Blog Usability Testing - Test and Win a Fabulous Testing Book!

During a recent conversation with a tester friend (who also happens to be a mentor and critic of me and my blog), I was informed that Michael Bolton came across my blog and was impressed by some of my posts. That was really a great news for me. But the joy was short-lived, when I was informed that Michael Bolton actually did NOT like the layout of my blog! This was quite disturbing and frustrating, considering the fact that no blogger would ever like to drive away readers because of a poorly laid blog layout. And the risk was further high if the reader was an Expert in the field!

I consider myself a perfectionist, and I might not be the first Tester to make such a claim! But when I say so, I am NOT trying to prove that I am Perfect! Nobody in this entire universe is perfect and I am no exception. Still I believe in the quote:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi (Former American Football Coach)

Hence, the perfectionist inside me was terribly hurt, after being told that
“Software Testing Zone” has a layout, which is failure prone on usability grounds! The condition of the tester inside me was still worst! How could my (a tester's) blog fail in Usability Testing? For those, who are new to Usability Testing, here is a definition from Wikipedia.

Usability testing is a means for measuring how well people can use some human-made object (such as a web page, a computer interface, a document, or a device) for its intended purpose, i.e. usability testing measures the usability of the object. Usability testing focuses on a particular object or a small set of objects, whereas general human-computer interaction studies attempt to formulate universal principles. If usability testing uncovers difficulties, such as people having difficulty understanding instructions, manipulating parts, or interpreting feedback, then developers should improve the design and test it again. During usability testing, the aim is to observe people using the product in as realistic a situation as possible, to discover errors and areas of improvement. Designers commonly focus excessively on creating designs that look "cool", compromising usability and functionality. This is often caused by pressure from the people in charge, forcing designers to develop systems based on management expectations instead of people's needs. A designer's primary function should be more than appearance, including making things work with people.

Usability is something that I have always valued much. That is the reason why, whenever I have made any changes to my blog layout; I have never missed to seek feedback on the changes, from my friends and colleagues. And I have made necessary corrections based on their feedbacks on the look, feel and usability of my blog.

Having said that, I do clearly understand that I am a tester and NOT a web designer. So I am bound to make designing mistakes while enhancing/editing my layout. But at the same time, I always wanted a unique blog layout, which should be different from the basic templates that thousands of other bloggers might be using! As I was (and still I am) not in a situation to hire a web designer to develop a customized blog layout for me, hence I had to do it myself by making use of my limited web designing and scripting knowledge that I have. And I thought I was quite successful in doing so, until the tester friend made me aware of the Usability issue!

Anyway, I have tried to find out some possible usability issues in my blog layout. But before I make any changes, I need your assistance! I have tried to share my testing experiences with the readers in this blog till today and now it’s your (the reader’s) turn to do something in return! I need you to perform Usability Testing on my blog! I am open to all your suggestions, feedbacks, change requests, criticisms, required enhancements and any type of changes that might make the blog layout more usable from a reader’s point of view. And do include the components that you would like to be removed from the layout. Also try to include any new feature(s) that you might want to see in the layout. Try to include the reason why you want such changes. Kindly let me know, what you like the most and like the least in the blog layout.

And I am not asking you to do all this for free! The top 3 persons, whose feedback on the usability of the blog sounds most promising to me, will win a fabulous Gift! I will send them a copy of Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Cem Kaner, James Bach and Bret Pettichord. So why are you waiting for? Start testing the layout and leave your feedbacks in the Comments section. Try to make your feedback as detailed as possible. Help me in making the layout better and help yourself to get a chance to win a Testing Book that has already helped many testers in becoming better at testing.

As a closing note, I am taking this opportunity to inform you all that
“Software Testing Zone” has won the “Blog of the Day Award” on Saturday, July 14, 2007. This has been possible due to all your co-operation and love for this blog. I expect such co-operation to continue in future and to help me in becoming a better Testing Blogger. Thanks.

Happy Testing…
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About Debasis Pradhan

Debasis has over a decade worth of exclusive experience in the field of Software Quality Assurance, Software Development and Testing. He writes here to share some of his interesting experiences with fellow testers.


  1. @Debasis,

    During a recent conversation with a tester friend ( who also happens to be a mentor and critic of me and my blog)

    If you are referring to me, then my name is Pradeep Soundararajan FYI :)

    So here is the usability feedback:

    1. You could increase the width your post section editing through HTML which can help readers to read posts without scrolling much.

    2. It appears to me that you keep changing the background, its color and its appearance. I suggest that you maintain one thing at least for a period of few months before you experiment with new.

    3. Adsense - below, above, side and other places near the post *might* distract users like me from reading them.

    4. The side lists and links are too many of which some are not relevant to your readers ( maybe, in my opinion )

    5. Chose colors and contrast elements that soothes the eye vision.

    6. Get your blog tested for usability, periodically.

    7. Too many images of different colors that *might* be coming from ad sense might need a proper place.

    8. There is an update every 30 seconds to 1 minute from or something like that. Do you need such a dynamic?

    9. The sudoku idea is good one.

    10. E-mail to someone who contacted you after going through your blog asking if they are coming back and reading new posts?

    11. The most important thing here is the content: As long as you give more critical thoughts and practice it, you'd not be facing problems about it.

