More government services move online every day, yet all this effort is wasted if a website is poorly designed. By doing frequent, simple product tests on websites, smart organizations are able to locate and fix usability problems that frustrate customers and cause them to fail. Well-designed sites require fewer people to answer customer service questions, and help customers complete their tasks in a single visit.
The problem: Usability testing can be expensive - $50,000-$250,000 for a comprehensive test. And that’s assuming an agency has funds and a contract vehicle to hire a vendor. An entire usability testing industry has sprung up with the Federal government as some of the biggest clients.
There's an easier, cheaper way: Do-it-yourself product testing. By following the example of our demonstration project, the GSA First Fridays Product Testing Program (http://www.howto.gov/web-content/usability/first-fridays), government agencies can test and improve their agency and program websites themselves. For an investment between zero and a few hundred dollars in equipment, an organization can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants and contractors. This process can be copied by all branches of the Federal government, resulting in significant savings while improving customer service to the public.