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Usability testing provides user evidence to help develop a unified customer-focused vision for staff working separately in different departments in an organisation

  • Who: Renishaw, an engineering company
  • What: Usability testing to assess site effectiveness
  • How: 5 qualitative depths with Renishaw users and 2 1-to-1 sessions with staff members to identify key user goals, whether the site provided the information they needed and how easy it was to find it
  • Result: The coming together of disparate content teams to develop a shared view of their customer support requirements and a single solution for these


Renishaw is a global supplier of measurement, motion control, healthcare, and spectroscopy equipment. The company supplies products and services in applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery; it is also a world leader in metal 3D printing, being the only UK business that designs and makes industrial machines which ‘print’ parts from metal powder.

The site contains a vast quantity of added-value support content (e.g. service, parts, warranty, downloads, etc.) but Renishaw was concerned that the website was not as effective as it could be at supporting customers’ product support goals.

The support content for the site is provided by 12 separate divisions that had evolved and developed their content independently. Renishaw wanted key staff within these divisions to understand the issues and buy-in to a suitable, customer focused, solution.

What we did

The Renishaw site has twelve principal product categories but the support goals of the customers are broadly similar. Web Usability recruited 5 testers representing a range of Renishaw customers to test the site including the MD of an engineering business, a mechanical design engineer working for a power electronics company, and a project engineer working in the petrochemical industry. We also involved two Renishaw staff members to test the site – a member of the sales team and a recent graduate recruit.

At the beginning of each tester’s research session we discussed with them the support and service information they need for the products they deal with and then got them to go and find this content on the site. We also had a number of other typical support and service tasks to get them to look for warranties, spare parts, upgrades, training courses, service contracts, manuals etc. We could see where testers could and couldn’t achieve their tasks; we get testers to use the real time think aloud protocol and use ‘liveviewer’ eyetracking to help us probe at the appropriate times to get more insight about where there were issues. Key staff from Renishaw observed the testing: this enabled them to get experiential knowledge about the testers’ experiences.

Following the testing Web Usability facilitated a discussion about the key issues and how these could be addressed in the Renishaw environment.


Following the facilitated discussion, Web Usability undertook a detailed analysis of the research, combined this with the discussion outcomes, and prepared a detailed report of the usability issues, the actions needed to address these, and the best practice for delivering the support and service content. However, the big ‘take-away’ for Renishaw was that the people responsible for this content understood they had to come together and develop a shared view of their customer support requirements and a single solution for these.

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