University Website Programme

Usability testing service

Our usability testing service will help you improve and refine your website, software or service to better deliver what your customers need and help you do better business.

Group shot of user experience training

What's usability testing?

Usability defines how easy, how effective and how satisfying something is to use, whether it be a website, a piece of software, a service, an instruction manual or even building signage. Essentially, usability testing examines the ease and effectiveness of anything you interact with.

Bad usability creates a variety of problems for both you and your users. Sometimes bad usability stops us dead in our tracks; sometimes we cope, but it rarely offers a pleasant or effective experience.

The impact of a poor user experience on your business can be costly. The most common issue we encounter within the University involves the fielding of enquiries arising from information being difficult to find or understand, and from software and services being difficult to use.

The usability of something may be impeded by:

  • Using language, process and structure based on business needs, not user needs
  • Focusing on features rather than on the user achieving their goals
  • Ignoring the user’s context – their prior knowledge, the situation they’re in when interacting, their technical or personal constraints
  • Fundamentally not understanding what is important to the user

Good usability doesn't happen by accident

group at table undergoing testing training

When a product offers good usability, we usually don't even notice. It just works. That doesn't happen by accident.

It also doesn’t just happen through a genius designer who knows how to make things usable.

Good usability happens through regular engagement with the target audience, with all stakeholders in a development or service working towards a common goal of delivering a great user experience.

Benefits include:

  • Reduced development costs by being clearer about requirements
  • Reduced support costs by making things easier for your audience to use independently
  • Staff time saved by making software and processes more intuitive and efficient
  • Increased engagement with your product or service by creating a more satisfying and useful experience
  • Increased conversion by removing barriers to your audiences doing the things you want them to do

What the service can do for you

close-up of user experience survey

Our usability testing service is based on the very successful model we used as part of the development process for the University content management system, EdWeb.

We can do some or all of the following for you:

  • focus on the problems or concerns you may have with your website or software
  • develop a testing plan and recruit a handful of participants that represent your key user groups
  • undertake usability testing and record the results on desktop, tablet and mobile
  • facilitate an observation workshop for you and your stakeholders to log and prioritise the issues  we uncover

How your team contributes

Your time commitment would be 1-2 hours to work with us to agree the focus of the testing and 2-3 hours along with your stakeholders to run through the results in the observation workshop. We can write formal reports, but don't recommend them as they are more costly to produce and significantly less effective than direct observation with your co-stakeholders.

You need not be involved in the actual testing session, but you might be involved in recruiting participants, depending on the nature of your target audience. For our most typical student and staff audiences, we can undertake all recruitment for you.

News, events and case studies about the service

We regularly write blog posts about the service, who we're working with and what they think of working with us.

Read the latest posts about the Usability Testing Service

Indicative costs

Every project is different, with factors such as the system being tested, the availability of representative users and the complexity of the task scenarios all influencing the price we quote.

Studies typically cost between £700 to £1500 for University of Edinburgh business units. This is significantly cheaper than commercially provided services.

Contact us

If you're interesting in conducting usability testing on your University website, get in touch for a free initial consultation.

Neil Allison

User Experience Manager