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What is usability?

Posted by Jacob Creech on May 31st, 2011

 
Every day we talk about website usability testing, what it can do for you, how it can smooth out the design process, and how usability is an ongoing trend that people need to learn to focus on.

All of that said though, every day I get people asking me ‘What is usability, and why should I care?‘. Today I’d like to talk about what usability is, and why it’s so important. I’d love to hear your views on it too, so please feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.

What is usability?

 
So, what is usability? There are a number of good definitions floating around, these are a couple of the ones that really hit the spot:

The state or condition of being usable; The degree to which an object, device, software application, etc. is easy to use with no specific training – Wiktionary

Usability refers to the ease with which a User Interface can be used by its intended audience to achieve defined goals. Usability incorporates many factors: design, functionality, structure, information architecture, and more – Sitepoint

Something easy to learn and easy to understand. Seems simple enough, right? But when you turn your mind to thinking of sites or products that truly meet this goal, how many can you think of? What examples come to mind?

My examples:

Mac OS X

Mac OS X

Mac OS X is well known because ‘it just works’. The simple tasks you would want to achieve are very simple to achieve. The important information is easy to find. Things that say they will work with OS X just work.

Especially if you live inside the Apple ecosystem, everything behaves in a simple and logical way. No blue screens of death, no clippy, no ugly pop up warning bubbles. It just works.


Retail Me Not - save money with coupon codes

Retail Me Not - coupon codes made easy

Retail Me Not is a great website to help you save money on the internet. If you often come to sites that ask if you have a coupon code, then this site will save you money. They have coupon codes for tons of different sites, and the site is designed to make the process of using the coupon codes as simple as possible.

When you find a code you want to use (with the simple, straight forward search function), just click on it and it will be copied to your clipboard. If it’s a referral link it will open up in your browser for you. You can see which codes are working at a glance, and share your own experience with the community. A great way to save money.


Kiwibank is a bit different from regular banking sites. The navigation structure is surprisingly clear and easy to use, and for what should be a content heavy site, none of the pages slap you in the face with too much content.

The important things are easy to find and easy to understand, and you are never more than a couple of layers from the content you are looking for.

They also developed their site without flash (which seems to appear awfully often on banking sites) so it’s extremely accessible as well.


Some more examples:

I’ve actually wrote a post last year over at 1stWebDesigner talking about 9 great examples of well designed, usable sites. Check out the list and see what you think.

Another great site that shows examples of UIs that have had a bit more thought than most is Little Big Details. They have a whole range of examples showing how little details make a big difference to the user experience. Well worth a look.

Why is usability so important?

  1. It gives users a better experience: The more your users enjoy your site, the more likely they are to return, the more likely they are to recommend it to others, and the better your site or product will do in the long run.
  2. It helps you stand out from the competition: Why did the iPod sell so well? It was simple, did what users needed it to do, and not a lot more. It was an extremely usable product in a market where people used to think cramming devices with a million and one different features that barely worked at all was the way to succeed.
  3. It’s what most people want: Well there are a few people who actually like things to be complex and customise things in a million different ways, the mass market wants things that are simple, straight forward and just work.
  4. It means people can spend more time doing, and less time learning: The more usable the interface, the more time people can spend enjoying themselves, making purchases, interacting with your site and achieving goals that are important to you.
  5. You spend less time, money and effort on support: If your site or product is simple and straightforward to use it will require far less support, saving you time, money and energy.

Of course, there is more to usability than this, but these are some really fundamental points about why usability is so important. Regardless of what industry you are in, regardless of the sites or products that you build, good usability will make a big difference.

Your turn

We want your opinion

We want your opinion

So, you’ve seen some examples of what usability is to me and why I think it’s important, and now I’d like to see what usability is to you.

What are your examples of great sites? What products come to mind for you? Or are there any sites or products you can think of that are fail on the usability front?

We’d love to do a usability review of some outstanding sites so people know what is working, and why it works so well, as well as sites that could use some improvement to improve their usability. Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Interested in learning more about usability and user experience? Curious to see one of our upcoming usability reviews? Subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with all the latest news.

And don’t forget to share your comments on sites you love and hate in the comments below. Thanks for dropping by!

 

10 Great Reasons to Usability Test

Posted by Jacob Creech on May 13th, 2011

For all the tips I give on usability testing, explanations of how to get started, the reviews of different services I do, I get a very large number of people asking me why they should actually test in the first place (as if those examples weren’t enough!).

Today I’d like to present (in no particular order) a quick post on 10 reasons that everyone should perform usability testing. Read on to see a few reasons I think you should run usability tests, and be sure to add your own reasons in the comments below.

10 Reasons to Usability Test

Door usability fail

1) Improve usability

It (should) goes without saying, usability testing will improve the usability of your sites, apps, user interface, or whatever else you are designing. Imagine publishing a magazine or newspaper without having an editor read it first; that’s effectively what you are doing by launching a site without usability testing.

