“Asking users to adopt new behaviours or even modify their existing behaviours is very, very hard.” – KhoiVinh, Principal Design at Adobe
As the quotation mentioned above by KhoiVinh suggests, users do not easily change their online behaviours or the way they expect a site to function. In other words, it’s vital that a successful website follows both design best practices and its usability is thoroughly tested before it is launched.
If the site is not tested by a select group of users, it will not meet its aim of increasing sales and ultimately the company’s bottom line because visitors to the site will move off the site before purchasing the products and services on offer. Therefore, website user testing is an integral part of the site’s development life cycle.
Wireframing and usability testing
One of the most significant benefits of wireframes is that they provide a simple, yet effective, way to test a site’s usability, functionality, and user experience. It is worth noting at this stage that while anyone can build wireframes, it is far better to contact a professional UX agency like Polished Pixels to facilitate this process.
Well, simply stated, a UX agency has the know-how and experience to implement website design and testing best practices.
Additionally, wireframes are a great way to get early-stage user feedback. This is important because the nuts and bolts of the website can be decided on before the aesthetics are added to the site.
It also goes without saying that effective wireframe usability testing is largely dependent on how well the wireframes are constructed. Therefore, here are three pointers to ensure that your site’s wireframes are developed in the best way possible to ensure successful user testing:
Simple is best
A wireframe’s primary focus is to facilitate the creative design process. Secondly, it needs to facilitate usability testing. In other words, it needs to help the website designer, creative team, and user testers ask and answer the right questions about the site’s user interface, user experience, as well as its functionality.
Therefore, a simple black and white wireframe offers the best solution when it comes to driving the website design in the right direction. Colour can be distracting and keep users solely focused on the site’s look.
Set user expectations from the outset
User expectations need to be managed at the start of the testing process. This translates into ensuring that the use test cases and the design briefs are formalised at the beginning of the user testing process.
Simply stated, users cannot check the site’s functionality if they do not know what to test and what the expected result should be.
Wireframe versus prototype
There are a few essential differences between a wireframe and a prototype, and that is the fact that a prototype is the first completed version of the website, and a wireframe is the barebones skeleton of the site.
While both are an integral part of the site’s development lifecycle, they fulfil different roles, and these roles should not be confused with each other. The prototype is used to test and demonstrate the final product, while the wireframe is used to design and test functionality.
Finally, the definition of a successful website is one that is simple but intuitive, easy to navigate around, looks good, and provides users with the type of experience that encourages them to purchase products or services and convert into a returning customer.