In today's hectic schedules and busy lives, it is often hard to take a step back and examine things from a distance. However, I bet you can find a few people that can spare one minute to review a page on your church website. One minute of questions can provide low hanging fruit; which offer huge returns for minor fixes and edits.
Usability Testing, not User Testing
First, remember that this is not user testing, as you never test users. It is a small usability study; where there are no wrong or right answers. Any answers or feedback provided is objectively recorded, and the participants should not be led by the questions. Get honest feedback, and you will make amazing improvements to your site. Stress this to your participants and put them at ease.
Still use strategy
So you want to improve stuff on your site. What is arguably the most important page on the entire site? Correct, the homepage. It is where everyone wants to be, yet not everyone can. Remember that your overall web strategy should dictate what information is the most important; and what gets visual priority on your site's homepage.
What to ask
How can you test to see if this crucial page accomplishes its goal of drawing the user deeper into the site? By asking a few short questions of course:
- What is the name of this site?
- What is the purpose of the site/page?
- What can I do on the site/page?
- Why should it matter to me?
Who to ask
These four questions should get to the root of why the site exists and why a user should care about it. But who should you talk to? Ask congregation members, family members, friends, and anyone else willing to help you out. Remember that it is more helpful to have people not familiar with your church testing the site.
Tools & Techniques
You can use a laptop, tablet, the user’s desktop, or for sites in redesign or creation; a print of the mock-up. Show them the site and ask them a question, and get ready to write or press the button on a recording device. If you desire more information, nudge them along using only neutral prompts such as "how does that make you feel" or "what does that mean to you".
Gather some willing participants and start asking your questions. Record and compile your findings; then take your report to your team. Make the appropriate decisions to modify page's design; chunk up the effort into doable bits, and get moving. These minutes spent testing your site should translate into people sitting in seats in no time!
Photo courtesy of Jean Scheijen