Website usability testing best practice

We advise testing with representative samples of your real-world audiences at key stages of the website design and development.

How to properly test usability

We advise testing with representative samples of your real-world audiences at key stages of the website design and development. The first stage is to undertake a comprehensive Discovery Phase where we identify:

  • your business objectives
  • user types (personas)
  • use cases
  • KPIs to measure the success of the site

This enables us to define the Information Architecture and templates required in the site.

From here we develop wireframes leading to an interactive HTML prototype. The first round of testing is with the project team to ensure it meets their stated objectives.  This is a visual check of the templates, calls to action, navigation and use of space within each template to ensure core pathways to outcomes can be met. The prototype,testing and design phases includes all aspects of responsive design to include tablet and smartphone interfaces.

We then undertake the first round of user testing which can be either quantitative or qualitative. this is the difference between smaller groups in a workshop setting using eye tracking technology and larger groups of on-line testing. At this stage we advise workshop based testing with smaller groups of representative audiences which will typically be:

  • existing residents/customers
  • internal stakeholders/staff where relevant
  • prospective tenants i.e. those looking for a home

We can assist in recruiting appropriate testers especially with the hard to reach groups such as prospective tenants. We have had great success with past social housing clients by working with local groups who engage with the same target audience such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and the local football club.

The first round of testing is in-depth and uses eye-tracking technology to determine exactly where a user is looking on the screen to achieve their task. It records a video of the actions the user takes as well as creates hotspots of where they look and where they click. This is invaluable in testing a range of different people to determine of location, size and copy of calls to action are working.

This is a dynamic process and we advise two rounds of testing with amends after the first round and then testing again with a new set of representative individuals. Testing works bets with total numbers of up to 20 people at a time.

This process really refines the wireframes and the templates in terms of refining the user journeys to achieve the optimum outcome.

Once the prototype has been refined and approved by the client we commence with the design phase. This is based around the empirical usability evidence from the prototype testing and takes account of the client branding, other promotional material (digital and print) and best practice in accessibility.

The first drafts are worked up and refined based upon client feedback prior to user testing. We use the same audience groups as for the initial user journey testing of the prototypes but the individuals need to be new. We are also looking for a larger group of testers to gain a wider insight into how the nuances of the design affect the outcomes. Our approach here is to undertake online testing using a tool such as Chalkmark which allows us to set testing scenarios and record where people click and how long it takes them to achieve an objective. This illustrates how people of different audiences interact with the design and helps refine design elements and language in order to improve outcomes.

We typically advise two rounds of at least 50 users with amends in between to achieve statistically valid results.

The tests will be varied based upon your specific audiences and can be based around specific audience groups with particular needs.