It's easy as 1, 2, 4.. I mean 3
One of my main roles as a User Experience Designer is to review websites that are either live or just about to go live.
The benefit of having someone step back and review your website through the eyes of your users is that it's easier to spot mistakes when you haven't been involved in the details of making the website. This technique is used by clients who are fully focussed on getting the best from their website by making sure the website is easy to use by their customers.
How do I test my own website?
If you don't have the budget to pay someone to do a full UX Audit on your website, don't panic it's easy to get started by yourself! There are a few options that I've used for testing websites, all of which can be done to some extent no matter what your budget and as always, if you have any questions just get in touch!
STEP 01 //
Create your user personas
User Personas are hypothetical groups of similar customers that represent real, living and breathing people who will be the ones most likely engage with your website. I have created a guide on how to create your own user personas to help get you started.
Tip: When testing your website see it 100% through the customer's eyes to be able to really see if it's working for them. Remember, they don't know the excuses you've made so is the website working from their perspective
STEP 02 //
Really focus on the goals of your personas
It sounds simple but it's a step that's often missed when testing websites. List the pages that you know each persona wants to find and then see how hard it is to find that website. How many clicks do you have to make - could it be made simpler to find? What do your users want to find out and are you answering those questions somewhere clearly for them?
Tip: Add headings that highlight the answers to those questions so that they know where to look, for example, 'Looking for a faster contact option' or 'Don't know how to deal with termites?'
STEP 03 //
Make content easy to digest
The first time that someone looks at your content they're going to want to make sure it's relevant to them before committing to reading it in full. So the way that people read a website is to quickly scan from top to bottom and get a rough idea. Headings and bullets stand out more than anything else so this is what they'll use to get an overview with. To make sure that you have the most chance of getting them to read the detailed content you can add headings and bullet points throughout to summarise each paragraph. This means that even if they don't stick around long enough to read everything you can still quickly provide them with the rough idea and main selling points. Then if you need to say more than just a quick paragraph (by this stage you've got their attention) you can provide a link to a page with much more detail and they'll now be likely to read it all. This is also a great technique for SEO.
Tip: Go back over your content and condense as much of it into headings and bullets as possible
STEP 04 //
Are you making it obvious where to click
Each time you create some content on your website the user will interact with it and then subconsciously think. "what next?". If you can tell your user what you would like them to do next there's a high chance that they will follow your suggestion, but it has to be obvious. In the web trade we call this 'Calls to action'. Are you giving obviously styled buttons and clearly coloured text links to lead them to the important pages within content.
Tip: Make sure links are a different colour to your headings and normal text so that the user can quickly differentiate links as actions.
STEP 05 //
Is it obvious what to do next
Once the persona has found the content that they're looking for, do you tell them what to do with that information? Do you give clear contact or directional options, for example, "Contact us for more options" at the end of each page, or show the next steps that may be appropriate, for example, "Read more blog posts"
Tip: Make sure that your language is directional when asking for tasks, e.g instead of saying 'Documents' say 'Find a document'. It make people realise there's a function and not just information to browse.
STEP 06 //
Is your website accessible to all users?
This one is a bit more tricky to do yourself but it's worth giving it a shot! If you have a wide audience base there's likely to be a variation of eyesight abilities. Black text on white is high contrast so easy to read for everyone whereas red text on green would be impossible for some people to read. Using a colour contrast checker can be a great way to test whether your website is readable by everyone!
Tip: Try using the Colour Contract Tool to get a yes or no tick on your colour choices
Help getting started
I hope that helps, and hope you found some useful information. If you do have any questions about getting started, as always feel free to ask me any questions!