Archives For user interface

Whenever an organization sets out to tinker with the website to improve it, or even go for the complete revamping of the site, it’s based on some feedback that the site isn’t doing what is intending to do.  This can be based on internal feedback, implicit or explicit comments from site visitors, a gut feeling that the site can communicate better, or the plain facts that your site conversion goals aren’t happening.

So what happens next?  Most often than not, a group of people go into meetings and set about reconfiguring the site structure, improve navigation, updating the aesthetics to reflect current Web 2.0 and beyond trends, and revising the content.   Hopefully they do it in a way that is strategic in nature or bring in someone that can help with that.

But whatever the process, when you finally flip the switch, only the actual usage by site visitors can tell you whether you succeeded or not.

Here’s the part where most groups drop the ball.  One of the most critical milestones in site development happens right here — not before when you’re whiteboarding the site and its contents.  This is where you need to do some usability testing.   Qualitative and quantitative research will guide you on what works and what doesn’t.

But because focus groups and user testing seems so sophisticated and enigmatic, most site owners don’t ever go through with the steps that can radically impact how your message is received by the visitors coming to your site.  The superficial pushback on this area seems to be in two immediate areas beyond the lack of comfort / knowledge for how to preceed:

(1) We don’t have money for that!  Testing dozens and dozens of people would cost more than we can afford.

(2) We don’t have the time for rounds of user testing.  That would delay our website project too much, or we have so much other stuff to do now that we’ve finished the website revamping.

But here’s the kicker, it doesn’t have to be expensive nor time-consuming to get the critical feedback you need to communicate better with your visitors.

And here is why 5 is the magic number in useability testing:

According to Jakob Neilson, the usability guru (seriously, you should check out his site, www.useit.com), the ideal scenario usually warrants 76 users for comprehensive quantitative testing that addresses the typical outliers that come through.  And a more manageable 15 users need to be tested in order to get at all the qualitative usability issues in the design of a site.

But in reality, the magic number is really 5.  That’s it.  FIVE people. . . Continue Reading…