How Effective is Your Website?
The usability of your web site will have a major impact on its success or failure. If your site is difficult to use, hard to navigate, overly flashy with animation or adds your visitors will go elsewhere. How can you make your site easy to use and appealing to your target audience? Make usability testing the starting point and ongoing part of your web site development processes.
Most of the time this testing is done at the end of the development of the site and after the design and technologies driving it have been set in stone and hard to change. The most effective usability testing is done during the development of the project. Design a prototype that represents the completed site for pre-testing. This could identify any major flaws in technology or layout choices early while it’s still very easy to change them.
At the very least a web site should be tested at the end of development by a group of subjects not associated with the project in any way. This test group is given a list of goals to accomplish and questions to answer while using the site. There methods and end results are monitored by a team of people and then given to the developers to make adjustments. This can easily be done by smaller web site as well just by having a couple test subjects use the web site to accomplish certain goals. A fresh prospective of how a real visitor might act on your web site is very helpful.
Below are some things to think about when beginning your site layout.
- Wants and needs of your target audience?
- Which technologies you will use to build the site?
- What are the front-end and back-end architecture?
- Visual design and navigation to be used.
- What your trying to accomplish, sell or present on the site?
- What feedback methods will be made available to visitors?
Your web site’s usability can be the difference between it’s success and failure. By learning about your audience and incorporating usability testing at the onset of a project, at each stage of the project's life-cycle, and after deployment, you can help ensure your web site’s success.