"At TechCrunch’s Geek ‘n Rolla event last week, I managed to have a quick chat with Leisa Reichelt from Disambiguity, following her great presentation about “Why you can’t NOT afford good user experience”.
Although the presentation was geared up towards digital start-ups, our conversation crossed over into the fact that usability is often overlooked by most small business with an online presence, usually due to a combination of a lack of understanding, time and resources.
It’s been proven time and time again, that the smallest changes made as a result of examining a site’s usability can have a large-scale, highly positive impact.
With this in mind, usability should not be ignored. Here are ten tips to inexpensively improve user experience.
1. Back to basics
Ensure that the basic functionality of your site meets your online objectives. Do this by identifying the goals you want to measure: Do you want a user to buy a product? Sign up for a newsletter? Book an appointment?
Focus on the main goals that the user is trying to achieve. This will prevent you from wasting time and resources on secondary aspects of your website and allow you to identify the steps the user takes to reach your primary objectives. Then you can begin to establish if these steps can be simplified or made more prominent.
2. Use your imagination
Create a persona. Lots of people recommend this, but very few seem to practice it, possibly because it seems a little bit crazy. However, I can assure you that it’s not. Imaginary personas of your website’s core demographic will help you be able to build and understand the site from a user’s perspective.
This can be done either before or after you’ve undertaken research into your website but ideally, you should be referring to your imaginary user (or users) constantly through the process of establishing a usability cycle. Be extremely careful not to stereotype though, as this will lead to problems.
3. Test from your desk
Technology is a wonderful thing. If you want to test some real-life users, you can save time and money by doing it remotely from your desk.
Use a phone to talk to participants whilst using screen-sharing software to see what they’re doing and how they respond; there are many inexpensive, effective products, such as Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro, that exist within this marketplace. These will allow you to conduct either real-time, face-to-face tests from a different location to your user, or to set up an automated, un-moderated test and simply collect the results when it’s convenient for you to do so." (Continued via Usability News, Econsultancy) [Usability Resources]