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Satisfying The Cat and User Centered Design

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 28th, 2011

 
People often ask me how they can convince project managers, stakeholders and people who are otherwise invested in a project that spending time and money on usability and user centered design can add value to their projects. (Not that you have to spend much time or money with some of the tools that are out today)

Of course, it seems logical to me (and I imagine to most of you) that providing a better experience for your users will make them a lot happier, more likely to return and use your site or service, and much more likely to recommend your site or service to others. Makes sense, right?

The clients arguments against usable design

I often hear arguments saying that why should they pay for something that they don’t understand or can’t see the value of, although I think the value is pretty obvious. They want to see the value before it is delivered, and this can be pretty hard to quantify and convey – although in my experience showing case studies of previous work is a pretty good way to go, some people still struggle to grasp the concept.

Regardless of my beliefs of what’s obvious, we need to show these people that it’s worth investing in making a better user experience even if they can’t see how it can benefit them. Then I came across this video, and a fantastic new way to explain the value to clients. Check it out:

Satisfying The Cat:

There are a whole bunch of great quotes in this video, but this is the one that I think sums up the situation perfectly:

“…If the cat doesn’t eat the food, how long is the owner going to remain satisfied…”

Next time you have a client who is demanding X and Y from you, maybe you should send them this video, and see if they can see the as well as providing value to them, you really have to provide value (and a great experience) to their end users. Satisfy the cat, and you’ll have a very happy owner on your hands.

Final thoughts:

 
We find the simplest way to show our clients the value of user centered design is by getting them involved in our design and testing process using usability testing tools, and showing them the results of usability reviews we have run in the past.

Once they see how simple things can trip up users, and how much the could improve their return on investment by making a site, tool or app more user friendly, they start to understand the value that testing and a focus on user centered design can provide. It’s pretty hard to argue with solid metrics, and it helps to avoid design by committee as well.

Yahoo Email Test: How would you view your calendar?

Yahoo Test: View your calendar - This is not a good result; clicks everywhere and a long response time

A good example of poor usability; clicks everywhere and a long response time

How do you show your clients the value of usability and user centered design? Do you have problems showing them the value of satisfying the cat? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for showing value to your clients and bringing them over to the light side. Together we can make the world a better place, one website at a time.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed to keep up with all the news in the world of usability. Thanks for dropping by!

 

Website Usability Test: Gizmodo.com

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 23rd, 2011

 
Welcome back to the second in our series of Website Usability Tests. It’s a great way to learn more about the usability testing process, and understand a bit more about about the thinking behind some very popular sites.

This time around we are looking at Gizmodo and seeing how the design and usability of the site stack up.

Update: I’m unsure if it’s related to this post or not, but Gizmodo seems to have removed all the old versions of the site. If anyone has a link to the old version, please let us know in the comments.

Read on to learn more about the site, see how we formulate our questions for this website usability test, have a look over our results, and see our recommendations for the site.

What is Gizmodo?

 
According to Wikipedia:

Gizmodo is a technology weblog about consumer electronics. It is part of the Gawker Media network run by Nick Denton. It’s known for up-to-date coverage of the technology industry and the personal, humorous, sometimes very inappropriate writing style of the contributors.

Basically, Gizmodo is a hugely popular site that reports on a range of different news about technology, gadgets (including one particularly well known post about iPhones) and a whole range of other interesting stories as they pop up.

The audience, according to Alexa, is largely male, and between the ages of 18 and 34. Considering the topic of the site, you can also imagine the users are pretty tech savvy folk.

The website

 
Gizmodo actually has several different designs across the different Gizmodo properties; Gizmodo.com uses the a newer design, and has an option to toggle between the usual, fluid design and a more blog styled version.

