So, you’ve got a wonderful idea for a website, providing either a user experience, delivery of a service, or a great community in which wonderful things may happen. You have a great visual theme in mind and you have a flow and navigation that seems to make perfect sense. You’ve built the prototype, you’re ready to make it official, and share it with the world.
Stop! Don’t even think about pressing that upload button yet, not without doing some website usability analysis first! Yeah, this sounds like a tiresome, lengthy extra stage to go through, and one that’s going to delay things unnecessarily, but … appearances can be very deceiving.
Website usability analysis, before launch, can spare you a lot of last minute tweaks and edits in the weeks after your site opens its doors to the public, and this lack of bugs and questionable design decisions will paint you as a prepared, expert website in the eyes of the users, when they’ve found no need to complain. No complaints? On the internet? It’s possible, if you take the time to take this step before launching your website!
So, what’re some of the best practices for this? What are the metrics to measure, and what’re the tests to perform to ensure optimal usability? I’ll tell you in a nutshell, right now, the most important things to test, and the most important metrics to measure. Brace yourselves for a wee bit of technical stuff here, in a couple spots – but it’s nothing you can’t handle if you’re designing a website anyhow.
#1 – Cross Platformity
It’s a website, isn’t it already cross-platform? Well, yes and no. It’s compatible with any given operating system being HTTP data, but that does not mean it’s cross-platform. See, there are a ton of popular browsers, and a ton of popular devices wherein things behave a little differently.
These all need to be tested so that optimal usability is achieved across the board. As of the writing of this piece, the browsers to test for are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Dolphin (an Android mobile browser based on Chrome) and the default Mac browser.
Test load times, compatibility, and optimal space usage, and be darn sure your mobile site works properly. It also helps to test for compatibility with a few extra devices such as modern web-enabled game consoles (the Wii U and the upcoming Xbox One and Playstation 4 are serious about being web gateways, so take them seriously as such).
#2 – Bandwidth
Very few people use dialup in the free world today, but there are different definitions of broadband, and some of them aren’t such … broadbands if you will. Many DSL and 3G/4G carriers are very slow, or at least not capable of big parallel loads, so your website needs to have the minimal amount of reloading once it is cached. This means testing the amount of reloads, cache dumping and other facets of bandwidth usage. The less load and strain it puts on the connection, the better.
#3 – Comprehensive Help
Making sure that any given anticipated question is easy to ask and find help for with your website is important, and the best way to do this is to install an onboarding system like WalkMe, though it’s not the only solution available.
Test to be sure that your system properly anticipates a user’s needs, and properly understands your website’s structure and content layout, so that it can help make your support section as self-service as possible.
Website usability analysis is a lot of trying your site under different scenarios, on different connections and platforms before launch, to be sure that the more common launch pains websites have aren’t ones you have. These are a start in ensuring this, but there’s obviously more to it, which I’d love to talk about in the future, and this analysis shouldn’t end when your site launches.