NewsPosted by on March 22nd, 2013
We’re proud to be sponsoring the User Experience Awards this year! The UX Awards honor exceptional user experience design in digital products and services, as well as their creators.
Submissions run from now until May 15 2013, with the final Awards taking place during NY Internet Week on May 21, 2013. Last year, several startups won awards alongside digital agencies, tech and media companies. There are also cash prizes of up to $1,000 for the Grand Prize. Follow @UXAwards for the latest info.
The event starts at 5:30 and is taking place in Tishman Auditorium at the Parsons School of Design in New York.
If you’re curious about prizes: there will be one Grand Prize, three Gold, three Silver and Bronze. The Grand Prize winner also receives $1000, while Gold winners receive $250. All winners also receive additional prizes from the show’s sponsors.
We’d love to see you there!
“Findability precedes usability in the alphabet and on the Web. You can’t use what you can’t find.”—Peter Morville, in Ambient Findability
Last month, CEO Toby Biddle recently posted a guest article with our friends at UX Matters on the topic of search engine findability. Testing the usability of your existing website is a given — but we can’t overlook how people find (or perhaps more importantly, fail to find) your site on the web. Studying how people use search engines and keywords to locate sites like yours is what search engine findability is all about.
In brief, the post discusses:
- The importance of search engine findability
- How usability testing can uncover important search engine findability information not visible via your web analytics package
- How to conduct a search engine findability test (learn about a Search Engine Findability Study we ran on our platform to explore which keywords were commonly used when searching for a credit card provider)
Check out the full article here on UX Matters.
We welcome and encourage anyone creating a landing page via Unbounce to give Loop11 a test drive; you’ll be surprised what usability insights you might glean from even a simple online usability study. And of course, you can’t beat the savings behind online, unmoderated user testing as compared to the cost of putting prospective users in a room with a computer and guiding them through your study.
A big thank you to the pioneering landing page moguls over at Unbounce.
Say you’re a very busy user experience professional. You have a usability project you want to run, but you’re squeezed for time. Maybe you’re just not sure where to start and could use some professional guidance to get the usability juices flowing. It’s for you folks that we’ve recently launched project design services.
That’s right: you can have us design your project and help you get rolling. This service is available to all customers for just $25 per question (with a $500 project minimum). It includes task scenario and question formation, project management and the expert guidance you need to get your Loop11 project up and running.
Here’s how it works:
1. Sign up for a Loop11 account.
2. Send us all the details about your project using this form
3. We’ll liaise with you and create and online usability project in your account
4. You send it out and collect responses!
Of course, if you simply have a question about usability testing, or a comment you’d like to share with us, we love receiving your feedback at email@example.com. We look forward to helping you design your ideal usability study!
We’re fired up to announce the launch of Online Usability 101: a video series that promises to make you knowledgeable about user testing. Designed for aspiring user testing pros, and really anyone who’s interested in a refresher on usability testing best practices, project ideas and smart tips, the 7-video series is complimentary.
What’s covered in the course, you ask?
1) What is Usability?
2) Why Usability is Important
3) When to Conduct Usability Testing
4) Deciding What to Test
5) Selecting Participants
6) Scripting and Launching the Test
7) Analyzing the Results
Have thoughts or feedback on the video series? We’d love to know! Tell us in the comments, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Usability testing for a website in the early stages of development, before design and functionality
has been fully implemented, is widely accepted as the most appropriate stage for evaluating a new
website design. Testing at this stage provides a cost effective option by reducing the risk of having to
make significant changes after programming has begun. Typically testing at this stage is undertaken
on a wireframe or prototype of the website.
Originally the term “wireframe” referred to a quickly-rendered 3D model showing the model’s
structure used while the model maker was working. They were much faster to work with than the
full rendering, and in the field of web design they still are. Website wireframes can have a wide
range of “fidelity”—from non-interactive sketches to fully-interactive website “prototypes”.
Website wireframes are constructed instead of designing final pages, in part, because:
• Wireframes are faster.
• Information architecture and design phases can happen in parallel.
• Wireframes force viewers to focus on the content, not the visual design.
Perhaps the most important benefit of wireframes, particularly interactive HTML wireframes like
those created using ProtoShare, is the way they lend themselves to ongoing user testing. Because of
their interactivity, HTML wireframes can easily be used to conduct early-stage usability testing.
Here’s how you can quickly and easily conduct usability testing with your ProtoShare prototypes
We worked with one of ProtoShare’s customers, Artonic, who have been planning a redesign of their
own website. They created a clickable prototype of their new website design using ProtoShare.
Once the clickable prototype was created and all the pages were linked together, we came up with a
number of appropriate tasks in order to test the prototype and then we created a project in Loop11.
Here’s how to do that in Loop11:
Loop11 has a simple 5-step process for creating a usability project. Step 1 requires you to enter some
basic details about your project, including a public title, a working title, language (there are over 40
languages you can run your projects in) and introduction text for your participants.
