Website Support Clinic update – Usability testing
I’ve recently had a few support clinic attendees asking for a whistle-stop tour of usability testing, so this post shares the resources and recommendations I’ve been giving out.
How to conduct usability tests
Rocket Surgery Made Easy
Our go-to source for usability testing is Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy. The book takes you through:
- when and what you should test
- who to test and how to recruit
- picking tasks to test and writing scenarios for them
- conducting the tests
We have copies in our office, which we’re more than happy for you to have a read through. It’s a relatively short book and doesn’t take more than a few hours to read.
Steve Krug’s website also offers a series of helpful downloads, including a test script and recording consent form.
If you’re looking for online training, University of Edinburgh staff (non-visiting) can access Chris Nodder’s Usability testing training on Lynda.com.
If you have an iOS device and you’re looking for a relatively cheap option to conduct usability tests, we’d recommend UX Recorder. It’s a great option if you’re looking to take out an iPad or iPhone and conduct ad hoc tests with students around campus.
The tool records both your participants and their interactions with the built-in browser, including taps, swipes and scrolling behaviour.
You can then export the videos to external applications, including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
If you’re looking for a free alternative, the University’s Media Hopper service has a downloadable desktop recorder that can be used for usability testing.
Usability testing review session
After you conduct your tests and you have your videos, what do you do with them? We recommend holding a review session for your stakeholders.
Neil has a helpful blog post explaining all about what’s involved in the session, but essentially, the idea is to:
- get all stakeholders in a room together
- have them watch the usability testing videos
- have them write down the usability issues they witness
- prioritise as a group what the top usability issues are
We prioritise issues through a flowchart that assesses whether the issue occurred along a critical route in your site, if it was difficult to overcome and if all participants experienced it.
Once you have your set of prioritised issues, you can then work with stakeholders to assess what you can do to fix these issues.
Keep on testing
Remember that usability testing isn’t a one-off project. Don’t leave a review session ready to fix your issues and then not assess whether your changes have been successful.
Usability testing should be part of a broader process of continuous improvement that includes making editorial enhancements to your site and measuring their effectiveness through analytics and testing. This is what we’ve been doing for Helpline over the past year, which you can read more about in my blog post below.
Get in touch
Usability Testing Service
If you’re not able to run tests yourself, we offer a Usability Testing Service where we can both conduct the user tests and run a review session for you and your stakeholders afterwards.
If you’d like assistance or advice with any website task, drop us an email to book a support session.