Usability testing for Web2.0 sites

Let’s say: you run a Web2.0 site. And you know it’s not perfect (no website is perfect – people just make do with what’s there). And you are actually determined to improve it. Who do you ask?

No: I am not asking you to send me a quote – go away! I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a professional agency to undertake usability testing and get some cool new designs for the interface and processes. Chances are I find out later that this apparently “perfect” solution makes processes too complex or uses the wrong colours for our audience or … well, it’s wrong again in some aspect. Our Web 2.0 site is targeted at teenagers and I predict that no agency out there can give me the right feedback – simply because they are corporate.

The solution is very simple indeed – and it will make for a few very happy teenagers – happy to be able to have input into a new online site and to tell their friends about it. All you need to do is ask a few intelligent and outspoken teenagers for a bit of time and invite them to your office or home for a few hours to do some semi-formal usability testing. You shall be amazed about the results!

I’d like to say special thanks to Charlotte, Will, Peter and Alice for taking the time on Friday for 3 hours to do a thorough usability testing exercise with us at Vquence. It was a lot of fun – and I dare say: for everyone involved. Here is the schedule that we followed.

We started with an introductory 30 min where everybody, including the testers, introduced themselves and we started talking about what we do online, what we love and what we hate – including the testers. This is important because you break down the barriers and create trust.

Then we had a questionnaire for them to fill in (the middle part of the schedule). It took them through the functionality of the site in a logical manner, asking for feedback on the design, the processes, the functionality and the usefulness of the site.

Then we got together again to “vent” all of that frustration. And … boy, did we get feedback! It was totally awesome – the positive feedback actually made us value our previous work a lot higher – and the negative feedback was great because it tells us what to fix or improve. They were quite direct in their criticism and had some great ideas for improvements. Since they know their world and what makes them and their friends click, they are really the only ones who can tell you what is great and what sucks.

Once we fix all the things that we’ve been told, we should probably do another round of testing – with some new teenage blood. But for now, I am extremely happy with the feedback we got – and will need to look for further investment to get all of this great feedback rolled out! 😉

Thanks guys!!

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