Step 2 is the crux of a usability project; it’s where you enter the tasks you want your participants to
perform and any follow-up questions you might have for them.
To create a task you need a task name, which simply helps you differentiate one task from another
later, and the specific task scenario that you want participants to perform.
Importantly, so Loop11 can generate the metrics that help you understand how usable your
prototype is you need to enter a URL where you want your participants to commence the task
(the start URL) and then a success URL(s) which is the page of your prototype that you want to see
your participants navigate to for a specific task. These URLs come directly from your ProtoShare
prototype and just need to be copied and pasted in the appropriate fields in Loop 11.
The remaining steps in Loop11 are pretty straightforward so we haven’t covered them here.
When preparing your wireframes the level of functionality and interaction you build into them depends on the comprehensiveness of the testing you want to do. Wireframes with minimal functionality (like the Artonic wireframe) provide good feedback on site structure, labelling, and select usability issues while high-fidelity, fully clickable and functional prototypes with indicative or actual content are ideal for replicating natural browsing and all aspects of usability can be tested. One thing we like so much about ProtoShare is that you have the flexibility to build in as much interactivity in a prototype as you need—from very low-fidelity to very high-fidelity.
The final launched project in Loop11, including some additional tasks and questions we didn’t cover can be viewed here: [http://www.loop11.com/usability-test/16803/introduction/]. If you conduct the evaluation as a real life participant we’ll generate some useful results and can discuss the analysis of results in a future post.
Traditionally, one of the big issues people have with usability testing is the large investment of time and money to conduct a proper study. Unmoderated (or remote) usability testing offers an alternative method that is cheaper and easier to run.
Jeff Sauro over at MeasuringUsability.com outlines 10 important things to know about remote usability testing in his most recent blog post.
Here’s a quick breakdown of his post:
It’s growing in popularity. In a survey of User Experience professionals, 23% of respondents (an increase of 28% from 2009) now use unmoderated testing.
Recruiting is much easier. Panel companies (like Cint!) make it simpler for companies to find qualified panelists.
A combination of survey and usability study. Tasks and traditional survey questions help to confirm or reject our hypotheses about our customers.
Much more metrics. Enough usability testing metrics are available now to make you the Nate Silver of your industry.
User video simulates the lab pretty well. You can observe panelists just like you would in a lab.
Setup of usability testing is much faster. In one comparative usability evaluation, the average setup time of unmoderated sessions took about half the time for moderated testing.
It’s more efficient than being in the lab. In the same usability evaluation above, the unmoderated testing team was able to collect data on 26x more users than the lab-based team.
Data collected is very comparable to lab data. MeasuringUsability.com found that overall ease, task completion and task-level difficulty was similar to testing in the lab. It will never be exactly the same as face-to-face testing. But it gets pretty close.
Task completion can (and needs to) be verified. You can validate whether a user has completed a task by a) Asking them a question that can only be answered if the task was completed or b) Set up a trackable URL that shows the user completed the task.
More users = more statistical precision. Since it’s easier and faster to test more users, this larger sample size can help you detect smaller differences and get you more statistically significant results.
Anything to add? Comment below!
INDUSTRY: Web Development
SilverStripe is an open source Content Management System (CMS) and framework used by governments, businesses and non-profit organizations around the world. It is a platform for professional web development teams to create websites, intranets and web applications. The platform is open source, and the community needed to be easier to navigate for the community on SilverStripe.
SilverStripe.org had grown, and information and code was scattered all over the place. New users had difficulty finding what they were looking for.
SilverStripe set up an online test with Loop11 to engage in remote user testing.
SilverStripe used Loop11 to produce hard data on usability to guide modifications to the website.
3 different tests were set up; one for each of their different target groups. The 3 user groups consisted of developers, front-end developer/designers and content editors/marketing people. The test was run for 2 weeks.
1,243 SilverStripers started the test and 23% completed the test.
Here are some of their observations:
The online content was hard to understand by some of the audience
There was too much information on the introduction and features pages; users thought it was too much information to read for a quick overview
There wasn’t a clear enough hierarchy between headings and body text on the features page
Unique user groups had different needs and understanding of information; labeling has different meanings for different demographics and can lead to unsatisfactory results
Users were sometimes unsure whether pages/content were applicable to them
The site’s navigation and labels were not very intuitive, confused users and did not accurately reflect content
The “Modules” section was confusing to navigate and did not promote better and more recent modules
Finding information about meeting others in the community was very difficult
Multiple sites in silverstripe.org confused users
Developers did not like the label “Help”; “Support” or “Documentation” were the expected labels
The visual design had not been updated for some time and was difficult to use
Some users mentioned it was time for a site redesign to better reflect the direction of the website
The layout and hierarchy of elements could be made easier through better font sizing and color
After the data was collected and multi-variant tests were conducted, overlaps and patterns were found and a new SilverStripe.org site structure was created to address the findings.
WANT TO CONDUCT EASY, AFFORDABLE AND EFFECTIVE USABILITY TESTING LIKE SILVERSTRIPE DID?
