Often, web developers and designers get too caught up in what they think is the right approach to draw in their intended audience. They forget to take into account the most important element: the audience themselves.
Indeed, good design is all about paying attention to end users’ wants and needs. A sleek and interactive website with bells and whistles is well and good. But, if it is replete with complex process flows that tend to confuse more than facilitate, then all the time and effort put into it can very well be a total waste.
This is where website usability testing comes into play. Whenever a new product or service is launched, it is best to understand the website’s usability to ensure that those who end up visiting it get to complete the tasks they set out to do and not feel that they are just wasting their time.
Tasks like signing up for a service or completing payment for a product purchase are some of the things that get scrutinized and reviewed by actual users whenever a website usability test is conducted.
Improved user experience
The first and probably the biggest benefit of website usability testing is the resulting improved user experience.
When usability tests are conducted, users are asked to complete specific tasks. Most users are oblivious to the back-end development and design process behind the website. As such, they approach the entire thing without any bias or prejudice, just an honest assessment of what they think works or does not work for them.
This feedback gives web designers and developers the chance to improve the interface and usefulness of the website, with the end-users at the top of their minds.
Second, usability testing provides a clear and measurable indication if usability goals are met. This gives web designers the chance to see their systems and process flows get tested by actual users.
Did the process for signing up for an account make sense, or were the users confused? Were they able to easily navigate the payment feature, or were they led to one too many steps before getting the chance to key in their credit card number?
With credible proof of their usefulness, the functionalities and design in place may be altered, modified, retained, or removed altogether.
Unbiased assessment of the project
Third, users can identify flaws in design and content.
Web development involves a lot of tasks, both big and small, so it’s easy for web developers to miss out on both the bigger picture and the tiny errors here and there.
With usability testing, the website’s overall feel is assessed, and errors like grammatical lapses or broken links are identified and corrected.
Fourth, you get a fresh, raw take on how your product is and how users receive it.
With new sets of eyes looking at the website and its various functions, you get an objective assessment of the quality and/or flaws of the website. Users do not suffer from bias or prejudice, and their experience is unimpaired by factors like too much knowledge of the back-end operations or design process.
Saving time and money
Fifth, usability testing allows for seamless delivery of service for companies.
Notably, complex process flows are identified and more streamlined alternatives are placed. Numerous studies have shown that the simpler and more intuitive the process flow is, the likelier it is to leave a more positive imprint on users’ minds.
And finally, with website usability testing, you end up saving a lot of time and money over the long term.
When done at the prototype stage, usability testing allows for the early detection of otherwise costly errors. It certainly spares you the trouble and the money needed to fix them in the future. It also helps drastically reduce opportunity costs in terms of lost business.
For some web developers and business owners, conducting a website usability test may be viewed as an additional step on top of what is already a laborious process of launching a new product or service online.
But the benefits of website usability testing outweigh its perceived drawbacks. After all, a well-designed website with well-thought-out functionalities is all it takes to achieve a consumer approach that is targeted, logical, in touch with your intended audience’s needs, and most importantly, delivers results.