5 Tips for Last Minute Usability Testing

Last minute usability testingInge De Bleecker is a uTest Usability Expert with more than 20 years experience with user interfaces and 13 years of experience with mobile usability. She’s a regular guest blogger on the uTest Software Testing Blog and in today’s post she’ll help you get your app ready for the holiday rush, even if you left usability testing until the tenth hour.


It is October, and the Fall season is here. Which means the end-of-year holidays are nearing. If you are part of a company that has an online presence, you may be working feverishly to get your site ready for the Holidays. Time is short and there is much to be done. And while usability testing has been on your mind, it might still be on the To Do list.

When it comes to usability, testing early in your development process and testing often along the way are key to your success. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t run a usability test in the tenth hour and still benefit. There is still time to identify some of the low-hanging fruit, and come out ahead.

Here is a list with some of the most common usability issues that can be quick and easy to fix:

Mobile web: According to a recent Pew Internet Research study, 64% of adult Americans go online using their mobile phone, and 21% use their mobile device primarily to go online, so it is important to have a user-friendly mobile experience. Go through your interface and ask yourself:

  • Can users easily tap on links? Links or buttons may be too close together or too small to allow for comfortable tapping.
  • Can users complete tasks on the mobile screen? Form elements can obscure the keyboard, making it impossible to complete account creation or check out on an e-tail site.

Call-to-Action: Your homepage or the first page users land on should explain to the user what they can use your site for, and how to get started. Check whether your main pages have a clear “Get Started” or “Do This Now” indicator. If not, users will leave your site promptly or wander around aimlessly.

Page layout: Items that belong together should be placed close to each other. Make sure that labels and instructions for input fields, such as a phone number format example, appear close to the input field. Dropdown arrows for accordion elements should be next to the section title rather than all the way off to the side.

Instructions: Users don’t like to read. Provide only relevant information, and provide it at the right time. The most common mistake in this category is to omit password creation rules. If your account creation process has password creation restrictions (which is a good thing), make sure to show the information (and an example!) upfront; don’t wait until the user has created an invalid password.

Consistent terminology: This one really is low hanging fruit since it only requires text changes – and it can pay off big time. Once you’ve labeled an item, stick with that word. If your site deals with contracts and you are labeling them ‘Plans’ on your site, ask your user for their ‘Plan number’ not their ‘Contract number.’ If you have any related resources outside of your site, such as paper contracts or email communication, make sure that your terminology is consistent across the board. If that means your site needs to use the word ‘contract’ instead of ‘plan,’ so be it.

This list is not complete, but many user interfaces will show significant improvements just by fixing these types of issues.

Be ready for the holiday season. And don’t forget for next time: test early and often.

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  • Pam says:

    These seem to me to be less about usability testing than mobile usability heuristics (things we can judge on our own and don’t need to test with users).

  • Some nice tips here.

    Note to uTest and/or Author – Wise to stay away from underlining text and making it look like a link when it isn’t a link. Some color blind users may not be able to see the difference that the ‘true’ link has over the normal text (being blue in this case). Further to that, I’m not color blind, and I still moved to the underlined text to try and click it.

    @Pam – Usability testing with users is the best option in most circumstances, however we can still undertake usability testing without them. While is not safe, nor appropriate in many cases, to generalize about a user base and what they might like/dislike, I think the tips in this post are ‘common’ enough to add value if they have not been met by the website’s development.

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