Navigation tests analyze how users navigate through your website or application. The results will help you to improve your information architecture and hone critical user flows.
Running a navigation test is simple. You upload a series of screens to emulate a particular navigation or interaction flow and at each step highlight the parts of the interface which can be clicked to navigate to the next step in the sequence (hitzones). The user is asked to complete a particular task and is presented with your interface. At each step their click position and timing is recorded. If the user clicks within one of the hitzones, they simply proceed to the next step in the sequence. If they don't click within a hitzone, they are asked to explain why they chose to click where they did.
The result is a funnel report showing how many users successfully clicked in the correct place at each step, where people dropped off, and direct explanations from every user who clicked somewhere unexpected. This makes the navigation test an indispensable tool for uncovering and understanding points of common user confusion.
Navigation testing also allows you to gain valuable feedback in the early stages of the design process because it can be performed on sketches, wireframes, or mock-ups of an interface design.
Navigation testing is most valuable when used to compare the performance of an original design to an improved version, so make sure to test your current design before embarking on testing changes. This gives you a baseline from which to measure any improvement.
Key benefits of navigation testing
- Measure how long a respondent takes to navigate through a process, with the aim of making the process faster and simpler for your users.
- Identify where and why your users are dropping off, allowing you to improve critical user flows on your website or application.
Websites have a number of flows that are suitable for navigation testing. It's common to test whether users can easily find particular sections or particular pieces of information on your website. Signup and checkout flows are other popular test subjects.
- Keep your instructions simple and clear. Unclear instructions will drive people to click in unexpected places and give less valuable feedback.
- Give testers a brief scenario to set the scene, like "Imagine you're looking for a hotel and find this website through a Google search."
- Is the primary navigation easy for users to understand?
- Is important information where users expect to find it?
- Where are people dropping off when trying to find information?
- Are there any points of friction in important flows?
Testing wireframes allows you to identify issues with your navigation and implement solutions before the product is built. This saves time and money in the long run and improves the quality of the design from the beginning.
- Can users navigate successfully through a task on my design?
- Are my visual elements, including icons, clear?
Wireframes can be tested at multiple stages of development, but the more complete they are, the easier users will find the process.
Testing User Onboarding
Decreasing friction in user onboarding is one of the most valuable optimizations available to most applications. Navigation testing can identify pain points in an onboarding flow, and allows you to test out different onboarding flows before sending them live (or even building them).
- How long does it take a user to complete the onboarding process?
- Where are users confused by the onboarding process?
When running tests on your onboarding, ensure you only test one change at a time rather than many changes all at once.