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Tips and tools to improve the usability of your web design.

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.

13 Responses to “Tips and tools to improve the usability of your web design.”
  1. Trivedi Roman

    We only need an open mind in entertaining criticisms. Let them not get their way to you and hinder you from working. It is correect, take them positively.

  2. Sooner

    This is very important to those newbies. However, for professionals, I don’t think you need to have the test. Still, it will be your decision.

  3. Oliveria

    There are free tools available online but if you want a more thorough one, certain amount should be expected. And it is fine as long as you will eventually see where your money is going.

  4. Camper

    This question is for Voter and Grip.

    What if we have newbies and they don’t have budget for this yet. What can you suggest?

  5. Grip

    I’d like to applaud you for writing a very descriptive article about the tools. You gave a verbose statement.

    I think that this test should be made. You can be a professional or a newbie, still the test should be done. This will help you with your designs. Most especially, if you are in a middle of a fabulous deal.

  6. Eugene

    Free stuff can only do so much for you. Sometimes, you’d have to shell out if you want the best.

  7. Voter

    I agree with you Grip. I really think each designers should give a budget allotment for this one. Then again, this is if you want to have a sure positive result of your project.

  8. Voter

    If you are a newbie and you don’t have a budget. It depends. If you are confident with your work, then go. But, if I were in your position. I will look for a part time job and pay for the test. It is so easy to get $30.

    Remember, if you want to hit big; you have to work for it really hard.

  9. Camper

    Thank you Grip and Voter for your answers. In my own opinion. I find the usability test important but not really the click tale.

  10. Manner

    I understand that this test is important. However, if you are in a tight budget I really don’t want to recommend this. Just do the testing yourself. Be creative.

  11. Grip

    Very nice thought Voter. I agree. As a newbie, I don’t think you have the guts of showing your work without running a test. Oh well, this statement goes to all newbies who is on a deal. If your website is just for personal use. I will not recommend that you run a test.

  12. Reisch

    To run a test is but of great essence. It will not take a lifetime nor thousands of dollars. Thank you for this exemplary post.

  13. Wilmer Paras

    I think it is really important to undergo tests. This can determine how well you will make it as far as running a website is concern. So, grab those tools and put your creation on tests.

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