Website usability testing guide
That's ok, we've got answers. Below is our most often asked questions. Sometimes it's just a matter of jumping in to see how it all works, however if we haven't answered a question you have please email us here and we'll get back to you shortly.
Best practices are half the answer
A good web designer is like a good accountant, you are much better of with a good one than bad. However, unlike accountanting it's often a slight deviation from 'best practices' that greatly improves the success of your website. So how do you know what's acceptable deviation and what isn't? You could guess and hope. Better still you can harness the power of user feedback to gather real data and actionable insights.
Focus on big problems
Typically on any one website there are only a few issues with large bottom-line impact. This is where your focus should be - the small number of crucial improvements that make a big difference to both your users and your marketing. Very few websites are so sophisitcated from a usability perspective that they need fine tuning. Leave that for another day.
Ask more questions more often
Rarely is it effective to obtain deep usability insights for a narrow range of metrics. It's better to allocate your website optimisation (usability) budget across a wider range of user research so that you can expose the bigger problems and iteratively optimise. Test more broadly and do it more often.
Cumulative insights count for much
Regular amounts of small usability testing keeps both the budget low and rewards high. In addition the value of the cumulative insights across the wide ranger of testing will continue to grow and give a lot of cross contextual insights that you can use across your other web assets.
Horizontal attention focuses left
When users initially approach your page, they'll spend considerable time looking for something where they expect to find it.
The left-most part of a web page typically contains a navigation bar, so it's not surprising to learn that according to studies by usability expert Jakob Nielsen attention grows after the 200-pixel mark, with the most attention around 300–500 pixels.
Stick to the conventional layout simply because it works well with the way user's currently look at web pages.
1. Keep navigation all the way to the left. This is where people look to find a list of current options.
2. Keep the main content a bit further in from the left, with your most important content showcased between one-third and halfway across the page. This is where users focus their attention the most.
3. Keep secondary content to the right. This keeps the focus on the main content however still gives you a placeholder for other relevant information.
Vertical attention focuses above the fold
As the web and indeed web users have evolved we are far more conditioned to scrolling. However, from the perspective of attracting and retaining attention, the real estate above the fold on your pages is more valuable. Users do look below the fold, but not nearly as much as they look above the fold.
Even though 5% of users' total time is spent past the 2,000-pixel mark, user attention eventually peters out, and the further down the page users go, the less time they generally spend on each additional information unit.
1. Viewing time above the fold averages 80.3%
2. Viewing time below the fold averages 19.7%
People will look very far down a page if (a) the layout encourages scanning with appropriate headers and visual markers, and (b) the initially viewable information makes them believe that it will be worth their time to scroll.
However, for the most part, the content that's most valuable to your mutal goals (i.e. that of your users and your business) should be above the fold. It's also advisable to have a strong piece of engaging content, or call to action, at the very bottom of the page.
What's the difference between 'standard' and 'customised' questions?
All tests come with pre-populated fields based on our customers most asked questions and user metrics. With the Litmus Test and Pro Test you can customise the questions and surveys to suit your own needs.
How do I control what type of users are selected?
You control the makeup of the testing panel by selecting criteria such as gender, age group, annual household income, education level, employment type, internet expertise and web usage preferences.
Who is the user testing panel?
Our user testing panel is made up of everyday internet users who are keen to provide feedback to website owners and marketers. They are not usability experts as such however they do spend more time evaluating websites than the average person. They are paid $15AUD for every complete test they do, irrespective of the test type.
All of our website usability testing panel are vetted by us prior to completing paid tests. They must submit an application and only testers that get positive feedback from our clients are retained on our panel.
How long does it take to get results?
That varys somewhat based on the depth of criteria you select. Many of our panel are able to do testing on demand. Simple tests with broad selection criteria will faciliate getting feedback much faster...within hours even.
How many user testers should I use?
We recommend an absolute minimum of three and for more comprehensive results about five to ensure you get a conclusive sample. Much has been written about testing sizes and validity. See Jacob Nielsen's article on why you only need to test with 5 users here.
What questions and survey metrics should I use?
All our usability test types come with pre-populated questions and metrics to make getting quick usability feeback as easy as possible. The questions are based on the most popular questions asked by our clients. If you need answers to more specific questions then please feel free to modify them as required. Need more help? Ask us via our usability help page.
Why do website owners and marketers use this?
Put simply, this is the quickest and cheapest way to get unbiased feebdack from the people who count the most - real website visitors.
Whether your website is a b2b lead generation site, advertising based news site, a b2c ecommerce site, or anything in-between, getting feedback from users can help you optimise your current site for improved conversions or be an integral starting point for a re-design. Agencies and designers also use User Intelligence for the same reasons.
Many of our clients will test their competitors website to gather valuable competitve feedback too!
How does this differ to moderated usability studies?
Unlike moderated user studies, our users are everyday people conducting these tests in the comfort of their own surrounds, not in a manufactured environment. Apart from the huge cost savings this means you get access to a wider pool of testers, on demand. No recruitment, no hiring of 'usabilit experts', no testing lab hire. What you do get is fully narrated video of testers using your website and letting you know their innermost thoughts.
This is awesome, how do I get paid to be a user tester?
We're really happy you'd like to be involved, and what a great way to earn some additional income right? Be sure to visit our user tester application page to see what's involved and expected.