As we look back at the beginning of the semester, Krug’s usability test principals have shaped our knowledge of the way we should be performing usability tests in the future. Yet, how long will it take to get to that future? In my current position, we have a project that we are shifting to Oracle sites, enabling us to do a complete overall of the website in question. One would think that the powers that be, aka senior management, would take this opportunity to make the site even more user friendly than it is now, and really capitalize on the new capabilities that oracle sites provide. However, this is quite the opposite of what is happening. In my internet travels, I have found a quote that has perfectly sum up the push back we are experiencing currently:
Sorry we didn’t have enough time to do user research in this project… you know, we have all been super busy. We should definitely consider doing that in the next round. No, no… we definitely understand the importance of bringing users into the process, it’s just that our deadline was coming up fairly quickly. Next time for sure.
The quote above is from a great UX article about usability in the workplace that I encourage everyone to read.
As you can probably tell, this grand opportunity within our company has turned into our worst usability nightmare. We are trying to apply Krug’s perspective to our new Oracle site, and make it even easier for our 7,000 plus users to navigate, truly hoping to “not make them think” with the new layout. However, each time we approached usability testing last quarter we were shut down. Now, fast forward a couple months, and after finally getting buy in from senior leadership, get the go ahead for usability testing on site, using a pilot group to participate, and we then hit our next roadblock HEAD-ON.
The hurdle for usability testing does not stop at the “go ahead”, or even the organization of the test itself, one also must highly consider the testing group. This was our next issue, which to date we have not resolved. When it came to our testing group, my senior leadership and I were not “lopped in” so to speak, and a group was chosen who at this current time does not even use the site that we wish to test. That would have been forgivable, expect that they will not be our audience when the site is all said and done. This is a closed site with single sign on authentication used for financial advisers in the insurance industry. You would think that if they are not financial advisers, I do not want their opinion, which for some reason some people felt was not the case. We will have to wait and see how the testing goes since it has been locked in, but this leads me to some very interesting questions for the group.
Do you do usability testing of your current company’s website to see where you can make improvements? Have you ever re done your company website without usability testing? If so, did it make the user experience worse or better? Do you feel that the test audience was not right for your test, and that made a negative impact on your user experience?
These are all questions that I am hoping to possibly be able to answer in the near future – stay tuned!