The Phenomena of Usability Testing (Part 1) Importance of UT for a Winning Design

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Before launching any product, it is very important for the product owner to get it tested. Same goes for website designing. If you want your website to function properly, you should definitely understand the importance of usability testing in website designing. Your website visitors are way too busy to complaint about your website. Some of them will, however, most of them will look for another option. Just because you are not getting complaints does not mean that your website does not have any issues. The only way to make users’ inform you about your website issues is to give them an easiest way. Proper testing of any product before its launch and even afterwards is very important.

Before we get into any details, it is important for us to understand what usability testing actually is. It is basically a technique to get the product tested by users before its launch or afterwards. This is exactly why most of the companies have hired QA Engineers to perform usability testing for their website designs. Not only websites and web applications are tested, these days every product is properly tested before its launch to ensure successful usage of the product. Some companies even launch beta products for users to test and give suggestions. The suggestions can be implemented before the actual launch.

Usability testing in website designing

Usability testing in website designing

When it comes to website designing, a lot of time should be spent on website before its launch. Once the website is complete, it is handed over to the QA engineers in order to test the website.  The testing is done to provide users with a flawless and error free website. Browser compatibility, proper navigation and other few things are supposed to be checked before launching the website.

Goals to keep in mind for usability testing

Goals to keep in mind for usability testing

When you are at usability testing, you need to have a few goals. As mentioned earlier, entire website needs a proper check however, few things deserve more importance. Following are a few goals that you should keep in mind while testing your website.

Performance

If you really want to retain your customers, you need to make important functions basic and simple. When you are testing, you need to check the performance of the website on whole. Analyze how much time a simple procedure of creating an account takes. Also, if it is an e-commerce website, the most important functionality should be checked i.e., ordering something. So, the most basic and important functions should be checked.

Remembrance of website

A website should always be easy and convenient to use. Despite the changes, the basic features should remain the same. While you are testing the new layout of the website, keep in mind that if someone visits your website after a long time, he/she should be able to remember the basics of your website.

Mistakes

Usability testing also helps the product owner in knowing what sort of mistakes users are making and how do they recover from it. This way, they will get to learn if some functionality is causing problems to user. The website owner can then get rid of it.

User’s feedback

The main goal of usability testing is obviously to ensure user’s satisfaction. Usability testing enables the website owner to learn about user’s interactions. Also, if he finally ended up finding what he is looking for on your website or not.

Do not confuse Market Research with Usability Testing

Do not confuse Market Research with Usability Testing

You can gather opinions regarding your website however; you should not confuse market research with usability testing. The scope of usability testing is way wider than it sounds. Usability testing is basically a close observation of interactions of the user on the website.

Different stages of usability testing

1.  Before the website is launched

Usability testing can take place even during the pre development stages however, at that time people can only help and contribute with their suggestions. Since they won’t be able to comprehend the site properly, they can only help in improving the website with their suggestions.

2.  During the website’s development

If users have an access to a website during the development period, they can actually make things quite easy for design and development team. Also, with the help of their suggestions, design and development team can identify what should be added or subtracted from the website.

3.  After the launch of the website

This is the best time to give the product in the hands of the user and this is actually when usability testing is most effective.

Improving visitors’ retention rate

Improving visitors’ retention rate

Have you ever wondered why 1 out of three visitors leave your website without even exploring it? Well, with the help of usability testing you do not have to guess the reasons behind it. Usability testing can actually help you in getting to the root cause.

Reasons which make a visitor leave your website

There could be plenty of reasons as to why a user will leave your website without even exploring it. We will be discussing a few common reasons.

1.  Bewildered

If a user is unable to understand your website, is confused and is going round in circles to figure out your website, he is bound to leave your website due to frustration. Either a visitor is unable to comprehend your website or your website simply does not have to offer what he is looking for.

2.  Slow website

If your main page will take ages to load, a user, who has so many options won’t bother waiting for the page to load and will leave your website.

3.  False promises

A visitor will definitely leave your website if he does not find the promised content on your website. So, be sure that you never give false links to your website just to attract traffic.

4.  Plug-ins

A lot of everyday users do not install flash or plug ins as they don’t really think it is necessary. If they are a necessity to check your website, they won’t bother installing them and will leave your website.

How to retain your visitors

You obviously cannot allow people to leave your website and you must do something about it. A few visitor retention methods include:

  • You should provide regular updates on the main page so that user knows if your website has something interesting to offer for him without having to explore your entire website.
  • You can also attract people by avoiding pop-up ads as they are very annoying in general for all users.
  • Offer your visitors free gifts and services.

Faults in your website

The main purpose of usability testing is to discover the flaws and faults in your website. You should make a website with minimum complicated features. Everything should be easy to understand. Usability testing will definitely help you in understanding your visitors in a better way. Once you understand them, you can provide them the exact thing they want.

Conclusion

Usability testing has existed for a very long time however, the importance of website usability testing has recently gained importance. The benefits of usability testing are finally being understood by the big companies now. Usability testing can help you in giving customers what they really want.

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About the Author

Arfa Mirza is a EuroPakistani and a graduate of Media Studies. Writing is both, her passion and profession. She is big fan of world cultures and is the proud co-founder of dzineblog360 and webblog360, alongwith her husband.

Comments and Discussions

  1. Seize Design, 18 April 2012

    excellent written article and getting help. thanks

  2. Design Knock, 18 April 2012

    helping phenomena of usability and testing.

  3. Alejandro Rivas-Micoud, 19 April 2012

    Thanks, great article.

    Regarding the difference between market research and usability testing, one important difference is in relation to the number of respondents required.

    One way to look at the relatively fewer number of respondents needed for certain types of usability testing vs market research is the question:

    “How many people do you need to see tripping over a fold in your rug before you acknowledge there is a problem?”

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