Usability testing will show up all those little navigation and ui problems, will help you discover all sorts of tweaks you can make, and will give you a whole new understanding of how users interact with your site or app – extremely valuable information to have at your fingertips.

2) Improve user experience

Following on from improved usability is an improved user experience. If users have to spend too much time looking for your ‘add to cart’ or ‘subscribe by RSS‘ button they simply won’t bother. After implementing the results of your testing, you will remove the vast majority of these issues for the vast majority of your users, and they will enjoy using your site or app so much more because of it.

See what colour blind people see

3) Improve accessibility

I recently wrote a post on the user experience of colour, and was really interested to find in the comments a huge number of people pointed out how colour can have a huge impact on accessibility; roughly 8% of men and .5% of women are colour blind so that is a huge group you have to consider.

There are all sorts of things that can affect usability aside from colour blindness, and the best way to find them is to get out there, test your site or app, and see what you find.

4) Produce more satisfied clients

The better their site works, the happier your clients will be. If users spend more time on the site, and are more likely to recommend it to others, they will be very happy. This is what a usable site with a good user experience can do, and this is what usability testing can do for your site or app.

Of course, the happier your clients are, the more likely they are to use your service again in the future, and the more likely they are to recommend you to others as well. All good things for you.

Use social media for usability testin

5) Make users feel involved

We frequently receive feedback from IntuitionHQ users who are surprised to find how much their users enjoy and appreciate being part of the testing process. It means the users take some ownership of the site, and feel much more attached to it.

Including users in the testing process really helps contribute to a sense of community, and that is something all sites or apps should be looking to build.

6) Save time

It’s much easier and faster to know what needs fixing when you’ve got results in front of you showing just what is wrong in the first place. The sooner you can fix things, the sooner you can move forward with your project, and the better it will be because of it. You really can save a ton of time by usability testing.

Avoid design by committee

7) Avoid design by committee

Ever been to one of those meetings where every man and his dog has an opinion on why this button should be there, that colour should be 2 shades lighter, and why the design expert is wrong in a dozen other ways?

Having results from usability testing can show all the reasons why things are the way they are, or how they should be different. It’s very hard to argue when you’ve got a bunch of results from users showing what the best design or user interface would be.

8) Develop a new skill set

One of the best ways to learn a new skill is by getting out there and doing it. Set up a test on your own site or app, and see what you find. Questions? Get out there on Twitter or Facebook and ask questions, talk about usability testing and user experience and you will learn a heap.

Keep making the most of the resources at your disposal, and you will learn a lot in no time at all. The more testing the do, the more you will understand, and the more impact your testing will have because of it. It’s really a circle of greatness.

Definition of reputation

9) Improve your own reputation

There are a million and one web and app developers out there, and although there is some (read: huge) variation in quality between these different developers, it’s hard to always stand out in a crowded market. Developing a reputation for producing usable, enjoyable websites will help set you apart from others. Happy clients who recommend you to others will help you stand out. Even offering a usability testing service in the first place will help you stand out.

It’s true for business owners too; if your site provides a better, more usable experience than the competition, users will be much more likely to return and spend money or time with your site, and all of these will do wonders for your business.

The more positive ways you stand out from those around you, the better your business will do, and easier life will be for you.

10) Add to your bottom line

Usability testing, and an understanding of usability is something you can really sell people on. Once they can see the benefits of usability testing, they will be pressing you to add this to your service, and it is something people are more than prepared to pay for. For example, setting up a test on IntuitionHQ costs only $9, but where the value lies is you expertise at setting up the test, interpreting the results, and improving usability as a result.


So now what?

Hopefully this post helps you to see the benefits of usability testing. Remember, going out and testing doesn’t have to take much money, and can even help save you time. It makes you stand out from the competition, and it will make users and clients love you.

As Jakob Neilsen said, “A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson”, and the inverse is also a true. A good, usable, enjoyable website is a great salesman; the one that will help you get your foot in the door.

Get out there today, do some testing, and help make the internet a better place, one website at a time. Happy testing!

Are there any other points you’d like to see added to this list? What has your experience taught you? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

And don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed to keep up to date with all the latest developments in the usability community.

 

Simple Usability/UX Checklist

Posted by Jacob Creech on March 29th, 2011

I recently wrote a post over at Hongkiat about How to ruin a good user experience in 20 simple steps. As you can gather from the title, it’s got a bunch of different points that can cause a terrible User Experience

There is a lot of really useful information there, and it seems to me like the sort of thing that could be very handy in checklist form, and so I’ve made a checklist with a few extra points here and there, and some input on why I think these points are important. more »

 

The Dangers of Design By User and Other Interesting Tweets

Posted by Jacob Creech on March 11th, 2011

A range of interesting Tweets this week, including the Dangers of Design By User which has stirred up a lot of debate. The avalanche of mobile related tweets continues, and there are some really interesting tweets for both designers and developers. Mobile usability is definitely one big part of this, and something we have a particular interest in.

