Website Usability and User Testing – Observational and Heuristic

11 06 2009

So today we’re looking at the key points of Website Usability and User Testing. So let’s look at the two main ways that website usability is tested.

Observational – this form of testing is used to observe the users of a website to see how they use and react to the website. It allows the tester to see how the website would be used without any outside instruction or guidance on where to look or what to click. With observational testing, there are several roles. The first is the observer, then the note taker and 5-8 users. The users are then given 20 scenarios or questions based on the site to be answered. The observer and questioner cannot make any comments to the users or give their opinion on what the users are doing. The note taker takes notes throughout the whole process, writing down observations and comments made by the users. The users are chosen from a suitable selection based upon the user profiles that were made for the site. They must be let the observer and note taker know about how they feel about performing the tasks on the website. Whatever the outcome of the test, recommendations are always made to the designer, who is not allowed to be at the testing, on what things could be improved on the site.

Heuristic– Heuristic testing is when a kind of checklist is used to test usability. A small set of users evaluate the website using these criteria. The website is then marked from 1-10. 1 is the lowest and 10 the highest. The users also make comments on why the website failed. The 10 categories are
1. Visibility of system status
2. Match between system and the real world
3. User control and freedom
4. Consistency and standards
5. Error prevention
6. Recognition than recall
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
8.Aesthetic and minimalist design
9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
10. Help and documentation

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