Many digital agencies are now talking about usability and including it in their offering, but few are incorporating into their everyday process. Here are some reasons why agencies should think seriously about integrating usability and usability testing into their offering.
1 – Generate more business with usability testing
The very simple fact about usability testing is that it always generates a list of recommended amends to the website. Even in the rare scenario that only a few usability issues are uncovered, there is always room to improve the user experience and any good usability expert will feedback recommended changes to better support users. Agencies can therefore use usability testing to open up dialogues with clients (old & new) about making improvements to their website. Contacting old clients to sell them a usability review of their site is a great way to generate a list of site amends which can justify small amends, full redesigns, email marketing campaigns, microsites and so on. This usually works best when offered as a comparative usability test alongside competitor sites.
2 – Increase client confidence in your agency
Clients just want to reach their business goals. If they feel that you are going to make sure their new website really works, by testing it with users throughout the development process, you have an advantage over agencies that don’t provide usability testing. Incorporating usability testing further convinces your client that they are in safe hands. They can be confident that their project will meet the expectations of their customers because you’ll be usability testing it, and amending it, all the way up to launch.
3 – Forward thinking clients expect you to be testing their site with users
We’re seeing a large increase in the number of clients insisting that usability testing is part of their design and build project. The awareness of usability has increased massively over the past couple of years and any client who has done their research will be looking for usability testing as part of your process. Gone are the days when you can just pay lip service to usability, say hello to the days where usability testing is the norm. And if you’re not doing it, you’re losing business to all the agencies who are.
4 – Kill feature creep by focusing on what users really need
Are you finding that your clients have a list of features and content they want, then your internal team makes the list even bigger with their ideas? Your project managers/producers then struggle to fit it all into the agreed price and the team can’t decide what’s in or out of scope. We see this scenario all too often. Usability testing the existing site, or researching user requirements in the early stages of a project, will help you to prioritise all the key features and content based on true user needs. You can then ensure the project delivers for the client and their customers.
5 – Take a step back and make decisions with objectivity
Dave wants it to be a large blue button, Joe thinks it should be a small green button, Sarah doesn’t want it at all, and the client wants it flashing red. Take the egos and personal opinion out of the equation and settle design decisions by focusing on users. Its critical to make sure decision making is based on how it will help your priority users. User profiles (or personas) are excellent to guide this but they won’t remove dispute and disagreement on all design decisions. Settle arguments with usability testing instead; “Hey, you think it should be placed at the top of the page and you think it should be in the left navigation. Lets make sure we test both versions in our next usability test and see which one performs best for users.”
Is your agency taking usability seriously enough?
Related services: Usability Testing
About Damian Rees
Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees