Gwen Davies

How to get results with your web site

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Why not just put your website up and see what kind of results you get?

The best answer, I think, is that you do not know what happens when people try to use your site. The right test lets you watch and listen to someone as they move through your site.Take a look at this.

I have used this type of test many times – one-on-one usability testing. You find a few volunteers who are just like the people you want to come to your site and work their way through it – you are testing for the usability of your site.

For this test, bring in one volunteer at a time. Work out with that volunteer what they will try to do with your site, and ask them to go ahead and do it. Test volunteers talk out loud as work with the site, and make notes of what works and what doesn’t work.

You listen and watch and make notes as well. But you do NOT answer any questions. If the volunteer struggles to find something, you make a note. If they get confused, or if they sail right through – you can see how the website works for that person.

Three is a good number of volunteers to use, You usually take an hour with each volunteer.

What makes a test so helpful?
– You put the volunteers at ease.
– You don’t take anything personally.
– You make sure volunteers understand that you are testing material, not them, and that every difficulty they have helps you build a site that really works.

You make changes after you test a set of three volunteers, and test it with three more. If you have time, you repeat this process one more time. However, testing and making changes twice will give you a much strong web site than one you have not tested.

You end a session by asking general questions like these
– Was this site generally useful?
– Is it what you expected?
– Do you have any suggestions?
– Is there anything you found particularly difficult?
– Is there anything you found particularly helpful?

There are several kinds of simple tests like this. You choose the type that works best for what you are testing. Good luck with it.

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