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How to audit your website - Part Two

How to audit your website - Part Two

This series of blog posts will explain how to utilise three different website auditing techniques. In this post, we focus on usability testing. Read part 1 here – introduction and user surveys.

How to audit your website – Part 2: Usability testing

Usability testing differs from a user survey in two ways; firstly, rather than asking questions about their experience of your site, usability testing sets participants specific tasks to complete. They then rate or comment on each task. Secondly, a usability test collects much more detailed feedback than a user survey.

We highly recommend this website audit technique, whether you have done a member survey or not, as it is particularly good for identifying ways to improve key website processes and user experience. If possible, you should gain feedback from two or more different user groups, this will allow you to test a wider variety of tasks. NB. try to keep a usability test under 30 minutes to complete, too many tasks and people just won’t have the time to do the test properly.

There are two ways of sourcing users for a usability test. You can either ask colleagues, friends and family to help out, or alternatively source external, more impartial users to take part. Ideally, you need to enlist a minimum of five users to participate and they should be of a mixed technical ability.

A usability test can be conducted with all users in strict exam-like conditions, with every mouse click recorded with user testing software. However, this can be an expensive process. A more economical alternative is to use an online survey tool, so that participants can complete the test on their own machine, at their convenience. An advantage of the online option is that tests are likely to be completed on a wide variety of operating systems and web browser versions, which can help identify any OS or browser-specific issues.

Ask users to complete key tasks and processes on your site. Use a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended questions to gain as much data and feedback as possible. Be sure to cover functionality, user experience, user interface and content in your questions.

With a more focused set of users spending more time on the task details, your test results should have stronger majority answers and trends than your member survey results.

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