Usability testing for your under-performing website

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If you’re considering a website redesign, the most beneficial situation to find yourself in is realising your website may be just a few small tweaks from producing a far better outcome. Whilst that’s not always the case, it’s worth working through the process to understand your options. If you’ve let it go too long and the website needs a radical overhaul, that’s okay too.

If you’ve not already done so, I encourage you to download “Small Tweaks, Big Impact Websites“. Work through the strategies in this e-book and maximise the value from the budget you have. Plan to evolve your website and the opportunities will arise. There’s always more you can edge out of your website.

By working through the process, you will develop an understanding of what your new website design should look like and how it should function. This streamlines your road to success. Once you have a live, functioning website there’s an endless list of potential opportunities for you to test and explore should you wish.

Typically, large corporations will go through a prototyping, testing, and refining process offline. That level of research can also be done when the new website is live. Websites are flexible, dynamic, and can be refined on an on-going basis to produce better outcomes. Great websites are not static; they are always evolving. You can review and tinker with your web design to produce better results.

Testing site usability

You have two options when it comes to testing your website’s usability. One option is to do it in person. The other is to do it remotely using services like UserTesting.com, UserBrain.net, that feature in the e-book. There may also be other similar services that you prefer. Remote usability testing works just fine unless you’re working on a complex website. The good news is, you won’t need to bother your customers with this process.

As mentioned in the e-book, UserTesting.com and UserBrain.net are remote usability testing providers that create video and audio recordings for each test session. You can book as many or as few sessions as you need. Audio recordings are powerful in this form of testing. They allow your users to speak out their thoughts as they go through your live website. These audio recordings can also give you more insights than written reports would since you can pick up on the tone used. It’s a quick way to gather evidence that something in your website is confusing or if they feel positive about their experience.

Before you book your tests, take the time to plan the process and the questions you would like answered. You can break down your test plan into two phases:

  1. Introduction. Starting the session with an introduction will give your participants some context to the test being conducted. A simple sentence is perfect for an introduction and makes it easier for your testers to grasp and remember the purpose of the test while they complete it for you.
  2. Tasks. What exactly do you want your participants to do during the session? These tasks must be aligned with your website objectives. If you want to ask your participants specific questions while performing the test, you can do so. Include some open-ended questions that will let you glean as much insights as you can from the reviews.

Testing your website’s usability is something you can do as frequently as you wish. You can establish a few baseline metrics and assess the feedback on an ongoing basis.

Evaluating the results

Usability testing involves aspects that are qualitative in nature. Because your test users will be speaking freely while answering your questions there’s a good chance new thoughts and ideas evolve as a result of the feedback. Take the lessons learned, tinker with your website and complete more testing in the future so you can assess the progress made.

You can check the latest version of your design with feedback you’ve received in the past to see if issues raised have been resolved. You’ll need to make assessments and judgement calls on the feedback you receive and how to interpret that feedback in practical terms. You’ve now got real-world, observable insights that can take your website to the next level.

If your website has some step-by-step functionality or procedure, it’s important to make sure they’re easy for users. Here are some basic metrics to use when assessing usability:

  • Rate of completion. This refers to the percentage of participants who completed a task successfully. If the number of participants unable to complete the task is large, you need to consider simplifying the process and design to make it as easy as possible.
  • Completion time. How much time does a user take to complete a set task? The speed by which a user completes a task is an indication of how intuitive the process is. By watching the mouse movement and general flow of the video you’ll pick up how easy the process is.
  • Click rate. The number of clicks it takes to complete a task may be an indicator of how difficult a set task is, however this isn’t always the case. Sometimes having people make micro-decisions and walk through the process in multiple steps can make it feel easier and more engaging for the end user. Counter-intuitively, this can increase your conversion rates.

Human-centred design

Good website designers will focus on human-centred design rather than experimental creativity to bolster their own portfolio appeal. We often need to rely on past experience and that certainly has its benefits. As specialists in our field, we know what has worked for other clients and how that might apply to your circumstances. That’s a huge advantage when working with an experienced web designer. It’s also exciting to work with businesses that have taken the time to do the research themselves to help guide the design brief.

When working with a web designer, a collaborative approach works best for small businesses. In such collaborations, it’s vital for the designer to understand your goals and objectives and display a willingness to work as part of a team.

Every business and project is different. Adjust your research to fit your constraints. Ensure you take a user-centred approach to web design, and you’ll be in a prime position to mitigate the risks of a radical redesign and create a website that your audience loves.

I encourage you to download “Small Tweaks, Big Impact Websites” today to find out more about the User Experience (UX) hacks that could work for your website.