You’ll like this test. I promise

June 4, 2011

If you ask me, Web Design

First, let me say – if you’ve heard of web testing and you’re wondering if it’s really that necessary? It is.

If you’re not familiar with testing – it is, more or less, when you make a design (web page, email, advertisement) and show it to a selection of people and watch what they do with it. It’s important because it teaches you if your design is working according to plan.

I build web pages. Because of the revenue potential, web pages tend to be large investments, which makes it *especially* important to test your web design before, during and after development. Fortunately for you, testing web designs can be as complicated or as easy as you like. Here’s how to do it the easy way:

  1. Show your design to a selection of random people who are not involved in your project. No clients, no stakeholders. People who use the Internet. In my last round of testing, I didn’t even have web pages built yet – just images printed on paper. I’ve seen people who used web page design images in PowerPoint slides, but I find just printing them out made it easier to jump around to different pages in the stack, depending on what people wanted to “click” on.
  2. Start with open ended questions. “What is the first thing you notice on this page?” “Where do you want to go in this site?” “What do you want to “click” on first?”
  3. Then, lead them a little, but not too much. As in, test a specific action, but use open ended questions so you don’t give the answer away. “If you click on this, what do you expect to happen?” “Where would you go to find this specific information?” (Example: Where would you go to find the customer service contact information?)

That’s it! The hardest part is setting aside your own expectations of how things are supposed to work before you ask someone else what they would do using your design. I have never failed to find a fundamental flaw that required a design change in testing. The design looks great! But that doesn’t mean it works. The earlier in you test in your project, the easier it is to make a change.

Most tests take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on whether your testing a whole design with several potential actions or a specific scenario.

Do you want it just to look good, or do you also want to make a sale? Then test.

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