Homegrown usability testing

You’ve been hearing about this usability thing a lot lately and that you might as well bury yourself in a deep hole if your website isn’t usable.

Usability isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It essentially means that a person of average or below average intelligence can use the thing without going bizerk.

You’ve tested the site yourself, and had no problem finding the product page, but what about your end user? He wasn’t there during your design process, he might not feel the same way you do. But how do you find out? Usability studies can cost millions of dollars, and most of us just don’t have the cash for that kind of investment, so what do you do?

There are some easy “at home” solutions you can try to test your site without breaking the bank.


Take advantage of the millions of everyday people you can connect with on the internet by sourcing your usability testing to the crowd. Use surveys, screen shots, and basic mock ups to get quick feedback from users. Put a call out on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to get your users involved. To learn more about using social media and crowdsourcing for usability testing click here.

Targeted Testing

Use free and easy to use communication tools like Skype and Google Docs to do targeted testing of a smaller dedicated audience.

  • Skype allows you to do super basic eye tracking studies, through video chats. Traditional eye tracking studies use high tech gadgets that can observe exactly where your user looks. In this lo-tech version you ask users to complete a specific set of tasks or to simply use your site while you watch where their eye travels across the screen. It is important find out a little bit of background about what kind of computer and browser they are using before beginning. While they are using the site, do not interrupt, wait till after they have completed the tasks to get feedback.
  • Google Docs won’t allow the same eye tracking feedback, but it does give those users willing to test your site the freedom to collaborate and share on their own time. Set up a Google Group and post screen shots or links to your site asking users to complete specific tasks or to simply give feedback.

Stayed tuned for more tips on how to test your site on the cheap. Don’t have time to run these tests? Drop us a line we can help. Got questions about how to set up at home testing? Get in touch, we’ll talk you through it.