The Top Five Reasons Organizations Don’t Do Usability Tests And Why Those Reasons Are Stupid

people-watching-computer3Over the past week I’ve written about what usability tests are, why they are beneficial for businesses and organizations, and how any company/org can perform usability tests. Hopefully, everyone has already started planning their next usability test, but just in case you’re not yet sure, I thought I’d address some common reasons organizations don’t do usability tests:

1. We Don’t Have the Time
A usability test can be done in about 4 hours.  That’s half a regular work day.  I’m guessing you find one morning that you could put aside for a usability test.

2. We Don’t Have the Money
You don’t have to hire a consultant.  You can do this yourself.  If you have an office with Internet access and a computer, there is really no expense for setting up a test.  The only cost is paying participants.  A test with three participants could be done for as little as $150.

3. We Don’t Have the Staff
A usability test can be done by as few as two staff or volunteers.  Most organizations have at least two staff members.  If you don’t, you can always ask a friend to help.  Also, this doesn’t take a person trained in usability testing.  Pretty much anybody can do this.

4. We Don’t Know How
Read the two part article “Quick and Easy Usability Tests”.  If you still don’t feel ready, pick up the book, Don’t Make Me Think.  If you still don’t feel ready after that, then I’d suggest you may just be feeling uncomfortable about something you haven’t done before just because it’s new.  Just try.  It’s kinda hard to mess up a usability test.  There is also always the option of hiring a consultant.

5. We’re Pretty Smart People So We Don’t Need To Test
You may very well be smart, but usability testing isn’t really about how smart you are or how good you are a building a website.  I would argue that nobody is so good at web design that usability testing wouldn’t help.  Anyone involved in website design has three big things working against them:

  1. Limited perspective.  You do things they way you do them, which is not the same as the way other people do those things.  You understand things that others don’t understand and vice versa.  You say things in a certain way.  In short, you have a different perspective than other people.  But remember, your website is not there for you, it’s there for others.  Because their perspectives are different it can be very difficult for you to design the site for those other perspectives.
  2. Overexposure.  You’ve probably been looking at this site for a long time.  As with anything, the longer you work with something, the easier it becomes to overlook things.  It’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes on a website.
  3. Things Change.  What was a perfect website a year ago, may not be working so well now.  This is because things change, terminology changes, technology changes, and even the way people navigate the web changes.

Usability testing addresses these issues.

Usability testing is about making your website work better for you.  If usability testing would lead to changes on your site that would increase sales by 20%, would it be worth it?  If usability testing would cause more people to visit your church, would it be worth it?  If usability testing would cause better interaction on your website, would it be worth it?  Then it’s time to drop the excuses.

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

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