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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.

 

 

Interview with Brad Frost

Posted by Jacob Creech on March 28th, 2012

Does your site look great on mobile devices? Is it usable on mobile? Increasingly mobile devices are replacing our computers for daily tasks, and because of this web design and development is evolving further.

Since Ethan Marcotte published his article in 2011 about responsive web design, we’ve entered a new phase in web design for mobile. Some might see responsive web design as just another trend, but here at IntuitionHQ we believe it’s more than just a trend, we believe responsive web design might just become one of the most important changes to web design in 2012.

But what does responsive web design really mean?  Time to ask an expert in this field – Brad Frost.  We first spoke with Brad a few months ago after reading his posts about responsive design and usability on his blog.

Brad’s a very busy guy, aside from writing for A List Apart and his blog, doing interviews with IntuitionHQ and thenextweb, he’s also one of the speakers at the upcoming Mobilism conference on May 10th in Amsterdam!

We think his views on responsive web design offer great insight on this new trend.  So let’s talk responsive web design.

The interview

Could you give a brief introduction about you?
I’m a mobile web strategist and front-end designer at R/GA in New York. I’ve been focusing on creating mobile-optimized websites for a few years now and spend a great deal of time learning and talking about what goes into good mobile web experiences. I made a website that tries to make sense of this stuff. I’m also a musician (primarily a bass player) and an artist. I live in Brooklyn with my wonderful wife. She’s just as busy as I am.

What is the biggest usability challenge for the mobile web?
I think the biggest challenge for the mobile web is achieving content parity. For a long time the default mentality was that mobile users don’t want everything desktop users want. As a result, important content would get arbitrarily lopped off and mobile users were penalized for how they happened to be accessing the web. The biggest challenge then becomes to deliver a full experience while being mindful of the many constraints the mobile environment creates.

Can you tell us a bit more about responsive web design?
Ethan Marcotte coined the term “responsive web design” and he broke it down to three components: fluid grids, flexible media and media queries.  However it’s evolved into something much bigger than that. It’s become a language with which to talk about designing beyond a singular screen size and context.

Before the term “responsive web design” was around, my colleague Jack Bishop and I were using the term “adaptive web design” as a way to talk about how an experience adapts to device features and browser capabilities. As it turns out, at the same time Aaron Gustafson was writing a book titled Adaptive Web Design, which dives deep into the concepts of progressive enhancement. And that’s what a lot of this is about, just applying those concepts to more contexts.

What does responsive design mean for the future web?
It’s becoming increasingly challenging to create and maintain separate experiences for different contexts. You turn your head for a second and BOOM—there’s fifteen new mobile devices announced—all with different screen sizes, form factors, browsers and more. Because devices, browsers and capabilities are such moving targets, we need to find solid ground to stand on.  That means focusing on creating flexible foundations that provide a good user experience to a number of different contexts. So instead of maintaining multiple websites that all essentially do the same thing, we’re trying to create smarter websites that have the power to go more places.

Looking down the road it becomes even harder to predict what’s coming down the pipes. Technology is constantly building on itself and we have to deal with the breakneck speed of innovation. Anyone who claims to know what the landscape is going to be like in five years is full of it. The fact that the future is so impossible to predict is why it becomes incredibly important to design experiences that are compatible with more scenarios—present and future.

What are some of the pitfalls responsive design is faced with?
There are plenty of pitfalls and challenges that responsive design faces. First, I think that responsive web design is viewed as a panacea for mobile design by a lot of people. It’s not and it never claimed to be. Creating contextually-aware experiences requires a hell of a lot more than just adjusting layout. Sure, it’s a piece of the puzzle, but there’s other things that need addressed. User goals can change dramatically based on context, so serving up a one-size-fits-all experience to mobile users runs the very real risk of not giving the user what they need.

