of 37 Signals fame). 37 Signals has a whole range of online services, all of which have a "Free" option and/or a "xx Days Free Trial" option. They decided to do some A/B user testing (sounds more like 'multivariate' testing, actually), and discovered something astonishing: Changing the text on their call-to-action button from "Free Trial" to "See Plans & Pricing" increased sales by 200%!!
Wow!! Conventional wisdom says that throwing the word "Free" out there is going to get a LOT more action than saying ANYTHING about pricing, but I guess not. Apparently, people were a bit scared off by the "Free Trial" terminology, thinking that they'd be somehow roped in to something they couldn't get out of (however unfounded those fears might be). But, if you just ask people to look at the pricing, etc., it pulls them one step closer to understanding it all and feeling more comfortable with signing up.
So, there ya go. Another example of how conventional wisdom is NOT web wisdom. Be sure to do multivariate/A-B/user testing on your sites - even if you THINK they're humming along just fine. You never know what you might have missed.