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You can increase your website's conversion rates and improve your sales by conducting usability testing to find and fix the places where your customers are abandoning your site.

By incorporating usability testing before, during, or after development, you can achieve incredible gains.

For example, usability guru Jared Spool, a founder of User Interface Engineering, has documented a case where usability tests and changes to a button increased a site's annual revenue by $300 million.

He calls it the $300 Million Button.

Two Forms of Usability Testing

There are two general types of usability testing:

  1. Expert reviews—A trained professional in human-and-computer interaction reviews a website or application based on existing user-experience best-practices but takes into consideration variations required to meet specific user needs or business requirements.
  2. Performance testing—Actual users, or people who match typical website users, are tested in a carefully developed series of tasks on a website. The session is one-on-one: A moderator provides the test instructions while the participant tries to accomplish the tasks. The participant is recorded (via audio, video, and screen interaction), and task failure points are documented and analyzed.

Both types of testing deliver an analysis of where the task-flow errors are occurring; an evaluation of the severity of each error; and a set of recommendations for ways to eliminate the error, thus increasing task-flow completion.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Craig Tomlin is a freelance usability consultant and one of only 2,000 Certified Usability Analysts in the world. He blogs about usability at www.usefulusability.com and was named one of the Top 10 must-follow usability experts by Mashable. Reach him via wcraigtomlin@gmail.com or Twitter (www.twitter.com/ctomlin).