22 Essential Tools for Testing Your Website’s Usability


A site’s ease of use, or its usability, is an  integral part of its success, especially with websites becoming more and  more interactive, complex and packed with features. User-centered  design is all about building websites that fulfill the goals and desires  of its users, and at the heart of this concept is that a user must be  able interact with your website effectively.

Testing usability is an art and a science. There are many times when  usability testers rely on qualitative measurements, intuition, opinions  and feedback from users and experience. However, there are also factors  you can test quantitatively to ensure that a site is usable.

In this post, we’ll discuss six crucial factors that affect  usability. For each, you’ll be provided with some tips, tools and ideas  on how you can measure these usability factors.

We’ll focus on practical usability testing, so the emphasis is on  pragmatic and inexpensive strategies that most site owners can do. These  things apply regardless of what type of website (blog, e-store,  corporate site, web app, mobile device, etc.) you’re evaluating.

What other tools have you used to test website usability? Let us know in the comments below.


1. User Task Analysis


The most important and obvious thing to test for is whether users are  able to accomplish their tasks and goals when they come to your site.  Not only that, you have to ensure they’re able to do so in the best and  most efficient way possible.

The first thing that must be done is determine what the core user  tasks are. For example, in a blog, some critical user tasks are reading  blog posts, being able to find older posts and leaving comments.

Perform a task analysis for each task. Evaluate task performance under these considerations:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for new users to learn  to perform the task? For more complicated tasks, are there sufficient  help features such as tutorials, in-line tips and hints, tool tips,  etc.?
  • Intuitiveness: How obvious and easy is the task to accomplish?
  • Efficiency: Are users performing tasks optimally? Are there ways to streamline and reduce the time it takes to complete the task?
  • Preciseness: How prone to errors is the task? What  are the reasons for any errors? How can we improve the interface to  lower errors and unneeded repetition?
  • Fault Tolerance: If a user makes a mistake while performing the task, how fast can he recover?
  • Memorability: How easy is the task to repeat?
  • Affordance: Are interactive elements (such as  buttons, links and input text boxes) related to the accomplishment of a  task obviously interactive and within convenient reach? Is it evident  what the results of a user action will be when the user decides to  interact with it by clicking, mouse hovering, etc.?

Evaluating user tasks is a little tricky because many things  associated with this are subjective, can vary greatly between different  users and require you to create your own criteria for what can be  considered a success.

That said, one of the best and easiest ways to perform task analysis  is remote user testing. You can test participants regardless of their  location, and you save the money related to the logistics of conducting  your own user testing studies (booking a location, equipment, searching  for participants, etc.).

Check out these remote user testing web apps:

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