When I was in grad school, I was fascinated by usability testing. (So dorky, I know!) My classmates and I even conducted usability tests on websites and submitted detailed reports to the professor. These reports included  proposed changes and improvements to the website we tested.

Usability testing is an awesome way to learn how real people use your website. If no one understands how to use your website, they won’t bother to learn about your product or service.

Why Should I User Test My Website?

  • Find out if visitors have any big issues navigating your website
  • Identify ways you can improve and update your website
  • Find out if your website is setup in a way that makes sense to users

If you want to make sure people are able to navigate around your website, you can DIY a simple usability test to make sure your website is doing its job. Today, I’m sharing my step by step guide to a DIY usability test plus a FREE user experience checklist download at the end! Woohoo!

DIY Usability Test Guide

  1. Round up some testers – Ask 4  to 5 friends or family who may not be too familiar with your website if they would be interested in testing out your website
  2. Determine what areas of your website to test – Pick three tasks you want your participants to complete during the test. Task examples:
    • Read the blog post titled, XYZ
    • Leave a comment on the blog post
    • Pick your favorite coffee mug and add it to your cart
    • Complete the contact form
    • Find shipping information
  3. Create a post-test survey – When participants are finished with the test, ask them to complete a short survey about their experience with your website. Ask multiple choice questions and open ended questions about what they liked and disliked about your website. Here are a few sample questions:
    • This task was <very difficult / difficult / neutral / easy / very easy> to navigate. Please explain.
    • The overall website experience was <poor / okay / good / great/ awesome>. Please explain.
  4. Select a program that can record the participant’s screen –  Silverback (Mac only) is designed specifically for user testing. It is not a free program, but you can use the free trial version to start. If you have a PC, you can use the free version of Zoom to record the test participant’s screens. It’s great to have a recording on hand to reference when you are reviewing notes in order to make website changes.
  5. Administer the Test  – Once you have everything in place, schedule about 30 minutes with each of your participants to work through the tasks. While they are working through the tasks, which you can share verbally or provide on a sheet of paper, you will observe and take notes. As tempted as you might be to help the testers along, you must keep quiet and not provide any feedback on the tasks you have given them.
  6. Take Lots of Notes – As the participants work through the tasks you assign them, take notes on where they are hesitating or having issues and note what seems to be working. The reason you want to record the session is so you can go back and watch it later.
  7. Analyze results – Once all of your participants have taken the usability test, review and compare all results and see what is working and what needs to be updated.
  8. Implement necessary changes and make your website easier to use!

You can conduct a usability test at anytime, but asking friends to review your site before a launch of a product/service or a brand new site is invaluable. Just because something makes perfect sense to you doesn’t mean that will make sense to others.  Take the time to run a usability test on your website to make it even better!

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