For the past three days, I've been conducting usability tests on my work website. The entire team (IT / Marketing / Research) and clients (MSC / Politics / State) have been there to observe and take notes. It has been soooooooo great.
You won't believe the things we've discovered. Some solutions / ideas can be implemented right away, while others are going to take some long-term planning and re-thinking of our original assumptions.
Good stuff. Good stuff.
What the heck is usability testing?
Well, basically, I sit with someone and watch how they navigate our website. I ask them questions about things and they look for answers to those questions and/or try to find a particular item / content on the site. While they are looking around, they think-outloud and help me understand how they are trying to find things on our site. It's pretty cool. And, since they aren't on the site every day like we are, we find out about things we can do to make our site more navigatable (is that a word? Anyway... you know what I mean.)
If you're interested in finding out more about it, here are some great resources:
(He's the best.)
(I highly recommend his workshop & book - "Don't Make Me Think." I attended a workshop with him in San Jose last year. One of the BEST workshops I've ever been to... learned ALOT.)
Jared Spool / UIE:
(they have a great conference specifically targeting usability testing. I attended a UIE Roadshow in Minneapolis last May. Very informative... almost too much information to take in.)