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Creating simple usability tests with IntuitionHQ

Posted by john on August 20th, 2012

A website usability audit can be a great marketing tool

Everyone wants to be billing their clients and I’m sure thinking up some good ways to justify this is a major occupation. Well we here at IntuitionHQ have a solution: consider a usability audit of a client’s website that includes a few simple suggestions on how to improve the usability of their website.

So where are the billable hours coming from? Not too many are going to come from the usability testing itself. IntuitionHQ makes usability testing incredibly easy. Within a few minutes you can create a number of tests on the usability of a website and send it to a group of respondents. Results are compiled instantly and you can gain immediate insights from the usability test. Usability testing will highlight your web development skills and is a great marketing opportunity for you to leverage implementing the improvements to your clients website.

Here is our guide to a usability audit that is easy to put together, easy to interpret, will give you billable hours and some great reasons to pick up even more work from your client. Don’t forget that your client and their website visitors are the ultimate beneficiaries, as Amazon’s much fabled $300 million dollar button proves.

Step 1: Spend a few minutes analysing the website

Websites have differing functions. An ecommerce site should make it easy  to register, navigate, and purchase goods and services. A traditional store may need to build a community while it provides simple advice of location and purpose. Most companies want to give customers information to avoid costly call centre calls.

Whatever the purpose, look for a few obvious things on the website that look a little dated. Usability thinking has come on hugely in the last few years and a website more than 3 years old will need few tweaks. For some really useful insight on how to get started check out these 7 great tips for writing usability questions

Step 2: Develop some easy website usability tests

Did you know that people are much more likely to click on a contact button with a picture of a person on it? This has been widely tested in usability studies and you can prove it to your client with an easy usability test run using IntuitionHQ:

Does the website have a main picture in the website? You can run a quick A/B preference test on whether the current picture is preferred or an alternative:

A simple example we ran was on whether the cat or dog was cuter:

If a website requires a specific task of visitors, then testing how long it takes visitors to accomplish this task compared to an improved design can show how website usability can be improved.

In the example below, the respondents are shown either the website on the left or the right. They are asked where to click to find the blog and IntuitionHQ automatically times how long it takes for respondents to click on the blog button. You can see that the respondents shown the website on the right found the blog button almost twice as fast as those shown the website on the left.

Conclusion

Taking the initiative and proactively using a usability audit on a customer website will provide a great marketing opportunity for you.  You’ll be able to engage them on a range of ways you can improve their website with the benefits sure to follow for their website users.

 

 

Increase your revenue with usability testing

Posted by Kirstin on February 28th, 2012

Creating a new revenue stream using IntuitionHQ is easy. Offering quick and easy usability tests for your clients adds credibility to your business. We often add usability tests during the early design phase. Not only does this ensure that you catch any problems early, it shows the client that you are professional and proactive, adding to your credibility.

By running tests on your design work with real users as it’s in progress, you get instant feedback on where they’re succeeding and where they’re failing – information you can use to guide the next stage of design. Making usability testing a part of the project process means you can find out whether the design works or not before launch.

Usability results from testing an established website can ensure your design is continuing to serve the needs of users or can highlight the need for any site enhancements.  Results can also be very useful at the outset of a redesign in order to help inform requirements.

We suggest you take the following steps to provide 10 hours of usability testing to your client:

  • Show your clients the value of usability testing
  • Create a usability test with IntuitionHQ
  • Report on test results

Step 1: Showing clients the value of usability testing

The results of usability testing can provide valuable insights into the user experience on your client’s site at various stages, from the inception of a new website to post launch and beyond. Here are some suggestions for when and how usability testing can provide valuable feedback:

As a part of the design process
Usability testing before the design is finalised and passed over to the developer can help spot potentially expensive oversights and mistakes before they’re built. It’s also an easy way for your clients to engage with the design process. They can share tests with stakeholders and key audiences just by sending out a link, and understand the results at a glance. It’s cost and time efficient for them and for you.

When a client is considering a redesign/refresh
Usability consultancy based on your client’s current design will help to inform design decisions and concepts for a redesign/refresh prior to the start of design work. This a great starting point for the requirements gathering phase of a project using real life user feedback.

