Testing the usability of your small business website is one of the smartest things you can do, particularly if you rely heavily on your website to sell products or services, or receive advertising or sponsorship revenue. Whether you goal is to convert website visitors into customers, increase email sign-ups, or sell more products, website user testing is a must-have — and can be done even if you don’t have large financial resources to do so.
Here’s how to get website usability testing on a tight budget:
1) Use a checklist. Keeping a website running in tip-top shape, is not an easy task, especially if you are doing it without the help of a website usability professional. But that’s where a checklist can help. Check out consulting firm User Effects free 25 point usability checklist broken down into four sections: Accessibility, Identity, Navigation, and Content. If a 25 point checklist seems too short, consider the 113-point website usability checklist found in the Jakob Nielson’s Homepage Usability book.
2) Ask friends and relatives. Relying on your inner circle to critique your website is a good way to get initial feedback on a newly-created website or a site redesign. Arm your family and friends with a website usability checklist to help them be more objective when reviewing your site.
3) Utilize forums. If you are an member of forums, particularly in your website’s niche areas, consider soliciting website usability testing feedback from forum members, for a more impartial opinion of your site. You’ll be surprised how helpful forum members can be. As an alternative, SitePoint’s forums have a long standing, established website review section, where you can get some free insightful advice on your website’s design and advice from people in the know.
4) Look into affordable website testing sites. Crazy Egg, Feedback Army, User Testing, User Fly, Click Tale, Click Heat, Morae, and Five Second Test are just a few of the many sites where you can get website usability testing on a tight budget, ranging from free and up.
It’s a good idea to use a combination of two or more of the above methods to ensure you obtain a complete picture of your website. Remember, usability testing not only highlights specific problems with your website, but helps you to discover ways in which your website can be improved.