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You've brainstormed, planned, wireframed, prototyped, designed, built - and you're about ready for deployment. Just one step left; checking the usability of your work. Will users actually experience things the way you intend? Will it be successful in achieving its goals? How do you find out before launching the site?
Of course, end users are fundamentally important.
Accepting criticism as a web designer is notoriously sticky. When you've worked so hard on a project, poured all your experience and creativity into building what (at least in your eyes) is a perfect solution, who is your best friend to think that they know better?! They don't even know what HTML is, so how dare they turn their nose up at your web design?!
Of course, end users are fundamentally important. If they're not handling your site properly, goals won't be met and you'll ultimately have dissatisfied clients to deal with. So how do you test that they'll be channelled in the right direction, click the correct buttons, complete the necessary actions? Do you ask your Grandma to have a go? Wander round a shopping mall with a laptop, asking the general public what they think? Do you invest in a dedicated service to deliver usability analytics? Perhaps you don't even really bother? I'm curious to know..
Additional Usability Testing Resources
- Silverback 2.0
- Remote Usability Testing on Mobile Devices by Jenn Downs on MailChimp's blog
- Usability Testing Demystified by Dana Chisnell on A List Apart
- Google Website Optimizer Multivariate testing