13 Simple Website Tests to Improve Usability

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    23-Aug-2014
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If you could find a way to improve your website every day within 5 minutes, would you do it? If you’re a web designer, marketer, or content creator, we know you don’t have a lot of time to administer in-depth tests on your sites. However, you CAN use the following tips to see your website from a different perspective and find ways to improve its usability.

Transcript of 13 Simple Website Tests to Improve Usability

  • teamtreehouse.com 13 Simple Website Tests to Improve Usability Web Design
  • Summary ! If you could nd a way to improve your website every day within 5 minutes, would you do it? ! If youre a web designer, marketer, or content creator, we know you dont have a lot of time to administer in- depth tests on your sites. However, you CAN use the following tips to see your website from a different perspective and nd ways to improve its usability.
  • 1. Log Out If your website has a login, odds are youve been logged in for a quite a while. Many people get used to seeing all the available content and options logging in provides them. However, this may not be the usual information the average user sees when they rst arrive. Try logging out of the site to see what life is like for someone without an account. Seeing whats different, missing, or inaccessible might reveal opportunities for conversions. Optional: Try logging in as someone else with different kinds of access. Just dont steal any passwords in the process.
  • 2. Go Mobile Have you seen your website on a smartphone lately? Give it a look to see what it looks like. Dont have a smartphone? Borrow one; using a web emulator isnt 100% accurate. Does your site adapt to the mobile device? Do you see the same version from your laptop? Note any glaring issues or difficulties. If the mobile experience has problems, note them and address specics like missing content, readability, and the ability to use links, complete forms, and other features. Optional: If youre always on your mobile, try a desktop.
  • 3. Google Yourself When people type in your company or website name in a search engine, what result do they see rst? Is it your home page, or a different page within your site? Is it your site at all? This may reveal SEO and content opportunities - or problems to solve - such as ensuring your company and website name are in the TITLE tag on the home page. Optional: Continue the search across social networks like Twitter to see if and when your company is mentioned.
  • 4. Switch Browsers Are you using Safari on your Mac, or Internet Explorer on your PC? Download an alternative such as Firefox or Chrome and give it a spin. This is standard practice for web designers and developers, so make it a habit to experience your site from this different perspective as well. Optional: Try one of the alternate mobile browsers on your mobile.
  • 5. Find a Page Not Found Does your site have a 404 error page, a.k.a. Page Not Found? An easy way to check is to type in a URL you know doesnt exist. You could even try yoursite.com/404. Visit the home page, then type in some random characters after the address. This should bring up the Page Not Found page, if it exists. A custom 404 error page is a helpful way to get users back on track when pages break. Optional: If the 404 page does exist, try all the links on it to make sure users can actually get back.
  • 6. Try to Break Your Forms If your website has any simple forms - such as sending a message - make sure they work by trying to break them. Leave elds blank, enter text into the zip code eld, put numbers in the email eld, and try other things that should cause the form to return an error. Great forms will see problems and ask you to try again with helpful instructions; bad forms will accept your bad data, no questions asked. Optional: Complete a form successfully and see what happens. (If you have to, use test as your name or other data.) What does the conrmation message or screen look like? These steps often get overlooked since they happen so quickly.
  • 7. Explore Your Navigation Website menus may include only a few links or an entire hierarchy of menus, submenus, and beyond. Click every link throughout every menu and evaluate. Did the link go to the right place? Is the name of the link descriptive and accurate? Some titles might only need a tweak, while others could be leading users down the wrong path. If youre in doubt, ask someone unfamiliar with the site to give their feedback as company-specic product names can confuse even the most savvy user. Optional: Test the same thing on a mobile. Some sites feature completely different navigation schemes on mobile devices. Is there any difference on your site, and if so, are they missing anything important?
  • 8. Dont Forget the Footer Some website footers include a cavalcade of links that resemble the dozens of products found on some fast food menus. Regardless of the range of links found at the bottom of your website, each one needs to be checked to conrm they are working and descriptive. Ensure the presence of links to pages specic to legal issues - such as a Terms of Use - and account information. Optional: Can you nd links to job openings or information about where the company is located? Many job seekers look in the footer to nd this data, and if its missing, you might be losing out on opportunities to recruit new employees.
  • 9. Social Links and Badges Most websites provide links to their social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter. Depending on the range of services or content you provide, you might also link to niche social sites focused on design, development, industry news, and more. Part of reviewing each one will be seeing how often your company uses each one. Is your last update from 8 hours ago, or 8 months ago? Be sure to consider removing certain links if a platforms usefulness has run its course. Optional: Review the use of enhanced social links and plugins, such as Facebook Likes or Pinterest Pin It buttons.
  • 10. Working on the Weekend Many sites only provide new content Monday through Friday, but sites dont shut down when we close up shop for the weekend. Give your site a look on a Saturday or Sunday and see what users see. For many, the content wont change from Friday through Sunday night. Are you missing an opportunity here? If your site has a forum or community with engaged users, they might appreciate a weekend x of content, even if its as simple as a weekly recap or popular blog post from the past. Check your analytics tools or social platforms to see who might be around. Optional: Investigate apps like Buffer to schedule social posts that can go out over the weekend, especially to repost popular content from the past week or two.
  • 11. Check Your Locks If your site includes logins, backdoors, or other forms offering access to your content, give them all a try. If your site has a connected blog, be sure to review your login there as well. Hackers will try common passwords (does 12345 or password sound familiar?) to break in, but if youve done your job, none of them should work. Be sure to also check related features such as password reminders and resets, as well as the emails they generate. Optional: If you have a Wordpress blog, check and be sure youve removed or disabled any extra setup or reset functions that can be used to damage your blog.
  • 12. Watch Your Videos Trying to actually consume the content we create for others is a practice many dont do enough of. Take the opportunity to watch one you havent seen, or the one right on the front page of your site. If these videos are embedded from other platforms like YouTube, check the page where its hosted. You may discover new comments or questions from users that could lead to lead generating opportunities. Optional: If you have multiple videos on your site, organize them into a YouTube channel and share it with your visitors.
  • 13. Keep an Eye on Your Competition Identify a handful of direct competitors and visit their home pages, important products and services, and signup pages. What similarities and differences can you nd? Performing this research on a regular basis allows you to gure out what content or features you can add to stay ahead of your competitors, or outdo them. Be sure to consider design decisions as well, such as color choices, the size of calls to action, and the use of video or images in marketing. Optional: Go beyond websites and investigate competitor mobile apps as well.
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