The Basics of Usability Evaluation

Usability Evaluation targets users on how well they can use or learn a product in order to achieve their goals. It also indicates how pleased users are with the process. In order to gather the information, experts use different approaches to gather feedback from users, regarding an existing site or plan, related to a new site.

When evaluating user interfaces and websites for usability, we could define the process as “the perception of a target user of the effectiveness (fit for purpose) and efficiency (work or time required to use) of the Interface”.

What Usability Is

user experience has to be at the center of any online experience

User experience has to be at the center of any online experience!

Usability is about the quality of a user’s overall experience when related to products or systems. This includes websites, devices, applications and software. Usability is about efficiency, overall satisfaction and the effectiveness of the user. It’s important to understand that usability is not a single, one-dimensional element of a specific product, system or user interface.

Usability is a combination of different elements including:

Intuitive Design: which is almost an uncomplicated perception of the architecture and navigation of a site.

The Simplicity of Learning: How quickly a user can achieve basic assignments, without ever knowing or seeing the interface before.

Competency of Use: How quickly an experienced user can achieve goals.

Remember or Recall: How well a user can remember the various aspects of a site they have visited and be able to use this information in future visits to that site.

The Regularity of Errors and How Seriously: How often a user makes mistakes while using the system, how severely these errors are and how they are recovering from these mistakes.

Level of Satisfaction: Whether or not the user likes using the system.

What Are The Evaluation Methods & When They Should Be Implemented

The core to developing highly usable sites is creating user-centered designing. The adage “test early and often” is important when it comes to usability testing. As an element of user-centered design, you can and should test as soon as possible during the process. Due to the variety of procedures available,
you will be able help in the development of the content. This includes: visual design, interaction design, information architecture and general user satisfaction.

Opportunities for Testing

it is all about testing and reviewing your processStandard usability testing on an existing site
Surveys or Interview to recognize users’ goals
Focus Groups to recognize users’ goals
Card Sort Testing to help with information architecture development.
Wireframe Testing to evaluate navigation
First Click Testing to ensure users head down the correct path
Usability Testing to measure users’ interaction from beginning to end
Satisfaction Surveys to understand how a site manages in the real world

Any one of these or any combination of tests will thoroughly improve the usability of your site, system or applications.

Working With The Data After Testing

Evaluations are able to capture two kinds of data: Qualitative Data and Quantitative Data. Quantitative Data records what actually happened. Qualitative Date describes what users thought or said.

Once Data Has Been Gathered

Once all data has been collected, you can use it:

  • To evaluate the usability of your site
  • To recommend various improvements
  • To implement these recommendations

Afterwards, re-test the site to gauge the effectiveness of these changes.

We highly recommend this video from Philip Johnson from the University of Hawaii: