Usability Consultations are a great option if you have a dedicated design and development team already but need a little UX input. They're less thorough than User Tests, but are also less time-consuming and cheaper, while still providing a great starting point for improving your website's usability (and making customers happier). They rely on your UX specialist reviewing your website as a test user, and feeding back to you any issues he or she encountered. These reviews are important because they can challenge what you thought your users think and feel about your site.

I use the website all the time and I don't have any problems...

This is a comment we get a lot, and it's precisely because you use the website every day that you don't see the issues. If any are there, you've got used to dealing with them and avoiding them because you know the system. Your mental model of the system is biased by familiarity. Whereas a new user to the system could encounter obvious problems that aren't obvious to regular users who have learned to avoid them. It's important to get an outside opinion to make sure your team isn't seeing the website through blinkers or rose-tinted glasses.

What does a usability review tell me?

It's a great way to get a feel for what your website is doing right and more importantly, where it's causing frustration. It will reveal insights into:

  • Where on your website customers are hitting the dreaded 'Back' button
  • Where customers are leaving and going back to Google
  • Which parts of your site are confusing people
  • Why customers are clicking things pages you wouldn't expect

Along with the issues a Usability Consultation flags up, your UX Specialist will create a report that makes suggestions for how to fix these issues - backed up by experience of different customer mindsets and a wealth of UX knowledge. This report can then be fed directly to your designers and developers to improve the website and therefore increase your sales and reputation.

How can a usability review help my company's reputation?

If a website has a good UX, people use it and might recommend you to their friends.

If a website has a fantastic UX, people will be even more likely to leave a positive review on your website, recommend you by word of mouth and come back repeatedly for future orders.

But if a website has a bad UX (or rather if a user has a bad experience on your website), they'll instantly hit that Back button never to return. That's a guarantee. People have too many choices nowadays and if something doesn't feel right, they'll leave without a second thought. You'll miss out on recommendations, word of mouth advertising and repeating customers from that source.

If you can't dedicate time to User Tests, it's far better to invest in a small usability review than to risk turning customers away. If you use a website you love, I'm certain you've recommended it to your friends. Your users are the same, so it's important to review and make sure you're doing everything in your power to please them!

The Traffic Light system

At THEUXDESIGNER, we use a simple system when reviewing:

  • RED: User failed to complete an action completely, and couldn't reach their goal.
  • YELLOW: User was able to complete an action, but it took more than 10 seconds on one page to find the right place to click
  • GREEN: No problems using that part of the site. User found it straightforward and intuitive.

The report you'll get will apply this system to all the tasks on the website. This means you can prioritise with your design and development teams to fix the reds and yellows, and implement the greens elsewhere.

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