Lesson 1: Conducting a Usability Test


Usability testing is a way of evaluating how target users are using a website. Often designers make the mistake of designing sites to meet their own needs and preferences, and assuming that other users have the same needs and preferences. This often is not the case. Designers can certainly bring their creative ideas to the site's design, but an important next step is to test their design with actual users. Usability testing helps to identify areas where your site isn't working as you intended it to, and may reveal other user behaviors that you hadn't anticipated.

Learner Outcomes

At the completion of this exercise:

A Typical Usability Test

A typical usability test will involve these four steps:

  1. Find representative users from the target population. For example, if the site is a company's online shopping site, representative target users would be consumers who shop for the types of products sold by that company.
  2. Ask the users to perform representative tasks on the website. For example, representative tasks on an online shopping site might include:
    • Find a particular product (as the tester, you would specify the product)
    • Place that product in your shopping cart and proceed to checkout
    • Find a phone number to call a customer service representative
  3. Observe what the users do. Write down all the steps they take, and whether they succeed or fail in performing the requested task. Don't provide any assistance to the users - just let them solve any problems on their own and write down how they go about doing so.
  4. Summarize your results. By observing several users, what have you learned about the design of this website? How might it be improved?


Resources/Online Documents

All done?

Show your instructor the results of your usability test. The proceed to the next lesson.