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Learn From the Past Before Spending On the Future

When it comes to web usability testing you can never start testing too early. Starting early helps you identify positive and negative aspects of your web site before spending the time and money on redesigning or creating a new web site. I recently ran across a case study of a company that decided to forgo any early testing of their current web site and only test the newly programmed web site. The caution flag was immediately raised because they decided to spend months of time redesigning their site without considering if there were issues on their current site. Did they miss something vitally important that now might be carried over from their existing web site?

Always Test Your Previous Site
Some of the most valuable information you can collect during a web site redesign can be derived form your current web site. Every company should seriously consider what can be learned from their current web site before even considering a new web site. A redesign might be a waste of time and money if you just carry over unresolved user issues.

The Numbers Don’t Lie
One place to start is by carefully considering your web statistics.  Web statistics give you a good picture of what parts of your web site attract the most and least user attention.  Such information can prove tremendously helpful for streamlining your web site. On one particular project a careful analysis of the web stats allowed the client to reduce a 150 page web site to a 15-20 page web site.  The statistical data indicated that users spent a majority of their time on just 10 of the 150 pages. A 15-20 page site is far easier for a company to manage and for users to get around.  Their decision was ultimately justified by a significant increase in user traffic.  Analyzing stats will also allow you to gather great information for search engine optimization purposes. Perhaps you’re not considering valuable keywords that drive traffic to your web site?

Likes and Dislikes
In regards to the actual use of your web site, how the user interacts, it is important to also identify your target user’s likes and dislikes.  By taking stock of user likes and dislikes you will ensure the next version of your site operates more efficiently. Let the users decide what works best for them. Don't be lured by the mindset of "We Know What's Best for the User." Ego is the quickest was to kill any business web site.

When it comes to determining a time frame for testing make sure you test early and often. It is very easy to reach a point when redesigning a web site that you can’t do anything about the problem. If the web site is already redesigned and programmed who wants to go back and correct problems?  Make sure you start testing early to avoid such a costly scenario.

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Jay, writer MemberSpeed.com

I recently decided to change our website design as well as its functionalities as our current website is out of date. Doing this website project is too time consuming and expensive for our part. I handle advertising for our company and in my opinion, having a well designed and up-to-date website is a crucial marketing tool that a company can’t afford to lose.

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