News of the Net
Test Your Web Site
I have been surfing sites recently and I have found to many sites that are unattended or untested. When a site is put up it should be tested. It should also be tested for at least once a year, more often is better and in the long run less expensive. The web designer should have tested it when he was working on it, but since he knows what to expect he may not pick up on some of the non functioning pieces. The testers should answer questions like:
So where do you find testers?
- Do all the links work?
The links should go somewhere. This is not usually a problem with new sites as the links are usually current but typos happen. With the relaunch of a site or if the site has been unattended for some time, links that worked two years ago may not work now.
- Does it work well with a number of screen resolutions?
Many designers have the latest and greatest equipment. They sometimes forget that while they enjoy looking at their work on a huge 19 or 21 inch screen with a resolution of 1600x2000, many, indeed most, users are still looking at their work on their old 15 inch screen with a resolution of 600x800 pixels. Some people are still using 480x640. A web site should be able to expand and contract with different window sizes. It's fine to optimize for a particular size but remember that while users don't generally mind scrolling down a page many find scrolling across especially to read text or a navigation button to be a turn off.
- How long does your web site take to download?
Did your web site look really cool at the designers office on the designers computer? Did all those really cool graphic elements just pop on the screen? That's nice but that's not where your users, your customers, are going to see your site. They are going to be looking at your site on their computers. They are going to be using equipment ranging from dial up 28K modems, really slow, to high speed broadband cable, DSL or T1 connections, really fast. Currently more than half of the users in the US are still on narrowband 56K dial-up modems. So make sure that your site isn't to bogged down with graphics and other large files.
- Can the user navigate through the site well?
This may be the most important piece. If your users can't use the site to find the information they need and that you want them to find, then your site isn't working. This is where having somebody other than the designer test the site can be really important. The designer because he knows how the site is set up will sometimes not be able to see a small navigation error that a new user would catch. This happens because the designer set up the paths through the site and knows them very well, where as a new user needs to be able to see the path immediately on entering the site.
- You can spend more money and ask the web designer or professional usability expert to do it. This will have the effect of showing the web designer that you are committed to having the best site you can and he will probably have the program set up so that it can get done with a minimum of fuss with a nice report at the end.
- You could ask your friends and neighbors what they think of the site. This is much cheaper but takes longer and may or may not get you the answers you are looking for.
- Look at it yourself. If it looks good to you, it's probably OK. The important thing is to something and when that something is done tell your web designer what you'd like done.
If you would like a free web site evaluation on your site please email email@example.com. Send me your URL, and a few times when we can meet to discuss your site. I will email you when I can meet with you. I will give you a brief talk about what I think can improve your site. If you would like more in depth usability study, let me know at email firstname.lastname@example.org
SkartDesigns.com is collecting resumes from web designers to prepare for a
kind of database work for the web or anything else you think we might need and
you have at least one example of your work on the net; send us your resume,
some URL's of pages that you have done and your salary requirements to
Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.
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