There is also a range of other interesting topics ranging from marketing for startups to the search for the perfect CAPTCHA. Read on to find out more, starting with a quick look at the state of Wikipedia:

Awesome video/visualisation: The State of Wikipedia http://ow.ly/49Bzd #wiki #online #design

Neat video produced for the anniversary of Wikipedia – worth a look for all the Wiki fans out there.

The Dangers of Design by User: http://ow.ly/49HT3 #usability #UX #design #webdesign

Interesting post on a topic near and dear to many a designers heart. Pity the site is so… purple, but still a good read.

Use (or looking to use) personas as part of your process? Check out this persona template: http://ow.ly/49Ccb #usability #UX #UCD #personas

Really nifty little template to speed up the process of making personas, and save you some thinking too.

Silly CAPTCHA - unreadable
Um, what?

Really interesting post – In Search Of The Perfect CAPTCHA: http://ow.ly/48UIW #usability #UX #spam #CAPTCHA

Really insightful look at CAPTCHAs on Smashing Mag. The comments are worth a read too – some really interesting ideas there.

The perils of persuasion and user experience: http://ow.ly/48Ucl #UCD #UX #usability #usertesting

An interesting look into the world of user experience design.

Top 6 Mistakes to Avoid in Mobile Usability ==> http://bit.ly/dFP6ZO via @inphoenity #usability #UX #mobile

Great advice for anyone interested in mobile, and making mobile apps/sites that don’t suck.

Good weekend reading – Marketing for startups in 8 simple steps: http://ow.ly/47yRf #marketing #startup

Good advice for anyone really, from The VC himself…

Best Practices for Mobile App Sites: http://ow.ly/47z4Y #mobile #apps #bestpractice #usability #UX

Building a site for your mobile app? Here are some best practices to consider.

Neat concept » Post-Touchscreen Interface – The Looking Glass: http://ow.ly/48UdK #usability #UX #touchscreen #design #mobile

And a look into the future to finish off with – a concept for the future of the touchscreen.

That’s all for this week, be sure to let us know in the comments if there are any great sites/tweets we’ve missed.

Have a great weekend, happy testing everyone.

 

The Godaddy UX (Fail) – Results

Posted by Jacob Creech on March 1st, 2011

In my recent post on The Godaddy User Experience Fail I asked people to partake in a quick test to help gather a variety of views and interactions with the Godaddy site.

The results have started coming in, and it’s been quite interesting to see how people found the Godaddy experience. If you are interested you can take the test at http://video.intuitionhq.com/godaddy-ux, or just read on to see the results. It’s possibly not the most scientific test in the history of man, but you still get the idea that something isn’t quite right with the Godaddy UX.

Update: Hi to all the visitors from Godaddy – we’d love to hear your side of the story – and would respect your privacy if you wanted to post anonymously. Don’t be shy.

The results:

1) Where would you click to view your account?

Where would you click to view your account?

Where would you click to view your account?

Simple question to start with: Where would you click to view your account? As you can see in the results above 76% of people clicked the ‘My Account’ button and the remainder clicked the log in area – I’d say it was safe to say a 100% success rate; more or less what you’d expect for such a simple task. The average time for completion (top left of the results image) is a little long, but there is often such a delay with the first question of a test as people get accustomed to the interface.

2) Where would you click to view your expiring domains?

Where would you click to view your expiring domains?

Where would you click to view your expiring domains?

Another fairly straight forward question, but it’s always interesting to see the different ways people try and achieve the same goals. In this case clicking on ‘Domains’ won’t actually lead you to the page where you can renew your expiring domains but rather to a page where you can search for new domains and with a list of pricing for different domain names (so that’s where I could find that information). That means this page has an 80% success rate with an average click time of 11.26 seconds.

This means this page could probably do with some tweaking; if 20% of people are clicking in a different location to try and renew domains, Godaddy should perhaps incorporate the renew domain feature into the ‘Domains’ page. Supposing they have 1000 customers a day trying to renew domains, 20% (200) click the wrong location, and as a result say 25% (50) of those abandon their purchase (at roughly $10 a domain) that’s still $500 a day. Better than a kick in the knickers.

3) Based on the following information would you say you are:

Based on the following information would you say you are:

Based on the following information would you say you are:

Now, this seems like it would be very straight forward, but 20% say they are logged in, 56% say they aren’t and 24% aren’t sure. This is something that should be glaringly obvious and can lead to frustration for customers if it’s not as obvious as it should be. Definitely a fail on this front.

Even after having gone through the purchase process, I still couldn’t tell you if I was logged in or not – in fact it seems Godaddy has some sort of semi-logged in state which is really very confusing. Such basic functionality should really be fixed, and while immediate financial effects may not be obvious, I can imagine a number of users abandoning Godaddy after such frustrating experiences, and telling many others about their negative experiences.

