Why Conduct Website Usability Testing?

To improve the performance of your site, you need to recognise how people are consuming it. Usability testing helps in assessing how a user can accomplish a given task on a device. During a usability test, a user is asked to complete certain tasks, usually while being observed by a researcher, to reveal possible user problems. Usability is defined as how smooth an object is to use. The object can be almost anything, like a machine, tool, process, book, software application or website. (Nielsen 1990) During usability testing, a subject is asked to talk through the thought process while completing the task. Thus, the researcher can understand the action of the subject. The researcher sensibly watches the subject’s activities and attends to the speech.

Once, Margaret Mead, a famous scientist said, “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

In my opinion usability testing is especially significant for websites. A full websites performance would be entirely determined in part by its usability. The users should be able to navigate to websites’ conversion pages easily. So, people will enjoy using sites that are intuitive and easy to browse, however, they stop scrolling if the sites are confusing.

From my research, I have paraphrased few guidelines to evaluate my own website. Firstly, Keep information which is relevant and needed. Display only important visual elements and text – no more or no less. All unnecessary additions compete with visitors’ attention. When a change is made on, provide feedback to the user, the changes can be like icon animation or image showing the visitor that their task was successful. Try to use words, phrases, and ideas that are familiar to the user, and avoid buzz words that few really understand.

The website should be consistent, follow well-known conventions when possible. Don’t confuse users whether different words or ideas means the same thing. Action and options should be visible to the users, so they don’t have to remember from one point to other. Don’t make the visitors think because most of them are busy, distracted and much less invested in our sites. If a user unknowingly gets redirected to a wrong page, be sure there are easy ways to go back and start over and continue through a different way. The website should be accessible for novice users, but also measure to speed up the involvement for expert users; ideally in a way that are invisible to the new visitors. Give guests the freedom to customise as they browse through, in a way it flows with experience naturally. We should run at least one user study per week because it’s worth building a dedicated usability laboratory.

Remember, testing occurs at every stage of the process to keep the goal and the user in focus. If it comes down to a choice, please don’t sacrifice usability but reduce the scope of the website instead. The site will be fully implemented and navigable as long as we can close the door to keep out distractions.

References:

1. Usabilitygeek.com. (2017). [online] Available at: http://usabilitygeek.com/an-introduction-to-website-usability-testing/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2017].

2. Molich, R., and Nielsen, J. (1990). Improving a human-computer dialogue, Communications of the ACM 33, 3 (March), 330-350.

3. Nngroup.com. (2017). 10 Heuristics for User Interface Design: Article by Jakob Nielsen. [online] Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/ [Accessed 18 Apr. 2017].

4. Nielsen, J., and Molich, R. (1990). Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces, Proc. ACM CHI’90 Conf. (Seattle, WA, 1-5 April), 249-260.

5. Nielsen, J. (1994b). Heuristic evaluation. In Nielsen, J., and Mack, R.L. (Eds.), Usability Inspection Methods, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.

6. Usabilityfirst.com. (2017). Usability First – About Usability – Website Design | Usability First. [online] Available at: http://www.usabilityfirst.com/about-usability/website-design/ [Accessed 18 Apr. 2017].

7. Nngroup.com. (2017). Usability 101: Introduction to Usability. [online] Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

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