A couple of weeks ago we performed our first external set of usability testing for a new website we are preparing to roll out. It should be said that initial testing was done with our experts and it seemed to pass with only a couple of modifications. As we gathered our subjects it was a diverse set of testers from various backgrounds and all over the United States. We picked this time to do the testing because it coincided with our June Orientation and Enrollment. Randomly the test subjects were selected and sent to our location. What we were about to learn saved us from making a serious design flaw.
We covered all of the legalities of the test and instructed them on how we would like them to talk out loud about their thoughts and explain what they are doing. There were a total of 10 tasks they were given to perform on the site. Out of the 8 people we tested that day all 8 had the exact same issue. They continued to get sucked in to a menu bar that was part of the wrapping from our main page. The menu didn't contain any items relating to our questions. As we observed it was apparent the menu had to be changed. Our marketing department required the header menu be added to all web pages. Since we were using a screen capture and user voice and video utility we could show the results to our marketing department. They agreed to drop the requirement and are now considering the menu requirements for other web pages.