22,000 to test a website

By: Nielsen Norman Group  11-11-2011
Keywords: Usability Methods

Standard user tests are the simplest of all usability methods, and yet often provide some of the best data as well as insights you didn't even expect you would need.

We recommend that you conduct usability testing at multiple stages of your projects, but even a single test will significantly increase the quality of your user experience.

Qualitative studies are the most traditional form of user testing: aimed at producing insights into user behavior to discover what works and doesn't work in the design. The goal is to tell you how to change the design to serve your users better. These tests do not generate large amounts of statistics. Qualitative studies of websites and intranets typically cost around $22,000, with prices up to $40,000 for more complex cases. Very small and targeted studies, such as testing a few homepage comps, may be $20,000.

Quantitative studies are much more expensive: to generate statistically significant numbers that compare two different websites or two versions of the same system will typically cost around $70,000. We do not recommend this, except for organizations that are highly metrics-driven. It is nice to have proof of how much a redesign improved a product or how much better/worse you are than the competition. However, it is more important to know what to improve, and cheap qualitative studies are much better at answering that question.

Competitive studies are one of the most valuable methods. We recommend qualitative testing of your own design compared with two or three of the most important competitors. Such studies typically cost around $45,000 and provide the best basis for a redesign project because you learn from other designs as well as your own. No reason to repeat others' mistakes.

International studies are important if you have customers in other countries (or overseas employees, in the case of an intranet). Costs are often around $100,000-$150,000, but vary widely depending on the number of countries. If you are located outside the United States, you are in luck: we can test American users for you at the cheaper price of a standard test and it will count as an international study of your design.

The information in this article was current at 08 Nov 2011

Keywords: Usability Methods

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