Testing for Usability

We’ve probably all heard the term(s) Usability, User Experience, User Friendly, User this, User that, User, User, User. Believe it or not, testing for a good UX (user experience) is really not all that complex. In fact only 5 evaluators can help to identify up to 75% of all usability issues. Keep in mind the best time for a UX audit is prior to a site “go live” however even a fully published site could still benefit!

Try Your Own Usability Test

  • Create a scenario detailing a real world sequence or course of events that your target audience is encountering. This puts your evaluator into the mindset of your target audience.

Example scenario: You are a local high school student reviewing Rowan University as a potential place to apply as a freshman with an undecided major. However, you do have an interest in elementary education. You know nothing about the programs offered, process of application, admission requirements etc. and have decided to use the Rowan University website to help gather information. To aid in research, you had just used a search engine to narrow down some resources and clicked on the Rowan University's College of Education website link.

  • Include 5-7 critical tasks for your evaluator to complete, based on your scenario

Example Tasks:

  1. How would you go about finding a list of Bachelor’s programs offered through the College of Education?
  2. After selecting a program that aligns with your elementary education interest, are you able to locate some courses that are offered?
  3. Where would you go to find out what it’s like to be an undergraduate at the College of Education
  4. Rowan University has a list of items that are reviewed in order to determine acceptance of potential a freshman applicant. Based on this program, where would you go to find this list?
  5. You are even more interested in this elementary education program but would like additional information before applying. Based on your program of choice, how would you request additional information?

Based on the outcomes by your evaluators, you are quickly able to identify the biggest usability issues for a particular set of critical tasks. For example:

  • Were your evaluators able to successfully complete your tasks? No, then Why?
    • What was the success rate?
  •  Did your evaluators take too long to complete your critical task? Why?
  • Did your evaluators go to one area but you intended them to go to another area? Did this happen for 1 or all your evaluators? Why?
  • Did your evaluators get frustrated with any specific area of the site during this process? Why?
The biggest purpose of a usability test is to figure out if your audience is able to successfully USE your website, not to know necessarily if a user LIKES your website. The latter could be accomplished by a Focus Group.