For example, a blog’s content is to make a readable experience for as many screens as possible, but what about an e-commerce website?  A user could be at home on a laptop trying to buy a product, but what about a mobile user? Sure, they could be at home on the couch trying to buy the product too, but they could just as well be at the mall looking at the physical product and are trying to read reviews and compare prices. For that user, the “add to cart” button isn’t as important as quick and easy access to price, ratings and reviews. I feel that these are the things we need to consider when designing adaptive experiences. Ask yourself “Why might this mobile user be visiting this site right now? What are they trying to do and what can I do to help them?”

Another big challenge is performance. I mentioned before how we shouldn’t arbitrarily lop off content for mobile users. Well, responsive design fixes that problem (unless you’re using display: none; to hide content for small screens, which you shouldn’t be doing), but it can create big performance issues. Forcing mobile users to download a ton of scripts, media and content just doesn’t make a good experience. That’s why we advocate mobile-first responsive web design, which entails tackling the constraints of the mobile environment first then build up a core experience from there. Conditionally introduce heavier media and scripts when the scenario can accommodate them, instead of trying to cram a desktop site into a mobile-sized screen.

There’s a lot more challenges to responsive design as well: it’s costs more money to produce up front, it requires rethinking the design process, it’s hard to create truly great mobile experiences without compromising the larger screen experiences and vice-versa, etc.  There’s a lot of challenges, but that’s not a good reason to shy away from adaptive design. We just need to tackle these issues head on and collaborate to figure this stuff out. Because the other options simply don’t scale.

How do you approach the actual design when developing a responsive website?
Get designs into the browser as soon as possible. That’s not to say that you can’t use Photoshop or static wireframes, it’s just that those things don’t paint a realistic picture of how things will adapt.  We’ve traditionally followed a waterfall process, but you simply can’t do that for adaptive experiences.

Typically we map out the experience in wireframes and articulate where the experience will split based on the capabilities of the device/browser (for example, here’s how the carousel looks on non-touch devices, but here’s how the interaction changes when touch gestures are supported).

From there we’ll create a working prototype while the visual design team is in Photoshop creating the general look and feel. By the time the visual team has the look and feel in a good spot, the prototype team has the basic site architecture built. The prototype team starts implementing the look and feel while the visual team moves forward with the rest of the design. From there it becomes a series of iterations and back-and-forth between all the designers. The visual team is one step ahead of the prototype team, who’s focused on implementing the previous round of visual designs. It’s not this cut-and-dry though, because the prototype greatly influences the visual design and lots of things often need revisited. It’s all about back-and-forth.

Three things make a responsive process work: collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. It requires everyone being on board with the approach, tackling problems and being willing to revisit designs in order to make them work. This is much different than the traditional waterfall process, where developers working at the end of the line are left with a lot of the burden of figuring out how to make static designs work.

Does responsive design influence content?
Absolutely. All of a sudden, our content needs to be relevant to a whole lot more contexts. We need to be a lot more considerate about how we handle content hierarchy, media and interactions across a ton of screens and scenarios.

Are images still legible on mobile screens? Is there text in the images and is it still readable? Is the image a landscape image whose subject matter becomes tiny on a small screen? Data visualization is currently a hot trend right now, and whenever I fire up these massive JPEGS on my phone I can barely make out any of the text and charts.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher beautifully articulated the challenges of content hierarchy in her post Responsive-ready content. She demonstrates how it’s natural to want to throw sidebar content underneath the main page info, but that it doesn’t necessarily make sense in all circumstances. How layout breaks can very much influence how the user receives the information, so we need to be thoughtful with regards to content hierarchy.

I think the best way to deal with all of this is again to start mobile-first and make sure that all the content on the page is relevant. The less moving parts we have to deal with, the better. Mobile is a great excuse to clean house and gut the bullshit. We have a tendency to fill space with something, anything, if we have the chance. Thankfully we don’t have that luxury on these mobile screens so we’re forced to make some hard decisions. Once that exercise is done, then think of how to take advantage of extra space as it becomes available.

As one of the undersigned on Future friendly, can you tell us a bit more about the idea behind the site?
The idea behind the site is that the future is unpredictable, so we need to be more considerate of this change as we create web experiences. We shouldn’t bemoan the fact that there’s more connected devices we need to care about, but rather we should embrace this diversity and use it as an opportunity to reach more people.

The fact that no one knows what’s around the corner is why the site is intentionally ambiguous. When we all of came together, we realized that there’s no silver bullet to these problems.  We gave some ways people can think differently in order to become more future friendly, but again, these aren’t prescriptive solutions. It was made more to capture a notion than to say “do this or else!” Ultimately, it’s just there to get people to be considerate and to get more brains working on these hard issues.

Any favorite sites or resources you’d like to share with us?
There’s no shortage of great resources out there, and I’ve been doing what I can to collect them on my Mobile Web Best Practices resources site. I also think Twitter is such an invaluable tool for all this. There’s tons of wonderful people willing to share their experience, thoughts and resources. The collective conversation and collaboration that happens on a daily basis is essential to making sense of these really big challenges. It’s really exciting to listen and participate.

What do you think?

Our thanks go to Brad for his time and insights.  We will be keeping an eye out for his upcoming speaking event at Mobilism.

We believe responsive design is a new and exciting trend we all need to be aware of.  With the growth of different mobile devices, we can no longer design for just one or two different mobile devices.

What do you think about responsive design?  Do you have any interesting insights to share? Feel free to let us know what you think about responsive design in the comments below, on Twitter @IntuitionHQ or at Facebook.com/IntuitionHQ.

 

Usability preference testing with IntuitionHQ

Posted by Kirstin on March 28th, 2012

Preference testing

Usability preference testing is when two images/wireframes/screenshots are shown side by side, and users are asked to make a choice on which one they prefer based on the test criteria that you set for them – generally along the lines of a ‘which design do you prefer?’.

Preference testing is really useful for testing a range of different things: it can help you to better understand conventions in design (as shown in our ‘The User Experience and Psychology of Colour’ article on Spyre Studios), for example looking at preferences across cultures and understanding how small differences can affect your users. As with A/B usability tests, there is a huge range of different aspects you could test in this way, from colour palettes to navigation wording.

IntuitionHQ makes it simple to set up a preference usability test.  Here’s a step by step guide:

Step 1 – Write your test

Follow steps 1 and 2 from our IntuitionHQ quick guide post in order to set up your test. Once you are presented with the first ‘Question for task’ screen enter a question worded to direct the user to click the screenshot they prefer for example:

Q.  Click on the image of the buttons you prefer.

Then upload a screenshot that displays each design side by side, in this example the screenshot and question are testing wording preferences on the buttons:

In this case the testers would be familiar with the site and the process the buttons represent. Using a preference test gives an idea of what works for users and helps confirm initial thoughts on design and structure.

Step 2: Interpreting results

As with other types of usability testing with IntuitionHQ, view the results on each question/task by clicking ‘replies’ in the Project Overview:

Your results will show you where the majority of participants have clicked and therefore which design was preferred by participants.  You’ll also be able to see the average length of time participants took to respond. A lengthy average response time can indicate a couple of potential issues – either your question was confusing or the differences between designs were indistinct. Either way it’s definitely an indication that something hasn’t been clear to participants.

With the rise and rise of mobile use and mobile applications, preference testing isn’t just for websites, consider testing your apps as well, here’s an example of a popular social networking site and how IntuitionHQ could be used to test user preference in navigation:

Q. Which navigation layout do you prefer?

Consulting users on their preference can be useful to either confirm the usability of your site or highlight areas in which there are problems. Once you have the results of your test you can decide if one route is more appropriate than another or make further changes and re test. Preference testing gives you an insight into what the user finds most effective.

 

A quick guide to A/B testing with IntuitionHQ

Posted by Kirstin on March 20th, 2012

A/B Testing for Usability

A/B Testing is a method for testing variations in live sites; you can have two different variations of a text, button or other element and find out which one works best. You can easily create an A/B test using IntuitionHQ, this post gives you a step by step process to set up a test.

