In This Chapter
Creating clickable wireframes to test
Focus group testing your visual designs
Prototyping key task flows
Recruiting users for a test
Conducting user tests
Evaluating test results
At some point in the design process, you have to put your work in front of a group of perfect strangers for the ultimate litmus test: Can they figure out how to use it? And, do they like how it looks?
Ideally, you should test your work as early in the design process as possible in order to stave off any unforeseen usability problems before you're knee-deep in production (which is too late). By putting together a workable prototype early in the design phase, you can organize a bona fide user test, complete with a list of questions to ask and a plan for recording and evaluating the feedback.
Although a user test sounds academic and may conjure up visions of white lab coats, it's actually a fun and truly enlightening experience. You'll be surprised at the things a user test reveals about your design, both from a visual standpoint and from a usability standpoint. In this chapter, I discuss how to make prototypes that you can put in front of users and how to get the most out of your testing efforts. In the end, you'll be glad you took these extra steps. You'll end up with a Web site that is not only beautiful, but works too!