Home » Blog » Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Website Usability Testing’


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

 

7 Tips for a More Engaging Website

Posted by Jacob Creech on August 5th, 2011

 
There is a lot of psychology in making a great website, and not many web designers or developers with a huge amount of knowledge about psychology. Luckily there a number of experts in the field that are happy to disseminate their knowledge to help the rest of us better understand our users.

One of these experts is Dr. Susan Weinschenk from Human Factors International who recently put together a great video on Persuasion, Emotion and Trust in User Experience, and 7 Tips for a More Engaging Website. It’s well worth a watch – here’s the video:

Did you catch all that? Quite a lot of useful information there, so we’ve written a bit of a summary for you below, along with some of our own real life examples:

How to make a More Engaging Website

1) If people have too many choices they won’t choose at all

This stands to reason; if you have too many choices, it makes it incredibly difficult to make up your mind which one is best for you, and with so many different options you may feel like you are giving something up by using one instead of another. With so many options the choice isn’t clear.

I’ve recently been suffering from this issue myself – I’ve been looking for a new camera bag, but looking on a site like Amazon or eBay presents thousands of different choices.

Camera Bags on Amazon

270,000+ choices. Yay!

I suppose is one of their strong points, but the results could certainly be better curated – to give you less options with the requirements you are looking for – for example that fits a camera body and two lenses – so the decision isn’t so overwhelming. I’ve actually been putting off my purchase for weeks now because I just can’t make up my mind.

Contrast this with Apple who has a small product line which makes your purchase decision much easier. Want a 15″ laptop? 2 choices. Want a 17″ laptop? One choice. Some people may see this as a weak point, but the truth is when making your decision the choice is very clear and you are far more likely to make a decision.

2) People need Social Validation

Sheep - Social Validation

Social Validation. Photo by Joost IJmuiden

When people are uncertain they’ll look to others to decide what to do. I’m sure you’ve all had this experience before, and I see examples almost every day – especially when people aren’t sure what to do, where to line up, who to ask or other similar situations.

The same is true in the online world; people are always looking to see what others have to say about a site, service or product. If you can provide some sort of social validation around your site, then you will build trust and give people some social validation. All this leads to higher conversions, and a better experience for you and your users.

3) Scarcity makes people want to buy

Scarcity

There are lots of different deal websites that use this concept. We have a very popular one here in New Zealand called Grabaseat the features daily flight and accommodation deals from all around the country.

The idea is (and apparently it’s been proven by psychologists) that when there is less of something available it seems to be more valuable. If you run a special for one day only, or have only a limited amount of something available people will feel more inclined to buy.

Of course, depending on the goals of your site you could do this in other ways as well. I’ve seen many webinars limiting the amount of ‘seats’ available to drive up demand, email newsletters available for one day only and lots of other ways to create scarcity. See what works for you.

4) Use food, sex or danger to attract peoples’ interest

Interested?

Interested? Photo by VeganFest

This one is obviously pretty dependent on your audience, but the idea is that using these kind of images can draw people to your site and (temporarily at least) capture your attention.

One online marketing campaign that did very well using these principles was Old Spice. Their series of videos captured a huge audience – and along with the way they made the campaign interactive, it was a huge boon for the brand.

5) Use the power of faces

The power of faces

The power of faces. Photo by tommerton2010.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, humans tend to react to human faces. By having faces on your site, people tend to spend more time looking at and understanding your site, and apparently the faces in particular.

I find this point quite interesting, especially when they say you should get ‘the faces’ to look directly at the camera. In this post over at Usable World they talk about the results of their eye tracking experiments that showed users look where the faces are looking – so I thought that getting the faces to look at your calls to action would be a great idea.

Either way you might find using faces on your site will create more engagement.

6) People process information better as stories

People process information better as stories

People process information better as stories. Photo by 50 Watts

They kind of gloss over this in the video, but I think it’s a very interesting point. I know when I’m reading blog posts the ones that pull me in are the ones that have a good, personal hook, that tell a story.

Of course, applying that to your website could be pretty difficult, but telling even a little about the story of your site could be a good start.

