<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ignite Your Site: Website Usability

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Website Usability

Well it's been a little while, but we're still here I promise. This week we're at SMX East 2009 in NYC. So far the event has been great, and the sessions very informative. One of the sessions we attended was about website usability I thought it would be good to touch on this point.

Website Usability
Everyone knows that a website is only good if the user can actually use it the way it was intended. What people don't always know is how to figure out whether the site is usable or not. When it comes down to it there are really two models for measuring the usability of a website. 1) is a reactive approach 2) is a proactive approach.

Reactive Usability
Now some might thing this term sounds somewhat negative. However, reactive usability is a great thing and is based on real world information. Reactive Usability is using data from tools such as Google Analytics, Urchin, Email Blasts etc to learn what is working and what isn't. Based on this data you then go and make changes or updates to your website/email campaign or other online media. Reactive usability testing and updating is probably the most widely used method (in my opinion).

Proactive Usability
This type of testing is as the name suggests, something that is planned to test the usability of your site or online media. You might do A/B testing, multivarient testing, discussion groups or user surveys. These tests allow you to plan what it is you want to be testing and get data specific to either confirm or reject a certain hypothesis. This type of testing is a bit more time consuming, but can give you extremely valuable data about a given variable.

What You Should Be Doing
At the end of the day, you need to take into account your users and constantly be testing and reviewing your data to ensure your online medium is working the way it should. Any testing is better than no testing was the big takeaway here.

Remember: Your website only works if your users say it does

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