The older version (UK, Australia, Canada etc.) have retained an older design (that the main Gizmodo site also used to use). You can see the two versions below – although you should note we’ve cropped the international version because the page is really very long:

The New Version

Gizmodo - New Version

Gizmodo - American Version

The Old (International) Version

Gizmodo - Old Version

Gizmodo International Version

As you can see, the old version really is very long, which I imagine is one of the reasons they may have changed the design. The newer design certainly has a much more modern feel about it as well.

In order to better understand the site, we’ve made this an A/B test, looking at both the newer and older versions of the site. That way we can make a fairer assessment of how the two sites stack up, and the strengths and weaknesses of each one. If you are interested, you can even take the test yourself.

The Questions

 
As I talked about in our recent website usability test of the TED.com website, when writing questions, you should consider the key tasks that users are looking to complete on a site. The following are tasks that I think are important for users visiting the Gizmodo site:

How would you login to the Gizmodo site?
Getting members on the site is a great way to encourage community participation. Logging in is obviously an essential part of this.

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed?
Subscribing to a sites feed means updates get pushed out to you, and you are more likely to read the content they are publishing. For content based sites such as Gizmodo, this is obviously a great thing.

Your friend told you about a story called ‘Academics on why trolls troll’ – where would you find it?
Finding content on the site is another crucial factor. Whether you’ve been directed there by a friend, or come across it in some other way, it’s important to be able to find the interesting stories. It’s also useful to see if uses find the post on the page, or by using the search function – in which case they should ensure that search results are well optimised.

Which interface do you prefer?
For this question, users are shown both designs of the site and asked on their preference. This is a bit of a popularity test, but it’s good to know how users will react to your designs.

How would you follow Gizmodo on Twitter?
Getting a social tie in from users is another great way to encourage participation, and to lower the chance of them shifting to another website. It’s also a useful stream for users to access content.

How would you search the Gizmodo site?
As previously mentioned, finding content is a key for this site. The search function is something that we probably all assume to be extremely simple, but it’s worth testing just to make sure it’s easy to find.

How would you advertise on this site?
Writing content is all well and good, but the way this site makes money is through advertising. The more advertisers and the more competition the better. Hence, finding out how to advertise.

The results:

 
For the results, we’ve cropped down the screenshots to the crucial areas to save some space, but the test was taken on full screenshots of each design. On to the results:

How would you login to the Gizmodo site?

Gizmodo - Where would you login?

Where would you login - old version

Gizmodo - Where would you login - new version

Where would you login - new version

In the old version of the site, 79% of users clicked the login area correctly, compared to 100% on the new version. Interestingly, the users who clicked on the wrong area in the old version, all clicked on the search bar which is directly beside the login button.

This shows that users were confused, and thought perhaps that they needed to enter their details in that box. 100% for the new login button is a great result, and shows the benefit of following conventions – as login buttons are most typically located in the top right hand corner of a website.

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed?

Gizmodo - How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - old version

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - old version


Gizmodo - How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - new version
How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - new version

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - new version

On the old design, it takes users an average of 16.38 seconds to click, but they have a success rate of 100%. Obviously the time is longer than they might like (I would say due to the length of the page), but a 100% success rate is very good.

On the new design we have a shorter average click time of 12.67 seconds, but a terrible success rate of only 30%. If you look at the results above for the new design, you can see a large number (around 60%) of people clicking the flame sort of icon in the upper right corner. That actually links to the hot stories on the site, but the lack of understanding shows they need to make some sort of modifications to make this a lot more understandable to their users.

For a site like this where sources such as RSS are so important, they really need to do a lot more to pull it out and make it more visible to their users.

Your friend told you about a story called ‘Academics on why trolls troll’ – where would you find it?
Where trolls toll - old version

Where trolls toll - old version

Where trolls toll - old version

Where trolls toll - new version

Where trolls toll - new version

Where trolls toll - new version

For both the old and new version of the site we had the same success rate of 100%; users either went for the search box, or scrolled around the page until they found the article. Interestingly the average click times were quite divergent; on the old site, users clicked on average after 14.6 seconds. On the new site, the users took 21.3 seconds on average.

Of course a quick glance shows us that in the old design articles were more prominently feature, but Gizmodo needs to carefully consider what are important goals for their new design. If they make it a lot more difficult for users to find content on the site, they will eventually begin to turn to other sources.

Which interface do you prefer?

Preference Test - old and new design

Preference Test - new on the left, old on the right

As I said, preference tests are a useful gauge for your users feelings. This test showed almost 65% of respondents prefer the new design, 32% prefer old design, and 3 percent clicked either in the middle or skipped this question, showing a neutral vote. This is a pretty good result for the new design considering it hasn’t faired quite so well in the testing so far.

How would you follow Gizmodo on Twitter?

Follow on Twitter - old design

Follow on Twitter - old design

Follow on Twitter - new design

Follow on Twitter - new design

Follow on Twitter - new design

In this test, the old design has a success rate of 87% and an average click time of 10.4 seconds. Although the time could be improved, an average click time of 87% is pretty good on a long page like this.

The new design however shows the same problems we saw when looking for the RSS feed. Only 29% of people correctly clicked the subscribe button (which doesn’t even correctly link to the subscribe area on the about page) at the bottom of the page, with 42% clicking the flame icon on the upper right, and the rest of the clicks dispersed around the page.

If Gizmodo wants to push its social presence, it really needs to bring this information up the hierarchy. Even if it’s not concerned about it’s social presence, it needs to clarify the meaning of the hot stories button because this test has shown us a huge number of users have been very confused by this icon.

How would you search the Gizmodo site?

Search the site - old design

Search the site - old design

Search the site - new design

Search the site - new design

In this question the old design had an average click time of 5.15 seconds, and a success rate of 92% – you can see there were a couple of clicks on the ‘share a tip’ bar, and a couple further down the page. They should really consider the ‘share a tip’ bar design because it does look awfully like a search dialog box, and is in a common location for search bar.

The new design did better on this question with a 100% success rate, and an average click time of just 4.84 seconds. Really a very good result. One thing to mention though, when you click the search icon, the search box actually appears below the advertisement which is rather counter-intuitive. If they wanted to optimise this page more they could consider the position of the search bar.

How would you advertise on this site?

Since the ‘advertise’ text was so far down the old design, I’ve just looked at the new design for this question, you can see the results below:

Advertise on this site - new design

Advertise on this site - new design

There was a 91% success rate on this page, and an average click time of 11.1 seconds. Not too bad. I think this reflects the fact the many people expect to look to the bottom of a page to find certain information such as advertising details. Following conventions such as these is always a smart thing to do.

Interestingly, the 9% that clicked in the wrong locations were all clicking on different ads around the page.

Recommendations for the Gizmodo site:

 
Hopefully after reading through that you can see some of the flaws in the Gizmodo site. Based on this test, and my own observations there are a few simple changes I would suggest. These are changes I would make to the newer design:

  • Pull the links to social media sources further up the page
  • Pull the RSS link further up the page
  • Think of the value of links and icons at the top of the page; how many people use the hot stories link? Is the icon clear enough?
  • Rather than having a text talking about blog formatting and a funny icon to show the blog view, just use the text to change to the blog view; screen real estate at the top of the design is very valuable
  • Consider popping out a search box immediately below the search icon, or creating a separate search box entirely – look at analytics to see how many people use search
  • Try and follow website design conventions; in the areas where conventions are followed, users responded both much faster and much more accurately
  • Make sure the subscribe text leads to the right place

There are obviously more changes that could be made to improve the site, but these are some good starting points that could make an immediate difference to a users experience of the site.

Conclusion

 
Considering how popular this site is, I’m surprised to see how many problems have cropped up during our testing. Although by themselves, none of these issues are enough to make someone stop using the site, the more issues that crop up, the less enjoyable the user experience will be.

With sites like Gizmodo, the switching cost of changing sites isn’t awfully high, and there are a number of other sites competing in this space. I imagine it would be well and truly worthwhile for them to invest some time in making some simple usability improvements across their sites.

Final Score: 6/10

While Gizmodo has a huge amount of interesting content, there are a number of simple usability issues which prevent the site from reaching its full potential, and contribute to a less than perfect use experience.

What do you think of the Gizmodo site? What changes would you make? Are there any issues holding you back from using the site more? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. You can also run your own tests on IntuitionHQ.com and see how your results stack up.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on what we should test in the future, and to keep up with all the latest usability news.

 

Usability iPad App: The Winners

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 20th, 2011

Last week we announced our Usability app for iPad, and a competition for 5 promo codes for the app to go along with it. We’ve had a great response, and had some great ideas on what people would like to test with the app. Thank you all for your comments and Tweets – we really do appreciate it.

If you haven’t seen that app yet, you really should go and check it out. Here are a couple of screenshots to give you an idea:

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app: TED website test

Usability iPad app: TED website test

The Usability app has a really simple interface for testing so you can get your apps, sites and other ideas out there and collect useful, relevant data from your stakeholders, clients, users, and anyone else you care to test in no time. We’re pretty chuffed with it, and we hope you will be too.

Now, on to the winners of our competition:

The Winners

Today I’m happy to announce the winners of our competition. They will all receive a promo code for the app, as well as a free usability test on the IntuitionHQ site, so they can get testing straight away. Without further ado, the winners are:

Congratulations to all our winners – we’ll be in touch (please DM us if you don’t hear from us within 24 hours), and to those of you that didn’t win this time round, we have a giveaway running over on UXBooth as we speak, and more competitions and giveaways coming up soon. Thanks all for your entries.

Win Smashing Books 1 and 2 with IntuitionHQ

Win the Smashing Books with IntuitionHQ

Win the Smashing Books with IntuitionHQ

For the designers among you, you may also be interested in another giveaway we are running on our Facebook page: You can win the Smashing Books (both 1 and 2) delivered to your door anywhere in the world by simply filling in the form on our Facebook page. No strings (although we’d be much obliged if you liked our page), just a chance to win two really great books.

That’s all folks

That’s all for now, but be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to our RSS feed to keep up with all the latest news and developments in Usability, as well as more chances to win.

Happy testing all, and congratulations again to our winners.

The team at IntuitionHQ.

 

Usability iPad App – 5 Promo Codes to Giveaway

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 16th, 2011

 
To quote Professor Farnsworth: Good news, everybody!

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes here at IntuitionHQ, and one of the things we’ve been working on is an iPad app – which is now available in the app store for $2.99US ($4.19NZ). Needless to say, we are pretty excited.

Imagine taking your tests out on your iPad – to your clients, stakeholders, or even strangers in the street. It takes guerrilla usability testing to a whole new level. We’ve got a whole bunch of exciting features in store for future updates as well.

We’d like to tell you a little more about the app, and of course, give away some promo codes so you can try it out yourself. To be in to win all you need to do is leave a comment on this post, or retweet it for others to see. If you comment and retweet you double your chance of winning. Simple, huh?

Update: We’ve announced the winners of the five promo codes. Congratulations to those who won, and to those who didn’t check out our post for more chances to win.

Now, as for the app:

The Usability iPad App

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app: Sign in

The Usability iPad app works together with IntuitionHQ. You simply log in to your account, and all your published tests will be displayed. It works for A/B tests and preferences tests as well as single tests, and everything is seamless to the users.

Usability iPad app: Published Projects

Published Projects

Once your in your projects screen, you just tap on the project you’d like to test. The images are all cached on your device (they all download once you log in), and the testing process is lightening fast.

Usability iPad app: TED website test

Usability iPad app: TED website test

If you have longer screenshots, you can scroll around like you usually would – the app only records your ‘clicks’ when you tap on the screenshot.

