What is online usability testing and how can it help you as a website owner?
The most simple usability testing definition states that it is a 'way to check how easy a website is to use'. Technically it is a form of web testing and method for computer software that aims to check website usability within a user interface (UI) design. 'Usability' is simply the ease and use of a man made object, so website 'usability testing' is concerned with evaluating how easy a website is to use.
There are various usability testing methods aimed at testing the usability of a website such as user focus groups, testing the website on random users (with no expertise) and a heuristic evaluation by an expert. My usability testing is concerned with the latter, website usability testing by a usability / UX expert with a rich understanding of web design and website best practice.
Usability Testing is very important for several reasons. The performance of any website, be it sales, downloads or sign ups, depends heavily on how easy a website is to use. If users do not understand how to use your website, have difficulties performing primary functions or run into usability issues, there is room for improvement. For example if your website could be easier to understand for first time users, you can improve your bounce rate by addressing the issue. If your checkout process is confusing and not optimised, you could be losing conversions here. Usability Testing is concerned with identifying as many areas of user friction in the user interface as possible and discussing techniques and strategies to combat them.
What is the process and output of online usability testing?
The output of online usability testing is a 45 minute (approx.) video of a usability consultant interacting with your website, giving critical audio commentary throughout. It will follow a set of usability testing questions, that are devised to give a good overview of the usability of your website. The video will start with an introduction to usability and introduce some important theory that will be used to support suggested changes within your website. It will then follow these usability testing questions:
Usability Testing Questions:
⇒ Look at the website for five seconds and look away
⇒ What are your first impressions? What do you remember?
⇒ What are your eyes drawn to first?
⇒ What is the service on offer?
⇒ What do you want to do next?
⇒ Search for a product and add it to your basket
⇒ Go all the way through checkout, stopping before purchase
⇒ What do you think the purpose of this website is?
⇒ Who do you think the intended audience is?
⇒ Could you find what you were looking for?
⇒ Was it easy to get to the home page from within the site?
⇒ Was there something missing you were expecting?
⇒ Could you tell what the page was about?
⇒ Was anything obtrusive?
⇒ Was anything too well hidden?
⇒ Problems with the colour scheme?
⇒ Easy to read (font style and size)?
⇒ How did you find the layout?
⇒ How intuitive and helpful is the navigation?
⇒ Did you notice (advertising, newsletter sign up, video, search box)?
⇒ What would encourage you to return?
⇒ Three favourite and least favourite things?
⇒ If you could change one thing (major/minor) what would it be?
These questions will give a good overview into the usability of your website and make many suggestions to enhance it. It may be the case that we need to tailor these questions to your website. The video output of online usability testing will be in this style: