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The Ultimate Usability Resource Roundup: 60 Great Posts

Posted by Jacob Creech on September 13th, 2011

As you may or may not have noticed, we are quite prolific Twitter users here at IntuitionHQ. We love to share everything and anything related to usability and user experience, and judging from our 5000+ Twitter followers (and 700+ on our Facebook page), you’ve enjoyed reading it as well.

Thanks to our favorite Twitter tool, Buffer, we can even view analytics of all of our Tweets, and from that we’ve found our top 60 posts from the past few months.

All of these have been retweeted and clicked many times – with the most popular post garnering more than 1000 clicks thanks to a couple of (well, 30+) great retweets. We’ve also added a summary of the most popular sites at the end of the post which anyone with an interest in usability and user experience should really keep an eye on.

These post are in no particular order, but all are worth a look. Without further ado:

60 Great posts on Usability and UX

  1. The $300 Million Button
  2. A personal favorite as it shows the value of user testing

  3. How To Quantify The User Experience
  4. An interesting post because it looks at something many people think of as unquantifiable

  5. Usability Testing: What You need to Know?
  6. A great discussion of the key information you need to know in order to run successful usability tests

  7. Why Users Fill Out Forms Faster with Top Aligned Labels
  8. A great look at logic of form field layouts
    Top aligned labels - UX Movement

  9. Why Your Form Buttons Should Never Say Submit
  10. An interesting discussion on button labels

  11. What is Usability?
  12. Want to learn about usability? You should start here

  13. Personas: Putting the Focus Back on the User
  14. For anyone interested in learning about personas and user centered design, this is a great post

  15. 10 Things to Know about Usability Problems
  16. Measuring Usability is on of my favorite sites, and this post is a great example of things to remember about usability issues

  17. Website Usability Test: Gizmodo.com
  18. Another usability case study giving you a great starting point of how to run your own website usability tests

  19. Do You Know the 5 Keys to Designing Friendly Websites?
  20. 5 handy tips for designing more user friendly websites

  21. Facebook Rolls Out Privacy-Centric Design Changes
  22. An in depth examination of privacy controls on Facebook – really interesting

  23. Why Users Click Right Call to Actions More Than Left Ones
  24. If you have a call to action you want to convert on, read this post

  25. Swiss Army Knives (and web design)
  26. The Contrast Blog is always very well done, and this post is no exception. It even motivated us to do our own blog post on choosing features for your site or service
    Swiss Army Knife - The Contrast Blog

  27. Why Do Chairs Have Four Legs? The Cornerstones of Usable Websites
  28. Hard to argue with a post title like this; nice, simple tips too

  29. Why Rounded Corners are Easier on the Eyes
  30. This answers once and for all the debate about rounded corners… Right?

  31. Hotel Booking, from Start to Finish
  32. A well done examination of the entire hotel booking process

  33. Website Usability Testing: What To Test
  34. For all those wanting to know what to test on their sites or services, this post is the place to start

  35. Online banking – do we want safety over convenience?
  36. The (information) age old question – convenience vs security

  37. Wireframes are dead, long live rapid prototyping
  38. Not a rapid prototyping fan yet? Maybe this post will convince you

  39. 7 Steps to Avoiding User Adoption Problems with Site Redesigns
  40. Something a lot of sites could learn from – how to make your users not hate your redesigns

  41. Website Usability Test case study: TED.com
  42. A neat case study on usability testing looking at the TED.com site
    TED website usability review

  43. Nobody reads your dialog boxes
  44. Apparently no one likes to read on the internet – learn more about it

  45. SEO and User Experience Work Together
  46. A good way to sell people on the benefits of a good user experience – improved SEO

  47. 7 Tips for a More Engaging Website
  48. Helpful tips on how to improve engagement on your website

  49. How Users Read on the Web – Hint: They don’t
  50. Jakob Nielsen on how users read on the internet; evidently not very much

