Usability testing: essentials

June 12, 2008
  1. Usability testing is one of the most important aspects of professional website production.
  2. These task-based tests should ideally be conducted at regular intervals throughout the development process.
  3. Heuristic evaluations by usability experts provide valuable feedback regarding the generic usability of the site.
  4. You need to test actual members of the target audience – not just your colleagues in the office.
  5. Information architects are not the best people to carry out usability testing on their own sites. This should be left to impartial experts.
  6. Simple paper-based tests can show the information architect if labels are accurate and have the right scent.
  7. Structural prototypes can be used to identify navigational problems such as excessive pogo-sticking.
  8. During beta-tests of a nearly completed site, users can be asked to make comparisons and judgments in addition to factfinding.
  9. Usability tests provide hard facts. They don’t depend on your own “best guess.”

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p.170

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