Site tracking statistics analysis
Analysis of site tracking statistics can highlight issues in navigation and general usability. For example analysis of top searches may reveal that some navigation items need to be more prominent on the site. Usability testing results can inform the nature of the changes and testing of proposed changes can confirm the effectiveness of changes prior to any work taking place.

Website feedback surveys
Incorporation of an IntuitionHQ usability test during a period of user consultation such as a feedback survey provides feedback on site structure and design, highlighting any potential issues.

Step 2: Creating a test

Assess site aims 
Sit down with your client and establish both their aims and their user’s aims for the website. These may have changed since the last time your client considered them. Check ‘What to test‘ for ideas on what you should focus on during this discussion. The conclusions from this meeting will help inform the areas of the site to focus on while writing tasks in IntuitionHQ.

Write your usability test using IntuitionHQ
Here’s a quick guide to setting up a test in IntuitionHQ.

Using the conclusions drawn from meeting your client, gather your screenshots and write tasks that correlate to your client and user’s aims for the website. For some really useful insight on how to get started check out these 7 great tips for writing usability questions.

IntuitionHQ add a task and upload a screenshot

Step 3: Report on test results

Produce a usability report
Produce a usability/user experience report for your client using test result screenshots and drawing conclusions from the tester interactions shown in test results. Make recommendations based on your conclusions. Recommendations can include changes in navigation, design changes and possibly new functionality. Here’s a Usability results example report, produced using IntuitionHQ test results, to get you started.

In terms of value to your client the usability testing you provide will pay for itself by increasing user productivity on their site. The easier a site is to use, the faster a visitor can complete the task they came to do, and the happier they’ll be. Happy customers are repeat customers.

Using IntuitionHQ to carry out usability testing is simple and provides great value to your client, so why not get started!

 

Mobile Usability Test: iReddit

Posted by Jacob Creech on July 8th, 2011

 
Reddit is one of the most popular, successful social news sites online. It’s full of interesting stories from every topic under the sun, and can be pretty much anything you want it to be. It’s a great site to waste a lot of time on, and there are always plenty of interesting stories (as well as pictures and memes) to find.

Like most popular sites and services (and us), they also have their own iOS app, iReddit, for browsing stories, pictures and other valuable content while you are on the go, or just browsing from the comfort of your iDevice.

Continuing on from our recent website usability reviews of Gizmodo and TED, this time around we are going to be testing iReddit.

Read on to see how we formulate our test questions, what our iPad usability testing looks like, and our final thoughts on the iReddit app.

The iReddit App

 
As with the Reddit website, you can’t accuse this app of being over-designed. When you open the app, you see a list of popular sub-reddits (categories within the site), that is customised from your account details supposing you’ve logged into the app.

Reddit Mobile App - iReddit

Reddit Mobile App - iReddit

One of the most common types of content on the Reddit site are images, and these also integrate nicely into the app for viewing, voting and so on.

You can also view your comments and replies, look through all the sub-reddits on the site, and most everything else that you are likely to do from your mobile device.

Based on this information, and an idea of what some of the most common tasks people are likely to perform with the app are, lets go ahead and formulate our questions.

The Questions

 
Where would you go to enter your login details?
I suspect most users who download this app would already be Reddit users, and hence entering their login details and getting access to the sub-reddits they follow most is probably the first thing they’d do upon entering the app

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?
The front page has the largest amount of traffic, and for many users this page is the first stop to see the latest and greatest posts on the Reddit site.

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?
Commenting is very popular on Reddit, and some posts can have thousands of comments on them. Therefore, on would imagine commenting is an important function of the app as well.

How would you view the sub-reddit, ‘Design’?
The Design sub-reddit is one of my personal favorites. In this case however, we are just testing how easy it is for users to find different areas of interest on the site.

How would you view the most recently submitted posts?
Finding new posts on the site is pretty key, because otherwise new content would never make it to the front page.

How would you cast an upvote for this post?
Voting is what gets good stories to the top. Upvotes and downvotes are what sort out the good content and the bad. A core part of the site, and a core part of the app as well.

