to Test Your Web Site Usability
How to Test Your Web Site Usability
When designing a web site, you are never sure
how it appears to all people. This is because people use different
browsers, resolutions, computers and connection speeds to the
Internet. Your site may look good with your browser, but absolutely
horrendous in other browsers. This is why you should test the
usability of your site, before you expose it to the world.
What is usability testing?
This indicates the ease with
which folks can use your web site. Let’s look at a few usability
Who is winning the browser war?
Here are the browser statistics:
39% Internet Explorer 6.0
51% Internet Explorer 5.0 2%
Internet Explorer 4.0
3% Netscape 4.0
A few years ago Netscape was
the dominant browser, however Internet Explorer now has 80% of the
market. With the introduction of Netscape 6.0 and 7.0 (their latest
release), this may eat a little into IE’s market.
The latest browsers support the latest designing technologies,
such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS1, CSS2) and XML.
Installing different browsers
Test your web site in different
browsers, so your web site can be seen by as many people as possible.
Download Internet Explorer 5 and 6.
The way to do this is to either
have each one installed on a different computer, or to have 2 operating
systems on your computer. You can do this with partition magic.
Trying to install IE 5 &
6 on the same operating system doesn't work. One overrides the other.
Download NN 4.79 and 6.2. You can install them on the same operating
system as Internet Explorer.
The Opera browser
This is often known as the “third browser” after Internet Explorer
and Netscape. It has received international recognition for being
faster, smaller and more standards compliant than other browsers.
This is a simple, efficient, fast browser that loads very quickly.
This is because it is an unbloated browser. If your web site looks
good in this browser, it will look fine in Netscape.
Test for different resolutions.
Just because your site looks
great with your computer set to a resolution of 800x600, it doesn’t
mean it will look good at a 1024x768 resolution. Often your web
site may be hard to read or aligned to the left or right of the
Here are the statistics:
1024 x 768 resolution 44%
800 x 600 resolution 50%
640 x 480 resolution 3%
To test your web site in different
resolutions, go to start – settings – control panel – display –
settings – slide the pointer to the resolution you want.
Test for connectivity speeds.
You may be proud of your fast
DSL, satellite or cable connection to the Internet, however still
most Internet Users still connect via the modem. Connectivity speed,
determines how fast your site will load. If it contains many graphics,
which have not been optimized for the Web, you may rapidly lose
the patience of your visitors. They will click elsewhere.
Web Browser Statistics, resolutions,
and operating systems.
http://www.webreference.com/stats/browser.html - daily summary
of browser statistics.
http://www.anybrowser.com - tests your site in different browsers
(not always reliable).
Checking your web site’s usability can generate more traffic to
your site. It may take you a little extra time and patience, but
you can be assured you are reaching and pleasing a wider audience.
Drost is a Certified Web Site Designer (CIW), owner and author of
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