User testing before launching a new site means that usability issues that adversely affect the user experience can be addressed before exposing it to the world for the first time - and potentially damaging the brand
Young Digital Planet (YDP) is a world leading educational software publisher and e-learning technology and content developer. YDP was close to launching a new educational portal in the UK. YDP wished to conduct some usability testing on the site to obtain recommendations for ‘quick fixes’ to improve the site for its imminent launch, and for longer term improvements for the site’s ongoing development.
We proposed testing with 6 testers representing YDP’s target audience (secondary school teachers of Maths and Science) followed by a facilitated discussion to agree issues and actions.
In order to ensure buy-in to the research results, we recommended that key YDP staff gained a shared understanding of the issues by observing users on the site. By following this with a facilitated discussion, it would allow the observers to identify the key issues and agree actions in a single day.
What we did
We discussed the objectives of the project with the project manager and prepared a facilitation guide to achieve these. We recruited 6 testers fitting YDP’s target audiences – 3 testers tested the site unobserved, followed by observed testing by 3 testers undertaken in our state-of-the-art viewing studios, where YDP observed the testing through a one way mirror.
Testers explored the site as a potential source of teaching resources. Testers undertook scenarios, using ‘think aloud’ protocols, whilst the facilitator probed to get as much feedback and insight as possible – without interfering unduly in the user journey.
The observers were ‘active’, writing issues on post-its as they occurred. Following the observed testing, a discussion was facilitated by a Web Usability consultant to agree the issues and appropriate actions.
Nearly 40 usability issues were identified that would have a major or moderate impact on the user experience. The research also informed thinking about the business model. During the facilitated discussion, YDP gained a shared understanding of these issues, and agreed actions that could be implemented quickly. YDP decided to make these changes and returned for some further testing before launching the site.
Thanks for such an informative and interesting session. Can’t wait to read the report, we learned so much.