What’s the very best thing you can do for your web customers? Test the usability of your website. Honestly – I can tell you from personal experience – there is no statistic or survey that will tell you as much about how good – or bad – your site is as watching people use it. And guess what? Testing doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. The folks at GSA have you covered.
The First Fridays program offers government agencies a half-day of professional usability testing – for FREE! After a morning of in-depth testing with real web customers, you’ll meet over lunch with the First Fridays team and identify quick-fix solutions to the top three problems. Not only do you get your site tested by professionals, but also you learn how to your own testing. Did I mention it’s FREE?
My friend, Nicole Burton, coordinates the First Fridays program; and it’s already been a huge success, helping many agencies spot the problems with – and come up with solutions for – their sites. In fact, the program has been so successful that the line to get in on it is long. They’re already booked for much of 2012.
But wait – don’t despair! You have an opportunity to assure your spot in the 2012 First Fridays queue. GSA has issued a challenge – submit a short video telling GSA why your site needs to be tested this year. If your entry is chosen, you’ll be assured of a free usability test, this year.
Head to the “Win a Free Usability Test Video Contest” site and find out how to participate. This Challenge is open to any government agency (federal, state, local) with a public-facing website or app.
A team of five usability judges (including my personal usability guru Steve Krug) will view the videos and entry forms and choose one winner. There’s more. The public also will view the entries and will pick a winner. Both winners are will get the full First Fridays treatment, during 2012. All FREE. That’s a great deal for you and a great deal for your customers.
Be sure to read the rules about First Fridays. You’ve got to work with the GSA team and make sure the owner of your site/app is onboard with attending the session and committing to improvement. But how hard is that? Don’t we all want our sites/apps to be as effective as possible at delivering great customer service?
I recently did some usability testing with a group that was just sure its site was great. Their customers told them so. They had the stats to show it. Each of the testing participants had used the site before and thought the site was great. And guess what? When we gave those participants common problems to solve, using the site, every single one of them had a hard time. Mouths dropped open.
Watch people use your site. Take advantage of the terrific First Fridays program. Submit a video for the First Fridays Challenge and assure your place in line (entries are due February 29). You’ll be glad you did…and so will your customers.