Test Your Website Usability in 10 Seconds

Don’t have a lot of time to test your website usability? How about do it in 10 seconds or less?

Website usability

I originally named this post Test Your Website Usability in 60 Seconds (influenced by title of the movie Gone in 60 Seconds). However, after thinking twice, I realized web users today (in the age of Google) no longer have that kind of patience when surfing the web. They often give a website less chance and less time; in fact, users only spend 10 seconds or less trying to search for information. If your website fails to present them what they need during this short window of time, they can just leave and click on the next result on the search result page.

Testing your website usability in 10 seconds may sound crazy and overly ambitious, but it’s the quickest, thus possibly the least expensive, and sometimes the most useful test. The 10-second site usability test is like the shortened version of the regular usability test, but here you can forget about the smaller details and only look at and look for the bigger picture.

Testing goals

As in the regular usability test, with the shortened 10-second version, you’ll need to set the goals and tasks of the test, then have testers and the website or the particular web page that you’ll be testing.

The goal of the test is to see whether testers can easily recognize the purpose of the site/page (to sell, teach, entertain, provide information, call for contributions/actions, create connections etc.); see the call-to-action (if any); and take the desired actions in the split of second.

On the same note since we’re talking about goal, I only intended this post to be sort of a self-test, where you (and your colleagues/friends) will do the test yourself, without external testers nor formal recording. It’s like a quick walk-through the staging of your site before the “open house.” Also, to make it simple, let’s limit the test to your landing page. You, of course, can easily expand it any way you like.

Points to ask your testers/yourself

1. Look at the web page, what do you see first?
You only have a couple of seconds to deliver your sales pitch, so make the first impression counts, as it may easily be the last. You can expand the question to “what do you see first and second…” But again, it’s a short test, so be focused. With this question, you can also ask your testers to sit or stand a little bit farther away from the computer screen.

2. What is the main goal of the page?
This question (and the answer for it) is totally connected to the first question. The ideal result is whatever you/your testers see first will also clearly convey the goal of your site. You may have different goals for your home page or landing page, but my recommendation is to refrain from having more than one goals as you can easily lose focus. Trying to grasp all will possibly make your page lose all.

3. Do you see a clear call-to-action?
Let’s say you’ve been successful with the design and your landing page has captured your audience’s attention. What do you want to happen next? If there is a next step, and there’d better be, you must make it clear and prominent – whether it is to click and buy, call a toll free number or email for more information, fill out a form, download a pdf file etc. People are…lazy and easily get lost with all the information presented. If you don’t show them clear directions, they’ll feel lost and get out as getting out (by clicking the back button) is always the easiest option.

4. Do you see any clutters/distractions that may get in the way?
A successful web page needs to have all of its elements including text content, images/video, colors, typography in harmony. Each and everything should support everything else and contribute to pulling viewers’ attention forward the overall goal of the site. Distractions, confusions and clutters are like negative forces that pull viewers backward and away.

5. Do you see clear benefits of the products/services?
There are likely hundreds of sites out there that are providing the same type of products or services as yours. What helps differentiate your site/organization from the rest is the benefits that you (your products or services) can bring to the table for your prospects, so spell out the benefits that they will get, be it tangible like 10% discount, 50% savings, free trial membership or intangible like peace of mind, a sense of worth or some sort of good feeling etc.

Remember to put the most important points at the top, and if possible, above the fold.

Final words

The questions above may help you with the science part of your landing page. The art is to craft everything mentioned in a way that can appeal and connect to your site audience/prospects at a personal or emotional level. This is much harder to do, but if done well, it’ll make your landing page stand out and your offers hard to resist.

Again, hope it’s useful, and don’t forget to share your question and opinion!

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