Tips and tools to improve usability of your web design.
Usability testing can sound like a daunting concept especially if you are on a tight budget. The idea of paying lots of people to try and find problems with your recently finished masterpiece is not that appealing. Did you know that, according to many well placed sources, that you only need five users to uncover 85% of any problems your site may have?
Also, remember that as you designed the site you know exactly how it works. Other users will not have that advantage so here are some tools you can use to ensure the usability of your website, is as it should be.
Userfly allows you to track a users movements from mouse clicks to keystrokes, so in effect you can track the whole session and see the results. It works because they allow you to put a little bit of java script on your website that makes all this possible. The beauty of this is that any problems a user experienced can be replayed, and for the first 10 uses, it is free.
Feedback Army allows you to ask 10 questions about your website. Though you do not receive detailed reviews they are fast to come back to you, and therefore for the $10 fee it is not a bad option, should you use it. It is powered by Amazons Mechanical Turk Engine. To get the best out of it you should choose your questions with care.
Five Second Test, is an interesting and free usability service, where testers test your website based on one of three criteria. Classic, compare, and sentiment.
Classic – A screen shot of your site is shown to a user and then removed. The user is then asked to recall elements they remember.
Compare – Shows two screen shots and users are asked which one they like best
Sentiment – Users are showed a screen shot and users are asked which elements they liked and which they did not.
The service can be tailored to public, or specific users, so is very useful if you are trying to keep exposure down to a minimum. As you have no doubt deduced, users have five seconds to give feedback.
Usability Testing, is a service that offers a very comprehensive service. For $29 per test, the site will take the demographic of your website and use this to select users for testing it. A video of the screens that users accessed will be given to you together with a running commentary. A written report detailing what users liked and disliked, and anything that prompted them to leave the site is also included.
This is a very good test for the money involved.
Click tale offers a service a little like Userfly. All movements on your site are captured and presented to you, so you can see how usable the site is. This includes link analysis–how many clicks did a link get, and an analytic plan. For the full package it costs around $99 per month. There are other features too which are free.
Though the free plan does not include all the features, it does record data for 400 page views per month per domain.
These usability tips and tools should help you ascertain whether or not your site is up to the job it was intended for. Many of these tools are free to use or inexpensive, which make them ideal for tight budgets, and freelance web designers.
They are an invaluable resource to show how the site shapes up in the field, for users that do not have the inside knowledge of the guy that designed it.
It is important not to take offence at criticisms, but use it in a positive way.