How often have you been frustrated by the layout or content of a website? It can be pretty annoying.

What if your potential or actual customers were experiencing the same difficulty finding information, making a purchase or downloading a resource from your website?

We are generally so familiar with our own websites that we may be unaware if this is the case.

Usability Testing is a huge area that employs an impressive range of technologies and science to identify and correct obstacles to using websites, software and products in general.

Usability Testing in 5 Minutes

OK, so that’s five minutes of your time; your testing volunteers will have to spend a bit longer on this. 🙂

First of all, sign up for Usability expert Jakob Nielsen’s newsletter. Every two weeks you will receive a brief note on an area of usability, which is well worth reading.

Next, compile a short list what you want your website visitors to do on your website, such as finding information or performing a task, for example:

  • Find and print a map and directions to your premises
  • Identify the contact details for the person in your company for a specific requirement e.g. trade sales
  • Refer an article, page or resource to a friend
  • Make a purchase or booking (be specific e.g. book a single and double room for three nights midweek)

You get the idea; this will be different for each organisation and website.

Recruit a small number of volunteer testers – friends, colleagues, customers – selecting people as close as possible to your target market in terms of demographics and technical skills.

Ask your testers to complete the tasks in your list while your observe them, if practicable, and ask them for their frank, no-holds-barred feedback on their experience. If you really only have five minutes, email your testers their tasks and response headings.

Note your observations and / or request your testers’ feedback considering the following:

  • Look at the website for five seconds, then tell me what you think it is about
  • How much time and how many steps did it take to complete the tasks?
  • How do you feel about the organisation and the website, during and after using it?
  • Did you notice…? (advert, promotion, newsletter signup…)
  • Was there something missing that you expected to see?

Of course, usability testing deserves more than five minutes, and should be considered before and after website redesigns. If you have more time, this process outlined by Jakob Nielsen is a good start, and there are some handy templates here.

Let me know how your usability testing goes, or if you have any comments or tips to add.

I am a digital marketer who has recently returned home to Ireland, following a two-year stint working in Silicon Valley, California. I am an avid traveller, reader and oenophile, always happy to connect with new people, online and IRL. All content (c) Karen Henry 2010-2016