So you’ve marched your customers, and potential customers, into a usability lab and spent a few days observing their behavior to determine what is working on the website and where there are areas for improvement. All of the stakeholders and members of the design team who observed the sessions were fascinated by the sessions and are motivated to make changes.
This means you are done, right?
Actually, this means you just begun!
Now is the time to take all of the data from the usability test and turn it into results. But how do you determine what to do first?
- Prioritization of Data
- Capabilities for Change or Compromise
- Tracking Results
Prioritization of Data
The first step in determining the next steps after a usability test is in classifying usability test findings by impact to the overall user experience. Did the website issue prevent a usability test participant from completing an online purchase? Did the usability test participant hesitate and grow confused, but eventually figured out how to move forward? Or did a specific aspect of the website cause participant delight, motivating a participant to send the website URL to a friend?
To prioritize the data from a usability test, assign each finding a prioritization rating. Precision Dialogue utilizes this approach when presenting findings and actionable recommendations as a part of the standard usability test report.
Sorting through each category can help to identify the usability test findings that will have the biggest impact when optimized.
Capabilities for Change or Compromise
Unfortunately, just because we have identified these areas as requiring updates, doesn’t mean those updates are possible. Technical limitations, budgets, timelines and business constraints can sometimes get in the way of making changes.
Keep in mind that there is more than one way to address every area for opportunity on a website, and be ready to compromise and collaborate. Sometimes, compromised solution to move the issue from Critical to Serious can be an improvement over allowing the finding to remain unaddressed.
For example, from a study we conducted to optimize our own site, participants struggled to navigate a design portfolio microsite. Since it opened in a new window, the browser’s back button would not allow them to return to the primary site. Additionally, users struggled to navigate within the microsite because they did not easily find navigational clues.
Within the recommendations, a few options were provided, including opening the microsite in the same window and increasing the visibility of internal navigation clues. While the combination of a few actionable recommendations could resolve the issue, likely the solution will end up being a compromise between the different options presented.
Precision Dialogue provides actionable recommendations for each finding, often providing alternate solutions to lead toward compromise.
Aside from the observing the usability test sessions themselves, one of the biggest motivators for future change is tracking the results of the updates made so far.
This is an important time to look back at the goals of the usability test to determine the success of the updates. Often, it requires benchmarking the current values before changes are made, in order to see the impact and return on investment.
Some companies are able to conduct follow-up usability tests to see the impact of the changes made. This means, in the next usability study, areas that confusing or frustrated participants were invisible. Instead, participants focused on other things that had a less critical impact to their experience.
Since the updates have been completed, what happened to the overall site conversion? Are order sizes larger than before? Has site abandonment decreased significantly? Have more customers navigated successfully through the first step of the online application, just to get confused and abandon in a later step?
It is critical not to abandon the analytics in order to show the impact of the usability test and the hard work that goes into the next steps after a usability test.
After all, achieving results and an improved user experience is what drives the next usability test.