How to test your ProtoShare prototypes with Loop11

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
using Loop11.

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.

Happy testing!

What You Can Learn from Popular Eye Tracking Studies

Want to know how you should appear in search results, where to place your most important information when trying to improve your website for conversions, and how to draw attention to your products in advertising? Then you will want to check out these valuable lessons from popular eye tracking studies.

How You Need to Be Listed in Search Results

Popular Eye Tracking Studies

Photo Credit: Fabio Premoli on Flickr

SEOmoz, one of the leading SEO blogs, published an eye tracking study on Google searches for local pizza shops, how to make pizza, pizza making tools, and major pizza chains. Quick lessons to be learned from this study include the following.

• You want to be at the top of search results when the results will be primarily text based without local results.

• If the search is for local-based businesses, you want to be in the top five to ten places that come up in the local search results area.

• If the search is on a how to topic, you will want to have video that appears in the first page of search results as videos usually stand out more with their thumbnails.

• If you are a retailer, you will want to make sure your products are included in Google Shopping so that your product images appear in search results.

• If you are a large brand with local shops, you will dominate the top area of search results with additional links to pages beyond your homepage as well as local search results, both of which will get lots of attention from searchers.

Where to Place Your High Conversion Elements

Popular Eye Tracking Studies

Photo Credit: Michael Sauers on Flickr

In our recent post on how to improve your website for conversions, we mentioned that your conversion goals should be prominently displayed throughout your website. What you can learn from eye tracking case studies on websites is where to put high converting elements like your mailing list sign up form, buy now buttons, and any other thing that you want visitors to find on your website immediately when they arrive.

Let’s say that you want to improve conversions from your blog. Web Distortion listed 8 eye tracking studies from popular blogs to show where the hot spots were. Aside from the content itself, most eyes were drawn to the headers, particularly the right side of the headers where banner ads appeared or where the main navigation was located. Then they were drawn to right-hand sidebars.

How to Draw Attention to Your Products in Advertising

Popular Eye Tracking Studies

Photo Credit: Think Eye Tracking

If you’re using advertisements in print or online to get more visitors to your website, you’ll want to make sure that your product and it’s message is getting people’s attention. There are lots of subtle ways to make sure this happens. In this eye tracking case study by Think Eye Tracking, all it took was a simple change of having the model look toward the product instead of looking toward the camera.

Have you ever reviewed or conducted an eye tracking case study? What other valuable insights have you learend?

10 Things to Keep in Mind About Unmoderated Usability Testing

 

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.

(You can read the entire article here.)

Anything to add? Comment below!

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