Usability Testing: 3 Ways to Tell If Your Website Content Is Working

Usability TestingAfter spending hours upon hours trying to design the perfect website and write the best copy, it can be difficult to tell whether or not users can navigate it successfully. Sure, you’ve installed Google Analytics, but that only only measures pageviews and clicks. What it doesn’t tell you is the users intentions, whether or not they are finding what they to your website for in the first place. So how can you measure the success of your website content? Usability testing is the most powerful way to do so.

How To Run a Usability Test

Don’t let the term “usability test” deter you–it’s not as hard as it sounds. All it involves is observing a potential user interact with your website in real time and asking them followup questions about what they liked and where their pitfalls were. Here’s how to run a usability test:

  1. Greet the user
  2. Introduce user to observers
  3. Explain to user how the test will work
  4. Giver the user tasks to complete and observe problems they experience
  5. General Q&A
    1. What are the 2 things you liked best about the product?
    2. What are the things would you improve?
  6. Debrief with observer by keeping a rolling list of observations

Once you’ve got the basic usability test format down, there are also a number of other, more specific tests that you can run to find the answer to different questions.

The 5 Second Test

Use this test to tell whether your content is making the correct first impression. It answers the research question, “How do we measure the success of content pages?”

It’s a quick and dirty technique for measuring content pages and takes less than 10 minutes to run. It measures whether or not content pages quickly convey their purpose. You simply show a user a page for 5 seconds and ask them what information jumped out at them and what their impression of the product or service is. Beware, this test is not for homepages because there is often more than one priority on a homepage.

The First Click Test

A home page is like a lobby of a hotel–it sets a good impression, but it isn’t where your users really want to be. This test answers the research question, “How do we measure the success of home pages?”

It’s a useful method to assess where users first click on your site’s home or entry page. To run the test, simply provide users with a specific task to complete when they arrive at the site. By observing where users first click, it’s a clear indicator whether they’ll eventually be successful

The Inherent Value Test

You may think you site is conveying the values your company holds, but that may not always be the case. This test answers the research question, “How well does your content communicate the value of your product?”

This is a two phase test that draws upon both already loyal users and prospective users who have little to no familiarity with the product. For the first phase, bring in the loyal users and ask them what they like about your site and to give you a tour of how they would normally use the site. For the second phase, bring in the prospective users, and after they explore through the website, have them tell you what they think are the important areas of the site. This will tell you whether the values you are trying to convey are actually getting across to users.

Usability testing isn’t as daunting a task as one may think. With these three types of tests under your belt, you’ll be able to effectively measure the success of your website content.

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