Website Usability Testing for Best Practices

Usability testing seems to be a bit of a hindrance to a lot of designers out there and it’s not hard to understand why.

The web is changing from its initial designs and platforms. Many digital systems are beginning to shift to more intricate web platforms (with the integration of SaaS and similar services), so there exists a distinct difference in the mechanics behind web development, and local software architecture. This makes for an interesting relationship between designers and programmers.

This is where website usability testing comes to play. Website usability testing is concerned with the very transparent inner mechanics of a web service in ways that other systems are not. A web service, at its core, is a dynamic interlink of document markup, preprocessor code, and synchronization of databases and servers. So,  best practices in new web development differ than they would with traditional frameworks. Yet in other areas, practices are preserved. Let’s take a look at the changes and consistencies of website usability:

#1 – UI Consistency
Although the emphasis in UI Consistency is fairly recent in web design, the concept is not new to traditional software. Given the migration of software to web, web is now actually changing how software works and, vice versa. Web was at one time more like a visually-rich document system, (like a PDA or tabular document). But, web has moved to dynamic, software-like systems in order to facilitate SaaS.

Given this fact, the consistency and centrality of the UI needs to be a priority.  As does the navigation and ‘ease of flow.’  The principles of software design still allow for pretty aesthetics but without a document-like approach that was once standard in web design.

#2 – Binge Proficiency
Binge proficiency is a new concept that came about from studies of heavy internet use. Studies have shown that many users interacting with web services tend to use them in binges, especially on information-rich, commercial or entertainment channels.

Users dart around the site, so designing features to reload faster and guide navigation is essential. How do you know if it works? Usability testing; You must test optimization of binge use by multiple parallel IP addresses.

#3 – Special Platform Testing
Just like SaaS and website usability testing, alternative device platforms are beginning to become the norm. I don’t just mean mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and the like, but also unconventional devices like set top boxes and game consoles. These platforms must always be tested for optimization.

Although there exists a distinct difference in the mechanics behind web development and software architecture, the line is blurring. Computers, handheld devices and living room appliances – and their functionality – are becoming interchangeable. Testing for proficiency to run and interact with these platforms is now a must. Website usability testing is an essential component to determining the future success of your product.

Rachel Quinn