A/B testing is achieved by sending roughly 50% of the sites traffic to the different variations (either A or B – not both) and seeing which one works best by analysing the results. Whatever ideas you have to test, whatever variations you can think of, just upload them, set a task, and see which one works best. The great thing about this is you don’t need to make changes to your live site, and it’s easy to add multiple tasks to test different variations.

 

How to set up an A/B test

Step 1: Select A/B test 

Follow steps 1 and 2 from our IntuitionHQ quick guide post, then when you are presented with the first Question for task screen, select the link in red, ‘Click here to make an A/B test with two screenshots’:

 

Step 2: Upload two screenshots

You will then be presented with one question field and upload options for two screenshots, A and B:

Enter your question, for example ’Learn more about our project management approach. Upload the two screenshots.  When your participants take the test 50% of users will see the first screenshot and the question and the other 50% will see the second screenshot and question.

 

Step 3: Preview your A/B questions

To view the questions with both screenshots present go to Project Overview – Tasks and click on the number adjacent to either A or B under the Replies column.



You’ll then be able to see your question with both screenshots displaying side by side.

 

Step 4: Interpreting the results of an A/B test

To view your results go to the published project in your dashboard and click on the number under the Replies column:

From the results – we can see that on screenshot A, 25 of the participants clicked on the ‘working with Boost’ navigation, whereas on screenshot B only 21 participants clicked the alternative navigation item -’agile’.  This A/B test result indicates that ‘working with Boost’ works better as a navigation item than ‘agile’.

Following the steps above allows you to set up an A/B test to test variations within your site design. We hope you’ve found this quick guide useful and we’d be grateful for any feedback you have on creating an A/B test with IntuitionHQ.  You can comment via the comment box below or email us on [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Improve design sign off with IntuitionHQ

Posted by Kirstin on March 7th, 2012

Use IntuitionHQ for usability testing to increase your team and your stakeholders’ involvement in the design process. We’ll help you make the design approval process less painful by explaining how. We’ll also give you some ideas about how you can familiarise your team and stakeholders with your design as it evolves.

The scenario

You’ve met with your  client and their stakeholders and everyone has agreed what your site design needs to achieve. Armed with this information you have produced a design that you believe fulfills all requirements. Your client circulates your design to the highest level of stakeholder only to find that the person at the top of the chain doesn’t like it. You then spend additional time iterating the design until the senior stakeholder is happy. A process that should have been straightforward has now taken way longer than expected.

What could you have done differently?

  • socialise your design
  • an IntuitionHQ usability test on your wireframes
  • your graphic design

Socialising your design
Socialise your design, get your design out there at every opportunity you can. According to Wikipedia, the mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them, so expose the highest level stakeholders to the design right from the outset.

Start with wireframes
Try starting right from the wireframe stage. Expose your wireframes to your senior stakeholders by creating a test in IntuitionHQ. This involves stakeholders right from the start and lets them contribute to the design process by providing structured feedback.

A usability test on your wireframes also allows your senior stakeholder to start becoming familiar with the design as it evolves. You might like to produce an A-B test or a preference test  using IntuitionHQ. In an A-B test 50% of your testers see one design and 50% the another so that you can use test results to gauge which design works best. In a preference test two versions of a design or aspects of a design are presented side by side  and the tester is asked to click on their preference.  A preference test can enable your testers/stakeholders to have a direct input to the design direction.

Graphic design
Similarly once you have your graphic design make sure you expose it to the senior stakeholder as early and often as possible. Often people will become distracted by surface features (like colour) when feeding back on a design. If you’ve exposed your site design including navigation and layout as early and often as possible you’ll find your senior stakeholder will be engaged in how the design works for the user rather than becoming bogged down by personal colour preferences or particular graphic aspects. Think about displaying your design on a wall in the office, and have it present at each meeting during the design phase.

So get your design out there:

  • start early, expose it often
  • have the stakeholder involved in testing
  • have stakeholders think about what the design needs to achieve rather than about colours and other design elements
  • present the design at each stage

We’ve found the design process and design approval is a far smoother task when we involve the senior stakeholder early and often.

 

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!

