How Is Usability Testing Performed?

How the scientific methodology of usability testing identifies which elements of your website are successful

To maximise the effectiveness of your website, it must be user-friendly, attractive and contain relevant information. Your business presence will be judged on website efficiency – make it hard to navigate and your audience will simply look elsewhere.

What is usability/user experience?

Usability is a measure of how easy a product, in this case, a website, is to use. A practical and cost-effective method of evaluating the website is to test it on potential and regular users via observable tasks; their experiences and responses are useful at different stages:

  • Product Development – user feedback during the initial setup of the website gauges its usability, e.g. what were users thinking while negotiating the site, did they understand what the site was about? Their ‘hands-on’ user experience (UX) is an excellent way to conduct market research whilst engaging with potential customers.
  • Ongoing Assessment – when the website is established, the scientific methodology can measure user satisfaction, commercial effectiveness and usability. Resultant data analysis highlights areas of the website that may need minor adjustment, or a larger rethink to engage web visitors and better inform your digital marketing strategy.
  • Comparative Appraisal – evaluating the merits of two or more different areas of your website by comparing them and identifying the merits and weak points of each one.

How is it measured?

Website usability is often measured by an A/B or ‘split’ testing method; two variants of a web page are compared to identify which has the strongest performance. A/B testing follows a scientific process, to measure website traffic and user behaviour:

  1. Using suitable analytical software, e.g. Google Adwords and Google Analytics, the website owner should identify the goal variable that is desired to be tested, i.e. low bounce rate or unusually high click rate and add these metrics to the conversion funnel (a series of steps the customer takes on the website until conversion).
  2. Observational software such as Heatmaps can show where users have clicked on a page, how far they have scrolled, whilst eye-tracking can pinpoint what they were looking at and for how long. This data can provide valuable insight as to why users are not converting.
  3. Set and test a hypothesis – incorporate experiment duration, current conversion rate and the expected difference in the conversion rate into your rationale.
  4. Data analysis and hypothesis conclusion – evaluate the results and determine which website variation provided the highest conversion rates. If the answer is unambiguous, then look to implement the findings. If inconclusive, reset your hypothesis factors and repeat the experiment.

What results can you expect to gain from usability testing?

  • Direct user feedback
  • Areas of concern are able to easily addressed
  • Increased probability of repeat usage
  • Greater understanding of your website
  • Lessens risk of product failure
  • Increase in usability = higher traffic and conversion rates
  • Superior ROI

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