If you aren't paying attention to usability and user experience, your business may be doomed. Currently great UX is a competitive advantage in the small business world. This advantage will be lost as more business owners realize they must meet their customers' desires, needs and expectations of the company website.
Small business websites can benefit from a professional usability review to craft a better user experience for their potential customers. While nothing replaces actual user testing, usability professionals can point to problems with a website quickly and offer suggestions to improve UX.
What is a usability review?
A usability review is an evaluation of a website, app or other user interface by a usability professional to see whether common usability best practices are being followed. A usability review is thorough and evaluates more parts of a user interface than one usability test usually can. This may lead to finding a greater number of problems. However, because usability reviews are conducted by just one person, they cannot discover all the usability issues of a user interface.
What are the benefits of a usability review?
- Offer quick feedback on an interface as they can be conducted in 1 - 2 days
- Are often less expensive and time-consuming than user testing
- Result in a prioritized list of usability problems as well as potential solutions
How much do they cost?
The cost for a usability review varies widely and certainly depends on the complexity of the website. I've seen some listed for $300 and others for $30,000. The less expensive ones are conducted by firms who would like your business, e.g. they want to do a website redesign. I suspect in most cases you'd be better off using an independent professional who just focuses on usability. However, many small business websites can spend $3,000 or less to get significant ROI. Usability issues are contributing factors in abandoned shopping carts and exit rates on websites.
How is a usability review done?
Here's a short example of the beginning of a usability review I recently conducted for a small business client recently. I'm talking aloud during this video so you can hear what I'm thinking. This is a small website so it only took me about an hour to review it and a couple of hours to write up a report with recommendations for the business owner.
Next I'll be conducting usability tests with participants to explore what I saw as potential problems. However, I'll also be certain to bring an open mind because it's very typical to be surprised by users during testing. Sometimes what I you expect might be a problem isn't one, but another issue will pop up you hadn't considered. There is truly no substitute for testing users and watching what they do at your website. But a usability review is a good start for many small businesses who need to improve UX.
What can you do now to improve the user experience on your website? What kind of help do you need?