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Make It Usable

Usability is often the most neglected aspect of Web sites, yet in many respects it is the most important. When people leave bad Web sites, they rarely come back to see if you got it right in Version 2.

Quick Ways To Improve Your Site's Usability

You can effectively collect usability feedback and improve your site. Following steps will lead you through the process.

1. Determine goals and write the user tasks

Decide what you want to learn. Based on your goals, write tasks for the user to perform. Give your testers enough information to proceed without actually revealing anything or documenting the site.

Number and write each task on a separate page.

2. Determine the user profile and schedule the sessions.

Choose participants who represent the target market. Testers should have experience levels similar to those who will use the live site. Decide what traits are important, considering Web experience, operating system knowledge, occupation, experience using competitive sites, and familiarity with your site.

3. Conduct the sessions.

You can run the tests any place quiet enough to hear what the user is saying.Limit the number of observers to two or three and tell them they need to be silent. Resist the temptation to talk or help the users.

4. Evaluate the data.

Pay close attention to areas where users were frustrated, took a long time, or couldn't complete tasks. Respect the data and users' responses, and don't make excuses for designs that failed.