 

Recruiting usability test participants

Posted by Kirstin on February 27th, 2012

So you’ve set up your usability test in IntuitionHQ, what now?  The next step is to release your test into the wild and recruit people to take the test.

We use the following ways to recruit users for usability testing:

  • social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • emailing internal networks and client’s email subscriber lists
  • linking from existing websites
  • using a web based recruiting tool

Ideally you’ll want testers to include:

  • potential site users
  • project stakeholders
  • project team members

You’ll want as many testers as you can muster in order to gather useful results.

Finding testers

Chances are you already have access to a wide range of users and potential users through various web based networks, it’s just a matter of identifying your networks and publicising your IntuitionHQ test url through them.

Social media channels
If you are part of an internal project team, utilise your company’s social network streams. Your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn followers will probably already be familiar with your company/website and it’s a great chance to involve them directly in testing a site they either already use or will use in the future.

Likewise if you’re a designer or user experience expert you’ve probably developed some substantial networks either on your personal social media streams or through your company’s streams. Usability testing is a great opportunity to utilise this access to a wide network of people to test your website design and structure.

IntuitionHQ gives you the opportunity to publicise your finished test and encourage users in the wider world outside your organisation to participate in testing by including an option to publish on Facebook and Twitter when you publish your test. Your Facebook and Twitter accounts can be linked to your account via the account billing tab in IntuitionHQ, under ‘Connect to Social networks’.

We’ve included the ability to post directly to the more popular social networking sites within IntuitionHQ. Don’t forget to use any other networks you have access to, for example you could publish the test as a link on your LinkedIn profile or perhaps within an industry forum you participate in.

By email
Copy and paste the url for your test from IntuitionHQ and send an email to your project stakeholders, project team members and your other colleagues inviting them to participate in the usability test. Use you or your client’s email subscriber lists to make the test available to a wider audience of users. You won’t need to include instructions, other than ‘click here’, IntuitionHQ takes care of all that.

Linking from your own sites
You could also link to your test url from your website, intranet or blog. By linking from your existing website you can keep your users involved with a redesign process by allowing them to test designs and navigation changes prior to implementation.

Web based tools
There are a number of sites that provide tools to help you recruit users. Ethnio allows you to create a ‘screener’ to help you recruit users via your website or blog.

The screener will appear on your site when users hit the homepage.  In the example below the screener has been edited to include a link to an IntuitionHQ test.

Participation in a usability test is a great way of familiarising your users with a proposed new design prior to it’s launch, helping ensure that your design works for real life users.  It’s also a good way to engage your project stakeholders in the design process.

We hope you’ve found our tips for recruiting users helpful, good luck with your testing!

 

 

A quick guide to IntuitionHQ

Posted by Kirstin on February 22nd, 2012

We’ve talked a lot about why you should undertake usability and user experience testing and what to consider when doing so, but we thought it was about time we gave you a quick guide to getting started with IntuitionHQ and how to set up a website usability test using IntuitionHQ .

One of our aims when we built IntuitionHQ was ensuring that the tool itself made it straightforward to set up a usability test, we hope you agree that we’ve made it as simple and intuitive as we can.

Step 1: Log into your account on IntuitionHQ

Sign into your account by clicking on the right top corner ‘Login here’.

Complete your signup details and click  ’Login’.

IntuitionHQ login form

Step 2: Setting up your test

Once you’ve logged in to IntuitionHQ you’ll be directed to the dashboard. The dashboard displays 3 tables; Published projects, Draft projects and Finished projects. Tests are referred to as projects throughout the site. You can revisit the dashboard at any time via the navigation if you need to reference any of these categories.  Now though, we’re going to set up a new project.  Click the New project button:

IntuitionHQ dashboard

You’ll be presented with a screen showing a form to complete with information about your project:

IntuitionHQ adding a new project

 

Enter a name for the project (the name will display on the resulting published test). The name will auto populate the completion of the test url in the next box, you can change this if you wish, this will form the unique url for your test and will be the web address you send to testers. The introduction field is already populated with generic text that can be edited using the WYSIWG editor. Similarly the Thank you message is also pre populated and editable.

