In our previous post, we discussed the a few of the ways that modern web development has evolved and advanced over the past two decades, and a few of the reasons why your web developer may have not caught every problem that exists with your new website. Now that you understand the challenges that modern web developers face, it is easier to know what potential problems you need to identify and fix with your new website.

Being Behind The Times Can Give You A Testing Advantage

As we previously mentioned, don’t fret if you have an older computer, smartphone, or tablet in your office and at home, or be concerned if you don’t know the first thing about web development or even how websites work. Unless your business or organization operates within an industry that specifically caters to an audience that is young, affluent, or on the technological cutting edge, chances are your target market doesn’t have the fastest or most advanced devices or know more about website development than you. The most important thing to remember is it’s very likely that neither you nor your web developer represents your target market, so in order to effectively test the website, specifically the usability of your website, you need to test it in the role of your target market.

Finding Members of Your Target Market Shouldn’t Be Difficult

Unless your business caters to a very specific, very limited market, finding members of your target market to conduct usability tests shouldn’t be that difficult. Between family, friends, employees, colleagues, and even neighbors, chances are there are members of your target market that you can ask to help you test your website. Setup a simple procedure or test for them to complete, ask them to complete a test purchase or even just ask them to spend ten minutes using your website to find your hours of operation, contact form or a link to a specific file. Compile a short list of questions such as, “Did you feel comfortable navigating through the different sections of the site,” or “Was the checkout process convenient or inconvenient?” Be sure to also ask an open-ended final question such as “Please briefly summarize your overall feelings using our new site.” Finally, and most importantly, ask your test subjects to use the site on at least two devices, preferably a desktop or laptop computer and a mobile device. If you get the chance, be sure that you also get a record of the devices used, the operating system on each device and the browser used to navigate the site.

If You Aren’t Happy, Your Web Designer Shouldn’t Be Happy Either

After you have conducted a number of usability tests, including tests you’ve completed yourself and ones conducted by test subjects representing your target market, you should compile the results and look for patterns in the answers. Don’t take frivolous or irrelevant criticism personally, especially if one or two of your test subjects are critical of design or branding choices you may have made. However, if multiple people report the same problem or usability issue, report it to your web developer immediately and ask that the problem be addressed as quickly as possible. At this point, both you and your web developer will need to discuss the severity of the problem, the amount of time it will take to fix, and whether or not it is serious enough to delay the launch of your new website. If you choose not to fix or address the problem immediately, it is important to follow up and make sure it is addressed within a reasonable amount of time, as problems and issues that aren’t related to the CMS or other pre-written code within the website may not be addressed by future updates.