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What is usability testing?

By Rachel Cooke 16th July 2018

We’re big fans of usability testing here at SimpleClick. 

Sometimes known as user experience, or UX testing, it allows you to get real, measurable customer feedback on your website.  In its most basic form, you gather together a group of your typical users and ask them to complete various tasks on your site.  You record their web session and then report on it, focusing on the issues and obstacles they had during the test.

We’re all web experts at SimpleClick, and we have years of internet experience, but even we don’t profess to know exactly what your customers want to see from your website.  A usability test does just that.

There have been many arguments on the web between usability experts as to how many people you should have in a usability test.  Jakob Nielson says five is enough, others say eight, or even twelve.  In our experience, eight is ideal and will pick up the vast majority of the most important changes that need to be made.

Don’t waste the time you have!  90 minutes is really the maximum time you should ask anyone to be present for a test, but your web testing might only take an hour.  Use the rest of the time to glean valuable feedback on new web design ideas, complete a questionnaire about their online habits and even ask for their opinions about your competitors’ websites.

Tests can be really basic or very high tech; from a PC in a small office with a camcorder, to a fully-fledged usability lab complete with eye-tracking equipment and two-way mirrors.  How far you go with this depends largely on budget, but in line with our philosophy of keeping things simple and getting the best return on investment, we would recommend somewhere in the middle.

In fact, the most crucial element of a successful user test is that you have the right expertise in place to analyse your results.  It is no good recording hours of testing footage if there is no way of collating the findings and actions.

Call us to talk about usability testing for your website.