Website Usability Testing Tips to Avoid Bugs and Poor UX

Website creation is a journey of continuous improvement. And whatever needs your site is designed to fulfill, its success relies on the user experience.

Usability testing helps you ferret out and correct every bug and bottleneck that will hurt your UX. This is because it tests your website and prototypes with real people. Usability testing helps you smooth out the user experience, eliminate glitches, and identify how to improve overall website performance.

Modern customers expect website personalization and want a frictionless user experience. If your interface delivers a deficient UX, frustrated visitors will quickly bounce to a user-friendly competitor. The loss of website traffic, potential customers, and revenue will soon add up. 

That’s why we’ve prepared the following usability testing checklist.  

What is website usability testing, anyway?

It’s a user-centered design technique that tests your website with real users.

Usability testing can take the form of remote tests with surveys or laboratory-like testing conditions with experts on hand.

Facilitators usually get participants to perform tasks with one or more interfaces to test specific elements. However, your ideal testing format and methods will vary with your testing goals.

Goals of usability testing

Usability testing tests how well your design, user flows, and content work and feel for your intended users. By identifying issues your target users have with the user interface, you can deliver a satisfying, intuitive experience. 

With usability testing, you can:

  • discover user behavior and preferences 
  • measure user satisfaction with the UX 
  • test if you’re achieving your usability objectives 
  • uncover areas for improvement.

The importance of usability testing

People interact with your site for many reasons and with many expectations, for example, the length of time they expect it should take to buy your product.

There are plenty of tricks you can use to create a successful website. But it starts with usability. Usability testing eliminates guesswork and identifies any deficiencies. When you swap out assumptions for real data, you can deliver website design and UX that elevates your brand reputation.

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User testing allows development teams to identify UX issues before coding starts – a godsend for workflows. Let’s say you run a small business call center. You probably already know the benefits of automated call center software for expediting agent workflows. 

Well, the results of usability testing can similarly streamline developer workflows and performance. Fixing an error before development saves businesses money and prevents developers from wasting time revising pre-existing code. When you can quantify the success of your website performance, developers will get on board the usability train. 

Ok, on with the usability testing checklist. 

Tips for performing usability testing

Set out well-defined testing goals right off the bat. This will help you choose the right usability testing format.

Identify testing goals

Your aim might be to validate a prototype, find problems with complex flows, or identify opportunities to improve overall UX. What are people trying to achieve on your website? What’s stopping them from taking action? It all depends on the development stage and needs.

Create a task scenario

Figure out the goal that participants need to accomplish. For example, how easy is it for users to book tickets on your website? The tasks you assign will match the goals of your study and can range from exploratory to specific. The best exploratory testing techniques allow users to explore websites and applications to identify any bugs. Such open-ended tasks lend themselves to research-oriented goals. Specific tasks, in contrast, typically have a correct answer. 

Write tasks that avoid vague instructions or influence participants’ behavior with clues that could cause them to sugarcoat answers. 

Determine what you want to measure

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Usability testing also helps you find errors that can reduce the credibility of your website. But knowing what you’re measuring is also key to your ROI. 

Similar to how monitoring website KPIs, whether through a keyword rank tracking software or other means, determines whether your website is running smoothly, there are three broad key usability metrics to measure: effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction. Can users understand the interface and achieve their goals with minimal effort?

In the example of booking tickets, you might measure how long it takes users to find the booking page.

Choosing a usability testing method

Many experts deem the ‘’think aloud’’ method the most effective approach. As the name suggests, facilitators get users to walk through their experience with the website while continuously thinking aloud. The goal is to understand their train of thought as they navigate each user flow. 

Moderated testing can be conducted remotely or in person. The tester solicits feedback by asking questions and observing behavior as they complete tasks. 

Unmoderated tests are conducted without direct supervision and are better for testing specific elements and minor changes and observing behavior patterns. They yield less in-depth results but cost much less and test larger sample sizes of users in their real-world environment. 