SilverStripe.org is just one success story. Loop11 has plenty of other successful case studies here. Loop11 can help you test and improve your website’s usability without the expensive costs of doing lab-based testing.
Loop11 has just had a major roll out of a new feature that you’re not going to want to miss. It’s a feature that you’ve been asking for for a long time – an easy integration with a panel company.
Loop11 now offers you a fast and easy integration with Cint – one of the world’s leading panel companies.
With this integration you’ll be able to recruit participants for your usability projects based on any of the following criteria:
- Country of origin
- Age range
- Education level
- Occupation status
- Marital status
- Household size
- Number of children
- Age of children
- Personal income
- Household income
- Company size
- Field of experience
- Professional position in company
- Vehicle ownership
- Smoking habits
- Mobile phone use
- …and more!
You can choose from 10 to 1,000 participants for your project, select the recruitment criteria you want, pay Cint quickly through our easy integration, and start getting responses within a few days.
Using the Cint Integration can get you easy and cost-effective access to over 10 million participants in over 40 countries. If you have a specific demographic that you’re looking for, and need to have a specific number of people take your user test, a panel can be helpful to streamline the process of getting participants.
One of the great benefits of using the Cint Integration within Loop11 is all of this is done through the Loop11 interface, and you no longer have to worry about setting up proper quotas and giving the correct link out to a panel company — we’ve taken care of all the hassle of using a panel company, for you.
And don’t forget that if accessibility is an important consideration for your website we recently integrated a separate panel into Loop11 that lets you recruit participants for online accessibility testing.
USING LOOP11 TO COMPARE THE USABILITY OF A LIVE WEBSITE VS. A WIREFRAME PROTOTYPE
CLIENT: TerpSys and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a membership-based organization representing 1,400 independent schools and associations across the United States. Its website is a key means of communication and access for its members, so having a website that is easy to use is critical.
NAIS members weren’t able to find what they needed on the site. As a result, phone calls to customer support had increased.
NAIS engaged U.S.-based technology customer service company, TerpSys, to help resolve the issues with the website.
There was a perception that certain tasks were completely unworkable on the current NAIS site, but there were no statistics to support this.
TerpSys had already created wireframe prototypes based on a content re-structuring and Information Taxonomy project for NAIS to enable easy and accurate information access. However, before moving into costly website design and implementation, it needed to evaluate whether the new framework would sufficiently meet NAIS’ member needs.
TerpSys used Loop11 to generate hard data on usability that would form the basis of its site recommendations for the NAIS.
Loop11 was used to systematically test usability performance and collect data comparing the existing website with the wireframe prototypes of the newly designed Information Architecture. Loop11 enabled Terpsys to:
a) Establish a usability baseline.
b) Test a wireframe prototype of the new website.
c) Test a redacted version of the current live site.
d) Test both the wireframe prototype and the live site to compare “apples with apples”.
e) Evaluate the data.
The NAIS membership department generated a list of existing members, spread across their identified audience categories, who were willing to participate. Each participant was sent links to both projects.
90 NAIS members participated in the online testing, providing fast and instant statistics through Loop11’s ability to record if project tasks were completed successfully and the amount of time each task took.
1. Two separate projects were set up in Loop11 - one each for the prototype wireframes and the existing website. Each project featured 33 identical tasks and questions.
2. Key participant questions relating to the customer support feedback were identified, including:
- How would find information about NAIS membership?
- How would you find a job at an independent school?
3. Additional questions were asked to gauge the usability and website effectiveness including:
- How often do you visit the NAIS.org website?
- (After each task) How easy or difficult was it to find this information?
Once the tests were launched, Loop11 enabled TerpSys to track the task completion rates and observe the navigation path of participants. TerpSys was also able to instantly access the feedback provided by participants.
EXAMPLE DATA COLLECTED
1. Participant Task: “How would you find information about NAIS membership?”
Prototype wireframe: 85% task completion rate
Live website: 81% task completion rate
Analysis: Loop11 recorded an almost identical completion rate between sites, providing evidence that the task is being completed satisfactorily.
2. Participant Task: “Where can you find information on serving students with learning differences?”
Prototype wireframe: 65% task completion rate
Live website: 14% task completion rate
Analysis: In this case, Loop11 recorded the wireframes had a substantially higher task completion rate than the live website. Analysis also revealed (in blue) that there were fairly high task abandon rates on both designs, suggesting that the task wasn’t straightforward to complete in either design. As a result of this analysis, TerpSys was able to make recommendations for changes required.
Using the statistical data Loop11 generated based on the usability test, TerpSys was able to identify the direct leverage points on the website which would yield the most results. They were able to make confident, data-based recommendations to NAIS on where to focus their website development efforts to yield the most usable website possible for its members.
LOOKING TO DO SOME EFFECTIVE, EASY, AND AFFORDABLE USABILITY TESTING ON YOUR SITE?
NAIS is one of many Loop11 success stories. Loop11 can generate quantifiable results on your site without the cost and expense of lab-based testing sessions. Get started now – your first project is free.