Loop11 – Now with Accessibility Testing

Posted by tara on September 12th, 2012

Disability symbols

Could your business be missing out on an estimated $1 trillion market?

$1 trillion – $200 billion alone in discretionary spending – that’s what Fortune Magazine estimates the community of disabled people represent, 55 million people in the U.S. and approximately 1 billion people worldwide.  It is the largest minority group.

Many of these people use the web differently from the average user.  Many use assistive technologies to navigate the web, and in order for a site to be accessible it must include the features these technologies rely on.

Could your website’s design be inadvertently excluding people with disabilities?

A quick test of your site’s level of accessibility
Here are three basic things to check in the next week to gauge how accessible your site is (and reminders to help you actually do it – just click the Remind Me button and sign in to set up an automatic reminder to get this done):

1. Make sure all images on your site have alt-text tags.

People using screen readers don’t see images, so make sure the the alt-text of each image is descriptive – particularly if the image itself contains text.

2. Make sure that each field on every forms on your site is properly labelled.

Without labels, forms will not be viewable on screen readers.

3. Make sure your site can be navigated using only a keyboard.

Not everyone uses a touchpad or mouse, so make sure there aren’t any features on your site which require them.

Accessibility testing with Loop11

The three checks above are a good place to start but really, there’s so much more to test to ensure your site is truly accessible.  Each type of disability has its own technology access needs, and each assistive technology has its own requirements and limitations.

Through our partnership with Knowbility – a non-profit organization focused on increasing technology accessibility to the disabled community – Loop11 now offers an easy and affordable way to do comprehensive accessibility testing.

AccessWorks, an extensive database of web-users with disabilities created and managed by Knowbility, reflects a spectrum of visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments. Loop11 customers can now tap into the AccessWorks database for all accessibility testing needs, saving time that would otherwise be spent on recruiting participants for face-to-face testing.

Testing for accessibility issues with Loop11 is simple. When a customer chooses to conduct accessibility testing, they will be prompted to select criteria from a custom panel. Knowbility then pulls participants from AccessWorks to form a group that fits these requirements. Through an email sent by Knowbility, these new participants will have instant access to a tailor-made web-based accessibility evaluation. Next, as participants begin test-taking, Loop11 customers can take advantage of quantitative feedback and real-time monitoring by checking out results instantly.

Case Study

For a recent project, Knowbility crafted an extensive accessibility test using Loop11 and recruiting from the AccessWorks database. The recruited participants reflected two forms of visual impairment (low vision and legal blindness), a cognitive disability (traumatic brain injury) and motor disability (amputee).

They explored a university’s website through 19 tasks. Some used assistive technologies like screen readers, screen magnifiers, and adaptive technology for motor impairments.

The test unearthed a few barriers for mobility-impaired and visually-impaired users.

Results showed that the site could benefit from various improvements – some small, some great. The three main accessibility problems were encountered with keyboard use and screen readers.

Firstly, dropdown menus were inaccessible via keyboard use, which many visually and motor impaired participants use to navigate. Next, a problem with keyboard focus was discovered. Some interactive elements correctly lit up; others did not.

Also a lack of headings made for tedious, time-consuming navigation for those with screen readers. Instead of being able to skip through various sections of content, participants had no choice but to listen to entire pages of content in order to find what they needed.

Web accessibility: Worth looking into

The number of people living with disabilities is only going to grow.  How accessible is your site to this market?  Test and find out.

For more info on web accessibility, watch our recent webinar on accessibility and usability testing with our CEO Toby Biddle and Knowbility Executive Director Sharron Rush:

Come say hi at the UX Australia conference next week

Posted by tara on August 24th, 2012

UX Australia

Hi folks!

Coming to UX Australia 2012, in Brisbane next week?  We’ll be there!

UX Australia is Australia’s premier user design conference, which we’re proud to co-sponsor.

It’s a 4-day user experience design conference, with inspiring and practical presentations, covering a range of topics about how to design great experiences for people.  (It’s not too late to sign-up.)

Do come by our exhibition booth to say hi… and while you’re there, enter our raffle to win an iPad!

Toby Biddle and the Loop11 team

LeanUX Denver + extra discount for Loop11 customers

Posted by tara on July 27th, 2012

LeanUx Denver, coming up Sept 19-21 in Colorado, is a 3-day event focusing on Lean UX Methodologies, Data-Driven UX, and the tools that can help you achieve a quantifiably better user experience.

