The most important component of any website is interaction. You can only expect success if your site is understood and easily navigated by site visitor. Websites that are easy to use get better results. Plain and simple.
As writers, editors, and insiders to the info, we are too close to be able to see our sites from the outside looking in. That is why it is important to get inside the head of our users, and the most effective way to do so it to watch them use a site. User testing will help you determine why they use the site a certain way, what information they are looking for, and what would make things more simple for them.
How do I do it?
Conducting user testing is simple. After you've identified the target audiences of your site, develop a list of tasks for them to perform. Also create a scenario for them to enact to better understand their though process.
Testing 3-5 users within each of your core audience catergories will uncover a wealth of information to help you improve your site, such as:
- Ease of learning the site and how to use it
- Ability to find, understand, and relate to the information presented
- Efficiency of use once they have learned the site
- Memorization or how easy it is to remember tasks on the site
- Error avoidance and handling as they happen
- Overall satisfaction with the use of the site