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High Usability, Low Cost

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25 January, 2011

A recent blog post by Jakob Nielsen, describes how to achieve high UI usability through an in-depth user testing process involving three different methods:

1.      Iterative design

2.      Parallel design

3.      Competitive testing

It is a great and thorough guide to creating and testing designs for high website usability. However, the kind of “test early, test often” approach described here and advocated by usability professionals world-wide is prohibitively expensive – even for large corporate entities. For example, the Nielsen Norman Group currently charges $45,000 for most competitive testing, which is likely to be out reach for most organisations. And that’s before you’ve even started your parallel and iterative design testing.

In this article we wanted to explain how you can run the same kind of testing described by Jakob Nielsen at a fraction of the cost by running online usability testing with Loop11.

Before we get started, it is important to know that there are benefits and drawbacks of both online and lab-based (or moderated) testing. This article is essential reading for anyone about to embark on any form of usability testing.

Iterative Testing with Loop11:

Iterative testing is about testing an initial design, making changes to it and testing it again. The process is repeated several times.

To do this with Loop11, simply create and initial website design, preferably beginning with lo-fidelity wireframes and run your online study with Loop11. Analyse the data and make appropriate changes to the design and test them again with Loop11. This process should be repeated until you have a final design (not wireframes).

Cost: $350 per iteration.

Parallel Design Testing with Loop11:

In parallel design testing, users are asked to test several variations of the same design at the same time. The best areas of each design are then merged into a single design.

Doing this with Loop11 is easy. You’ll need to prepare at least two different designs, run your online study in which you ask participants to complete the same task on multiple designs.
In parallel design testing it is important that each participant only performs tasks on one design otherwise there will be a learning bias.

Cost: $350 per design.

Competitive Testing:

Competitive testing involves comparing your design with your competitors. Doing this with Loop11 is extremely easy and powerful. Simply create a project and ask users to complete the same (or similar) tasks across several websites (yours and your competitors). Since Loop11 requires no downloading or no coding you will be able to test your competitors’ live sites.

Cost: $350.>

So why spend tens of thousands when you can do all of this testing for just a couple of thousand dollars.

Happy Testing!

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