Step 3: Entering questions and screenshots

Once you’ve set up your project you’ll be directed to the Project overview screen.You can add screenshots and tasks in any order you wish. For example you may want to enter all your screenshots first then write the associated tasks. However if you already have a good idea of the text for your tasks you can add a question and a screenshot at the same time.

Click Add task, write your task in the Question for task box and then either choose an existing screenshot (if you have already uploaded screenshots these will show in a dropdown) or upload one from your computer by clicking Choose file.  Then either save and return to the project overview screen or click Save & new task to go directly to a new task screen.

IntuitionHQ add a task and upload a screenshot
 

Save your task or add another task to your project by clicking Save & New Task:

IntuitionHQ add the task by clicking on 'save' OR 'save & new task'

 

If you choose to Save and & new task a blank Question for task screen will display. If you select Save you will be directed to the Project overview> Tasks screen.

IntuitionHQ project overview

 

You can edit both tasks and screenshots from the project overview screen by clicking the Edit button beside the item you want to change. Similarly you can also delete a task or screenshot by clicking the delete button beside the item in the Project overview.

Step 4: Preview and publish

Preview and publish options are on the top right of the Project overview screen:

 

 

Previewing your project will allow you to see the test as your testers will see it.  You can then go back and edit any questions that you feel need amendments.

Once you are happy that the test is ready to go live – click Publish, a screen giving you the option to promote the test via Facebook will appear. If you choose to promote the test via Facebook you will be directed to log into Facebook.



If you don’t want to promote via Facebook at this stage uncheck the Publish on facebook box, you will be directed back to the Project overview screen where you will see a success message. Your test is now live and anyone who has the URL can now see it.

Copy the project link into an email, a tweet and post a link to it on Facebook in order to direct users/testers to where to take the test.

You also have the option to publish the results of the test in order to distribute a link to the results if you wish.  Click the Publish link beside ‘Results are private to show’ a live url for results:

We hope you’ve found this quick guide useful and we’d be grateful for any feedback you have on the process to create a project and publish a test in IntuitionHQ. Our next quick guide in a couple of weeks will focus on looking at test results.

 

If you’re going to San Francisco (for a startup)…

Posted by Jacob Creech on October 31st, 2011

As some of you may remember, we’ve won a trip to San Francisco and the time is soon approaching that we will be winging on our merry way. Nathan, the founder of IntuitionHQ, and I (Jake) will be heading over for a month from the 15th of November till the 12th of December.

We’ve got a few plans while we are there, but we’d love to take some time to meet our users, potential users and all interested parties while we are in the area. We’d also love your suggestions on what places to go (for business purposes, of course) while we are there. If you run a startup and you’ve done the SF thing before, we’d really love your advice on how to get the most value out of our trip.

We are going to be working out of The Landing Pad located in the SoMa District – you can see the location in the map below:


View Larger Map

While we’re in San Francisco, we are going to be living in the Mission District (and on the lookout for iPhone 5 prototypes), and we’re planning on getting bikes so we should be pretty mobile between home, the Landing Pad, and the rest of San Francisco.

If you are going to be in San Francisco between the 15th of November and 12th of December, we’d love to hear from you, and hopefully meet up while we are there. If you’d like to meet us and talk about usability, user experience, web design and the internet, hit us up. You can leave a comment on this page, email us, send us a Tweet @IntuitionHQ or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

If you’ve got any suggestions for places to go, and great tech/geek hangouts we’d love to hear those as well. Our month over there is going to be all about our business, so we’d love all and any suggestions that you might have.

See you soon in San Francisco.

Jake, Nathan and the team at IntuitionHQ.

 

12 Website Usability Testing Myths

Posted by Jacob Creech on July 12th, 2011

 
The internet is a wonderful, magical place that is filled with more amazing content than you could shake a stick at; it has an almost unimaginable wealth of resources on a huge array of different topics, and more or less anything you can think of exists on the internet.

