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usability testing

Finally, the Usability Test

Usability testing seems to be the overlooked stepchild of web design.

As web designers and builders we put energy into selecting fonts, styling, colors, logos, search engine optimization, writing and rewriting copy, photography and editing photos, etc. all the while working effectively and efficiently with our clients. When we get to that place in the process of developing a website where the client is happy and the site is finished, it is natural to feel our work is “done.” Without a usability test or two and the subsequent improvements, however, our website will not be complete.

Simple user testing, also called debugging design, will eliminate the irritating but common quirks that crop up in websites. Quirks such as content that is too busy or difficult to scan, clickable areas that are too small and overly long registration forms, just to name a few. These website problems turn users off, can cause our clients to lose customers and will keep our websites from performing as hoped.

Following through with simple usability tests is a debt we owe to our clients and ourselves in the effort to make our websites not just good, but excellent.

By Mary Ann Aschenbrenner

Mary Ann is a website designer and developer working with small businesses and nonprofit organizations. She works and lives in St. Johns, a neighborhood in North Portland.

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