Believe what you see, not what you read

Far too often, people settle for expert analysis and predictions from their web site developers and why not?

Your web designers have been around for X years and the guy designing it has 10+ years experience creating websites, so surely they know what they’re doing, right?


Any Information Architect, UX (user experience) Designer or Graphic Designer working on your site will use their experience to ‘guess’ how users will interact with your site and what will be intuitive to them, but the real proof is in the pudding! 

Although with enough experience, they’re probably right on the money, you can never really know until you see how real people of the correct demographic and psychographic try to undertake real-life tasks on the site. 

If you have an existing site already, it’s a good idea to test what you’ve got so far to identify any issues and if budget permits, test both the proposed solution through and online hi-fidelity prototype and of course the end product (remembering to allow enough time and budget to make any necessary amends).

If you don’t have an existing site you’ll have to settle for testing an online hi-fidelity prototype and the end product.

Depending where you are within the design and whether or not you have an existing site, the testing can take a number of forms;

Focus groups

Focus groups provide qualitative data. A suitable group of people are asked their opinions of a website and the ease with which they can complete key tasks. Open questions are asked to encourage group discussion.

Traditional User Testing 

Traditional user testing provides predominantly quantitative data. Usually, up to 5 suitable users are requested to perform a number of predetermined tasks on the site. The user’s interactions are observed and recorded. Each task is then scored and the results analysed.


Similar to traditional user testing, eye-tracking provides predominantly quantitative data. Again, up to 5 suitable users are requested to perform a number of predetermined tasks on the site. Through a special laser and camera, the user’s eye movements across the screen are recorded and analysed along with the ease with which the users complete their tasks.

The results of all of the above tests are then used to improve the user experience delivered through the site. In an ideal world, rapid prototyping allows developers to quickly make amends and re-test new solutions, to ensure that users can easily undertake the tasks tested.