How would you view comments on this post?
As I stated earlier, viewing and commenting on posts is one of the many reasons people frequent the site. This is testing how easy it is for them to view comments on a particular post.

How would you share this post?
As a social site, sharing is a big component of Reddit. If you find a great story (or more likely, a funny picture) you’d probably like to share it with your friends. Lets see if users can work out how.

The Testing Process

 

Loading up the Usability iPad app

Loading up the Usability iPad app

For this test, I took my iPad out with me to a friends party, and just asked everyone to pass it around as the evening progressed. I also asked people to write down if they were iOS users, Reddit users, or both. At the end of the night, 30 people had taken the test, 18 of whom were iOS users, 8 of whom were Reddit users, and 3 of whom were both iOS and Reddit users. All 3 had used the iReddit app before.

Usability testing on the iPad

Usability testing on the iPad

Bearing all that in mind, lets go on and look at the results. If you are interested, you can also take the test yourself – either on your iDevice or in your web browser.

The Results

 

Where would you enter your login details?

Where would you enter your login details

Where would you enter your login details?

For the first question there is a pretty great result; 97% of users found the right location with an average click time of just 5.71 seconds. For a simple interface like this, anything over 80% success rate, and an average click time of less than 10 seconds is very strong, so this is a great result.

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?

Where would you go to view the Reddit front page?

An even stronger result than the first question. 100% success rate, and an average click time of 4.22 seconds. This could be influenced by the fact the question text is the same as the label, but it’s a good indication that users know where to go.

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?

How would you view your comments and comments others have responded to?

A weaker results than the previous two questions. An average click time of 9.04 seconds and a success rate of 80%. They could improve the response time by reconsidering the label they use here – perhaps something like ‘Recent comments’ would work better. This would be a good question to run an A/B test on so they could try some different label variations to see what works best.

How would you view the sub-reddit, ‘Design’?

How would you view the sub-reddit, 'Design'?

How would you view the sub-reddit, 'Design'?

A fantastic result here; the users are obviously getting more familiar with this interface. An average click time of just 3.37 seconds, and a 100% success rate. Really a great result.

How would you view the most recently submitted posts?

How would you view the most recently submitted posts?

How would you view the most recently submitted posts

Yet another great result – an average click time of 3.66 seconds, and a 100% success rate. It just goes to show the simple UIs can be extremely effective.

How would you cast an upvote for this post?

How would you cast an upvote for this post?

How would you cast an upvote for this post?

4.39 seconds average response time, and a 97% (29/30) success rate. I’m not really sure what the other user was thinking here, possibly they were confused by what an upvote is, but clearly most users had a pretty good understanding. Still a great result.

How would you view comments on this post?

How would you view comments on this post?

How would you view comments on this post?

3.58 second average response and 100% success. Fantastic. Evidently this comment icon is pretty universally understood. Granted our test participants were pretty tech savvy, but this is a great response.

How would you share this post?

How would you share this post?

How would you share this post?

A small amount of confusion here with a couple of people clicking the Facebook share rather than the built in sharing solution. Still, with a success rate of 93% and an average response time of 3.48 seconds, this is a fantastic result.

Conclusion

 
As you can see from the results – which you can also view in their entirety – the iReddit app has done very well. Although some people complain about the simplicity of the user interface, the app is obviously very functional.

The only recommendation I would make for this app is reconsidering the labels they use for viewing comments; this was the only question that caused the users we tested any kind of problem. Obviously increased familiarity with the app would also help cut down the response time, but considering this is the only question that caused an issue, it would probably be worthwhile to improve the experience just that little bit more.

Overall they have obviously done a great job on keeping this app very usable, and for all those Reddit fans out there, and those that just enjoy finding interesting content (and who aren’t too easily offended) the app is a very worthwhile download.

Final Score: 9.5/10

The results of our testing were almost perfect, and aside from the commenting label question, we had an absolutely fantastic response time across all of our users. A very usable app.

What do you think of the iReddit app? Do you think it’s very usable? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. You can also run your own tests on IntuitionHQ.com or using our Usability iPad app 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.

 

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.

 

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.

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