To ensure users find value in the website solution you provide them, you must involve them in your design process. One of the most important areas in this process of understanding is Usability Testing.
Can your audience use your website? It allows you to see where they’re getting stuck and helps you determine what you should do so they don’t get stuck.
Take a shopping transaction for example. You’re on your mobile phone and you want to order your groceries for the week. How straightforward is the process from when you land on the website through to when you checkout? Are the menu items understandable, can you navigate through the website easily, does the website load quickly enough, do you have enough information about what you’re buying? To ensure the website will be successful, User Experience designers undertake testing that gathers both quantitative and qualitative data.
Quantitative usability testing
Quantitative testing is often described as “indirect measurement.” Quantitative testing data reveals a certain quantity, amount or range. It’s preferable to have a lot of data to find patterns, which helps define the usability of the current website. The more participants, the more accurate the data. This testing is usually administered through online tools that can record a user’s session on the website, tracking their metrics and randomising tasks and groups.
Let’s go back to the example of a grocery shopping transaction. With quantitative testing, areas that would be tested would include - the checkout: are the majority of users completing their checkout? If not, what is happening? Product Search: Are users successfully searching, finding and adding items to their cart?
While it can be easy to collect plenty of statistical website data, without customer insights this data only tells half of the story. This is when Qualitative usability testing comes to the fore. If Quantitative testing is about the what, Qualitative Testing is about the why.
Qualitative usability testing
Qualitative testing is described as a “direct observation”. This method focuses on a core group of people who meet your target audience’s characteristics. It involves asking them to follow a series of tasks either on the current website or in a new design prototype, and observe their behaviour while they do so. As it’s one on one, there’s time to discuss what they’re finding, what they’re finding hard - what the pain points are and their improvement suggestions. There are tools you can use to record these tests, which is helpful for later review.
There are many other Usability Testing Methods for logic and navigation that can be used throughout your website design process. A couple of our favourites are:
This is a fun and easy way to ensure your menus are straight-forward and organised logically. Create paper cards with your menu items and products on them, then ask users to arrange them into logical categories. Once this is done, ask them to name each group.
Once you believe you have your site structure sorted, you can check it by asking users to find specific items in the existing hierarchy. If they have a hard time getting to a particular area, it means there’s still room for improvement.
Testing and validating ideas, designs and functionality enables you to understand how users interact with your site. You can then define the functionality and design requirements that will give users a successful, fulfilling experience.