Usability testing is one of those unglamorous tasks that are often left for another day. It can be difficult to justify the time and budget required to check every button, link, and function on a website. It’s a luxury that many online businesses feel they can’t afford.
However, usability testing can uncover serious security threats to your website, enabling you to address them promptly. For that and other reasons (which we’ll discuss shortly), undertaking such tests is not only useful but essential. Performing this task in advance can save many hours in the long run, and the process isn’t as drawn out as it may initially seem.
In this article, we’ll talk in more detail about the importance of usability testing. We’ll also mention a few other ways you can secure your WordPress site. Let’s get going!
An Introduction to Usability
Put simply, usability is how well your website functions for its visitors. Every feature on the site needs to work exactly as it’s supposed to. This will ensure a coherent user experience.
People expect clear, easy-to-use functionality in the websites they use. If their experience is interrupted by confusing navigation, broken links, or deteriorated code, visitors are unlikely to persist with their sessions.
Let’s say that you have a “Get in Touch” CTA button at the bottom of a page. A user who clicks on the button may expect to find contact information or a form (or something else relevant to the action they’d like to take). If the CTA links to an unrelated page instead, the confused customer is likely to take their business elsewhere.
Accessibility and intuitiveness are also vital considerations here. If your website lacks optimization for mobile devices, for example, many potential customers will dismiss your organization out of hand. Likewise, if your site is badly structured or difficult to navigate, few people will put up with it for long.
Keeping clarity, accessibility, and intuitiveness at the forefront of your website’s design is essential to providing an engaging experience for visitors, and transforming views into sales and other conversions.
Why Usability Testing Matters on Your WordPress Site
Many companies attempt to avoid website usability issues at the design stage through a process called wireframing. This involves creating a map or blueprint of the site, and sketching out its functionality, flow, and structure before it’s developed.
Even if this is done, however, code can break and websites can fall into disrepair over time. Therefore, it’s important to carry out periodic usability tests. This will help you ensure that the time and money spent on site design was not wasted, and that your site remains a positive reflection of your business.
What’s more, a failure to schedule and run usability tests can also leave your site vulnerable to serious security threats. Broken links, code, and navigation are chinks in the armor of your site, and can make it more susceptible to hacks if they’re not fixed promptly.
Poor maintenance of your website and ignorance of its usability are dangers that shouldn’t be underestimated. Searching for these types of errors and rectifying them is a vital task on any site.
How to Improve Your WordPress Site’s Usability
At this point, we’ve established why usability testing is important. This may leave you wondering how it works, and how you can get started.
In short, usability testing is research that can be done either online or in-person (i.e., by asking questions and presenting scenarios to real-life testers), in order to find weak points in your site. Such testing can be undertaken by colleagues, friends, or family members, but it’s best to arrange for a sample of users from your particular target market.
To start delving into the topic of usability testing, you’ll want to take a look at the resources section of Usertesting.com. Its archive is sorted by category, enabling you to quickly find materials that are relevant to your business. In addition, WordPress offers a helpful usability testing guide, which provides useful advice for conducting your own tests.
Once you’ve carried out a bit of research and familiarized yourself with the key elements of usability, you’ll need to create a clear goal for your testing. This means defining what success will look like, and knowing what you want to achieve with your site. You can use Google Analytics to better understand your audience and what they’re looking for. This will help you to identify achievable goals.
After that, you can create a ‘user testing script’, or a detailed plan. This will lay out exactly what your testers will have to check and which actions they’ll need to perform. Fortunately, there are plenty of guides that can help you write clear and useful scripts.
Once you’ve planned out and conducted your tests, it’s time to compile your results, consider what you’ve learned, and convert the data into actionable outcomes. You’ll want to quickly address any errors, in order to improve your site’s security and user experience without delay.
Additional Ways to Protect Your WordPress Website
Usability testing is an excellent way to test your site’s stress points, in order to identify and rectify any issues. As we’ve discussed, conducting these tests will enable you to deal with many potential weak spots in your website’s security.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to tighten up your site’s defenses, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Here are some useful techniques to implement once your usability testing is complete:
- Secure your login page. A common entry route into a WordPress site is through the login page, which is typically accessed by adding /wp-admin or /wp-admin.php to the end of the site’s URL. In order to make the page harder to find, you can customize its URL.
- Perform regular updates and backups. Another common WordPress security issue is the use of outdated plugins, themes or WordPress versions. Make sure that everything you use on your site is updated to its most recent version. That way, you’ll benefit from security updates and fixes. Keeping your site backed up can also provide an extra layer of security.
- Scan for and prevent malware. No matter what steps you take, malware can still find its way into your site. Therefore, you’ll need to find a way to scan for and prevent this security concern. Malcare, for example, is a lightweight and easy-to-use WordPress plugin that keeps an eye out for malware and lets you know about it right away. It works wonders in picking up issues that might be missed by other plugins.
Keeping your WordPress site secure should be an ongoing concern, just like usability testing. This is the best way to make sure your site’s data (and that of its users) always remains safe.
Security breaches can have a severe effect on your WordPress site and your business in general. Usability testing is an excellent way to proactively protect yourself against security threats, and also helps you to improve your website’s user experience.
To get started with usability testing, you’ll want to check out a few handy resources, such as the WordPress usability testing guide. Then you’ll want to create a clear plan for your tests, execute them, and analyze the results. In addition, you’re best off complementing your usability tests with other key tools and plugins to help you secure your WordPress site.
Do you have any questions about website security or usability testing? Get in touch in the comments section below!