What are b2b communication and social networking platforms
B2B websites are in many ways similar to B2C ones, however with a focus on the business aspects, their end users are not private persons but the representatives of companies or owners of some bright ideas or offers. The main aim of such software is to facilitate search of necessary opportunities and enhance communication between them. In many ways the goals of the B2B platforms are more complex than those of B2C and the information flow volume is larger. Enterprise collaboration platforms may include such features as lead generation, sharing and storing information, documentation flow and exchanging messages. It is crucial that the information is not lost there and can be easily retrieved with the help of intuitively built features. The users shouldn’t lose time stuck in browsing, they must perform their tasks quickly and efficiently.
B2B Usability Testing: Why do you need it?
One of the challenges of such software creation is making it intuitive enough for the visitors, so that the question of ease of use does not hinder its adoption. The more engaging your online platform is, the more connections and investment it is likely to involve. This is where we put the emphasis on usability testing, which, contrary to what is often thought of it, is not just based on the personal user experience impressions of the tester. Usability is an effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction parameter specified in ISO 9241-11 and QAs at Honeycomb Software base their usability testing on a number of proven techniques and best practices, and here are some of them:
5 key principles of web usability
These five principles are about engaging your users and showing them that they have come to the collaboration platform right for their needs. They are:
- Availability – how easy it is to access your website and how compatible it is in terms of devices your possible users may operate.
- Clarity – please don’t make your users read a complex manual or pass long training before they navigate your online platform, it should be simple and predictable.
- Recognition – it is a good idea to use patterns of navigation, well known to most web surfers and easy to learn.
- Credibility – make sure to include all the necessary information about the people and organization a website visitor is interacting with to meet this criterion.
- Relevance – the content of the website must correspond to the user’s needs and avoid unnecessary confusing information.
Each of these parameters can be extended into an individual checklist for testing a web app to ensure it complies with them. Adhering to these principles guarantees good first impressions of your software so that the users are not scared off right away by the bulky design or lack of understanding of how to work with it. These principles let us be confident that we involve the users to stay.
Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics
Those are rules of thumb created by a Danish web usability consultant and human-computer interaction researcher, Jackob Nielsen, as a result of thorough studies. They are:
- Visibility of system status
- Match between the system and the real world
- User control and freedom
- Consistency and standards
- Error prevention
- Recognition rather than recall
- Flexibility and efficiency of use
- Aesthetic and minimalist design
- The ability for users to recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
- Help and documentation
Basically, testing the software against them goes a level deeper than the 5 key principles. Now that the users stay on our platform, they need to be provided with the comfort of interaction by making the app as user-friendly as possible. Users don’t like it when they must guess what the pictograms on the buttons mean or when they can’t undo their changes, they need to know their status in the system and be able to apply the quick short ways to perform the frequent tasks as a proficient user and they love it when navigation through the app is so much familiar as in their favorite social networks. They surely will expect they can post their own listings, find necessary partners according to location or other parameters and communicate via direct messages as well as probably work with documents using the platform.
Since the created software may be used across various browsers and operational systems, it is essential to check the respective documentation, e.g. Android Guidelines for UI, iOS Guidelines for Human Interface, Web Design and Usability guidelines as well as any other industry specific user interface recommendations. Considering them while creating test design allows ensuring that the software complies to all the necessary standards and can be used for the specific industry needs. Here at Honeycomb Software the QAs keep an eye on each stage of software creation starting from the requirements and the design so as not to miss out on something. Further, on the stage of system testing they perform thorough cross-platform testing to provide the best quality for our customers.
Heatmaps and analytics
What if the software has already been released and tested using the above-mentioned best practices, but you are still not sure everything has been taken into account in terms of usability? To understand that the web app is used efficiently by the end users and does not include any traps or unclarities, the heatmaps and analytics can be applied. There are numerous tools which allow you to see a heatmap of how people scroll, click and move around the website, e.g. Hotjar or Mouseflow. Analyzing this information can show the visitor’s preferences and areas where improvements are necessary. Google Analytics is also a widely used tool to gather information, reports and statistics about users’ activities and engagement. They all can be used both while developing the software, with some focus test user groups or after the release on production to monitor the real-time situation.
This is the trick behind the usability testing of B2B communication and collaboration platforms which does not depend solely on the gut feeling of experienced QAs at Honeycomb Software. Testing is context dependent, and we make sure that the software for your businesses is as efficient as it can be. First of all our QAs get well acquainted with the domain and end users of the product subject to testing as well as with what is B2B communication strategy. When it comes to B2B websites, it is the matter of money and your business opportunities so quite a lot is at stake. First impressions formed online may be the key to your success, and you can’t afford not to pay attention to the usability of your website. Professional QAing will for sure include it and add up to your confidence on today’s competitive market.
Head of QA Department & Business Analyst at Honeycomb Software