The problem though, is not that there is too much content, nor that there are too many sites, it’s just that the vast majority of sites and services suffer from a number of different usability issues that make using them anything from difficult and frustrating to downright unpleasant to use. I’m sure you can think of a number of sites off the top of your head that fit into these categories.

Unfortunately there are a number of different myths floating about saying that improving usability takes too long, costs too much or doesn’t really do anything useful to these sites and services. As someone who works on a website usability testing tool I hear these myths far too often, and I’d like to dispell them permanently.

Read on to see 12 Website Usability Testing Myths, and why they are wrong:

12 Website Usability Testing Myths


Usability testing is pointless because we won’t make changes anyway

Change ahead

I’ve heard this very depressing argument a number of times, and while I understand that you may not have all the development resource at your disposal to implement required changes, you might still find some things that don’t require much time or effort to change, and that could make a substantial difference to your site and user experience.

I’ve encountered people who initially thought that the business wouldn’t see the value of making changes, but upon being presented with testing results saw how a few relatively inexpensive and relatively fast changes could make a big difference to their bottom line. It’s pretty hard to argue when you have results in front of you showing exactly what is wrong.

Even if there is no chance that you can make changes in the near future, at least you have some idea of what is going wrong, and if you ever do get that development resource, you can implement the required changes.

It will just get overruled through ‘design by committee’

Design by committee

This is a myth I’m very happy to dispel. If design by committee is a designers worst nightmare, then usability testing is the solution to it. If you have been told to put this button there and that button here, and you can present results showing why one location is clearly better than another then it’s very difficult for anyone to argue with those results.

If people start suggesting changing you text to comic sans, and using sky blue text on an azure background, then you can provide testing results showing just how laughable this idea is. Of course, the ideas may not seem so ridiculous, but you get the idea.

Present testing results that showcase a few different options, and it’s very difficult to disagree with the one that works best.

It takes too long

A long way to go

This is a very frequent excuse; many people are under the impression that running a usability test requires weeks of time, and a number of dedicated staff members in order to get any results whatsoever.

The truth is that with modern website usability testing tools that you can create and share a test in just a few minutes.

For example, when creating a test with IntuitionHQ, you simply upload some screenshots or designs, write the questions, and you are good to go. Share you test via email, Facebook, Twitter or any other medium you see fit and you get great results in no time. If you can write an email, you can create a usability test. Simple, and very quick.

It costs too much

Usability Testing can be low cost

Many people are under the mistaken impression that running usability testing costs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. The truth is with remote testing tools you can run tests for a pittance.

Tests with IntuitionHQ cost just $9, and include unlimited questions and respondents. There are other tools out there that enable you to capture feedback in different ways and don’t cost much more.

Whatever your budget, there is a tool to suit it.

It’s impossible to convince management to run tests

Convince management to usability test

We were recently working with a local government agency who were very interested in testing, but couldn’t see how they could sell management on the concept. We showed them how cheaply, quickly and easily they could set up a test, and just by testing with internal staff they got over 200 respondents on their test.

Not only were management blown away with the results they received, but by involving staff in the process the enthusiasm levels went through the roof.

If management can see the value that some simple testing can provide, they will be very quick to get on board. Management love metrics; show them some testing metrics, and they will love it.

My site is perfect, there is no need to test

How to build a perfect website

I’ve yet to see a site that couldn’t do with a little tweak here or there, but even if you think your site is perfect, wouldn’t you rather have the evidence to back that up?

Also, as I’ve already mentioned, people change, trends change. Your site may be perfect now, but I can guarantee it won’t remain perfect for long; look at sites made even a few years ago, and I’m sure you will understand what I mean.

The point here is even if it’s perfect now, it may not always be. With a little testing you’ll catch any problems as and when the crop up.

It’s impossible to show the value of testing

Show the value of Usability Testing

Over on UIE.com they have a remarkable story about a $300 million button. The long and short of it was that by forcing users to do something they weren’t interested in, that company was costing itself $300 million. Obviously $300 million is more than most sites can hope to gain but the point is, every little improvement can help.