Usability iPad app: TED website test

TED website test

You can test all sorts of things with the app – as well as your iPhone and iPad apps, you can easily test websites, ask questions and more. Our recent user experience and psychology of colour is a great example of this:

Usability iPad app: User Experience of Colour test

User Experience of Colour test

Usability iPad app: User Experience of Colour test

User Experience of Colour test

When one user finishes the test, you can either choose to go back to your projects, or to go on to your next participant. Simple.

Usability iPad app: Completed test

Completed test

Leave your comments and retweet to win

We’ve love you hear your feedback on the Usability iPad app. What would you use it for? How does it look to you? Any features you’d like us to add? Let us know below, and be in to win a promo code for the app. Good luck!

Happy testing all,

The team at IntuitionHQ.

Do you have a blog? Interested in writing a review of our Usability iPad app? Leave a comment below, send us a message on Twitter @IntuitionHQ or on Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ and you could be in for a free copy of the app.

 

Website Usability Test: TED.com

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 10th, 2011

As you might have noticed by now, most of my blog posts are inspired by people asking questions about how to get started with usability testing, tips and tricks for usability testing, and a range of other advice.

Among the more frequent questions that people ask, or more properly, that people would like to see, is a complete website usability test from start to finish. That means from your first look at a website, deciding what questions to write, sharing a test with your testers, and interpreting the results.

This sounds to me like a grand idea; there is nothing like having a complete walkthrough to help you from start to finish, and it’s a good exercise to go through for us as well, and so we’d like to introduce the first in our series of Website Usability Tests – TED.com.

What is TED?

For those who don’t know TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is a conference that features luminaries from a whole range of different areas. Artists, Marketers, Directors, Technology Experts and more. Although there is a huge range of topics, all of the talks appeal to a wide audience, as each of the presenters is passionate about their topic.

Here is a quick video on how to tie your shoes to give you a little idea of what TED is about:

TED really does have a huge catalog of amazing, interesting, inspiring videos, and if you haven’t had a look through the site before, I suggest you go and have a look about. It’s really great.

The TED website:

The TED website

The TED website

As you can see the website has a rather a clean design, especially considering how much content there is on the site. A quick look shows that video is the main thing they are trying show on the site. They have a bunch of filtering options available, to help you find the type of videos that you find most interesting.

It appears the TED blog, and TED conversations are also something they are trying to push, as both are featured prominently on their site.

There is nothing that seems glaringly wrong with the website, but lets work out some quick questions to test peoples interactions and see what our results show. If you are interested you can take the test yourself before you read the logic behind our questions, and contribute to our results .

The Questions:

The easiest way to determine your questions is to think about some important tasks that users would like to achieve when going to the site. I’ve written more about what to test while usability testing, but for now lets look at some important tasks for the TED website.

How would you view the upcoming TED conferences?
TED is all about the TED conference, and I imagine this would be a common task for users coming to the site (and a quick look at your analytics data would show how important this is).

How would you find videos about business?
The important thing here is seeing if people can understand how the filters work, or if they are more inclined to use the search box. If many people use search, you’d obviously want to ensure that videos and other content on the site were easy to search through.

How would you subscribe to the TED newsletter?
As most online marketers would tell you, getting people signed up to email lists is a great way to increase conversions. From a users perspective, it’s a great way to keep up with all the latest news on your favorite sites, and so I would therefore imagine it’s an important tool on this site.

How would you search the TED site?
Supposing what you are looking for isn’t on the main page, you’d probably turn to the search box to find what you are looking for.

How would you follow TED on Twitter?
Social media is an increasingly important tool for users and brands alike, and a great way for people to interact with sites and services that they enjoy.

How would you get to the TED blog?
As I mentioned when I was talking about the site design, the blog is prominently featured – in my opinion at least – so lets see if and how users can get to it.

