Can People with Disabilities Use Your Website?

How do you feel when you have trouble using a website or application? When you can’t find the information you need because navigation is inconsistent or unclear? When you click a link and it doesn’t go where you expected? When you fill out a form and lose all of your data when you submit due to a minor error?

What if you clicked on that big BUY NOW button and nothing happened? In fact, what if clicking your mouse on all of the links and buttons and other interactive elements on a site didn’t work? Pretty bad website, huh? Chances are the company that wants you to BUY NOW would be all over it and a fix would come quickly.

Now imagine you are blind…or paralyzed…or imagine you broke your wrist and can’t use your mouse. People who rely on a screen reader or who can only navigate a site using the keyboard often face these challenges because many sites aren’t designed and coded to be fully accessible.

So what does it mean to have an accessible website? How do you know? Why should you care?

One in every 7 people in the world has some kind of physical or cognitive disability. That’s the official count. When you factor in temporary disabilities like broken bones, generative disabilities like presbyopia, and cognitive differences – some people are visual learners and others are verbal – practically everyone will experience some sort of disability in their lifetime.

Because of this, you would think that websites would be designed to accommodate a range of abilities. The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative has developed guidelines to help developers understand and meet accessibility needs. In the fast moving world of web and application development however, the Guidelines are too often overlooked and millions of people are left out of online experiences. As a result, advocacy groups have taken to the courts. Courts in Australia, Canada, Japan, the European Union and the United States are increasingly interpreting technology access to be a basic human right. Legal rights to participate in online commerce, education, employment and social opportunities are explicit in the UN Declaration on the Rights of People with Disabilities and supported by legislation and court decisions by governments all over the world.

So what should you do? What can you do? Well, it depends on your role in your organization, but some steps you can take include encouraging your management to develop an accessibility policy, helping your designers and developers and QA people come up to speed on their roles in developing accessible products, and YOU (if you’re reading this, you likely understand user/usability testing), you can do a test.

Doing an in-person usability test with people with disabilities is very much like any other usability test…except you need to determine what disabilities to include, recruit people with those disabilities who also match your personas in terms of goals and skills and experience, make sure your testing environment is accessible and that your participants can get there, and you need to factor in assistive technology (AT). Plus you need to understand enough about the various assistive technologies to follow along with what the participant is doing.

It’s not hard but it can be challenging. You might want to get started by doing some remote testing first. This can help you know if your site has accessibility issues and broadly what those issues are.

Loop11 has recently linked up with AccessWorks – a panel of people with disabilities who have signed up to be usability test participants. AccessWorks is maintained by Knowbility, Inc., a nonprofit organization that, among other things, advocates for accessibility technology.

Go to Access-Works.com to read more about it, then jump over to Loop11 to define your test. When you get to Step 4, Invite Participants, select “Recruit participants with disabilities for accessibility testing.” This will give you a dialog where you can specify types of disability and assistive technology to include. Specify the number of participants in each category and continue to the payment page. Then sit back and wait for your test results to come.

 

This is a post by Jayne Schurick, a fan of AccessWorks and Loop11.

How to Run an Effective True Intent Study

An effective way to assess the user experience your website offers is to understand who your users are and what tasks or goals they are trying to accomplish there. A True Intent Study helps you do just that.

What’s a true intent study?

As the name suggests, a true intent study aims at understanding a user’s objective as they browse your site. What are they there to do? And are they able to achieve it?

A true intent study helps you to:

  • Determine what your visitors intend to do and how they behave on your website
  • Determine the demographic makeup of visitors coming to your site
  • Determine whether your visitors were able to successfully accomplish their tasks/goals
  • Discover flaws in your website that might inhibit users from completing their intended task
  • Analyze the overall experience of your visitors

One interesting angle a true intent study provides over a run-of-the-mill usability test is, because you’re asking completely open-ended questions that do not make assumptions about the tasks/goals your users aim to accomplish, you might learn something surprising about the site. In other words, a true intent study helps you gather data that you probably wouldn’t have gathered if you were relying strictly on a highly controlled test with specific tasks or scenarios.

