Usability testing might not be considered a necessity in previous decades but with the passage of time it has definitely become an essential in web designing. Usability testing basically helps the web master in receiving proper feedback from the visitors of the website and if something is causing a problem to the visitors, it can be detected before things go out of hand. Usability testing is a great way to improve a website as per visitor’s opinion. Usability testing should be a part of pre and post website development. These sessions are very important to get the most out of your website.
When it comes to usability testing, one should follow proper guidelines to get the best and most appropriate results. Websites that do not conduct usability testing suffer and end up losing most of their visitors without even knowing the reason. This kind of testing can help a webmaster in identifying the problems in the websites which might annoy their user. Also, they can get to know the most popular areas of their website. Usability testing can be considered one of the best ways to improve the website as per user’s opinions and feedback.
As mentioned earlier, one needs to follow proper guidelines for usability testing to get the best results out of it. Following are a few guidelines which can definitely help the web owner in good usability testing:
1. Selecting testers
If you want honest results, you should really focus on what kind people will be conducting usability testing. Avoid getting it tested from employees, friends or family members because it is bound to get a biased opinion. You can always outsource your usability testing by going to a research firm or any other agencies to get it done. Also, in order to get an unbiased opinion, avoid mentioning your company name during testing so that people can give honest opinion about their website. Avoid any thing that will affect the judgment of the people about your website. Always keep in mind that honest results will help you in improving your website. If you get usability testing done from people you already know, they might not give you honest opinion leaving you in a state of denial. This can have negative effects on your website in the long run.
2. Guidelines to follow before usability testing
You must have heard about the phrase ‘first impression is the last impression’ so remember that first impression of your website is important. Whoever is testing your website should be in a comfortable state to judge your website with ease. The environment for usability testing should be very comfortable and the participant should feel at home. Leave the entire artificial factor aside and focus on getting the honest result for the betterment of your website. Also, your testers should not get confused so clear instructions should be given in order to get the usability testing location. You can even have a nice conversation with the participants before the actual testing starts however, avoid any sort of complex term that people might not understand or get confused with.
Educating your participants is also very important. They should know what to do and how to do it. Do let them know the testing duration and the kind of activities they need to do in order to give the best results. Apart from all this, a few legal documents should be signed so that there is no room left for confusions. Avoid difficult language in legal documents. Since you are getting your website tested from a common man, use simple English so that they can easily understand. Also, keep it simple and precise. Do not scare people away from legal documents. Always explain them that they are just a formality and all they results will be kept confidential. They should know that this is just a proper way to get their permission to be able to use data generated from the tests.
3. Initial stages of usability testing
Before you get the user on testing, you need to inform them about the website. Do inform them what kind of a website it is and then ask for the initial feedback as to what they think it would look like. Make sure that you note down all suggestions and opinions. They will surely help you a lot in improving your website and you might get a lot of good ideas to work on and implement them on your website.
Once you are done with knowing their expectations from the website, allow them to take a look at the website. Judge their first impressions so you know what actual users will think of your website when they first see it. Working on all of this will put your participant in a comfortable situation and they will test your website without any reservations. You need to win their confidence before they start testing and once you do that, you can get the best out of them.
4. Key points of your website
Every website has a few features which can determine website’s success. Make sure you get them tested on priority basis. Creating an account, buying/selling products, contacting you or the client are among the main components so you need to make sure that they are working fine and they do not take a lot of user’s time. If users are not comfortable with the functionalities do not take it personally. Always keep in mind that the website is built for their usage so they should be able to do what they planned to before visiting your website. Always ask for their feedback as it can give you a whole bunch of new ideas.
5. Do not instruct them
Instead of giving instructions, provide them with scenarios.
6. Do not overload your participants
You should not burden your participants by giving them a lot of features to test. One feature at a time is a good way to go. A lot of tasks might intimidate them and they might not perform a good testing. So presenting your tasks in a good way to the participants is also necessary.
7. Do not take any suggestion personally
Always keep in mind that the participant is testing your website and is giving opinions based solely on the usage of website. Never ever take the criticism personally. Positive or negative feedback, both are important for your website’s betterment so do not react on the feedback. Do not interfere during the testing in fact; you should leave the place while participants are testing so that they do it in a comfortable situation. In no way you should try to alter the results because at the end of the day, it is going to be your loss. All feedback that you get should be neutral and unbiased or forced. The only time you should talk is to explain if something is confusing the participant and for the rest of the time, keep things t yourself.
8. Post usability testing
Once the users are done with the testing, you should try and gather more information. Ask them personally what they think of the website and if their expectations have been met. Do ask them what needs to be done to improve the website. Live feedback is very important after usability testing. After taking suggestions, do ask your participants if they remember anything about your website. This will help you with labeling the site.