Steve Krug recommends building in one morning a month — that’s only 4 hours — to work on usability. For the record, I lump accessibility in there too. It’s a helpful rule to implement because it allows you to carve out a bit of time to make things better, but not giving it such an overwhelming focus that you don’t get anything else done. It’s manageable.
To that end, I fully endorse doing guerrilla testing because, let’s face it, something is better than nothing. Even at one morning a month, you can still chip away to make things better on your site. Here are some of my favorite tools — they’re easy, they’re free, and they’re helpful. As always, your mileage may vary.
Usability.gov (http://www.usability.gov/) is my go to usability site. It gives a great overview of the multiple facets of usability and user experience, and provides you with the what, why, how tos and tools — not to mention resources. There is a lot in this site for you to explore.
The A11y Project (http://a11yproject.com/) is my go to accessibility site. As their About page states, #Ally (shorthand for the eleven lettered word “accessibility”) is hard, and they want to help to make web accessibility easier for front end developers to implement. Their strategy is to accomplish this by making content digestible (short, digestible pieces of content), up-to-date (the project is hosted on Github so information can be current with latest standards), and forgiving (people make mistakes and they seek to be encouraging).
Why it’s great: it has incredibly valuable content in easy-to-understand English. There’s an accessible widget & pattern library, an #Ally checklist, and a list or resources for everything from software, screenreaders, html, books, blogs, online tools, talks, and even additional community help. Go. Now. Embrace The #A11y Project.
Test Your Environments
How does your website fare under the following conditions?
- Monitor off
- No mouse
- CSS off
- Images off
- Audio off
- Color off
When you view a page, look for the following considerations:
- Descriptive content
- Readability level (http://read-able.com/ allows testing by URL or direct input)
- Closed captioning available for video
- Transcript available (video, audio)
- Audio-only version
- User can enlarge video
- Easy control of video playback
- Clear navigation direction
- Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug — my usability bible. Short and sweet, this book shows you why it’s important to do usability testing and is still short enough to read on a plane ride, but now the examples are from the 21st century,
- Rocket Surgery Made Easy, also by Steve Krug — my usability testing bible, this book tells you exactly how to perform usability tests, complete with examples on Krug’s site, www.sensible.com.
- A Web for Everyone – Designing Accessible User Experiences by Sarah Horton & Whitney Quesenbery
- Anything from Rosenfeld Media.