Note: This post is the 6th in a series on Brand Building that highlights the approach that WhitePages has taken over the past 15 months to build and reposition its brand.
The following post was written by Andrea Lindeman, who is a Usability Engineer at WhitePages. She explains exactly what that is below. Enjoy!
Hi, my name is Andrea and I’m the Usability Engineer here at WhitePages. What’s a Usability Engineer, you ask? One of my jobs (among many) is to test all our new designs with actual users to make sure the website is easy to use. We have a strong design team here at WhitePages (Isiah and Alexi wrote about our Visual Identity in an earlier Brand Series post), but every so often we prove that nothing beats watching an actual user as they try to use the site.
I’ve had a lot of opportunity to do usability testing over the past year as we get ready to launch our site redesign. As much as I’d love to go into detail about everything, let me just give you one example of where we put usability testing to work.
On our existing website, when you search for a person, you get a results page showing all the listings that we returned for your search. From that page, you can get additional info and tools, such as a printing, mapping, and saving listings, by clicking the name or “Listing Details” link (see below).
In the new design, we wanted to simplify this results page. One of our new brand attributes is “Intuitive Experiences” (as John mentioned in his Strategic Brand Platform post), so throughout the design process we tried to make sure the new design was really easy to use. The goal of our new results page was to help the user find the “right” person quickly and then click through to access the full listing information and tools. We made it easy for users to scan the results by organizing data in a row format (kind of like a spreadsheet), removed non-essential info, and added icons in the top right corner of every listing to show what contact info was available for each person (landline, cell phone, or email address). Our first design approach is below:
When a user hovered over a listing with their mouse, the listing highlighted and a message appeared prompting them to click to the next page. The entire listing area was clickable. Simple, right? But when we watched users, everyone tried to click the contact info icon for the info they were looking for rather than simply clicking anywhere in the listing. In hindsight this behavior made sense; we didn’t give them any other obvious place to click so they clicked on the only thing that looked somewhat clickable – the icons. We also noticed that users slowed down to read the message when it appeared as they hovered over the listing. Obviously, we still had some work to do…
After a few more designs (and usability testing sessions) we came to our final version, seen below. In the final design, users can click on the name or the icons to get to the Listing Detail page. This design gives users a clear target to click and also eliminates the distracting message. When we tested this design with users, they all quickly clicked on the name link without hesitation. Success!
This is just one example of how we use usability testing when designing our website to create intuitive experiences. We do extensive user research with almost everything that ends up on the site, so if you’re interested in becoming part of our user panel and helping WhitePages with future usability testing or market research, click here. We love hearing from you!
And of course, if you want to delve further into our usability testing efforts at WhitePages, feel free to comment below. I’m happy to answer any questions.
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