  51. Some UX Lessons I’ve Learned From Offline Experiences
  52. I really like this post; lessons we can apply online from offline experiences

  53. 4 forgotten principles of usability testing
  54. Handy tips you should bear in mind whenever you are running usability tests

  55. Creating a Usable Contact Form
  56. Want your users to contact you? Make a contact form they can use

  57. Usability versus composability
  58. User friendly vs programmer friendly software

  59. Bing vs Google: A Usability Face-Off
  60. A neat look at Google vs Bing in terms of usability. The verdict? Closer than you might think
    Bing vs Google website usability test

  61. Only five users?
  62. Looking back at the idea of 5 users for usability testing, and the law of diminishing returns (which is different with online/remote testing tools)

  63. Things Web Designers Do That People Love
  64. Want to make people love you? Here are some simple tips

  65. 8 Ways your Landing Page Design is Sabotaging your Click-Thru Rate
  66. Unbounce are landing page experts, and this is a great look at improving landing pages

  67. Another 10 UX mistakes to avoid
  68. 10 common UX mistakes you need to watch out for

  69. An interesting look at UX design
  70. A brief insight to the dark side of UX design – who knew?

  71. Why Users Fill Out Forms Faster with Unified Text Fields
  72. How unified text fields make for a better user experience

  73. Five Low-Hanging UX Tips
  74. 5 simple UX tips anyone can work on

  75. A CRAP way to improve usability
  76. Great examples and explanation of the principles of CRAP

  77. 10 Absentee UX Features on Top e-Commerce Sites
  78. Must read post for anyone involved with e-commerce

  79. The Newspaper User Experience
  80. I really like this post on the design of News sites on the internet, and makes you reconsider why things are the way they are
    The Newspaper UX

  81. A Few Notes from Usability Testing: Video Tutorials Get Watched, Text Gets Skipped
  82. We’ve already learnt that people don’t read, but apparently people do watch videos

  83. Web Accessibility, Usability and SEO
  84. How improving your website’s accessibility can also help with SEO – interesting post

  85. Designing Web Application Interfaces from a User Experience Standpoint
  86. Great post with well illustrated examples on improving user experience on the web

  87. (More) Useful Web Usability Testing Tools
  88. A huge roundup of super-useful usability testing tools

  89. Why the password “this is fun” is 10 times more secure than “J4fS!2″
  90. I love this – complexity and security are not equal

  91. 10 Usability Nightmares You Should Be Aware Of
  92. Learn from others mistakes so you don’t make them yourself

  93. 12 Website Usability Testing Myths
  94. 12 common myths about website usability testing, and why they are wrong

  95. Love the diagram – Have you tried talking to them?
  96. Great post on the UX designer as the man in the middle
    The UX designer as the man in the middle - The Contrast Blog

  97. 7 Usability Principles to Make Your Website More Engaging
  98. The original video on website engagement – check it out

  99. The Difference & Relationship Between Usability & User Experience
  100. Curious to know more about usability and UX? This post is a great start

  101. Form Design And The Fallacy Of The Required Field
  102. Required form fields and users – a look at the interaction

  103. Usability Testing: Usability testing is HOT
  104. Awesome post on why usability testing is so important, and so addictive

  105. A/B Testing and Preference Testing for Usability
  106. A useful comparison between different types of usability tests

  107. Useful Wireframing and Prototyping Tools – Roundup
  108. If you’ve ever done or been interested in wireframing and prototyping, you’ll probably want to check this list out

  109. iPad Usability Test: iReddit
  110. A great example of testing on the iPad, in this case looking at the iReddit app

  111. Why you shouldn’t make users register before checkout
  112. Yes, just yes

  113. If Architects Had To Work Like Web Designers
  114. Dear Mr. Architect: Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms…

  115. 10 Great Reasons To Usability Test
  116. Need a reason to start usability testing? Here are 10 great ones
    Usability test so you don't fail - IntuitionHQ

