980px

ITC298 » Usability Testing for Your Website Interface

Have ever wondered what your users actually think about your website? Would you like to know if they find your site to be usable or not? You do? Then you may want to do some Usability Testing of your website!

See Also: Research Activity Report: Usability Testing with User Sketches | Mike Sinkula, Christina Ntouniaoglou, Shubha Sastry, Ruby Kuo and Jake Sparling

What is Usability?

According to Jakob Nielsen, usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process.

Nielsen also states that, Usability is defined by 5 quality components:

  1. Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  2. Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  3. Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  4. Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  5. Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

See Also:

What is Usability Testing?

If usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use… how do we make sure that our websites are usable? Luckily, we can test for that.

Usability Testing, then, is a technique used in user-centered and interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users.

The primary aspect of usability testing, as described by Usability.gov, is the technique used to evaluate a product by testing it with representative users. And, in the test, these users will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and take notes.

See Also:

Why Should We Test Our Website’s Usability?

In short, if your site is not “usable,” users may leave and not buy your products or services.

Therefore, websites should conduct some kind of usability studies. And, traditional Usability Testing can tell you a lot about how users are actually “using” your website.

According to Usability.gov, during a usability test, you may:

  • Learn if participants are able to complete specified tasks successfully
  • Identify how long it takes to complete specified tasks
  • Find out how satisfied participants are with your Web site or other product
  • Identify changes required to improve user performance and satisfaction
  • And analyze the performance to see if it meets your usability objectives

According to Jared Spool, The point of user research is to make good, solid, confident decisions about design. But, why traditional Usability Testing as opposed to using other methods?

Dana Chisnel contends that 80% of the value of testing comes from the magic of observing and listening as people use a design. The things you see and the things you hear are often surprising, illuminating, and unpredictable. This unpredictability is tough to capture in any other way. She also states that the other 20% of the value comes from the pre-testing discussions team members have as they decide what their Big Questions are and the post-testing discussions about what to do with what they’ve learned.

When Should We Test Our Website’s Usability?

Here is where is should have that stupid diagram.

How Do We Test Our Website’s Usability?

Usability Testing can be conducted ranging from very formal methods in an expensive lab to sitting a t a coffee shop using your laptop.

According to Dana Chisnel, all you need for a usability test is someone who is a user of your design (or who acts like a user), something to test (a design in any state of completion), and someplace where the user and the design can meet and you can observe.

No matter which way you choose to go depending on your time constrains and your budget, you will need to prepare the study as to conduct it successfully.

Holy Shit: Usabillity Templates & Downloadable Documents | Usability.gov

1) Creating the Test Plan

You don’t need me to tell you that creating your test plan is extremely important. But, it’s extremely important!

See Also: Planning a Usability Test | Usability.gov

Your Usability Test plan should include but not be limited to:

  1. Introduction: Why are you conducting this study and what do you hope to achieve?
  2. The Research Question(s): What are some of the questions that you hope to answer by conducting this study?
  3. Target Audience Info: Who is your basic demographic audience that you need to recruit to conduct this study?
  4. Methods: What is the depth of the study that you are running and how?
  5. Logistics: Where and how will you be conducting this study?
  6. Tasks: What are some of the tasks that you hope to run?
  7. Data Collection & Reporting: What kind of data do you hope to collect and how do you hope to analyze and report it it?

See Also: 

2) Setting Up the Test Environment

Your test environment may depend on the scope of your study your budget and time constraints. Whether you choose to run your testing in a lab, a conference room or a coffee shop, you should get some valuable data.

3) Recruiting & Screening the Participants

To conduct the usability test, Jakob Nielsen and his most awesome hair has found that recruiting 5 representative users as participants is enough to identify a design’s most important usability problems.

See Also:

But, How do we go about recruiting the participants.

a) The Recruiter: We need to write up a semi-formal solicitation to recruit our participants and place this where they will see it.

See Also: 

b) The Screener: Once we have had possible participants respond to our recruiter, we need to screen them to make sure that they fit our demographic audience.

See Also:

4) Creating the Test Kit

Once we have planned out our test and found participants to run, we need to create the materials we are going to use to run the study.

a) The Consent Form: Because we are working with Human Subjects, we will need to explain the study to the participant and get their consent to participate.

See Also:

b) Pre-Test Interview/Questionnaire/Survey: This questionnaire is an opportunity for the facilitator to get to know the participant while also gathering additional data which may or may not be used during data analysis.

See Also:

c) The Test Script: Because we are performing a test that needs to run smoothly, it is in our best interest to write out a script to follow.

See Also:

d) The Task List: These are the descriptions of each task you would like the participants to perform. They also contain the correct way to perform the task. You don’t share that part with the participant.

See Also:

e) Post-Test Interview/Questionnaire/Survey: This questionnaire is an opportunity for the facilitator to gather more data on how the participant responded to the website or user interface.

See Also:

f) The Notes Form: This is just a handy little form to create organized into tasks.

See Also: The Notes Form: Usability Testing Study of Seattle Central Community College Website | Mike Sinkula, Bob Kittle, Asmi Joshi & Yoel Sumitro

5) Conducting the Sessions

Are you ready? Got all of your materials, equipment and logistics in order? Great! Let’s actually conduct this test!

a) Think Aloud Protocol: In a thinking aloud test, you ask test participants to use the system while continuously thinking out loud — that is, simply verbalizing their thoughts as they move through the user interface.

See Also: Thinking Aloud: The #1 Usability Tool | Nielsen Norman Group

b) Recording the Session: You should record video whenever it’s important for you to be able to review the visual elements of your user research sessions. For example, in usability testing, contextual inquiries, and ethnographic observations, it’s important to see participants’ actions.

See Also:

6) Reporting the Findings & Recommendations

So What happened? What did you find out and what does it all mean?

Your Usability Test Report should include but not be limited to:

  1. Introduction: Why are you conducting this study and what do you hope to achieve?
  2. The Research Question(s): What are some of the questions that you hope to answer by conducting this study?
  3. Participant Info: Who did you recruit to conduct this study and why?
  4. Methods: What was the depth of the study that you ran and how did you do it?
  5. Logistics: Where and how did you conduct this study?
  6. Results: What kind of data do you hope to collect and how do you hope to analyze and report it it?
    1. Task Completion Success Rate: The task success rate is the number of successes divided by the number of participants completing the task.
    2. Time on Task: The time data in participant by task.
    3. Errors: The number of errors participants made while trying to complete the task scenarios.
    4. Overall Ratings: After task session completion, participants rated the site for eight overall measures.
  7. Conclusions: Provide a short conclusion paragraph. Begin with an overall statement of what the participants found. Follow up with possible screen shots.
  8. Appendix: Provide copies of all your testing materials.

See Also:

7) Creating the Executive Presentation

The executive Presentation is basically a shortened version of your report that is more visually compelling and summarizes findings more succinctly that you can present to an audience.

See Also: Presentation: Usability Testing Study of Seattle Central Community College Website | Mike Sinkula, Bob Kittle, Asmi Joshi & Yoel Sumitro

This portion of the Premium Design Works website is written by Mike Sinkula for the Web Design & Development students at Seattle Central College and the Human Centered Design & Engineering students at the University of Washington.

Leave a Comment:

Don't forget to get your Globally Recognized Avatar.

css.php