    12. Voting for the tool or anything like that is a bad idea in my opinion. This might misguide testers to check the trend and learn for the most used tool. Do you want to misguide them?

    14. You might want to browse and google on usability testing and could practice doing it before you change your blog style.

    15. I heard from someone that there is a good video of usability testing on net ( which I couldn't find through various search patterns ) and I suggest that you look all of them that's available.

    16. Take some of the best blogs, in your opinion and observe the patterns of readability and jot down the reasons about what made you like them.

    17. You must know that Blogger by itself contributes to some usability issues.

    18. Before I invest more time on this I want to know if this comment is approved and when you need my address!

  2. @Pradeep,

    If you are referring to me, then my name is Pradeep Soundararajan FYI :)

    Ofcourse, I was referring to you and no doubt about it. But I had to drop your name from the post at the last minute of publishing, because I was not sure whether you would like to see your name in the context of this particular post! :)

    All of your feedbacks are excellent and are accepted heartily. Hopefully, I will start working on them soon.

    @ Other Readers,

    NOTE: Hurry up and leave your feedbacks/suggestions ASAP, before it's too late and Pradeep/some other Reader covers other possible adjustments needed in the blog layout! :) All the Best...


  3. Hi Deabasis,

    First of all Congratulation to Software-Testing-Zone for getting "Blog of the day award".

    Pradeep has covered almost all points in his comments for usability testing of Blogs.

    My feedback is:

    1: Currently Blog window is wasting some space at left-right side. If you try to increase its size (width wise), then its really looks good.

    2: Vertical scrollbar is too much long and at the end mainly it contains the various link. If you will use left-right space for these types of links, it’s good.

    3: Second option for links is, dont expand them, and just give the header and which is hyperlinked.

    4: Testing-Blog site contains too much of scripts. I am using firefox with NoScript add-ons (which block each and every scripts) and really yet I have never seen so many scripts in any sites. I don’t know its good or bad, but I have just mentioned this as I found it :)

    5: sudoku is really a good one.

    6: In Blog site, comment section has also same background and fonts. Its good if it has different background and different fonts as of this every reader will easily differentiates between your and user comments.

    7: Subscribe and Bookmarks links should not be on top, as user will come to read your Blog first, my view is that after the introduction of Blog site, your Blog should be start.

    9: I found many link for subscribe and bookmarks. It’s good if they might be less.

    10: Color should be light; it should not be eye catching as of that user could read it easily.

    Thanks to Debases by giving such a nice change (Usability testing of his Blogs)....

  4. hi debashish,
    i m a regular viewer of ur blog. i find ur articles very interesting as they represent the realistic scenario not theories.
    as u have asked from some comments for usability of the blog i would like to jot down some points.
    1)The subscribe options are too many i dont find any need for so many subscribe optin.

    2)Too make the look of the page less cumbersome i think some of the suboptions should be removed. For example Software testing links,
    Qa links etc. These are good links but i think they are not frequently used by the viewer. So u can keep the option and
    when a viewer click that option he/she will be able to view the suboptions.

    3) As pradeep has suggested to increase the width of the page, i think it is a really nice sugestion.i want to add something to it.
    Apart from increasing the width i think u should take care of the space which are left empty in the existing pages.
    like if it is a long page the options on the right hand side ends up at some point and after that posts continue and few amount of
    space on the right hand side of the page are blank which can be utilized and the page will also appear smaller. similarly when there
    is only one post in a page. the options on the right hand side of the page make the pagelong unnecessarily. the left side is blank
    and left side is full of options. This could be properly managed.

    4) As u have options to view all post. For articles in Worth a Look i think it is a waste to open each post of worth a look
    in different page. Instead u can point to the portion of the page which contains the selected post.

    5) Dont remove the pictures u have added . they are really nice.


  5. @ Amit and Mita

    Thanks for those kind words! And thanks for being regular readers of my blog. At least, I am glad about this post because, it has made some of the silent readers to be vocal!

    Both of your feedbacks are worth considering and are excellent at their own merit. I am waiting to see some more feedbacks/comments from other readers. Once I am satisfied with the amount of suggestions, I will start working on them.

    Thanks again for spending your valuable time and leaving behind your comment. Keep coming back for more interesting posts in future and keep commenting to make me better at blogging! :)


  6. Hi Debasis,
    Finally a good design! And it will be a perfect design when you implement the changes suggested by Pradeep ;-) I know pradeep, when he visit any blog his expert comments on any post or design (like on your blog) will change your world and you will definitely always look for best.


  7. Deb,
    I really impressed to read your blog and more energetic.
    Yogesh Dhage
    S/W Test Engineer

  8. Hi Debasis,
    My feedback on usability testing is that.

    1. This is not proper place(below the title of blog) where google ads are displaying currently. It makes messy look.
    2. "Get started in testing" section can be made compact if its width get decrease and for links there should be used Div to show full header name i.e. something like tool tip. Upon mouse hover link tool tip should be come to display blog title name. So does other sections.
    3. Post a comment section should be displayed before comments posted. When there are so many comments posted on blog then for post new comment user scroll downs a long...
    4. There is some problem occurring when user post comment. It display message like " Your request could not be processed. Please try again...". This should not come.
    5. There is link Post Comment. I think it is not working properly. There is no inner link to redirect to post comment section.
    6. join and be memeber section should not at the end of page.



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