// By Sandra Fancher //
Mark Twain once said, “Supposing is good, but finding out is better.” As a Web and marketing professional, you know it’s easy to immerse yourself in a Web project and assume every choice or assumption you make will be clear to everyone. You know what’s worked in the past. You play by a hallowed set of principles.
But the truth is that most users don’t spend a fraction of the time thinking about websites in the way that marketing and design teams do. They don’t always know common heuristic conventions, even the most validated ones. How often have you heard that someone can’t find something on your site when you see the path plain as day? How can you make absolutely certain your design and content works?
Usability testing is a standard recommendation, but teams don’t always budget and plan for such examination. They should. It’s a relatively small investment of time and resources in exchange for safeguarding your Web project from costly mistakes that become harder to fix further down your timeline.
A good strategy is to test your assumptions at every key milestone in a design process. There are several methods to test a site, from the quick and simple to the more in-depth and complex. The method should match the complexity of the problem or question, your team’s time for testing, and your stakeholders’ expectations.
Sometimes teams quibble over navigational labels. Do you call your offerings “Diseases & Conditions,” “Our Services,” or “Medical Services”? Do your users understand or even care about your organization’s distinction between the terms “family care” and “primary care”? How about “pulmonary,” “airway,” or “lungs”? Terms should be understandable, whether they are used on the website or in a brochure. Analytics and keyword research can help, but you can’t know for sure until you test terms in context. This type of problem can be solved with a quick and easy test.
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