4) Based on the following information, what currency would you think you are using?

Based on the following information, what currency would you think you are using?

Based on the following information, what currency would you think you are using?

OK, glad to see I’m not that only one who was a little confused by this. A full 20% either say they are using the wrong currency or aren’t sure what currency they are using. Why do they have the New Zealand flag there if they aren’t using New Zealand dollars? Yes, you can trace my IP address to New Zealand, congratulations, and yes, that is what my flag looks like, but why do you have it there?

Again, these are the little quirks that can slowly (or not so slowly) but surely cause a frustrating experience for users. Why not just make it obvious? I can cope with not having my flag there so long as the visual cues make sense.

5) How would you add this domain to your cart?

How would you add this domain to your cart?

How would you add this domain to your cart?

Interesting numbers here: 77% clicked in a location that would select the correct (or all) domain, which means 23% clicked somewhere else – and what’s more, there was an average click time of 22.72 seconds for this test – much too high, which means too much thinking. Clicking the continue button doesn’t actually add the domain to your cart, but it doesn’t actually tell you this until you are two steps further through the process. Can you feel the frustration brewing?

Adding a warning on this page that your domain hadn’t been added would be a very quick and simple fix to this problem, rather than letting users carrying on and trying to upsell them in the process.

6) Where would you click to toggle automatic renewal for this domain?

Where would you click to toggle automatic renewal for this domain?

Where would you click to toggle automatic renewal for this domain?

Kind of a trick question because it has a 100% failure rate – at least in my experience. Regardless of where I clicked and what I did, I couldn’t turn off auto-renew. I’m sure advertising at the superbowl is expensive, but I can’t image using tactics like this to keep customers will do good things for your business. I’d be very interested to hear if others had the same experience when renewing their domains with Godaddy.

7) Based on the following screenshot, would you say you are:

Based on the following screenshot, would you say you are:

Based on the following screenshot, would you say you are:

The same question as number 3 after having gone through the checkout process. 42% now believe they are logged in, 29% think they aren’t, and 25% don’t know. I can tell you which answer is right because I still don’t know. I did have to log in (again?) to actually access my domain management area, which would lead me to think I wasn’t logged in, but then again it knew one of my domains was expiring when I came to the site and let me pay for renewal so I’m really not sure. Does anyone have any insight into this? Very confusing in my opinion, and so the test results show.

8) Would you say the following page is easy to understand, a little confusing, or quite confusing?

Would you say the following page is easy to understand, a little confusing, or quite confusing?

Would you say the following page is easy to understand, a little confusing, or quite confusing?

A leading question maybe, but still, 84% of people say the page is either a little or quite confusing. Really Godaddy? Up your game! I imagine if they took 10% of their marketing budget and invested it in their site they could make some dramatic improvements. I’d like to think the trend is making content more understandable and accessible, designs cleaner and less cluttered, and generally towards providing an ever improving user experience. I’d say so far Godaddy is failing on all three fronts.

What does this mean?

Obviously it’s far too early for me to predict the demise of Godaddy, and so far they have such a huge slice of mindshare it’s hard to imagine someone overcoming them. But like all things web, it’s never too late for a strong, new challenger to come along, and it’s not too late for Godaddy to try and improve their game either.

Whichever side wins, there does need to be a focus on making as great a user experience as possible. As I’ve quoted before, “Build it and they will come; build it well and they will come back”. By developing the site to meet their target markets need, by making the experience an enjoyable one, by making a clear, understandable process and by constantly tweaking and improving their site, Godaddy could make a huge improvement to their service. Just a few quick usability tests (shameless plug) and they will have some ideas on how they should get started and what they could improve. Why not do the same for your site too?

What do you think of the Godaddy service? Do these test results help you? How could you improve your own site? Any questions or comments, be sure to let us know below.

If there are any other sites you’d like to see us test, leave a link in the comments and we’ll look at doing them next time round.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Happy testing everyone.

 

The Godaddy User Experience (fail)

Posted by Jacob Creech on February 25th, 2011

Like a lot of people, I use Godaddy as my domain name registrar (for .com domains at least), and most of the time I really don’t have to think about them. The domains are cheap, they do a ton of marketing, and so when I come to think of purchasing domains, they are generally the registrar that comes to mind.

However, every year or two that time rolls around again where I have to renew my domains, and the experience I go through really can be very frustrating. Today was another one of those days, and I’ve decided to suffer in silence no longer. Today let’s look at a brief run through of the Godaddy user experience, and what it’s done wrong.

Of course, before I get into my rant, it would be great if you could take this quick test to help see if it’s just me that’s having this issues, or if it is more widespread. I’ll update this post in a few days with the test results. You can find the test at http://video.intuitionhq.com/godaddy-ux.