How can you know what changes you should make and what things will add value for you company? Usability testing. We’ve done some interesting example website usability tests of Gizmodo, TED and the iReddit iPad app and found some very interesting results. Check out our analysis of the Godaddy User Experience for a fantastic example.

Our testing showed some simple changes that each site or app could make that would dramatically improve user experience – a different navigation label, moving around some key social media icons or following design conventions can all make a big difference to your site and your users. In todays competitive environment you simply can’t afford to miss out on these improvements.

Users don’t care about usability

Involve your users

We’ve run tests on a number of different sites, and every time we get feedback from users saying how great it is that that site cares about usability, that they care about their users, and they want to get users involved in developing the site.

It helps users feel involved in the future direction of the site, and builds up passion and community around a site. The more users are involved, the more committed they will feel to your site.

If users feel you are responding to their needs they will keep on coming back, they will recommend you to their friends, and they will be a great advocate for you. In a day when the switching cost of changing from one site to another is so low, building this passion and commitment is what helps you stand out from your competition.

You need an Human Computer Interaction degree to understand usability

HCI Degree

Again, looking at our website usability testing examples you can get an idea of how simple setting up usability tests can be. Think of some important points you would like you users to accomplish on your site, take some screenshots and get ready to go.

When looking at your results, you get a very quick idea of what is going right and wrong. If it takes users 20 or 30 seconds to find your RSS feed subscription button, you know you have a problem. If only 50% of users can find your signup page, you’ve got a problem.

None of this is rocket science, and if you ever do get stuck or have a question, we’d be more than happy to help point you in the right direction. The truth is though, it’s really not (or at least, doesn’t have to be) that hard.

Designers already know what they are doing, they don’t need to run usability tests

Different users and different personas

While I completely agree that there are a number of fantastic designers out there, even the best designer in the world can’t be expected to understand the needs of an entire user base without a little feedback.

Usability testing gives them that feedback, and helps them understand how their users think and what sort of things their users are looking for. If you think Apple released the iPod or iPhone without any kind of testing, then you really need to think again. To make a great site, service or product, you need that feedback.

Remote testing tools enable you get that feedback quickly, easily and effortlessly, and as designers, we can tell you this is something designers understand and appreciate.

I’ve already tested my site in the past, there is no need to test again

Try try try again

Congratulations; you have taken your first step in the right direction, but this logic is the same as saying something like ‘MC Hammer was the height of fashion in the 80′s, therefore my parachute pants are still in fashion’.

The truth is your audience changes, trends and fashion change, even design conventions change. Testing you site on a regular basis ensures that you are always improving your user experience, that you are keeping up with design conventions, and that users will continue to use your site, and come back in increasing numbers.

Steve Krug advocates testing once a month to ensure you are up to date and know and understand how your users are interacting with your site or service.

Testing on a regular basis means there won’t be any nasty surprises further down the track; it’s easy to make a few small changes on a regular basis, than massive changes a little less frequently. Sensible, isn’t it?

It’s too difficult to get started

Getting started with usability testing

While it used to be true that usability testing required a lot of time and effort – recruiting participants, getting them along to usability testing labs, hiring expensive equipment and so on, times have certainly changed.

I’ve set up tests on IntuitionHQ in five minutes flat, and received hundreds of responses in just one or two hours time. All you need to do is write a few questions, upload a few screenshots, and you are really good to to. Send your test to your site stakeholders, put it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and watch the results roll in. It really is that simple.


Where to next?

If your interested in taking your next steps in usability, we’ve got a few posts you might like to check out:

There are also a whole bunch of great sites out there for learning more about usability and user experience that anyone interested in the topic should check out:

If you’ve got any website usability testing myths you’ve heard before, any questions about usability testing, or anything else we can help you with, please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear your experiences.

Thanks for dropping by!

Don’t forget to sign up for an IntuitionHQ account while you’re here. Signing up is free, and publishing your tests only costs $9.

You can also subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with the latest news in the world of website usability.