In-house testing works best with qualified researchers in a usability lab. This minimizes the influence of external factors on results. In-house testing is ideal for digging deeper and evaluating user behavior and reasoning. 

Whereas remote tests can test many participants from anywhere using their own devices, in-house testing allows you to conduct controlled tests and investigate more data points. Field studies, for example, involve researchers traveling to users’ real-life locations and conducting semi-structured interviews. 

It’s also possible to perform moderated usability testing and contextual inquiries remotely. Luckily, you can use new unified communications platforms to conduct remote testing and observe users from afar. With these tools and trained moderators, you can limit the loss of data richness. These also come with time-saving features, such as voicemail to email app functionality, which is handy if you’re in contact with many participants. 

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Card sorting is another usability testing format. It tests how users view your website structure and navigate your site. And eye-tracking tests use special equipment to determine where users look on the page. They’re the way to go to identify irrelevant content and profitable insights about your design.

Today, most businesses use different types of CRM systems. Mine them for actionable insights they contain to conduct A/B tests, focus groups, and surveys. Although not considered as usability testing in the strictest sense, we’ve included these user research methods on our usability testing checklist because they’re a key part of your arsenal.

Find valid test participants

The industry standard for each study is to have five to seven participants. It’s a manageable and cost-effective number. And there are diminishing returns on what you can learn from testing more users.

Testing website usability involves testing the different audiences, personas, and use cases. But it’s worth emphasizing that you need to ensure you’re testing valid proxies for real users. Otherwise, you risk rolling out a redesign that alienates your users with its poor UX. 

You can be less selective in choosing test participants in an early development stage. The Guerilla method involves gathering feedback by presenting the prototype to a random group of people in a public space. To validate a prototype or investigate user expectations, you don’t need to evaluate an ideal user.

Later, you can recruit participants with the traits, needs, and goals of your user personas. This is necessary when you need to validate more relevant insights about why ideal users make specific choices while navigating your site. If you’re hard-pressed to find any, you can source representative users from third-party platforms. You can also perform internal usability testing for quick feedback to save time and dime.

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Conducting the test

Whether you’re using paper prototyping, a competitor’s site used in comparative research, or your existing website as part of a redesign process, show participants the prototype and get them to provide feedback. Be clear, concise, and consistent when giving instructions and asking questions. There are standard open-ended usability questions you can focus on. And remember, there are no right or wrong answers. 

Analyze test findings

You’re now ready to reflect on how your results speak to the pain points and the UX that you set out to test. Oh, and do you know those spreadsheets you most likely used to list the pages you needed to execute your topic clusters SEO strategy?

They’re also ideal for summarizing and organizing your feedback into categories that align with the tasks tested. Include issues or bugs that arose. Note what action the user took in response. You might differentiate pros and cons or major from minor usability issues. 

Use correlation analysis for quantitative data, such as responses to questionnaires. Meanwhile, qualitative data is ideal for journey maps. These provide a visual representation of the steps participants took interacting with your website. They uncover trends and hidden insights. Remember to include emotional responses to specific user flows in your analysis. 

They’re a surefire shortcut to inferring bugs and poor UX that need reworking. Finally, derive your most relevant and valuable findings and any usability weaknesses to present to stakeholders so they won’t go unaddressed. 

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The last key to great usability is iterative testing. Testing annually won’t cut it. Every six weeks is a realistic time frame to test, tweak, and implement your results for beautiful design and blissful UX.

Wrapping up

Usability testing is a vital tool for businesses to create websites that avoid bugs and poor UX. When you’re introducing innovative site architecture, for instance, usability testing helps you understand whether it’s an easy-to-use or a disorienting journey for the user.

We hope our usability testing checklist helps you conduct the interviews and solicit authentic user feedback to make sense of your data and design. Prioritize the improvements that prioritize your users and meet all their needs!

But ensure to stay ahead of UX ecommerce trends, though.

After all, great web design – as classic rock band Electric Light Orchestra was at pains to point out about life in general – is a livin’ thing. 

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