Update: Check out our new post with all the results from out testing.

The landing page:

When you first go to the Godaddy page, you’ll find lots of information thrown in your face; let’s just say they don’t specialise in the soft sell. The header was the first thing I noticed, and I was quite confused by the fact it showed that I had 1 domain expiring, but I didn’t seem to be logged in. Looking at the whole page, you can see a whole lot of different information. They have a bunch of different pricing information there, and from my perspective they don’t seem very clear about what they are trying to sell me on. The pricing doesn’t seem terribly consistent either – it tells me new .coms are $11.99* a year and lower – what is the asterisks for? Why and lower? What does this all mean? It then goes on to tell me that I get can domains for just $1.99*, again using their old friend the asterisks. Of course, I still don’t know what they are trying to tell me.

I really this whole page could be arranged in a much better fashion – if they should just decide what exactly they are trying to sell me here, they could make there message a lot clearer. The amount of information here could be overwhelming, especially for anyone non-technical looking to buy a domain or host a site. Supposing this is their target market (and part of the reason they advertise to a mass audience like the super bowl) they could really do a much better job of this. For a start, making pricing information much more apparent, and explaining just what you get for the price (especially considering how many add ons they have) would really help.

The header:

Focusing on the header, and looking at the 1st field, you can see it was asking my for my log in information, but supposing I wasn’t logged in, how did it know I had a domain expiring (as shown in the 2nd field)?

I was also a little confused by the 3rd field. This shows the New Zealand flag (which is where I’m based) next to the text USD, which I assume stands for US dollars. I find these two pieces of information to be a little conflicting. Surely they should have an American flag next to the American currency, and a New Zealand flag next to the New Zealand currency? Since they don’t even have an option to select the New Zealand currency, I’d say it’s a little silly to include our flag there. Other than showing off their geolocation prowess what are they actually achieving here?

The competition

For comparisons sake, see the following screenshots from a several other hosting/domain name registrars:


 

 

I must admit, I find it rather disingenuous that they Godaddy, Register.com and Hover.com all offer to provide me with email for another rather large fee, considering the quality of service you can get using Google Apps. Anyone who has laid eyes on Godaddys email service will know it’s not worth the hard drive space it’s stored on. I’d imagine it would be fairly safe to assume the same of the other services too.

Design and usability:

As to the design and usability though, the information they display is generally much more concise.

Squarespace.com has a well laid out message explaining what they do, why you should use it, who it’s for and more. The pricing is clearly laid out in the header (well, starting from $12, but at least you have an idea), and the pricing tab at the top of the site shows exactly what you will pay for using the site.

Register.com has a reasonably uncluttered website, although finding the pricing for an actual domain is rather difficult, and in fact without creating an account I’m not sure that you can find the pricing – a big no-no. The price with hosting is much clearer, although they could still got in to more depth with what they are offering here, and who the service is for.

Hover.com also has a much clearer interface. Evidently they’ve decided that email and domain forwarding are important services for them to sell. I’d imagine including pricing for domain names on the home page wouldn’t be a bad idea either, although once you search for a domain the pricing is readily apparent. I still don’t appreciate the fact they are trying to hoist their email service on to me though.

Dreamhost.com also offers domain registration as well as hosting services. The home page is rather bare, but the tabs at the top provide quick access to all the information you could need, and they are far more up front about their pricing. They don’t try and sell you additional services like email, and make it very easy to set up other services like Google Apps and WordPress. The site makes it relatively easy to find pertinent information for your buying decision.

Google Apps also enables you to register domains, and at $10 a year it’s really very reasonably priced. Signing up with them also ensures that you can easily set up Google Apps for your domain, giving you access to email, calendar, docs and a bunch of other Google services.

All things being equal, and depending on what you are looking for, Dreamhost, Google Apps and Squarespace stand out strongly in this example.

On to the next step:

Expiring Domain:

I clicked the ’1 domain expiring’ link at the top of the page and came through to the next page which looked relatively straight forward:

Ok, this looks straight forward enough. That’s the domain I want to renew, and so I click the continue button at the borrow which leads me on to this:

Yeah, they are trying to sell me a range of other things; there is so much information here, it would be hard to know what I wanted even if I was interested. I didn’t want to purchase any extras, and luckily I find when I get to the bottom of the page I find a ‘no thanks’ button. I’m glad at least the give me an easy option to avoid their upsell – just as well considering the millions of terms and conditions they have down there. After I click ‘no thanks’ I find the following:

OK, now I’m a little confused. What’s all that clicking around I was doing if I didn’t have anything in my cart? Didn’t I choose to renew my domain name for 2 years? A quick look back at the screenshot I took there confirms I’m not crazy, but perhaps I needed to tick the checkbox on that page to select the domain. Of course, it seems rather silly that they let me come this far when I had nothing selected; so they are prepared to sell me the extra services even without extending my domain? Hmm.