How would you sign up to the TED website?
The website also has a membership function, which is all well and good so long as users can find it. I tried to avoid using the word ‘register’ here, as we’ve found people sometimes are automatically drawn to words in the questions without actually reading the questions themselves.

So there we have our core questions. Our experience has shown tests with less than 10-15 questions are more successful, and less likely to have users dropping out part way through. Of course, the more committed your user group, the less likely they are to give up with longer tests and longer questions. For a public test, we think this is a good mix.

Sharing the test:

This is something many people are curious about. If you are running your own website, you can always get your users to take the test for you; users are generally keen to contribute to sites they enjoy. Using forums, emails newsletters and even friends and family can also be very helpful, and it’s really easy to get these people to help you with your testing.

For this test, I simply put the link in our Twitter feed and on our Facebook page in order to get a reasonable sample before we published the results. Including a link to your tests in blog posts is also a great way to attract more testers.

The results:

How would you view the upcoming TED conferences?

How would you view the TED conference?

How would you view the TED conference?

As you can see from the results the average click time on this page was 18.87 seconds, and we have a 69% success rate. These numbers are reasonable, but not exactly stunning. Sometimes with the first question of a test, users are still getting familiar with the interface so that is one possible factor.

It’s also possible the there would be a faster response time and greater success rate if they moved the conference text to the left with themes, speakers and so on. The stronger text is more likely to catch the eye.


How would you find videos about business?
How would you find videos about business?

How would you find videos about business?

A 90% success rate, and an average click time of 12.5 seconds is quite reasonable for this kind of site. There are of course ways they could pull of this information more, but they should be happy with this result.


How would you subscribe to the TED newsletter?
How would you subscribe to the TED newsletter?

How would you subscribe to the TED newsletter?

Unsurprisingly, considering the location of the newsletter signup area, there is a much longer average response time for this question, and a lower success rate. We usually look at 80% or higher as being a successful result, and while this result is close, when you combine that with the fact there is a longer average click time, this isn’t a very successful result.

If they want to increase the presence of the newsletter signup, they could move it higher in the hierarchy, possibly by the sign in and register buttons, or near to the search box. It is becoming a convention to feature subscription options near the top right of the page, including via email, rss, and Twitter and Facebook, and it might be wise for them to consider this with their design.


How would you search the TED site?
How would you search the TED site?

How would you search the TED site?

100% success rate, and a 4.64 second response time – an overwhelming success. Having the search bar in this location has been a convention for a very long time, and this goes to show how powerful following conventions can be.


How would you follow TED on Twitter?
How would you follow TED on Twitter?

How would you follow TED on Twitter?

A surprisingly strong response on this question. 100% success, and 7.71 second average response time. Part of this is because as users go through the test they get more familiar with the interface, but evidently people aren’t surprised by scrolling down to find links to different networks.


How would you get to the TED blog?
How would you get to the TED blog?

How would you get to the TED blog?

An 85% success rate, and an average click time of 9.19 seconds is still very good. A few people clicked in the From the TED Blog section, but most just went to the TED Blog in the top right navigation area.

The only change they might consider here is turning the From the TED Blog text into a link, and perhaps playing with the wording a little to ensure a good understanding of what From the TED Blog means.


How would you sign up to the TED website?
How would you sign up to the TED website?

How would you sign up to the TED website?

A 93% success rate, and an 8.65 second average click time is also very good. Surprisingly a few people went for the subscribe by RSS option, rather than registering for the site; it’s always interesting what testing shows up.

Signup in the top right is another developing convention, and something users are obviously familiar with. A good result.

Conclusion:

The TED site, unsurprisingly, is well designed and meets most users needs very well. There are a couple of small tweaks they could make to the newsletter positioning, and the prominence of the conference text, but overall the site performs admirably.

The few tweaks that could occur are both easy and quick to implement, and overall the site is a good example of well thought out, usable design. If you are interested, you can view the results in their entirety, and see what changes happen over time.

