Usability Testing - NIU - Web Communications


Usability Testing

Before you launch your new user-friendly site, test it with real users for usability. 

What's a usability test?

A usability test takes just 10-15 minutes.

  1. Introduction : The tester reads a short script explaining that a usability test is a test of the website, not the subject. It tells the subject that the tester will not answer questions during the test but will after it is over. It states that the results will be shared only with those working on the website.
  2. Demographic questions record the subject's relationship to NIU (parent, faculty, current student, prospective student, etc.)
  3. How would you find this? The subject is asked to find 5 things on the website. Ask the subject to "think out loud" as they perform each task so you hear what questions arise.

    Do not answer any questions during the test. The tester records how the subject does the task - what pages the subject goes to and where there seemed to be confusion. Typically when a subject stops talking it is because he is confused.

What you need to do

  • Find a few subjects from each of your customer groups. 
  • Write a usability test consisting of about 5 tasks - perhaps the top 3 things you think your visitors are looking for, and then a couple of things you think might be difficult to find.
  • Run your site through the usability test.

For more information about usability and user-centered design, visit