IconiCode: Usability Analysis

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Usability Analysis

Despite all best intentions the best and brightest of websites are more often than not extremely hard to use. You’ve spent years on design and development, but that nagging thought that something ‘just isn’t right’ with your website can be the reason that your visitors are not sticking around.

That’s where our Usability Analysis can help. By taking a thorough and detailed look at your website, starting from first principals and listing all the high level and low level usability issues we can help transform your website into something that works.

We offer much more than a simple website redesign, or application redesign; so before you contact your favorite graphic designer and start worrying about how you can change the window dressing, have a look at our Usability Analysis Process.

Requirements Gathering

Example Project RequirementsDuring this initial phase the high level requirements of the feature, website or application to be analyzed are gathered, and any business needs are documented. If possible metrics should be gathered from visitor traffic and usage, and a number of goals should be defined as part of the high level requirements. During this phase a timeline should be produced estimating the manpower required for the completion of the process as detailed below.

Deliverable: High Level Requirements Document
Deliverable: Project Plan Timeline

Analysis and Diagnosis

Example Detailled AnalysisThrough investigation of the existing feature, an analysis document will be prepared listing the current usability issues. This will take two forms; the first is a detailed list of all individual problems within the section or feature. The second is a document diagnosing more general issues regarding how the feature works within the site as a whole and listing the user goals. Any competitive analysis of similar sites or applications may be included here if appropriate.

Deliverable: Detailed Analysis Spreadsheet
Deliverable: General Diagnosis Document
Deliverable: Competitive Analysis Document

User Pathways

Example User PathwaysBased on the gathered Analysis and Diagnosis of the current situation a number of proposed User Pathways will be generated. These pathways, in the form of flowcharts detail how users should enter, use and ultimately leave the distinct areas, sections and features.

The purpose of the pathways is to provide a high level map for the upcoming functionality. Steps in a pathway may not necessarily correspond directly to individual pages or screens, but are more for illustrating how the users can travel through the site, touching on various tasks and areas.

Deliverable: User Pathway Flowcharts

Feature Concepts

Example Feature ConceptAfter review of the User Pathways and any modification thereof, several feature concepts will be produced. These will take the form of diagrams, the aim being to unify the User Pathways into a single concept.

Several concepts will be produced and a single concept chosen by team review. The Feature Concepts will later evolve into detailed wireframes for the chosen pages, but at this stage the concepts may not necessarily represent individual pages or screens.

Deliverable: Feature Concept Diagrams

Wireframes and Use Cases

Example WireframeExpanding on the chosen Feature Concept detailed Wireframes and Use Cases that relate to the functionality in the Wireframes will be produced.

Wireframes are schematic diagrams of individual pages or screens to be produced. Wireframes are 'representative' and not 'illustrative', in that once a graphic designer has applied a creative look and feel to the wireframe, the aesthetic of the page may change considerably, however the functionality represented in the wireframe will be preserved.

Example Use CaseUse Cases show a detailed description of exactly how the functionality represented in the Wireframes work in terms of users accomplishing various goals. These documents are extreemly important to the build team who will use the rules detailed here to code the logic.

These documents flesh out the details in functionality for all the pages within the feature and their integration points with current functionality. Design and Technology will at this time identify any issues from their disciplines that may impact this.

Deliverable: Wireframes
Deliverable: Use Cases


By using the set of wireframes an interactive model will be created that allows testing of the functionality of the feature. This prototype can take the form of paper prototypes; wireframe printouts that can be used to simulate the user experience, or interactive wireframes; mocked up HTML pages that link together with some interactive page elements.

Deliverable: Interactive Wireframes and/or Paper Prototypes

User Testing

Using the prototype user testing should be performed with a selected group of participants. This can be formal or informal and small or large in scope, but regardless the users should be directed to follow the User Pathways and their difficulties and comments noted. Refinements to the Prototype and accompanying documentation should be made based on feedback, and this process should be iterated until issues are resolved.

Deliverable: User Testing Results and Prototype and Wireframe refinements


After the completion of a successful prototype the documentation and prototype will be handed off to Design for incorporation into their creative process and to Technology for scheduling in their project plan.

Design Usability Review

Once the design team has produced comps a Usability Review should be scheduled. This will evaluate the produced work against the usability documents and goals and any changes suggested.

Development Usability Review

Similarly when the development team has completed the initial build of the feature a Usability Review should be scheduled. This evaluation will ideally include User Testing of the work product and any feedback incorporated.

Final Usability Review

During the QA process of releasing the feature a final Usability Review should be performed with the purpose of catching any small usability Issues. Any issues should be resolved as part of the normal QA cycle.

Ongoing Usability Analysis

After the feature goes live ongoing analysis should be performed. The feature should be evaluated based on comparisons of the metrics and goals defined at the start of the project. User feedback should be monitored and used to inform any future work.

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