How are you supposed to know if a particular design fails a usability test? Fortunately, there is a method to the madness. There are a few ways to tell if a site has employed poor usability which can be determined through some simple testing. The usability test must be constructed in an effective way that demonstrates to the designer just how effective the usability of the site truly is. First of all, ensuring that users are learning from the content they wish to seek out is essential to effective usability. This can be achieved through a usability test by asking participants to do something with the content once they have finished. This strategy employs verbs such as describing or demonstrating information to ensure that users understand how to comprehend and utilize the content at hand. This can be established within the success criteria of the test and evaluated after the participant finishes.
A common way for users to demonstrate this gained knowledge is to include tasks within a usability test. For example, a final portion of the test may have tasks such as “generate an invoice to a client based on tracked time” or “describe the difference between tracked and logged time.” This illustrates to the designer if the user understands how to utilize the information and perform tasks using such content as well. Effective results will generate positive success criteria which stakeholders love to see. The higher the success criteria is the more likely a potential stakeholder will be willing to invest in your site or project.