E-commerce Link: Don’t Break the Bank
When working with clients to create engaging online experiences for their customers, I recommend iterative usability testing—essentially repeated testing—as part of the design and development process. However, I've noticed that few of our clients are interested in conducting formal usability studies, particularly over the past couple of years as the economy has slowed.
The perception is that usability research is expensive and ultimately a "nice to have." While I agree that the costs of a formal lab facility and a professional moderator can quickly add up, the price tag shouldn't scare businesses away from user research altogether. This is especially true as marketers start to deliver content to users through new mediums—mobile and now the iPad. There is still a lot to learn about how consumers interact with these types of devices.
The fact remains that testing a Web site or application with users before it goes live has many benefits. Through testing, designers can uncover unexpected issues with an interface and fix those problems early in the process. Marketers can confirm interactions that work well and highlight features that aren't being noticed or used as intended.
Usability studies also help squelch opinion battles as it becomes evident where user after user either struggles or completes a task with ease.
The good news is that marketers can achieve the same benefits outside the lab and with much less prep time. While insights might not come in the form of a bound report at the end of a study, they will be relevant and actionable, and can be fed back into the design process almost immediately. The following are three "discount" usability methods that can be utilized.
This first method feels like a streamlined version of the traditional iterative usability testing. By making a few modifications to a formal study, marketers can significantly decrease the cost.