Dr. Peter Meyers has a great write-up on selling usability to small businesses on UXbooth.com. I’m glad to see this conversation happening. Usability should be part of every web project. I think designers shy away from testing because they believe usability testing is too expensive. (During an afternoon of cold calling, I had several developers recount to me that they and their clients couldn’t afford usability testing and they refused to hear me out further).
Dr. Meyers’ write-up focuses on how a usability consultant can hook the small business client. I think many small businesses want to deal with one person, the one who is building their website. If you make websites, you can (and should) add usability testing to your personal toolbox.
Here is what you need to do:
- Read Don’t Make Me Think by Steven Krug. This book is a quick read and it will introduce you to accessibility, writing clear copy, and what to look for when usability testing.Hint: throw out the subjective stuff like “change the color” and pay attention to where testers get frustrated.
- Familiarize yourself with a remote testing service like Feedback Army. If you’re a free-lance designer/developer who is on the fence, email me (good thru April 2010), and I will send you a coupon to try Feedback Army on one of your projects for free.
- Decide where to add usability testing to your process. I think any time you present concepts to your client you should also present what outsiders think. If you create several mockups (or wireframes) of a site, post them to a remote testing service and see what the reviewer(s) think. A printout of these results is a good way to inform your client on what direction they should go and give them confidence that you’re a professional who is looking out for the success of the project.