Usability testing on your blog

On your request: usability testing for bloggers

A lot of comments have discussed usability testing on a blog site and I will try to help you with it in this post.

Why should you do that on your blog? A lot of people who commented on my posts are writing about their own blogs and about usability. I think it’s important to consider usability for any site that has visitors!

I mentioned in earlier posts that it’s important to know your users (and readers). On a blog, your readers are also users and have needs.

They visit you blog for a purpose, they are looking for an answer or to find tips about something. When they arrive, they should not have to look for the information they need.

This sounds great, doesn’t it?

Many of you might see usability testing as a huge process that will take time and effort. A blog often has few pages: Home, About, blog posts, contact and maybe some pages to showcase products you sell (photos, art and so on). A visitor comes to look for information on a certain topic.

I think you will be prepared to meet your users if you consider the five factors for usability I described in an earlier post:

  • Discover
  • Placement
  • Clarity
  • Clues
  • Feedback

These factors all relate to each other and are all part of the site’s usability. These are the basics and I’m going to explain them a bit and how you should consider them as related to your site.

First of all, is your content easy to find on the site? Is there a way to contact you and to subscribe?

Navigation should be easy to find and it should be obvious which objects are for navigation. Functions and objects that relate to each other should be placed close to one other. For example, share buttons and the content they are supposed to share.

It’s important that the people who visit your site get clues about what’s going to happen when they navigate or click on something.

How to find out?

Of course, you can look at these factors yourself. But it might be important that you know a lot about your site.

It’s not a big deal to do a usability test for you site. I recommend you to start with the people you know, but they should not be familiar with your site!

Ask friends and family members to do a usability test for you.

How to perform the usability testing?

To start, set up some tasks. They must be things that you think users want to do on your site. For example:

1) Find a specific answer to a question.

2) Find a specific blog post about carrot diets

3) Find a photo that have a “seascape”

4) Follow you on Twitter

5) Share a post

Begin the test

First, let your test person begin by looking around your site. Ask him/her to “think aloud,” which means to say what they think (for example: “where are the share buttons”).

You can check if navigation is easy to discover and if related functions are placed close to each other.

Is it obvious what different functions do or how you get to different pages?

If your users are going to order something or leave the site, are they given information about it?

Observe what he/she is doing and saying and take notes.

When they are finished looking around, head over to the tasks you prepared.

Observe again and take notes. I usually ask the test person if it’s OK to make a video recording of the test session. That makes it a lot easier to get everything. You can go back as many times as you like:)

The test should not take a long time, I think that “Guerilla usability testing” might work as well if you prepare yourself with a laptop and goes to the local café, if you feel comfortable with it!

Why should I do this?

I think the answer is because it favors your readers/users. We are all closest to ourselves and I know that you will be surprised when you see another person using your site. It’s common to think: “why is he or she doing that?” “Can’t they see how it should be done?”

And that is why you should do it! Returning visitors will be familiar with your site, but new visitors might leave if they don’t figure out how to do what they intended to.

I hope this is useful for you. Please feel free to ask questions below:)

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