Usability testing on your blog

Usability testing on your blog

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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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20 thoughts on “Usability testing on your blog”

  1. I really like all the factors you mention in relation to usability – in particular the clarity clues and feedback, it’s so important for navigation as you say, I must work on my own navigation certainly, these 5 ways that you have shown for the usability test are excellent, I only would have thought of 2 or maybe 3, great help thanks

    1. Thank you for commenting:) I think it’s not obvious if you don’t familiar with it. But as a user you notice if these things does not work.

  2. Hi. I’ve been thinking about doing usability testing on my blog to see what my visitors think, so I’m glad I came across your article.

    I can definitely see the benefits of having this done, and I feel you’ve provided some good tips to help me get started. Thanks

    Guerilla usability testing sounds interesting. Do you know of any websites where I can also submit my blog to for user testing, that are affordable?

    Thanks

    1. Hi! I think you have a tips yourself: Usability hub, the thing might be that it’s a very basic test, but it gives good hints about the basics on a site.
      I think that Fiverr also is a great place to look for user testing, you can look at the reviews for each person offering usability testing and it costs around five dollars.
      But I like to use my dear once for these purposes, especially the younger and the elderly they tells the truth and have different kind of issues:D Thanks for you comment!

  3. Great ideas to improve site usability. I had never considered asking a friend or family member to “test” your site usability. I can’t wait to hear the feedback I receive and implement it. One thing I have been considering is adding an mail list to my site so I can stay in contact with my readers. Could you recommend a good option?

    1. It is great to be able to stay in contact with the readers, but there always is a risk for to many emails. I think you should have a “follow this blog”, you should give your readers a chance to get emails (if they wish) when you post something new. I think the best way to communicate with the readers is to answer their comments and to offer ways to contact you, via email, like you have on your site. Thank you so much for your comment.

  4. Thanks for this article. I completely agree that user testing is super important! I had a user test run on my website a few months back and it was amazing the things that I found.

    I even had an instance that my website was showing an error page due to a plugin that I was using. There was no way I would have known that if I hadn’t had a user test done. Who knows how long it would have been like that!

    I’m a big believer in user testing and will always use them when I can.

    1. Thank you for this feedback. It’s easy to think everything works fine as long as you don’t use the site like a user:) Great comment, thanks!

  5. The review is really good I like how you layout the review and I like how you provide all the necessary information, plus all of the review flows together and it makes a lot of sense, plus it’s really enjoyable to read I had no problem reading the review because it was really entertaining and it kept my attention

  6. Wow this is really good stuff about usability testing. I am actually into software implementation and perform a lot of software and usability testing. Do you do software and other forms of testing to improve blog posts? Do you conduct formal User Acceptance Testing? Regardless, this is some very useful stuff to gather feedback from end users and readers. Good work!

    1. Hi and thank you:) I work in IT to and I perform testing, mainly web applications that we develop for our clients. I’m the only one at our company that ever have done any user testing or usability tests. I also study for a bachelors degree, mainly usability and how to omptimize the design process and work with users need and experiences.

  7. A lot of webmasters really overlook usability. I have heard that asking your family is a great way to see how easy it is for them to use your website. I asked my sister once to do this for me. I was shocked that she actually found my site difficult to navigate.

    Also, I have used Wealthy Affiliate’s feedback section. This helps get more feedback from random people. Really, I don’t think a lot of webmasters put enough time on usability.

    1. I agree with you! Content is important but so is usability. I have tried the feedback section once and it looks like a great place to get usability feedback as well as other feedback:) Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.

  8. Hey there, very informative post. I’ve been looking for such tips for my own site/blog and this hit the nail on the head, thank you. What method do you recommend as far as contacting and subscribing goes? A mailing list? My website is about media streamers, and I haven’t really thought of a way to make a mailing list.

    1. Hi and thank you, glad if I can help you. I have a subscribe plugin on my site where users can choose how they want to subscribe: via WordPress, Yahoo, mail and so on. I think its good to offer a possibility to subscribe but maybe just email is a bit limiting for the users, not everyone like to get a lot of email.

  9. I have never even heard about usability testing until your site. Really glad I found it. I have sent my site to a few family members and friends for feedback, but never thought to give them tasks to accomplish. I can see where this would make absolute sense.

    Thanks for sharing great information!
    Connie

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