The Best Usability Inspection Methods

I’ve recently touched on usability inspection methods, specifically, how to test websites and home pages. Now,  I’m going to talk about how to use  tools for inspection. I want to dive into the usability inspection methods that best help you to ensure that your designs are the most useable they can be. (We’re going to be getting a bit technical here, but don’t worry, it’s not that difficult).

You’ll be needing Google Chrome for website usability testing. Google Chrome is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems (but don’t try to use a mobile version, as the features I am about to talk about do not seem to work right on mobile).

When you load a page in Chrome, a debug panel can be brought up to monitor the website’s load, resources and live elements during browsing. To bring it up, you can either go to the toolbar and ask for the debug tools, or click control+shift+I (command rather than control, on Mac).

This will display a small panel on the bottom of the browser. The panel has a series of tabs, including Network and Element Inspection.

Testing how quickly and concisely things load – can be handled through the Network. Refresh the page; notice that every file and piece of data will have a timeline. Load time-spans and interactions are visible.

If you see any lag, errors or an unending progression (media streams being the exception), then there is an issue with the browser. Run this test on multiple platforms, and from different locations to be sure the server is responding properly.

Now, it’s time for item inspection. Item inspection will show you various XML- type tags (to be sure that all of the elements are in place). As you hover over one, the browser will highlight the physical page elements. This guarantees accurate margins, labels and placements.

For testing local software, the best thing to do is  ‘play with it’ in your task manager. Watch how much CPU and memory it eats while it performs various tasks. This is called benchmarking, and it’s what most developers use. (I can’t really go into details on this one, because it depends on the program and PC system you are benchmarking).

There you have it, I’ve written about the usability inspection methods that are most commonly used. There are a lot other usability tools and methods out there. Start with the methods above and let me know what you think!

Rachel Quinn