Stop making guesses about how to make your website better. Usability testing provides real insight from actual end users.
What Is Usability Testing?
Usability testing — or user testing — is the process of validating your web design decisions by having real users test your sitemap, design mockups, or your website. Users are given a series of tasks specifically crafted by a user experience strategist, and we use a variety of tools to measure whether the website is actually meeting their needs.
Historically, decisions about what's best for the user were made without actually consulting the users themselves: anecdotal evidence from stakeholders or loose recommendations from the designer were used in place of actual feedback from real users. That is an outdated approach, especially with the user testing tools that are now available to us.
What Kind of Usability Tests Should You Run?
There are a variety of usability tests that we provide as part of our user testing services. A few of them are described below:
In a card sorting exercise, users are presented with a variety of categories/topics along with some pages from your site. They are asked to put each page into a category or topic as they see fit. This process helps to drive the sitemap and navigation structure.
In a tree test or a sitemap test, users are provided a sample sitemap and asked to find specific pages or topic areas based on hypothetical scenarios (e.g., "You are interested in visiting the campus of this university. Where would you go to find out when the next open house is?"). The tests are timed and audited for success and failure rate. We are able to extract a visual graph that shows how well users are responding to the sitemap.
First Click Testing
In first click tests, users are presented with either design mockups or the website itself. Given a hypotethical situation, such as "you are looking to a request for quote for the services this company provides", we are able to track their "first click" to determine whether the user is off to the races or getting bogged down in a confusing design or navigation structure.
The websites are sent to a variety of end users, who are assigned specific tasks to complete on the website. Users are recorded while performing the tasks, and are instructed to speak their thought process aloud. The recordings provide qualitative data on the general user experience and can provide detailed context for common user behavior.
Net Benefits of User Testing
User testing allows you make informed decisions to make your website better. Your site's design, content, and organization should encourage users to journey through the site, ultimately offering them the ability to take the next step toward an end goal. Whether that end goal is signing up for a newsletter, buying a product, or applying to a university, there’s a logical way that visitors will move through your content, and you want to make sure your site is optimized for users.