Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy a website is to use from a users’ perspective in order to better understand the users experience. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a website is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. This testing allows the researcher to observe users preforming preset tasks to gather information about user experience and length of time to complete each task. The information is then used to identify issues and recommend changes for a better overall experience.
Why is Usability Important?
The goal of usability testing is to identify any usability problems, collect data on participants’ experience such as the time it took to complete the task as well as determine overall user satisfaction on the website. If a website is too difficult to navigate or does not articulate a clear purpose, users will become frustrated and leave the site. Testing websites is an important task in order to eliminate user frustration and quickly provide the user with the desired information.
Testing and Results
The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website provides patient information about the practice to existing patients as well as potential patients. The current site offers access to the patient portal, request an appointment and information about the team. There are a lot of useful resources but the site needs updating for a better user experience.
Three participants were asked to complete five standard website tasks and their experience was viewed using WebEx. The usability testing was conducted by me on the current Connecticut Family Orthopedics website to provide data and recommendations for a redesign. Before the usability testing started, participants were given an introduction and background questions. Participants were also asked for verbal feedback during and after the meeting.
The three participants were friends/family and their names are confidential. Each participant was given an overview and informed that their tasks within the website would be recorded. All three participants had never visited the site prior to this study.
The testing sessions were administered remotely. Through WebEx, each participant had access and control of the screen while they were being recorded. The website was accessed through Chrome. Just before the session began, the participants were emailed the list of tasks and a consent form. A few initial questions were asked of each participant to get them comfortable before starting.
During testing, participants were asked their thoughts about each task and how difficult or easy they found it. At the end, participants were asked to summarize their experience and how they thought it could have been improved.
- You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.
- You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is open today.
- For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. You need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download.
- You would like to request an appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.
- You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.
Task 1 results: Minor difficultly. All participants were looking for a tab in the navigation for location. Two participants went to the Contact Us tab while the third went to the bottom of the page. The address is located on the bottom of the page and the Contact Us tab will bring you to a page that has the hours and phone number. This page is shorter in content so the bottom of the page is brought up for the user to see the location. All three participants commented that the location should be clearly marked on the Contact Us as well as at the top of the page. One participant commented that a search function would help locate hard to find topics.
Task 2 results: Moderate difficulty. The participants did not know that the urgent care was called OrthoPrompt. They were looking for either urgent care or walk in within the navigation. Once they started clicking around, out of frustration, they were able to figure out that the OrthoPrompt tab was for the urgent care. They were able to locate the hours easily once on the page. The comment was that this should be labeled as urgent care for people in emergency need.
Task 3 results: Mild difficulty. The participants all went directly to the insurance and billing tab but hesitated with the dropdown labeled patient forms. They would look around before heading back to this election and clicking on the patient forms. Once on the page they located the form quickly. The comment was that there should be a billing dropdown for billing specific forms. The page that they were brought to had disclosures, patient forms as well as the authorization form for credit cards.
Task 4 results: Easy. All three participants found this at the top of the page. There are two locations on the page to make an appointment, one at the top and the other is in the main navigation. They did question why it was located in two places.
Task 5 results: Easy. All three participants found the social media links with ease. They are located on the bottom of the page as seen in most websites. There were no additional comments on this task.
The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. This created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in shorter navigation paths with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.
The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.
- Difficulty finding office details
- Content on pages is lengthy and not prioritized with relevant information on top
- Navigation is confusing due to organization, duplications and relevant category topics
- Address is only located at the footer
- Consolidate the navigation
- Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
- Create clean overall design
- Use responsive design
- Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation
- Stay connected
- Patient Portal
- About us
- Additionally, at the bottom links for:
- Newsletter Sign up
- Social Media links
Always Be Testing
Websites need to be constantly evolving as user behavior can change depending on the age, experience and interest of the user. For a successful usability test you must first:
- Decide what areas to concentrate on
- Determine what tasks you want to test
- Determine potential usability issues
Keep asking questions and looking for how to improve.