  117. Do you make these 4 mistakes when carrying out a usability review?
  118. 4 common mistakes in usability reviews that you should watch out for

  119. 10 Mistakes in Icon Design
  120. A well illustrated post on icon design, and what makes them good or bad


Great sites on Usability and User Experience

From that giant collection of resources, we’ve crunched the numbers and found which sites were the most popular with our readers over the past few months. This is how those numbers broke down for the top sites:

The IntuitionHQ Blog – 9 posts. Unsurprisingly perhaps, as we often share our own links, and we also write a lot about Usability and User Experience, the IntuitionHQ Blog (RSS Feed) was the most featured site in our links. You can follow us on Twitter @IntuitionHQ

UXMovement – 5 posts. UXMovement consistently has a range of great posts which are short and to the point with really useful information. Follow them on Twitter @UXMovement

UXBooth – 4 posts. UXBooth is an old favorite of ours (and in fact, I’ve written a couple of posts there) with fantastic posts on a regular basis. Follow them on Twitter @UXBooth

Userfocus – 3 posts. Userfocus is another consistent resource for all things usability, and a knack for writing great posts. Follow them on Twitter @UserFocus

Hongkiat – 3 posts. Hongkiat features a whole range of different posts, including regular posts on usability and related tools. Follow them on Twitter @Hongkiat

The Contrast Blog – 2 posts. The Contrast Blog is a personal favorite of mine; it’s well designed and well written, and although not as prolific posters as some of the sites featured here, the posts are always worth a read. Follow @Contrast on Twitter for more.

UXfortheMasses – 2 posts. Like the Contrast blog, not super frequent posters, but always high quality, and a great reshare value. Check them out on Twitter @NeilTurnerUX

Some further recommendations

There are a whole range of other sites with frequent great posts on Usability and UX that are also worth a look, but that we haven’t tweeted as much over the past few months. We highly recommend you check out the following:

We hope you liked that roundup

Hopefully that is enough good resources to keep you going for some time. If you have other sites you’d like to see us Tweeting in the future, or other great links that we should see, please let us know in the comments below.

If you’ve got some value from this post, we’d love you to leave a comment, share this post using the buttons below, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our RSS feed.

Thanks very much for dropping by, and thanks to everyone who puts all of these great sites together and writes so many fantastic, fascinating posts. Cheers.

Looking to do some quick, easy usability testing? Why not check out IntuitionHQ? You can get started in no time, and collect thousands of results.

Want to test on mobile devices? We’ve also got a Usability Testing iPad app, and work on all mobile browsers.

Learn more and sign up at IntuitionHQ.com

 

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.

 

Satisfying The Cat and User Centered Design

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 28th, 2011

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

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

The clients arguments against usable design

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

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

Satisfying The Cat:

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

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

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

Final thoughts:

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

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

Yahoo Email Test: How would you view your calendar?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Website Usability Test: TED.com

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 10th, 2011

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

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

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

What is TED?

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

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

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

The TED website:

The TED website

The TED website

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

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

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

The Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing the test:

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

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

The results:

How would you view the upcoming TED conferences?

How would you view the TED conference?

How would you view the TED conference?

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

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


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

How would you find videos about business?

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


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

How would you subscribe to the TED newsletter?

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

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


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

How would you search the TED site?

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


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

How would you follow TED on Twitter?

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


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

How would you get to the TED blog?

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

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


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

How would you sign up to the TED website?

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Final Score: 9/10

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

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

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

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Start user testing with a homepage healthcheck

Posted by Courtney Johnston on June 1st, 2011

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

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

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

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

Test the basics

Could you find our 'Pricing' page?

Could you find our 'Pricing' page?

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

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

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

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

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

Test first impressions

What part of this page catches your eye?

What part of this page catches your eye?

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

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

Test for speed

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

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

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

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

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

Follow-up testing

Your first test will tell you one of two things:

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

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

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

Useful links

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

Questions?

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

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

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