Surveying end users will provide only so much data about your company’s digital workplace. Ultimately, usability research validates whether your system is useful, and it is proven to improve key performance indicators (KPIs) by 83 percent.

Think about it — what people do and what people say are very different at times.

Whether you’re on SharePoint or another platform, it is crucial to watch users within popular, important communities to guarantee they are user friendly.

I recently presented a 40-minute webinar, shown in the video above, at Smarter SharePoint KC’s recent monthly meeting.

To truly know if an intranet or collaboration tool is user friendly, end users must be observed interacting with it to see if they can find key information.

What is usability?

The research method of usability gauges how easy it is for a person to use or interact with a system like a digital workplace or intranet.

Where do you start?

Survey your system’s end users to determine the most valued communities within your digital workplace and focus usability research there. Be sure to incorporate usability early in a redesign project to negate less rework on the back end after launch.

When do you do usability?

  • Do usability early and often.
  • Schedule usability sessions on a frequent basis – weekly or bimonthly is best.
  • Make it a priority.

How do you do usability?

  • Determine whether to hire or do usability in-house.
  • Create a relevant usability script based on key search terms.
  • Schedule six sessions with one participant each back to back and all in the same day. Be sure to have some room to collaborate with your usability research partner in between each session. The sixth session is a back-up session since it’s inevitable someone will flake, and it might be smart to have a back-up tester for each session, too.
  • Recruit a cross-section of participants to sign up. Statistically, only five participants per usability session are needed.
  • Capture a baseline of current state that includes qualitative, measureable data.
  • Create a report featuring common themes and actionable recommendations.
  • Prioritize recommendations/enhancements based on level of effort (LOE), priority, and time.
  • Retest script once recommendations are implemented.
  • Compare measurements.

Once a few usability sessions have been performed with measureable improvement, don’t forget to share successes with leadership and key stakeholders.

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