Planning a Usability Testing Project

A usability testing project requires some preliminary work to determine what needs to be tested on related to a website. Once that is determined, project planning tools make managing the project somewhat simpler.

Determining what needs to be tested

Determining what needs to be tested is a critical part of the usability testing process since it will form the outline of your usability testing session script. Here are a few guidelines to help you determine what needs to be tested in a live website or a website in development. Testing a live/existing website

  • Key task paths: Meet with content owners or stakeholders to understand the goals of the website. Based on the goals of the site, determine key tasks that users usually do on your site. Examples: Register for a conference, join IEEE, etc.
  • Key functionality: Testing key functionality on a site such as the global navigation, search utility, chat utility, social media features, buttons, etc. is a good idea to get validation of whether users find these usable on your site.
  • Content styles: A website usually has more than one type of content styling and layout. It is okay to test a page each for different content styles to ensure these styles are usable and liked by users.
  • Recent changes to the site:It is a good idea to test something that was recently changed on a site whether or not it has already been tested. Testing new features on a site can help provide feedback on whether users like it or not. If the new feature is solving for an existing problem on your site, then it is a good idea to test it whenever possible.
  • Planned changes to the site: It is usually a good idea to test new features before making them live since it will help save time and resources in making changes later. That said, it is also a good idea to ensure that the schedule for testing matches the release schedule for planned changes to the site. Assess the confidence in the site and the risks involved in changing/implementing something new without testing.

Testing a redesign/new site in development

  • Vendor should provide a research plan covering objectives, methodology, process and timeline including a detailed test script. IEEE team should have the opportunity to review and suggest revisions to the session plan.
  • Testing a website in the early stages of development (including prototyping and wire framing stages) helps get early reactions on whether users like your planned approach to the site and help validate site strategy early in the development process.
  • Prototypes and wireframes can be most useful to test since it lets the users focus on the functionality of the site without getting overly involved in design aspects.
  • Some of the commonly tested elements for a website in development are:
    • wireframes containing navigation and information architecture layouts
    • placement of key functionality
    • new templates

Other considerations (if applicable) If there are a lot of things that need to be tested, prioritize in order of implementation schedule, feedback received related to the site element, and or business needs. Do not hold up release schedules for testing, if determined that the new element is an improvement over the current experience.

Sample Project Planning Tools

Having a project planning roadmap for a usability testing project helps ensure all necessary tasks, roles, and responsibilities are planned before the project begins. You can reference the sample project planning tools below to manage your usability testing project: