Let's say you’ve decided to travel. You planned your destination, booked a hotel, and now with everything prepared, it's time for you to purchase a bus ticket. You prepare your credit card, but as you click on the button to order it, the button doesn’t work…
Testing a Website's Usability: Everything You Need to Know
Everyone felt similar frustration at some point. As someone who develops a website, you can do many things that are in your power to prevent these things from occurring. One of these methods is using usability tests before publishing the final product.
People always enjoy websites that look attractive. Data show that 83% of people appreciate it when a website looks good and modern. While it is obvious that people prefer aesthetically pleasing content, a well-looking website also shows that its owners bothered to make it look professional.
Your website and its features should work flawlessly and deliver to the users' expectations. It is not only to look professional, it also needs to work like that as well. Depending on the type and the importance of the service that your website is offering, users will often turn away from it and seek another place to have their needs met.
Usability testing explained
You might have a vague idea about what is usability testing, and you are probably right, but there are certain attributes of usability testing that should be defined. The process of testing a website’s usability is a process in which you are assessing the ease of use of your website.
Whether your website is an online service or a store, your users should be able to use the website without encountering any errors or confusion. To get to a stage where there aren’t any problems with your website, you need to test various groups of people and ask them a question about the process until you have a clear understanding of the state of usability of your website.
To make the most out of the testing, you should have a UX specialist or someone with extensive knowledge of website usability to moderate this process. This testing process can’t be led by an HR person, as the technical aspect is the most important part of website usability.
According to the experiences of various companies, errors that happen after the product is developed and published are expensive to fix. This should motivate you to consider doing what's in your power to fix all the potential problems that might occur during the development process.
We will dive into some of the most common things products need to improve before launching.
From someone that only uses their computer for playing solitaire to an IT engineer, your website should be easy to use and navigate. Of course, more technical services and websites will attract a more tech-savvy audience, but they should always be straightforward and intuitive.
You can test the user-friendliness of your website by testing the users’ ability to perform certain tasks on your website. Examples of tasks in different fields:
- Booking a hotel
- Ordering a specific item
- Navigating to a certain page, e.g. billing
With user-friendliness representing that users can perform tasks with ease, it can be improved by simplifying the interface or arranging it in a better way.
An obvious goal of every business is to satisfy its customers. You can create a more pleasant experience for your users and visitors by implementing good-looking visual design, cheery colors, or some features that will reinforce positive feedback.
Minimizing negative feelings is just as important as maximizing satisfaction. Your main goal should be removing bugs and improving the overall functionality of the website. With every second that it takes longer to open the website, you will experience an 11% drop in page views, and that is why decreasing the loading speed is also an important aspect to take care of.
Errors are the most frustrating problem when visiting a website. They can range from spelling or grammar mistakes to serious functionality shortcomings, and they should be left in the development stage. Any further occurrences of errors might have a serious negative impact on the reputation of your website.
Spelling and grammar mistakes also play a role in the visitor's mind. You probably won’t consider a website seriously if they have typos or poor grammar. Another important aspect is how well users recover from mistakes that they make.
If a visitor accidentally opens a page, is he going to be able to go back and understand where he is located? This might not seem as important as there is always the back button, but on some occasions, users can get frustrated and leave the website without bothering to go back.
5 Methods of Testing Website’s Usability
With website design and product development constantly developed, new methods of testing the website’s usability emerge. You can implement one of these from the list, or you can use a combination of them.
The method that you choose should be based on your requirements and the resources at your disposal.
In-Person or In-House
An in-person type of test is conducted by a team of researchers that have knowledge of the specific niche that your website belongs to. By hiring professionals, you will be able to conduct more in-depth research and gain insight that you wouldn’t get from an average user. The downside of this is that these researchers already have knowledge of such interfaces.
An ideal solution would be conducting this test with a number of experts but with anonymous users as well.
The in-house test is performed in a computer laboratory by gathering a number of participants. The advantage of this is that all participants are going to use identical equipment so that errors won’t occur because of external factors other than the website itself.
Unmoderated remote testing means that the testing doesn’t happen in a controlled environment such as in-house testing. This approach is more cost-effective, allowing startups and companies with smaller budgets to conduct testing of their product.
This testing is conducted remotely, and they use their own devices to do this. Both an advantage and a disadvantage, different devices might show different errors, and they can point out problems that wouldn’t be seen by testing a product with a single device. The downside is that these problems can occur because of poor hardware or software conditions of the device, regardless of the quality of your product.
Moderated remote testing is an effective combination of an in-person and unmoderated approach. With this method, participants test the functionality of the app remotely, but they are guided and moderated by professional personnel.
Compared to the unmoderated method, this can return feedback that you can implement more effectively. A potential downside is that you will require a larger budget, more time, and apps that will be used to communicate with participants and guide them.
Although Guerrilla testing isn’t a common way of testing technology, its implementation can be seen in different industries. With guerrilla testing, you are presenting your product to people in public places such as coffee shops or on the street.
This way of testing the product is probably the cheapest one on the list as it doesn’t require any recruiting or expensive equipment. Guerrilla testing is a great way for businesses to test a general audience rather than a specific demographic.
The phone interview is a method of performing research by asking participants questions over the phone. This method can be performed on its own or as a follow-up to one of the methods mentioned before.
The benefit of the phone interview is that it doesn’t have geographical boundaries like most other methods do.
Testing a Website’s Usability Is of High Importance
While you are developing a product, you should always test every functionality of it before publishing it or presenting it to the stakeholders. With modern techniques and software, you can complete this process quickly and efficiently.
Through the website’s usability tests, you are ensuring that your customers are receiving a polished product that will deliver to their expectations. You can break up this process into multiple stages. You need to determine what are the aspects that need measuring, find the method that suits your website the most, find people willing to invest their time to test your product thoroughly, and analyze and report the data that you receive.
Veljko is a student of information technology that paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He enjoys researching topics such as robotics and programming and cultivates his knowledge in philosophy, classical literature, and fitness. Veljko’s favorite writers are Borislav Pekić, Miloš Crnjanski, and Ernest Hemingway.