For now though, it seems as if TED.com is doing very well.

Final Score: 9/10

The TED site is well designed, and easy to use. There are a couple of very small tweaks that could be made, but overall it’s a great site.

What do you think of the TED site? Do you find it very usable? Are there any sites you’d like to see us review in the future? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on what we should test in the future, and to keep up with all the latest usability news.

Thanks for dropping by!

 

Start user testing with a homepage healthcheck

Posted by Courtney Johnston on June 1st, 2011

Sometimes it feels like you only get a chance to do user testing as part of a development project, and you haven’t really managed to make it part of ‘business as usual’.

An easy place to start with making user testing a regular part of your work is with a six-monthly or yearly healthcheck (Steve Krug recommends monthly checks) for the parts of your site that have to do the most work (such as your homepage, important section pages, and your search and search results).

A homepage healthcheck is also a good place to start if you’re using an online usability testing tool like IntuitionHQ for the first time.

You’ll learn how to pose questions to elicit useful answers from testers, and also get information you can use to make both quick tweaks and longer term plans for changes to your homepage.

Test the basics

Could you find our 'Pricing' page?

Could you find our 'Pricing' page?

Ask yourself ‘What are the five most common things people do when they come to my homepage?‘ and then write tests around these tasks. You’re likely to come up with questions around things like:

  • Finding contact details
  • Going to news or job vacancies section
  • Finding event information
  • Finding pricing information
  • Getting to your most popular products/offering/tools (depending on what kind of website you run).

Now write test questions to uncover how well people can figure out how to start these tasks from your homepage. Remember not to influence your testers by tipping them off with keywords in your questions.

For example, if contact details on your website are available from a link titled ‘Contact Details’, don’t ask ‘Where would you click to to find our contact details?’. Instead, try something like ‘Where would you click to find our phone number?’.

Likewise, if you have job listings under a tab called ‘Vacancies’, don’t ask ‘Where would you click to find out about current vacancies?’. Instead, try putting testers into a scenario like ‘Imagine you’re interested in working at ‘company name’. Where would you click to find out whether there were any jobs available?’.

Test first impressions

What part of this page catches your eye?

What part of this page catches your eye?

Why not try being a bit more creative with your questions? You could start your test by asking people to ‘Click on the first thing that catches your eye on this page’ and get a feeling for what people focus on when they first visit your website.

Ask testers to ‘Click on what you think is the most important piece of information on this page’ to find out if your information hierarchy is working.

Test for speed

Test for speed - unsurprisingly, Google is pretty good at this

Test for speed - unsurprisingly, Google is pretty good at this

Hopefully, the people you’re testing will find your questions pretty easy. That’s a good thing – the whole job of your homepage is to get people to where they want to go as quickly as possible.

So as well as looking at how successfully people accomplish the tasks you set them, look at how quickly they accomplish them. IntuitionHQ records how long it takes people to answer questions on tests, and presents this as an average.

This means you can spot underlying problems. It’s great if 96% of people can successfully find your contact details; it’s not so great if it takes them nearly a minute to do so (imagine how frustrating that is for a person who just wants to call you).

Follow-up testing

Your first test will tell you one of two things:

  • Your homepage is working really well just as it is;
  • Or, there are some areas that people have problems with.

Either of these findings are great. The first means you can move on to testing the other parts of your site. The second means you can start thinking about how to make people’s experience on your homepage better.

Before you make changes, you could run another round of testing using the improved homepage and the original questions; that way, you’ll be able to compare previous performance to performance on the new design or wording.

Useful links

If you’re just getting started with user testing, you might find some of these articles helpful

Questions?

Do you have questions about getting started with usability testing? We’d love to help answer any questions you might have, and we’ve got lots of great resources we can direct you to as well.

We’d also love to hear your stories about your own experiences with usability testing, and how your homepage healthcheck worked out, so be sure to let us know in the comments below. Happy testing!

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