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The Five Minute Home Page Usability Evaluation

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p>A co-worker came into my office today with a printout of a prototype home page a friend of hers was working on. She was wondering if having this contact box on the home page was a good idea or not.

I don’t know when people will learn, but asking m

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e a yes or no question is a Bad Idea. I am not known for my brevity.

What came out of this was what was probably the world’s fastest home page usability evaluation. And in the time it took me to tweet about it, this friend had turned into a potential client. This led me to believe that this kind of ultra-fast evaluation might be a worthwhile business development tool.

So, here is what I did… but is this a repeatable process? Maybe, maybe not. Try it out and let me know.

  1. Look at the page. Note what’s text, imagery, interactivity, and any potential calls-to-action. Also note the main content areas of the site.
  2. Make an educated guess about the business goals of the organization based on the nature of their business.
  3. Make an educated guess about the business goals such an organization might have for its website.
  4. Use your designerly empathy to put yourself in the organization’s customers’ place. What might they want from the organization?
  5. What might these customers need from the organization’s website in order to get what they want?
  6. Go back to the home page and look at the content, functionality, and how it’s all structured.
  7. To what degree will the customer’s needs be met? To what degree does the page communicate, “Here is what you
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    need to get/do what you want!”

  8. To what degree will the business goals for the site be met? To what degree does the site communicate, “We have what you want! Do this to get it!”
  9. Identify the key design changes that would improve how the page speaks to customers and how it persuades them to perform valuable activities (i.e., convert). Consider adding a caveat that these recommendations are based on an intuitive understanding of the business and its customers, and
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    that real improvement would require research to understand what the real goals of the business & its customers are.

  10. Start writing your proposal.

If you try this, please let me know how it works out for you.

(And in case you were wondering,

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after all this, yes… Having the contact box on the home page turned out to [likely] be a bad idea.)

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One Response to “The Five Minute Home Page Usability Evaluation”

  1. Brad says:

    A lot of the concepts you mention in your 5 minute evaluation ties directly into what Maxwell Gladwell talks about in his book ‘Blink’.

    Many times our first reactions are by far more accurate than any detailed analysis we try to perform. When I ask for people to review a design, I always ask what their gut reaction is. Anything more, and they might talk themselves out of something that could be very enlightening.