Web Usability Testing: Standards, Definition, & Tools

Instructor: Temitayo Odugbesan

Temitayo has 11+ years Industrial Experience in Information Technology and has a master's degree in Computer Science.

In this lesson, we will be looking at what web usability is all about, what standards to observe and the available tools to use when testing for usability in websites or web apps.

What is Web Usability Testing?

Web Usability Testing is the sets of activities carried out with the aim of reviewing and analyzing how target users or visitors to a website react to its functionalities. In other words, this is validating simulated user experience of a website.

Let's look at an example: Gabiz Webs got contracted to build a new eCommerce site by Ken to help boost sales of locally made jewelries. One website that was built earlier was frothed with issues, hence the decision to rebuild.

As required, the new site was built to specification shared by Ken. However, as part of Gabiz Webs' policy, the site would have to undergo some form of tests to determine among others the following:

  • Ensure all the URLs are linked and working
  • Proofread all web pages to ensure they're free of typographic errors
  • Ensure all products on display are being managed correctly through the inventory management system module
  • Shopping cart and payment system work effectively
  • Dropship delivery service works
  • Other features as specified on the requirement specification document shared with the company by Ken.

These are functional testing items aimed at ensuring all the features specified are active and working. However, the firm still needs to test how customers visiting the website find their way around the site and how easy it is for them. This is called web usability testing.

Web usability testing is of great importance to the team because it sums up how acceptable the eCommerce platform built is to the customers and how successful Ken's business will end up becoming if built well.

In the eye of stiff competition amongst the different eCommerce platforms, notwithstanding the costs attached to the products, a customer will always stick with a website whose functionality he or she deems usable when compared to the other.

Standards to Observe during Web Usability Testing

Now, what makes a website usable, and how are these tested? Simple, there are metrics to be measured and standards to observe, such as:

Good User Interface

Designing a good user interface requires that you take into consideration the user's persona and anticipate the device screen on which the site will be viewed on. Web traffic these days are highest from mobile devices, so it would do a lot more good ensuring that the website is formatted to recognize screen size changes.

Navigation Usability

Navigation forms the next important part of a website design after content. A website without a good navigation system will make it difficult for users and visitors to move from page to page in search of required information or achieving their purpose for that visit. A poor navigation results in abandonment of use of the site.

Search Box

The search box feature makes it easier and quicker for users and visitors to find information readily without time wastage, especially for particular products using known keywords.

Content Usefulness

Serving content useful to visitors must be ensured. No one wants to visit a site and not find its content useful to him or her. It renders the user experience null.

Images to Support Content

Imagine the adage that states, ''speaks a thousand words.'' Having a matching image of articles posted on a website helps to greatly reduce the need for longer words and enhances a site's user-friendliness.

Available Tools for Web Usability Testing

To carry out a web usability test, you need to know what part of the web design is being tested to enable you to select the best available tool to validate the test.

Here are examples of web usability test areas and available tools to help facilitate that.

Surveys

Through the use of surveys, feedback from test users can be captured through a well-structured question and answer session aimed at directing users to specific actions to be tested on a website.

Click Testing

This helps to analyze and capture how a user or visitor to your website interacts with the user interface. It helps in figuring out where they would click on the interface to achieve a defined task.

Web Testing

This helps to test the website's navigation tool on the user interface, how easy it was for the user to locate links and buttons, the number of steps required to achieve a goal and how they were able to initiate a search on the site.

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