So I go back again, and ensure I just have the domain name check box ticked. I don’t want it to auto-renew, and while I’d like private registration, I don’t care enough to pay much for it, so I leave both those empty and continue on, past the upsell, and on to the ‘review you shopping cart’ page:

At first I was congratulating myself on my ability to get through the Godaddy registration process, but upon closer examination I noticed something strange:

Recurring? Really? Again, looking back at my screenshots, I could see I hadn’t checked auto-renew, and I don’t want this to be recurring. Thinking maybe, just maybe I’d done something wrong I start the process over again, but again find that no matter what I do it wants to make this a recurring transaction. I resign myself to my fate, and click confirm anyway and find this:

I’m 95% sure I’ve made my purchase having gone through the payment process, but I’m still a little confused by the fact that after my purchase they are still trying to upsell me to a bunch of different things. Can’t I just pay them to go away? None the less, I ignore all of the extras they are offering up and click the ‘set up new products’ button on that assumption that when they are thanking my for my order that means I’ve actually made my purchase. Makes sense right? Then this:

Please log in to see your domains? Huh, wait? When you were congratulating me just now I wasn’t logged in? Even though you knew my name and let me pay for my domains I wasn’t logged in? If I wasn’t logged in, how did you even know I had domains expiring? After all this, I’m still not sure if I’ve actually renewed my domain or not. Clear as mud. All I can do is try and log in now and see if, despite all this conflicting information I’ve renewed my domain or not:

Hey, what do you know, this is what actually being logged in looks like, and after a quick hunt around it turns out I have actually renewed my domain without being logged in, but with Godaddy having enough information to know my name, domains and accept my payments. I’m still confused.

What does this all mean?

Godaddy is aimed at the consumer, and making such a terrible experience surely can’t be good for their business. While upselling people isn’t exactly a crime, and can even be helpful in some cases, the aggressive manner in which they try and sell me something new at every step really does frustrate me. I’m already trying to give them some money, and they just keep asking for me. Pursuing such aggressive tactics may work in the short term, but you’ve got to imagine in the long term it will turn a lot of customers (or potential customers) off their service.

Information overload:

The same goes for the general information overload – if they want people to understand and use their services, they should have a more defined focus on what they are trying to provide. Even if it means creating sub categories, at least they can filter out some of the noise. They probably have more than enough data to figure out who is buying what, and could easily tailor their offers based on their knowledge based on the information.

Signed in or out:

The signed in/signed out issue is still confusing to me. After going through the whole process, I’m still not sure if I was signed in or signed out while I renewed my domain. Trying to make some consistent behaviour would really help. It’s really confusing, and it feels like there are several layers of being signed in or out. From their perspective I suppose it’s just as well I could still purchase my domain while being semi-signed in, but from my perspective it’s very confusing to know whether in fact my purchase had gone through, and what exactly was working/I could access in my semi-signed in state.

Cart behaviour:

The behaviour when adding things to your cart is also rather confusing. I initially thought I had placed the renewal in my cart, only to find two steps later I had to go back again to try to add the same domain. I repeated the process several times to try and stop the renewal from being recurring, but no matter what I didn’t it just wouldn’t work. It was a very frustrating experience, and I can safely say I wouldn’t recommend Godaddy to anyone (well, unless I didn’t like them).

The whole UX:

There are many aspects of this user experience which could cause users to trip up and abandon their cart. There are many issues which would mean it is hard for the users to get even this close to making a purchase. And there are many ways people could mistakenly add extra items to their carts and purchase things unintentionally. As I say, this might work for Godaddy in the short term, but it is difficult to imagine how they could maintain these sort of practices long term, especially in the face of half way decent competition. That said, Godaddy has been around for a long time, and I suppose they will fight hard to keep their dominance. Hopefully that means good things for their user experience in the future. For now, I think it’s time for me to change registrars – recommendations anyone?

Do you have thoughts or experience with the Godaddy user experience? What do you think they are doing right or wrong? Any other feedback? Be sure to let us know in the comments, and sign up to our RSS feed to keep up to date with future updates. Thanks!

 

How to avoid creative block and other interesting tweets

Posted by Jacob Creech on February 21st, 2011

A whole range of interesting tweets in the twittersphere this week (hmm, doesn’t really sound like a word) ranging from how to avoid creative block, to time management for freelancers (and everyone else if they feel inclined) and everything in between. Read on for some interesting tips and tricks to make your design/development life a little bit easier.

How to get around a creative block: http://ow.ly/3YF92 #writing #web #webdesign #metalblock

A few quick tips for whenever you get stuck in a creative funk.

When & Where Are People Using Mobile Devices? http://ow.ly/3VDxF #mobile #UX

A neat dissection of mobile data from the always fascinating LukeW on how people use mobile compared to computers. Interesting to see the different behaviours.