7) Build commitment over time

Commitment

Commitment

As they say in the video, you can start with a small amount of commitment with your users (like asking them to subscribe to your RSS feed, Twitter feed or Facebook page) and build from there.

By taking your time and not rushing people they will slowly but surely feel more loyalty to your site, service or product.

I’m sure you all have your own experiences of a whole range of services building up a loyal following in this way. It’s tried and tested, and a great way to build more engagement.

Conclusion

Hopefully this have given you some good ideas on how to make your own site or service more engaging.

Obviously some of these points would be harder to implement on some sites than others, but there is sure to be a point or two that will work for you.

If you’ve got your own tips for how to make a more engaging site, we’d love to hear them as well. What has your experience taught you? Do you have any good examples of sites that are doing a great job at engagement?

While you’re here, we’d also be much obliged if you did subscribe to our RSS feed, and if you enjoyed the post, we’d love it if you Tweeted it as well (see what we did there?).

Thanks very much for dropping by!

 

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.

 

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: Gizmodo.com

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 23rd, 2011

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

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

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

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

What is Gizmodo?

 
According to Wikipedia:

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

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

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

The website

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

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

The New Version

Gizmodo - New Version

Gizmodo - American Version

The Old (International) Version

Gizmodo - Old Version

Gizmodo International Version

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

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

The Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The results:

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

How would you login to the Gizmodo site?

Gizmodo - Where would you login?

Where would you login - old version

Gizmodo - Where would you login - new version

Where would you login - new version

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

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

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed?

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

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - old version


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

How would you subscribe to the RSS feed - new version

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

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

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

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

Where trolls toll - old version

Where trolls toll - old version

Where trolls toll - new version

Where trolls toll - new version

Where trolls toll - new version

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

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

Which interface do you prefer?

Preference Test - old and new design

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

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

How would you follow Gizmodo on Twitter?

Follow on Twitter - old design

Follow on Twitter - old design

Follow on Twitter - new design

Follow on Twitter - new design

Follow on Twitter - new design

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

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

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

How would you search the Gizmodo site?

Search the site - old design

Search the site - old design

Search the site - new design

Search the site - new design

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

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

How would you advertise on this site?

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

Advertise on this site - new design

Advertise on this site - new design

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

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

Recommendations for the Gizmodo site:

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Final Score: 6/10

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

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

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

 

Usability iPad App: The Winners

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 20th, 2011

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

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

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app: TED website test

Usability iPad app: TED website test

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

Now, on to the winners of our competition:

The Winners

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

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

Win Smashing Books 1 and 2 with IntuitionHQ

Win the Smashing Books with IntuitionHQ

Win the Smashing Books with IntuitionHQ

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

That’s all folks

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

Happy testing all, and congratulations again to our winners.

The team at IntuitionHQ.

 

Usability iPad App – 5 Promo Codes to Giveaway

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 16th, 2011

 
To quote Professor Farnsworth: Good news, everybody!

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

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

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

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

Now, as for the app:

The Usability iPad App

Usability iPad app - Sign in

Usability iPad app: Sign in

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

Usability iPad app: Published Projects

Published Projects

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

Usability iPad app: TED website test

Usability iPad app: TED website test

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

Usability iPad app: TED website test

TED website test

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

Usability iPad app: User Experience of Colour test

User Experience of Colour test

Usability iPad app: User Experience of Colour test

User Experience of Colour test

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

Usability iPad app: Completed test

Completed test

Leave your comments and retweet to win

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

Happy testing all,

The team at IntuitionHQ.

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

 

Website Usability Test: TED.com

Posted by Jacob Creech on June 10th, 2011

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

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

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

What is TED?

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

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

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

The TED website:

The TED website

The TED website

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

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

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

The Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing the test:

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

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

The results:

How would you view the upcoming TED conferences?

How would you view the TED conference?

How would you view the TED conference?

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

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


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

How would you find videos about business?

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


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

How would you subscribe to the TED newsletter?

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

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


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

How would you search the TED site?

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


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

How would you follow TED on Twitter?

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


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

How would you get to the TED blog?

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

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


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

How would you sign up to the TED website?

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

Final Score: 9/10

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

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

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

Thanks for dropping by!

 

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!