A site’s ease of use, or its usability, is an integral part of its success, especially with websites becoming more and more interactive, complex and packed with features. User-centered design is all about building websites that fulfill the goals and desires of its users, and at the heart of this concept is that a user must be able interact with your website effectively.

Testing usability is an art and a science. There are many times when usability testers rely on qualitative measurements, intuition, opinions and feedback from users and experience. However, there are also factors you can test quantitatively to ensure that a site is usable.

In this post, we’ll discuss six crucial factors that affect usability. For each, you’ll be provided with some tips, tools and ideas on how you can measure these usability factors.

We’ll focus on practical usability testing, so the emphasis is on pragmatic and inexpensive strategies that most site owners can do. These things apply regardless of what type of website (blog, e-store, corporate site, web app, mobile device, etc.) you’re evaluating.

What other tools have you used to test website usability? Let us know in the comments below.


1. User Task Analysis


The most important and obvious thing to test for is whether users are able to accomplish their tasks and goals when they come to your site. Not only that, you have to ensure they’re able to do so in the best and most efficient way possible.

The first thing that must be done is determine what the core user tasks are. For example, in a blog, some critical user tasks are reading blog posts, being able to find older posts and leaving comments.

Perform a task analysis for each task. Evaluate task performance under these considerations:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for new users to learn to perform the task? For more complicated tasks, are there sufficient help features such as tutorials, in-line tips and hints, tool tips, etc.?
  • Intuitiveness: How obvious and easy is the task to accomplish?
  • Efficiency: Are users performing tasks optimally? Are there ways to streamline and reduce the time it takes to complete the task?
  • Preciseness: How prone to errors is the task? What are the reasons for any errors? How can we improve the interface to lower errors and unneeded repetition?
  • Fault Tolerance: If a user makes a mistake while performing the task, how fast can he recover?
  • Memorability: How easy is the task to repeat?
  • Affordance: Are interactive elements (such as buttons, links and input text boxes) related to the accomplishment of a task obviously interactive and within convenient reach? Is it evident what the results of a user action will be when the user decides to interact with it by clicking, mouse hovering, etc.?

Evaluating user tasks is a little tricky because many things associated with this are subjective, can vary greatly between different users and require you to create your own criteria for what can be considered a success.

That said, one of the best and easiest ways to perform task analysis is remote user testing. You can test participants regardless of their location, and you save the money related to the logistics of conducting your own user testing studies (booking a location, equipment, searching for participants, etc.).

Check out these remote user testing web apps:


Related Posts:

 

Comments are closed.