Content Strategy and UX: A Modern Love Story http://bit.ly/huAXQN #UX #Usability #UCD via @ponscreative

A neat look at content strategy, and what it can do for you.

Providing great user experience with feedback on @37signals http://ow.ly/3WpZn #usability #UX #UCD #feedback

An insightful view from 37signals on how providing feedback can lead to a much better user experience.

9 Ways to Simplify ‘Sign In’ http://ow.ly/3X3Eh #usability #UX #UCD via @niallkennedy

9 simple tips on making life a little better for your users. Check it out.

Hear hear: Why you should fight Apple’s Subscription Extortion http://ow.ly/3YFyK #apple #ios #mobile

A well written piece from the perspective of a content producer on why Apples subscription system is going to kill good content (or promote html 5 web apps).

12 Useful Techniques For Good User Interface Design: http://ow.ly/3Wpxn #usability #UI #UX #Webdesign #UCD

An oldie but a goodie from Smashing Magazine with some useful tips on how to make a better interface. Worth a read.

How to Allocate Time Effectively if You are a Freelancer (and even if you’re not) http://ow.ly/3YFhU #time #procrastination #GTD

Probably should have started with this tweet – procrastinators have probably give up now. Still, some useful tips if you’ve made it this far.

Well, that’s all for this week. Be sure to let us know if you’ve got something interesting you’d like to share, and we’ll put it in next weeks list. Happy testing everyone.

 

Website usability testing and the design process

Posted by Jacob Creech on February 10th, 2011

I often get questions from people who are interested in the idea of website usability testing, but unsure of how they can involve testing in their design process. Based on our own experience, I can safely say that whatever stage you are in the process, even if your site has been live for years, it’s never a bad time to start website usability testing.

When you are first thinking of your designs and come up with sketches of your ideas, you can upload them to IntuitionHQ and see how your idea is going to work out. You can put questions as part of your tests, and coming soon we’re even adding the ability to get comments from your users at the end of your tests.

A Simple WireframeFrom Flickr user Rob Enslin

If you’ve got wireframes or prototypes you can test those as well. You can keep tweaking and optimising your designs to ensure it’s as usable as can be.

Even with the finished design you can keep testing to ensure everything is working as you and your users expect. You can keep making small changes, or just getting proof that is working well.

If you’d like to read more on this topic I’ve written a more in depth post at Spyre Studios so head on over and check it out. Any questions let us know in the comments.

The key thing to take away from this all is that it doesn’t matter where you are in the process, you can still get started with testing your sites. Testing will add value for you, and at the very least provide confirmation that your site is working well. If there are any problems or issues, it will help you to realise and rectify these. Whatever the result, it’s still good information for you to know and understand.

Remember, testing with IntuitionHQ costs just $9 a test, so why not get started testing your own sites today? Happy testing everyone.

 

The benefits of wireframing and other interesting tweets

Posted by Jacob Creech on February 4th, 2011

There have been a number of interesting discussions going on in our twitter feed (@intuitionHQ) this week. We’ve found a lot of interesting resources, and now we are happy to share them with you – there are post ranging from the benefits of wireframing to the ROI of user experience. Check them out below.:

war of the roses

The Benefits of Wireframing a Design http://ow.ly/3OuMC #wireframes #webdesign

Great post over at sixrevisions.com (where if you’ll remember my article “The Key to Successful Collaboration” was published last year) on wireframing, what it is, how it adds value for you and helps improve your design process. Well worth a look.

7 Business benefits of usability testing #UX #UCD http://fb.me/U97xSneM

Nice to see this kind of post – just the same kind of information that I’m always trying to get out there, and great arguments for anyone who is unsure if they should or shouldn’t be usability testing. The short answer: Do it.

Great reading: 9 Ways to Simplify ‘Sign-Up’ http://ow.ly/3OuyX #usability #UX #signup via @UXFeeds

Good reading for anyone who has a sign up form on their website. Follow these very simple tips and increase the experience of your users hugely. Probably get yourself a few more signups too. Win-win.  

Usability on Quora

How can I learn to be a good product designer? http://b.qr.ae/fpkxTW #ux #UCD #design

A range of interesting answers to this question on Quora, with people ranging from a Facebook designer to average Joe Blogs. All good stuff though.

Getting Real: Copywriting is Interface Design: http://ow.ly/3MTiH #usability #readability #UX #UCD

As always, a very interesting post from the folks at 37signals. Everyone should realise just how important copywriting is to a good interface, and this post will emphasize all those key points for you.

Via the (relatively recent) archive – Saving time with usability testing: http://ow.ly/3MSSo #usability #UX #webdesign

A recent post we wrote on saving time with usability testing (hence the title…). If you haven’t checked it out, give it a quick look. There is some useful advice in there.

