The usability of a Web site is how well the site supports the user in achieving specified goals. A Web site should facilitate learning, and enable efficient and effective task completion, while propagating few errors. Satisfaction with the site is also important. The user must not only be well-served, but must feel well-served.
Expert reviews and usability testing are methods of identifying problems in layout, terminology, and navigation before they frustrate users and drive them away from your site.
The most successful projects employ multiple methods in multiple iterations. As Millicent Marigold remarked during a recent conference, "Don't stop. Iterate, iterate, then iterate again."
This book has been approved by the Web Site Users Association.
Expert reviewers identify problems and recommend changes to web sites based on research in human computer interaction and their experience in the field.
Two expert review methods are discussed here. They are heuristic evaluation and cognitive walk-through.
Expert review methods should be initiated early in the development process, as soon as paper prototypes (hand-drawn pictures of Web pages) or wireframes (electronic mockups) are available. They should be conducted using the hardware and software similar to that employed by users.
Expert reviewers critique an interface to
determine conformance with recognized
Expert reviewers evaluate Web site understandability and ease of learning while performing specified tasks. They walk through the site answering questions such as "Would a user know by looking at the screen how to complete the first step of the task?" and "If the user completed the first step, would the user know what to do next?," with the goal of identifying any obstacles to completing the task and assessing whether the user would cognitively be aware that he was successful in completing a step in the process.
Once the problems identified by expert reviews have been corrected, it is time to conduct some tests of the site with your unique audience or audiences by conducting usability testing.
Users are asked to complete tasks which measure the success of the information architecture and navigational elements of the site.
Then changes are made to improve service to users.
This is a basic handbook for planning and conducting usability tests on Web sites. Usability testing should be used in conjunction with other expert review methods.
This book has not been approved by the Web Site Users Association.
Take the following steps to plan usability
Users can be tested at any computer
Give the user the script, then assure them
that you are testing the Web site, not them.
Users are asked to verbalize their thoughts as
they complete the tasks. The event is recorded
or someone takes notes. It is often preferable
to have two testers,
Compile the results and review collectively. Make changes to the site to alleviate the problems found in Web site components which were propagating the largest number of or the most devastating errors. Begin new iterations of testing and changes, until users are successful in the accomplishing the tasks.
The papers of John Wesley Usabilityguy span the years 1946-2001, with the bulk of the items concentrated in the period from 1985 to 2001. The papers feature his career as a developer of software applications and usability specialist. The collection consists of correspondence, memoranda, journals, speeches, article drafts, book drafts, notes, charts, graphs, family papers, clippings, printed matter, photographs, résumés and other materials.
Correspondence, telegrams, memoranda, journals, logs, testimony, approved travel orders, invitations, charts, graphs, forms, biographical data, photographs, book drafts, clippings and other printed matter, résumés and miscellaneous material. Organized by name of person or organization, topic, or type of material.
Correspondence, articles, book drafts, notes, contracts, clippings, and printed matter. Arranged alphabetically by type (articles, books, reports, and miscellaneous) and therein alphabetically by type of material, subject, or title.