Usability has always been an important part of any website design. Now that we have so many features, platforms and tools, especially mobile web design and those built with Flash or HTML5, it is more important than ever to do thorough testing – both for catching potential bugs, and in ensuring that all users (handicapped, mobile, tablet, ect) will be able to properly see and enjoy the benefits of your website.
When you are a major site or company, you can generally afford an entire campaign dedicated to it with multiple staff or hiring on contractors to test for you. But smaller sites and independent blog owners might have a more difficult job of this, and a much more limited budget. In other words, the rest of us have to take what we can get.
My preferred method of usability-testing comes from bookmarklets. These helpful little tools allow me to check things as I go. Besides, they support most browsers (All you need is a bookmarklet toolbar to drag any of them to). While I have come across a dozen claiming to offer you good usability-testing features, only four have gone on my permanent list.
By dragging the link box into your bookmarks bar, you will be given a powerful and user friendly tool that will test your website for responsive design. I love the way it alerts you as you go, and I always make sure I have it installed before I make any layout or feature changes to my blog.
These are actually three different bookmarklets, and each one are pretty helpful. The first lets users scrub the web page of anything distracting. Which can be helpful when designing a site, as you can remove ads and photos that make it harder to see the rest of the interface. The second is ‘read later’ and the third a ‘send to Kindle’. I will admit these aren’t helpful to usability itself, but they are still pretty cool.
Do you spend way too much time thinking about fonts? The way they look on your page, the color, the size, the type…there is a lot to consider. For those who obsess over the lettering, this is the tool for you. It allows you to rapid check fonts within your browser, and make fast changes as needed.
Do you know of any bookmarklets that you think are must-have tools for the average site owner? Let us know in the comments.