Neat animation – The ROI of User Experience: http://ow.ly/3MSwb #Usability #design #UCD

And a neat video to finish off with. This post from HFI does help explain the value of a good user experience. Be sure to send it on to anyone you know who might doubt the value. And then get started with a quick test on IntuitionHQ.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully a few interesting resources there to keep you going. Feel free to leave your thoughts on this selection below and be sure to let us know if you have any other interesting resources or articles you’d like to add.

Happy testing everyone.

 

Get started with usability testing in 7 simple steps

Posted by Jacob Creech on January 28th, 2011

I recently gave a presentation to a group of communications managers from local non-profit organisations. While they all had a reasonable understanding of what usability is, most were unaware of how to test usability, how to make changes to improve usability, and how to get themselves started with a usability testing process.

I think many people suffer from this problem. They like the idea of making there sites more usable, but they just don’t know how to get themselves started. So with all of this in mind, I put a brief presentation together to try and help people get started with understanding usability testing, what it is, how it works, and how, who and when to test. You can see the presentation below:

Key points:

Make the most of everyone you can
After our discussion there were a few key points that really stuck out. Most people don’t realise you can started with your usability testing simply by asking a friend, family member or colleague for some quick feedback, or even just observing how they interact with your site. Making observations and seeing how people interact with your site can really show you what is or isn’t working properly. Of course, the other beauty of this is that it doesn’t take any time to set up, and testing only takes as long as watching someone play around with your website. You can send out a question or test on your Facebook or Twitter feeds, in your newsletters, through your RSS feed, in forums you frequent, or any other way you can think of. Just ask, and you’ll find a lot of people are willing to share their views.

When doing this kind of testing, you can either sit back and watch how people interact with your site, or try and prompt them towards completing certain tasks – find our contact details, how much does such and such a product cost – let your imagination run wild. People really do interact with sites in a huge number of different ways – some will search for the product, some will look for certain categories, some will go through all the navigation menus looking for the product – and what you can learn from this is how your process stacks up. Was it easy for people using all of these different methods to find a certain product? Do you even have a search feature? What should the user do if they can’t find the information they are after? All of these things need to be considered.

El Card Sorting también resulta divertido para todos

Try card sorting exercises
Card sorting exercises can be really useful for sorting out this kind of categorisation. Make some kinds with different products and categories (or articles, or anything else that relates to your site) and ask how people think things should be structured. Maybe you would have thought everyone would look in category A for product x, but you find most people look in category B instead. This is useful, actionable information that you can use.

Use the web
As well as soliciting feedback from Facebook, Twitter et al, you can also search around for information on whatever specific topic you are interested in. There are tons of great, cheap testing tools (I’d suggest IntuitionHQ of course) that you can check out. There are a range of fantastic communities you can turn to for feedback – the great Stackexchange sites are a great starting point. The point is, the web is full of useful information, helpful people (yes, and some not so helpful ones as well), and more fantastic resources than you could shake a stick at. Make the most of it.

feedback-site

Listen to feedback
Another point is to consider all feedback that you receive. All feedback is useful feedback. The chances are that if one user has take the trouble to write to you about an issue that dozens more are experiencing it. When you receive this kind of feedback, the least you can try and do is try and test it. If you find an issue, make changes. It will improve the usability of your site.

Don’t be afraid to make changes
Once you’ve observed peoples interactions, received their feedback and heard their opinions, don’t be afraid to make changes. You can keep making small changes to improve the usability of your website, rather than letting everything pile up on top of you.

Know your audience
If you are making a knitting website, the experience should be markedly different than if you were making a programming website. Know your audience, try and learn how they interact with the internet. Making profiles or personas can be a very helpful exercise so you can better understand who is using your site, and what kind of experience they would be expecting when they come to your site. You can come up with several different profiles, and try and optimise the site for how each one of them interacts with your site.

Do it now
The worst thing you can do after sitting here and reading this is not doing anything. You should go out now, ask anyone what they think of your site. Think of some key things that anyone should be able to accomplish on your site, and then ask your friend, family member, workmate, Twitter follower or whoever else to try and complete those tasks. Observe their interactions. Use a web tool like IntuitionHQ. Get their feedback on what they think does or doesn’t work. The point is do it, and do it now. And then prioritise and action all that feedback that you receive.

The final point

Everyone experiences the web in different ways. Everyone has a different understanding of how things should work. Think about the way you use the web compared to friends, family, workmates etc. and how different that is from your own experience. I often use ‘the mum test’ – what does my mum think of the site, how does she interact with it, how does she navigate through it, can she complete whatever task is required when she goes to the site… Try doing a mum test of your own, and get started testing your own sites. You’ll be amazed what you find.

I’ll leave you with this video which will hopefully help to explain just how different people see the web, and hopefully it will help you understand just how different everyone is and how different our understandings can be.

Images from Flickr users: mario_carvajal, hikingartist

Questions? Comments? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. And if you want to get a head start on your usability testing, why not head over to IntuitionHQ, sign up for an account, and test your own start. A more usable web starts now.