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End User Testing Tips for Webmasters

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A lot goes into testing a website, and before choosing that responsive website design tester, here are some things the webmaster must keep in mind. The responsiveness of the website should be complemented with a test at the user end of the equation.

Recruitment

The first step should definitely be choosing the test participants. User research requires selection of the right participants. Search results will only be as good as the participants used in the study. Do not choose participants that have conflicts of interest, or those that have inappropriate computer and web experience. In some instances, it might be necessary to limit the number of participants. There are formulae available to determine the number of participants for every round of testing.

Objectives

After getting the candidates together and taking them through the basics, it is important to have the candidates understand the objective if the testing process. Explain to them how long it will take and how the data will be gathered. It is important for the participant to understand that they are testing the product and not necessarily their skills. Sometimes, respondents attribute their failure at the job to their own skills. In a testing scenario, there is no wrong or right. This point should be stressed to the testing participants.

Task assignment

The choice of tasks to test is important to the success of the testing process. The first step should be taking care of the top tasks on the site, such tasks as paying bills, contacting the client or paying bills. When it comes to testing out these tasks, vary the process by providing instruction as giving the participants scenarios that they can work through. Instructions are basic but the scenarios provide the context that can make the difference between a truly useful site and one that only does the basic. When provided with scenarios, situations can arise where they discover the need for information that the original designer might not necessarily have kept in mind when they were designing the site.

Think out loud

Sometimes, it might be useful to ask the users to articulate their thoughts as they go through the testing process. This technique, known as the think aloud protocol or TAP, is useful and has several advantages. When the users think out loud, it helps the developer understand what the user really thinks about their website. These thoughts can turn into meaningful and actionable redesign recommendations.

Freedom

Give the participants instructions and scenarios to keep in mind, but give them enough autonomy and freedom to go through the process. Do not micro-manage the process, but trust it to provide results in the end. One wants to replicate as many scenarios at end user level as possible. With enough freedom, this is possible.

Well tested websites save the webmasters a lot in the way of reputation points, the need for frequent structural updates and lost opportunity. It is only though a well-planned testing process that the results will be positive. With the steps mentioned above, the webmaster will launch with as many bases covered as possible.

This guest post is courtesy of Jack Dawson.

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