Understand what is or isn't working

Website Usability Testing

What is website usability?

This refers to the actual way your clients use your website and whether your website is built to fulfil their needs and behaviours. It is all about the “human experience”. Think about how you use your favourite website, and how or why you use that one over others. Often the simplicity and logic of moving around and through a website is the reason you may choose to use one site over another. The simpler and more logical you find your experience, to get to the information or result you want, the better your user experience (often referred to as UX) will be.

Usability is also about the accessibility of the website to people who may have challenges or barriers to accessing your information – so for those with reading and visual impairments, or who require translations etc.

Why do I need to think about website usability?

The more you enjoy using a website and the simpler you find it, along with a logical navigation, the more likely the website will:

  • Encourage you to convert your interaction i.e. buy an item, sign up for an event or book a consultation.
  • Get recommended to others and awareness of your brand increase.
  • Allow recall of your brand and website ahead of others.

Also, understanding how people are using your website and interacting with the layout, content and design can help you continually improve, refine and develop your site; ultimately increasing your users experience of the site. Improving their experience should help you reach your website goals, be that brand awareness, engagement or sales for example.

What do you need to consider for good website usability?

You need to make your site accessible, easy, simple, fast and relevant. All of these points need to be considered from your clients/users point of view. Your client’s point of view is really what matters. They’re the ones you’re trying to gain engagement from. The areas you need to consider are below, but remember, depending on your audience’s behaviours you will need to order these, in the order of most importance to them:

  • Responsive layout (i.e. speed of loading and mobile optimisation).
  • Simple and logical navigation (including site searches, home page best practices).
  • Clear visual design (hierarchy including colour, design and layout).
  • Clear and easy to review content.
  • Consistency of design across pages.
  • Easy form or contact options and use.
  • Companies credibility.

How do I assess our website usability?

Measuring human interaction with your website can be difficult, but there are ways, tools and opportunities, some simpler and cheaper than you think, that will help you understand the users experience. There are several methods you can use to assess people’s use of your site:

Moderated (observed) – in-person testing

  • “Lab” based in specialized situations or settings whilst observed.
  • “Guerrilla” testing where people are chosen at random, such as in public places and asked to perform quick tests whilst observed in these settings.

Moderated (observed) – remote testing

  • “Phone or Video” interviews about how the site is used and whilst they are using it, recording their interactions remotely.

Unmoderated (unobserved) – remote testing

  • This will be through recorded interactions with the website from their “natural” environments and devices of use.

Online Testing Tools and Platforms (observed or unobserved)

  • There are many varieties of testing options here and these platforms, apps and programs available can cover areas like eye tracking etc.

There are also tools and support you can access to support these activities, which work alongside your operational website, and this can include, as an example:

Heat Mapping

There is data analysis software that can help track where your users click and touch on your website. These are referred to as ‘heatmaps’. These produce simple, visual colour-coded maps of your webpages and indicate where people using your site click and scroll. Using simple ‘cool to hot’ colour coding, allows you to see where people are or not clicking and looking. These can be run over a specific time, or continually.

This can help you identify whether or not your layout works the way you think it does or not, whatever the case may be. What may seem logical to your business and your website designer, may not be the best layout for your users and this can help make it very clear. It can help you ensure you put the most important information in the most viewed areas. Some maps can even help drill down on the demographics (such as device type used or whether they are a returning visitor or not etc.), so you may see different heat points dependent on the type of user too.

There are many types of tool that can offer this service. Often it is an app you can load or coding you can sign up for. Each of the many offers will vary and you will need to consider:

  • Functions and reports available – what do you want to find out?
  • Costs – how much, for how long?
  • Compatible website platforms – will it work with your site?

If you would like a free of charge discussion around testing your websites usability, get in touch here and lets see if we can help you put your site to the test.

What else do I need to know?

There is a lot of information available on website usability testing, online if you want to read more. Below are some sources of further information and support we would suggest reviewing:

www.hotjar.com – great information and resources including templates.

www.usabilitygeek.com – easy to digest information on what it is and how it works and why you need it.


Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug – great, easy to read book for an introduction to the concepts and main aspects of usability testing.

At Need to Know Marketing we love providing information for SME’s so they can grow. We also understand this work can be time consuming and difficult to begin with. To assist you, we provide a free of charge one hour consultation, where we have an open discussion about your business objectives and what you’re looking to achieve.

Following the consultation we will provide you with a marketing strategy, advising how we recommend meeting your business objectives through marketing. If you are interested in knowing the cost of our services, you can use our calculator as a guide.

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”

Walt Disney knew telling a story is always always easier with pictures. It crosses all barriers. The best story tellers are always the best at engaging their audience.