In my time spent in Objective Experience as an intern, I learnt how usability tests were conducted. I also had the opportunity to run a project to test out a shopping site that I previously analysed and designed for, but without any form of user testing. In my own analysis, I would browse through the site with a set of tasks, spot for areas of that can be improved and re-design the elements. Given the chance to conduct usability testing, I decided to select the same site as my previous project. I was curious to find out the outcome: Is there any difference in designing with and without usability testing?
In the current project, instead of just listing out the tasks, I created a testing script as well before usability testing. The script was developed to extract usability issues users faced in their online shopping behaviour. Users would provide feedback which would contribute insights to further improve the website.
The overly detailed Homepage categories
In my previous re-design, I noticed that the categories in the homepage seemed to be too specific. The terms were broken down into too many variations for one type of category and users might get confused. Hence I thought of adding images to the categories as users might not understand just from looking at the text alone. By looking at the images, users wouldn’t need to click on it to find out what type of product it is.
As expected during this current usability testing, most users struggled to understand the section as well. One of the users mentioned that the page doesn’t have any information as to what kind of shopping site this is. Another user also said that it’s inconvenient for them to click on the product link just to find out what it looks like.
In the changes, I included a quote in the banner since I can’t find any taglines about it on the page. This was an important feedback as first-time users might not know what the site is actually selling. In addition, I placed pictures that represented the icons inside the categories section which was inspired from my previous re-design.
Product page button locations
For the product page, I originally removed the favourite button which was located at the top as there were two similar buttons on the page. I thought the button was not very crucial to be located at the top of the page and should be placed together with the social and sharing section. I assumed that users would try to look for it at that area instead of the top of the page.
But after testing it out with a few participants they mentioned that the favourite button should be on top as it appears to be more eye-catching compared to the one at the social section. This surprised me as I thought placing the favourite button at the social related section would be easier to locate for users. Without usability testing, some changes that we are trying to make might be ineffectual to users as they might not find it useful. It was difficult to make effective changes just based on person’s perspective.
A few users mentioned that the zoom button on the page was not obvious as it’s in grey colour on a white background. In my previous analysis, I overlooked this function as I didn’t have any issues with it hence there were no changes made to it. With no testing done, issues as such would easily slip past. This does have an effect on the user’s shopping experience.
Cart page buttons relocation and information presentation
While browsing the cart, I had some trouble locating the remove button. It was not obvious enough to me as I would normally try to find it at the top right corner. So I decided to shift the button to that corner and simplify it into an “X” to presumably make it easier to locate for the users.
But after testing out with the users, I found out that they didn’t have any issues with the button which was unexpected to me. They mentioned that in order to remove a product it doesn’t necessarily need to be an “X”, having the word “remove” was fine as well. Therefore in the current changes, I kept the button but relocated it to the right corner. I decided not to place it at the top corner as there is already a chunk of information there.
In the cart page, there was a message under the payment section that informs the user that the price was an estimated currency conversion by the site. In my previous analysis, I didn’t notice this section at all. When I asked the users about it, they stated that they didn’t really notice the section as well. Therefore I thought of making the section into a pop-up to get users to notice the information before making any payment so they won’t get confused when they receive the bill afterwards.
After going through the project, I saw the huge difference what usability testing can bring. Instead of just basing a design off one person’s opinions (mainly the designer themselves), there are more insights generated from users and we could get a range of feedback and suggestions. Perspectives between the end users and the stakeholders are also different. These could be put into further analysis which would result in more effective changes. Also, common problems that the users face also could be identified and dealt with more efficiently. In conclusion, I believe that usability tests help us to communicate with the users to further create a better experience for everyone.