We’re delighted that we can offer Loop11 customers a 20% discount on registrationon top of the special Early Bird registration price that runs out on July 31st.  (You’ll save over $100, not bad!).  To get the discount just use the code  ”Loop11Discount” when booking your ticket.

There’s a fantastic line-up of speakers – leaders in the field of User Experience and Measurement, including those leading the Lean UX field such as:

  • Jeff Gothelf, one of the leading voices on the topic of Agile UX and Lean UX
  • Gerry McGovern, widely regarded as the worldwide authority on increasing web satisfaction by managing customer tasks
  • Hendrik Kleinsmiede, VP of Global Design at PayPal
  • Bill Albert, Director of the Design and Usability Center at Bentley University

There will also be workshops covering areas from the basics of LeanUx to Multivariate Testing.

You’ll get comprehensive insight on Lean UX, including how to implement a Lean UX program, which software to use, how to recruit users, what metrics to use and how to interpret the data.

It all takes place Sept 19-21, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

This will be an action-packed, value-laden event.  Denver is beautiful.  Come join us.

Book your ticket using the discount code ”Loop11Discount” and get your 20% off.  Register before July 31st and you’ll get both the special Early Bird price and the 20% discount for Loop11 customers.

 

Affordances can point your users in the right direction

Posted by tara on July 24th, 2012

My mother-in-law, visiting us for a few weeks, almost burned down the house the other day.

It’s not what it sounds like – she’s very nice and we get along great.  The problem is our  stove.  Its sleek, minimalistic design makes it too easy to turn on the wrong burner without realizing it.  In other words, it lacks effective affordances.

“Affordance” is an industrial design term for a visual clue about how something works.  The purpose of an affordance is to convey to the user exactly what they need to know in order to use the product correctly.

Affordances are embedded into so many everyday products that we hardly notice them.

Airplane seatbelt

Affordances can be used to make websites more usable too.  Let’s take a look at some examples of three common forms of affordances: color, words, and arrows.

1. Color

The shower dial in the image above uses the universal colors for cold and hot – blue and red – to indicate which direction the dial should be turned for cold and hot water.

In a different way, the website of Ritual Roasters uses the contrast of the bright red to highlight the Shop link and direct the user where to go.

2. Arrows

Arrows are even more explicit.  They basically say, “Follow me here”.  The arrow on marieforleo.com directs your eyes to exactly where she wants you to go: her newsletter sign-up.

3. Words

Have you noticed that every airplane belt buckle is etched with the word “Lift” on one side?  We all know how to open a buckle (I think), but I suppose in the case of a plane emergency every second you don’t spend fumbling counts.

The website of the social media tool Wildfire uses a word affordance too – but with a twist.  It has a cool six-pointed shape, each point of which is clickable.  Notice the “Hover” label with the arrow pointing towards it?

Here’s what’s interesting: the “Hover” affordance is temporary.  It’s displayed only when the page is first loaded, and after a few seconds it disappears.  You’re given just enough time to grasp how the six-pointed thingy works before the training wheels come off and you’re left simply with their cool design.

4. Combination

iwillteachyoutoberich.com uses all three forms of affordances.  There’s an arrow, labelled “Looking for my blog?”, pointing towards the blog link, and the “Free Download button” is unmissable in bright yellow:

Has usability testing shown that your users are taking too long to find an important feature on your site?  Consider adding a more explicit affordance to point them in the right direction.

Our Webinar with Balsamiq: The Power of Running Usability Tests on Wireframes

Posted by tara on July 17th, 2012

Last week we hosted a joint webinar, Wireframing + Usability Testing = A Headstart on Development, with our friends at Balsamiq, CEO Peldi Guilizzoni and Head of User Experience Mike Angeles.  Balsamiq is a rapid wireframing software provider with more than 80,000 customers.

Watch the recording of the 30 minute webinar, as we talk about the benefits of wireframing and usability testing and demo how they can be used to reduce development time and cost:

 

 

Heat maps are here!

Posted by tbiddle on June 28th, 2012

We’re thrilled to announce another new feature for Loop11 – Heat maps.

The heat map reports provide you with a user-friendly graphical representation of where your participants click on your website.  The report will let you see task by task everywhere your visitors click anywhere on the page, whether it’s links, images, text or dead space.

