This week I conducted my first usability test for the homepage of the CNN website. My goal is to located problem areas by consulting frequent Internet users to see their thoughts and opinions about the site. I recruited my partner and two family members to complete the testing.
For the usability test, I came up with a script and five tasks for the three participants to complete. I needed to asses the ease of navigation and useability of the site.
Before we began, I asked the participants a series of warm-up questions, such as:
- What is your occupation?
- How many hours a week do you use the Internet?
- How do you spend that time? What are some of the activities that you are doing?
- Do you have any favorite sites that come to mind?
- How do you keep up with current events?
- How do you get most of your news?
- Internet awareness level?
Next, I had the participants complete five tasks to asses the usability of the site. I framed the questions into scenarios to see how the participant would react.
- You saw a Tweet from CNN earlier in the day, but you can’t find it on your Twitter feed. Locate the social media links.
- You heard on the radio about a heartwarming video going viral. Locate the video section of the website.
- You want to get the latest news in the sports world. Find two ways to get to Bleacher Report.
- You heard an interesting story during last night’s news segment. Locate the In Case You Missed It section.
- You want to stay up to date with the latest news. Find the sign-up form to subscribe to their newsletter.
The results were exciting and very insightful. The participants were able to complete most of the tasks. The most straightforward task to complete was finding the video.
- Participant 1 scrolled to the bottom of the page and was successful by clicking on the link to the video page. COMPLETE
- Participant 2 completed the task by selecting the video link at the bottom of the page. COMPLETE
- Participant 3 completed the task by selecting the video link at the top of the page. COMPLETE
As easy as this task was, none of the participants found the prominent Video section in the body of the homepage. This usability test shows that the section is not necessary on the page.
The most challenging task to complete was locating the In Case You Missed It section.
- Participant 1 attempted to search for the section in the search bar but was unsuccessful. He then attempted to search the entire homepage by the key COMMAND+F but was still unsuccessful. After almost giving up, the participant located the section at the bottom of the homepage. He was frustrated with the process. COMPLETE
- Participant 2 attempted to find the In Case You Missed It section by scrolling the top header, trending topics, breaking news section, and the majority of the body. The participant then used the search bar and was unsuccessful. She then attempted to use the language selection tool. The participant used the search bar one more time before giving up on the task. INCOMPLETE
- Participant 3 tried to browse the header, breaking news headlines, and trending topics. She then selected the Politics link with no success. She continued scrolling toward the bottom of the homepage, and the section was not present. INCOMPLETE
For CNN, that section is an excellent opportunity for their viewers to browse recent stories from a variety of subjects, but the section is buried or doesn’t even show up.
Overall, a quick redesign of navigation will allow the users the ability to find what they are looking for and prevent any frustration.