Usability evaluation methods

Techniques to identify where your website restricts usability

You may believe you have a good appreciation of the usability of your website based on your general industry knowledge or user feedback. However usability is such a key determinant of a website’s success that it is important to closely analyse where it may falter. After deciding to assess your site’s level of usability take some time to evaluate how to evaluate that success (or otherwise).

There are three broad approaches to usability evaluation, each one offering specific techniques:

  • Testing – representative users work on typical tasks using the system (or the prototype).
    • Coaching Method
    • Co-discovery Learning
    • Performance Measurement
    • Question-asking Protocol
    • Remote Testing
    • Retrospective Testing
    • Shadowing Method
    • Teaching Method
    • Thinking Aloud Protocol
  • Inspection – usability specialists and other professionals examine the user interface.
    • Cognitive Walkthroughs
    • Feature Inspection
    • Heuristic Evaluation
    • Pluralistic Walkthrough
    • Perspective-based Inspection
  • Inquiry – interviewing or observing users using the system in a real situation.
    • Field Observation
    • Focus Groups
    • Interviews
    • Logging Actual Use
    • Proactive Field Study
    • Questionnaires

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