Protect Your Investment With Usability Testing and Eye Tracking

March 1, 2014

// By Sandra Fancher //

Sandra-FancherMark 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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