How does a true intent study work?

The process is pretty simple.  Site visitors are intercepted at random and their subsequent behavior is tracked. A lightbox poses questions like, “Why are you visiting the site today?” and “Were you able to successfully accomplish your goal(s)?”

We’ll illustrate this via screenshots in the next section.

How to run a true intent study with Loop11:

1.  Choose a website you want to test.

2.  Enter the details of your user test.

 Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.50.56 PM

3.  Insert a multiple choice question that aims to understand what the visitor came to the site to do.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.11 PM

4.  Provide a range of response options covering the most common reasons people visit your website.   Randomize the order of the responses, make the question mandatory & offer an “Other, please specify” response at the end. In the example below, we ran a true intent study on www.cleverzebo.com.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.24 PM

5.  Insert an open task that starts on the homepage of your website.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.33 PM

6.  Insert the following three questions:

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.42 PM

7.  Enter the “User Test Options,” spelling out the max number of participants you’d like in the study, the “thank you” text and other details. It’s possible to include only a percentage of your overall site visitors in the true intent study.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.51 PM
8.  Choose “Create a pop-up invitation for your own website” as the method of inviting participants:
Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.52.02 PM

9.  At this point, Loop11 will provide you a code snippet. Place the code on the page(s) of your website where you want the pop-up invitation to appear, launch the test and sit back whilst the data comes in.

A true intent study can be a valuable resource in discovering flaws in your website that are making it difficult for users to complete their intended task.  A true intent study sometimes casts a wider net than ordinary usability testing, as it dives into the goals of real users navigating your website and looks at how effectively your users are able to meet those goals. It’s an easy test to set up. Website owners can learn a lot from this exercise!

To learn more about true intent studies and how to run your first one, contact us at support@Loop11.com.

 

This blog post was a collaboration between Jacob Young and Arijit Banerjee, who assisted with vital research.

 

Get the Usability Test Results You Need

Are your usability testing responses actually giving you the actionable information you need?

Not if you haven’t designed the right test!

In order to get the information you’re after, you need to determine:

1.  What you want to know

2.  What questions to ask to get the right answers

Figure Out the Usability Info You Need

Have you already identified problems with your platform? Are users routinely aborting at a specific point, or do you get a lot of queries about the same functions or processes? Then this first job is easy—you need to figure out what users are finding difficult, and possibly to test different options for making things easier.

If you’re beta testing or still in the early development phase, the information you’re after might be more general—how are various processes perceived, how quickly can users find what they need and accomplish specific tasks, what design elements are enhancing or inhibiting usability?

Get as specific as possible in identifying the information you need from your usability test, and you’ll make designing your test much easier while making the test far more effective, too.

Ask Your Usability Testers the Right Questions

The questions you need to be asking depend entirely on the information you want to receive but there are some general rules you need to follow.

When there are specific problem areas you’ve identified, or new features/design elements you’d like feedback on, be sure to identify those areas and ask your testers what you want to know.

Keep in mind, though, that when you identify a specific element you’re calling attention to it, and this might alter responses—if you want to see whether or not an element is noticeable or problematic on its own, ask questions that might allow users to identify the element on their own, without explicitly mentioning it yourself.

For more general feedback on usability, ask testers open-ended questions that allow them to not only to identify the specific elements or processes that caught their attention, but also the qualities they perceived in those elements.

“Which parts of the platform did you find most appealing?” is open-ended to a degree, but it still asks users to identify positive elements of the platform—a good thing to know, but not complete in and of itself.

“Which features did you find most noticeable?” allows users to give both positive and negative experiences. While this question is probably too nonspecific to be very useful, it can be tailored to your specific device or software platform in a way that yields more useful results.

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