Your website is nothing without a steady flow of loyal visitors. And the best way to turn first-time visitors into loyal visitors is to improve user experience.
But user experience isn’t something you can guess at. Sometimes, you do the best you can to create what you think is an amazing website, only to find that your visitors have no clue how to navigate it, or that half of your redirects won’t work, or that your website looks fine on laptops and bigger screens, but it looks terrible on a cell phone.
To know for sure whether you’re creating a good experience for visitors to your website, you have to conduct website usability testing.
What is website usability testing?
Website usability testing involves performing a series of tests that show you how easy or difficult it is for people to use your website.
When you’re testing your website for usability, you’ll want to know several things:
- How easy it is for people to use your website for the first time, without any coaching
- How quickly people learn to use your website
- How quickly people can complete tasks on your website once they’ve figured out how to use it
- Whether people enjoy using your website
- Whether there’s anything frustrating or confusing about using your website
Why website usability testing is important
There are nearly two billion websites on the internet. Chances are that when your visitor types something into their search engine that leads them to your website, their search engine also shows them to a thousand other websites that do something similar.
If people can’t navigate your website, they’ll get frustrated and just click on one of the similar websites, instead.
When you’re floating on the creative high of having successfully finished making your website, it’s going to be very difficult for you to see that there’s anything wrong with it. You could end up launching your website expecting a flood of happy visitors and heaps of praise, only to open your inbox to a barrage of complaints about how impossible it is to find anything on your website.
Save yourself that pain and embarrassment by testing your website before you release it to the public.
How to conduct a website usability analysis
- Hallway website usability testing: This kind of website usability analysis involves observing how easy it is for people to use your website if they have no technical expertise. This is important information to have, because most people who use your website won’t have technical expertise. To conduct this kind of analysis, gather three to six of your least tech savvy friends and have them try to use your website.If you notice they’re getting stuck anywhere, write it down and go back to fix it later. Also, ask them to give you every single one oftheir opinions, no matter how silly they think it is.
- Expert usability testing: This is where you’ll call in the experts. Gather people who are trained in testing websites and have them probe your website for usability issues.
- DIY website usability testing: This is the part of the test where you try to navigate your own website to see if there’s anything that users might have trouble with. To carry out this kind of test, create a list of things a user might want to do on your website, then try to do those things yourself. If even you are having trouble using your own website, your visitors will definitely run into difficulty.
What to do once you’ve finished your website usability analysis
1. Look for common threads
If you’re lucky, after you’ve gathered all the information from your usability analysis, you’ll have a huge pile of notes to sort through. This can, of course, be more than a little overwhelming. The best place to start is with the most obvious problems. To figure out what these are, look for the common threads.
If all your testers mentioned that it was a little difficult reading your website on their cell phones, start there. Mobile responsiveness is critical for modern websites. That’s why we work so hard to ensure that every website that’s created using our website builder will be optimized for viewing on mobile phones. If you used a different website builder or hired someone to create your website for you, and it turns out your website can’t be viewed comfortably on mobile phones, you’ll want to start taking steps to fix this.
Similarly, if all of your testers loved the design of your website, don’t change the design of your website, trying to make it “better”.
The aim of testing is so you know what to fix and what to keep. Don’t just keep tweaking things for the sake of “development”.
2. Clarify confusing things
Once you know the most confusing things about your website, you can start taking steps to clarify them. Make important changes to your website as soon as you can. This doesn’t necessarily involve a largescale overhaul of your website. If your visitors mention that they don’t quite know how to make a purchase on your website, fixing that might mean something as simple as inserting a button that says, “Click to buy”.
3. Do more usability testing
Once you’ve finished testing your website for usability, and you feel as if you’re ready to release it into the world, do one final run-through, just to make sure you’ve caught everything and that visitors will enjoy using your website. This is especially true if you’ve made changes to your website. This final test will show you whether any changes you’ve made in one area have made some other area suddenly start acting up or whether there’s something new that’s started going wrong with your website.
The most important thing is not to get frustrated.
Website usability is a never-ending goal. The version of your favorite websites that you’re accustomed to using is probably not the first version that was launched to the public.
It’s not a sign of failure when you realize your website could be better optimized if you make changes to it. The best website owners all know that website usability is an ongoing process.
Website usability analysis is the only way to be absolutely sure that you’re creating a good experience for people who use your website. Now that you know how to analyze website usability yourself, get started on rounding up a few friends who can help you follow our guide to creating a website that’s so easy to use that your visitors are guaranteed to keep coming back for more.