Usability Testing Environment

It is critical that you conduct usability tests with equipment that closely matches, as closely as possible, that of the majority of your target audience.

You should take into consideration the following equipment used to surf the Web.

Computer Operating Platform

Test your Web site on the operating systems that your users are likely to be using. Of course, if possible, you should test on as many as possible!

Currently, the most popular operating systems are:

  • Windows;
  • Mac OS; and
  • Linux (including Slackware, Redhat and other distributions).

Computer Processor Speed

If most of your users use a 300 MHz (MegaHertz) home PC to connect to your Web site, don't use your office's superfast 2.0 Gigahertz computer for usability testing.

Internet Connection Speed

It is highly recommended that you connect the computer(s) to be used during usability testing to an Internet connection speed similar to what the majority of your users are, or will be, using.

For example, if your office computer connects to the Internet at one megabyte per second, you can't test for your users' reaction to the site's download time.

Of course, you could also use one of the many programs which 'slow down' your existing connection, if recreating an authentic set-up proves too time-consuming.

Web Browser

Many users, especially those not in technical fields, may be using older versions of current Web browsing software. If you use the latest versions for testing, it may not reveal display problems that users may encounter with older browsers.