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Usability Testing for Your Home Business Website


Usability testing of your website is a cost effective way of helping to maintain the ecommerce aspect of your home business. When dealing with customers online, your website is the face of your business. Errors and usability issues frustrate customers and leave with them a negative view of your business. There are two major methods of performing usability testing of your home business website: heuristic evaluation and usability testing with real users.

Heuristic Evaluation

This is an inexpensive process in which you go over the website design and look for certain usability standards.

  • Inform users about what's going on. When they perform an action on the website, provide a message about whether or not the action was successful.
  • Use real world language. Avoid jargon that only experienced users will understand.
  • Make sure that there is always an exit for what your users are doing. This can be as simple as a link on every page to your home page.
  • Be consistent in your design and wording on all web pages.
  • Test thoroughly for errors. Users often get frustrated with errors.
  • Make error messages clear. Your users should always know why an error occurred and how to correct it.
  • Provide help and documentation in an easy to find location. Include as detailed information as you can so that all of your customers questions will be answered.

Real People Performing Real Tasks

You and your website developer have been working with your site for months. Therefore you have such a good understanding of how the web site works that testing it yourself will not always reveal usability issues. Testing the site with real people allows you to get someone with a fresh perspective on the site to deliver positive feedback.

Advantages of Testing with Real People

  • Observing a real user performing a real task allows you to come up with solutions you wouldn't otherwise see with theory alone.
  • You can validate your assumptions when building the web page as well as test arguments between yourself and your designer/developer.
  • It allows you to correct problems before you make the site live and lose money because of it. It is also cheaper to fix problems in the design and testing phase of a project than it would be to correct problems discovered later on a finished website.
  • If you perform this type of testing at each stage in the planning and designing processes, it will help with all further design decisions down the road.

How to Perform Usability Tests with Real People

  1. Craft a prototype of your website. Prototypes can vary from paper layouts of what the site will look like to actual coded examples that users would interact with on a computer screen.
  2. Create real tasks that a user would normally perform on your web site. Set the user down and ask them to perform the tasks, noting any problems that arise during the process.
  3. Once all of your tests have been completed with your sample testing group, you and your developers/ designers will need to analyze the results and correct as necessary.

Using these two different methods of usability testing for your home business website can save you money down the road by catching usability issues earlier in the road.

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