The benefits of using heat maps are numerous. The data gathered can offer proof as to where visitors do and do not click, provide useful information when designing and redesigning landing pages, help determine optimal advertisement placement, minimize shopping cart abandonment, maximize conversions of online forms and predict how visitors will use your site in the future.

Loop11 heatmap

The heat map reports can be located through your Clickstream Analysis by clicking any of the links circled below.

Accessing heat maps through clickstream analysis

Oh…and one other important thing…we have been collecting heat map data since April 1 (no joke!). So anyone who launched a project from April 1 onwards will have heat map data in their account.

Happy heat mapping!

Wireframing + Usability Testing = A Headstart in Development

Posted by tara on June 25th, 2012

Wireframe + fresh eyes = cost reduction

I don’t need to tell you how important wireframing is for rapidly developing a great site.  It’s become standard practice because it enables teams to visualize and validate their concept before diving into development.

The renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site”.  Which option do you think is easier on timelines, budget, and momentum?

Wireframing saves time and money, period.

Wireframe example

Wireframes are essentially blueprints for a site. They can be created quickly and require no coding.

But… there’s something even more effective than creating wireframes.  It’s creating wireframes and then running usability tests on the wireframes to get solid feedback from “new eyes”.

We talked recently about why usability testing is so important.  It enables you to get inside your users’ heads so you can make a site that they find easy to use and want to stick around on.

The beauty of running usability tests on wireframes is, you get all of that valuable feedback before you spend a minute or a penny on development.  Your usability testers can interact with your wireframes as if they were a fully developed site.  You can then integrate the insight you get from the usability tests into your designs before you start coding.

Usability testing will save you time and money. Who wants to find out, after they spent resources on development, that the design is intuitive to the designers but not to the users?

So, don’t stop at wireframing.  To get a huge headstart on development, take the next step and run a usability test on your wireframes. Go ahead and create your first test now – it’s both easy and free.

Want to learn more about how to get the most out of your wireframe and usability testing efforts? Join us for a free webinar on Thursday, July 12 with three user experience veterans: Loop11 CEO Toby Biddle, Balsamiq CEO Peldi Guilizzoni, and Balsamiq Head of User Experience Mike Angeles.  UPDATE: You can find a recording of the webinar here.

Which is more effective: lab-based or remote usability testing?

Posted by Igor on May 14th, 2012

If you have a new website or web app, you probably want to gauge the performance quality of your site. And you probably know that this will involve some sort of usability testing.

But which is the best method for usability testing? A team of researchers studied this very topic. Below is a summary of their study – and their results.

The team compared two methods of usability testing:

1. Traditional lab-based testing method – pick a group of people and have them go through the usability test in a controlled, in-house environment

2. Remote web-based testing method – pick users at random and have them go through the usability test remotely

Their experiments and results were published in a paper titled An Empirical Comparison of Lab and Remote Usability Testing of Web Sites1. Let me give you the highlights.

The experiments

Two user groups tested the usability of a set of two websites: 8 users participated in the experiments in a traditional lab-based environment, and 38 users participated remotely over the web.

Experiment #1

Experiment #1 consisted of 17 tasks to be completed on a website that was meant to be of both informational and transactional value to end-users. It provided information about retirement savings, pension, medical and dental coverage, payroll deduction, direct deposit and financial planning. It also enabled users to set their own payroll deduction.

Experiment #2

Experiment #2 consisted of 13 tasks to be completed on a second website that was meant to be of purely informational value; it provided details about stock quotes, company news, research, and investment strategies.

The tasks in both experiments were designed to judge whether:

• The website was visually appealing
• The menus and links were easy to navigate
• The information was arranged in a logical, easy-to-access manner
• Individual page formatting was good
• Content used appropriate terminologies
• The quality of the web content met the expectations of the target users
• The site was easy to use overall
• The user was able to complete the desired tasks within a reasonable time span
• The user would be interested in returning to the site in the future

The results

The conclusion of the study was based on the following criteria:

• Task completion – percentage of users who successfully completed the given task
• Average time spent to complete each task
• Subjective rating quality

A high correlation was noted in the following conclusions:

• The time spent to complete the tasks and the difficultly experienced in completing tasks were strikingly similar in both user groups – indicating similar behavior irrespective of environments.

