November 29, 2010 Program Summary

“Tips on Testing Your Web Site to Make Sure It's Easy to Use”


Users liking and diskliking interface usabilityThis fun, fast-paced, and informative event facilitated by Megan Farrell of San Luis Obispo- based Experts Exchange took us on an engaging exploration of a low-cost, easy-to-use process for testing Web site usability.

What is usability? For Web sites, usability is all about how easy it is to understand the purpose of a site, find your way around, and perform basic tasks, such as searching or buying a product. (For a well-explained overview of usability basics, please watch this short video.)

Megan's presentation addressed the following burning issues that affect everyone who has a Web site, or is thinking of creating one:

  • Why can bad usability be a problem for your business or profession? Poor Web site design can have a significant impact on your visitors and your bottom line. People who can't figure out what you offer, locate what they're looking for, or navigate their way to your shopping cart can't do business with you, and probably won't be back to visit.
  • What are the most common mistakes people make when designing a Web site? We saw examples of “good” and “bad” design and rated them using our usability guidelines checklists (download the checklist from the resources section below). We observed how some Web sites look really slick on the surface, but turn out to be problematic for visitors to use because they focus mostly on glitz rather than a clear layout and message.

    In addition to reflecting good design practices, Web sites also should be tested by users who represent typical members of the target audience.
  • What are some easy and affordable ways to test your company’s Web site? A usability test measures how intuitive and self-explanatory the site is (not how smart the testers are). Megan guided a volunteer through a live usability test of a sample Web site to familiarize us with the process. She then explained how to go about scheduling, budgeting, setting up, and running a series of usability tests (see her presentation and resources for details).

Whether or not you’re planning to run usability tests, you can still learn and apply a great deal from the usability design tips and related resources below. They'll come in very handy if you’re aiming to create or update a Web site.

See Megan's downloads and resources below!

Downloads & Resources:

For best results, please use the following tips when downloading files:

  • Windows Internet Explorer: Right-click on the link and select Save Target As... You will be prompted to save the file to a specific location on your hard drive.

  • Other platforms or browsers: Right-click on the link (click and hold on the Mac) and select Download link to disk, Save Link As... or a similar command. You'll be prompted to save the file to a specific location on your hard drive.

Download Megan's presentation and resources:

Related information on usability design and testing (see more resources like this at UserEffect.com):

Questions? Contact Megan at Experts Exchange:

  • 805-787-0603, x293
“Tips on Testing Your Web Site to Make Sure It's Easy to Use”
Date: Monday evening, November 29, 2010

Megan Farrell is the User Experience Coordinator at Experts Exchange, a local San Luis Obispo-based technology company that specializes in helping solve technology problems. She majored in International Business and Marketing with a Minor in Psychology at Cal Poly, joining Experts Exchange in 2008.

Megan helped start the Usability Testing Program at Experts Exchange with her manager, who is herself a seasoned professional in Information Architecture and Web Design. After researching and acquiring experience through creating and testing Web pages for EE, Megan's roles now include Information Architect and the Head of Usability.

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