Have you ever been frustrated with a website because you couldn’t find the information you needed quickly and easily?
How can you ensure that visitors to your own website aren’t experiencing the same frustration? A quality user experience is one of the most important attributes of any website, and it’s usually the first impression a potential customer has of your business or organization. Research has shown that a visitor to a website will decide within ten seconds if they will stay or go.
Task-based usability testing provides the insights you need to better understand the “why” behind your users’ behaviors. This knowledge enables you to guide the user experience and deliver exactly what they want and need to see to make an informed decision about their next step. In contrast to heat maps and website analytics, usability testing uncovers the intent and thinking behind each click. For example, analytics may show that visitors are typically spending more than a minute on a particular page. That’s great to know, but it doesn’t tell you if that sixty seconds was spent engaging with your site, or if it was a fruitless and frustrating minute of unsuccessfully looking for information on the page.
With usability testing, your target audience is presented with tasks to complete on your website. Screen and audio of the participant thinking out loud is recorded, and a survey is completed at the end of the session. From these recordings and survey questions, objective data can be gathered by a full-service company with usability expertise. This data can include time spent completing a task, number of errors, task completion rate, common pathways, usability ratings, and product reaction. A comprehensive service can also provide the platform, test script writing, test setup, test moderation and transcriptions, and provide a comprehensive report with an actionable plan.
Usability testing can occur during all stages of a project lifecycle. Whether you need to evaluate the labeling and organization of the content or navigation, evaluate color choices or design layout, or determine the extent an interface facilitates a user’s ability to complete routine tasks, usability testing provides the checks needed to ensure that your project is on the right path. The earlier testing is completed, the higher the return on investment.
As your organization evolves, you’ll often find that your objectives, target audience expectations, and overall purpose may shift or develop. New priorities will arise, and you’ll face different challenges and expectations. Ongoing usability testing will ensure you’ve always got your finger on the pulse of your audience, and that your website is adapting and evolving to keep pace with your organization.
A successful website will foster communication and collaboration, disseminate information efficiently and accurately, and enhance the experience for all users. Integrating appropriate types of usability testing as part of your regular maintenance and strategic review can help reveal important insights to guide your strategy.
Also published on Medium.