• The quality of typed comments and the kind of data extractable from remote users were as rich as those that could be obtained in direct laboratory conditions.

If click streams and screenshots were enabled in remote test conditions, the quality of data obtained will likely be richer. Remote testing conditions are more cost feasible with the ability to include diverse user groups to uncover unique usability issues. Both testing conditions each reveal certain unique usability parameters as well.

In conclusion

The study concludes: The behavior of test users is strikingly similar in lab and remote usability tests. This is reassuring, and indicates that the different environments do not lead to different kinds of behavior.

In other words, take your pick – both methods of usability work and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. In-house testing may ensure that you gather more detailed input, while remote testing is usually less expensive. The most important thing is that you do some form of usability testing.

Footnote 1. An Empirical Comparison of Lab and Remote Usability Testing of Web Sites, by Tom Tullis, Stan Fleischman, Michelle McNulty, Carrie Cianchette, and Marguerite Bergel.

Say hi to the Loop11 team at the Big Design Conference & UPA International

Posted by Igor on April 30th, 2012

Hey everyone!

We have some exciting news. We’ll soon be on the road in the US and are fired up to meet you!

We will be at the Big Design Conference from May 31 to June 2nd just outside of Dallas, Texas. Stop by and say hello at Booth #12! We would love to chat. The biggest ideas in strategy, UX, design, gaming, mobile, usability and development will be discussed here!

Right afterwards, we will be in Henderson, NV from June 5-7 at the UPA International Conference. Come visit us at Booth #20 and be a part of the most interactive usability & UX conference in the world!

Hope to see y’all there! Don’t be shy.

Toby Biddle and the Loop11 Team

What website usability is – and why you need to user test for it

Posted by Igor on April 26th, 2012

How many millions of people in the 80s and 90s had trouble figuring out how to program their VCRs?  My older sister was the only one in our house who knew how to do it, and that’s because she was a little nerdy and read the manual.

This is one of the most classic examples of a usability problem.  No one wants to read a manual or call a support line – or even spend more than five minutes trying to figure things out on their own; people want and expect to be able to use products out of the box.  This is the essence of effective usability design, and the same principle applies to website usability.

What is website usability?

Website usability has two aspects:

1. The primary aspect is about meeting your users’ goals and delivering a satisfying user experience.  Is your site clear, concise, and intuitive to them?  Can they quickly and easily find what they’re looking for?  Are the consequences of pressing buttons and clicking links unambiguous to them?

The email management tool Mailchimp.com is one of my favorite examples, because usability is one of its main selling points.  And indeed all of the most common things that you’d want to do with it are laid out clearly on the front page: Create a Campaign, Manage a List, View a Report.  The button for the most common action – creating a campaign – is distinguished by its orange color and large label.  It’s hard to miss.

Ideally your site is so intuitively laid out that the question of usability never enters your users’ minds; it simply works the way they expect it to.  (In fact, users generally only think about usability when they’re frustrated by something that is not usable to them.)

2. The secondary aspect of website usability is more subtle; it’s about fulfilling the goals your company has for the site.  Does your site’s design nudge visitors in the direction you want them to go?  Are the features that are most important to you front and center?

Here’s a quick example: Laura Roeder Studios (lauraroeder.com) offers social media training and tips to small business owners. Building its list of weekly newsletter subscribers is important to them – as shown by the fact that the email newsletter sign-up is given prime real estate on their site:

The value of user testing

Of course we designed our site to be usable, you might be thinking.  Why wouldn’t we? Here’s the thing: you will never know how usable your site truly is until you test it with people outside of your organization.

Is usability subjective?  Could something be intuitive to one person and not another?  Absolutely, and therein lies one of the two main values of user testing: testing across groups reveals quantifiable trends.  If 7 out of 10 people can’t figure out how to navigate to checkout on your website, that tells you something very valuable which you will want to address.

The other main value of user testing is that it’s unambiguous.  Ask a user an open-ended question – Is our website usable to you? – and you will likely get a general reply.  But give someone a set of specific tasks to execute on your website, and look at the results, and you will see unambiguously where the stumbling blocks are, if any.  And that means you can fix them.

User testing enables you to get inside your users’ heads and create a site that will truly be easy and pleasant for them to use.  And that, of course, is win-win for both them and you.

Go ahead and create your first user test to get a quantifiable, unambiguous handle on your site’s usability (it’s both easy and free).