Usability test question. What is classified as an user error?

hi there

i am ready to start a usability test session on a ecommerece website and i am thinking about measuring the number of errors a user makes when trying to complete a task.

i would like to know what is classafied as an error ?

is it just clicking on the wrong links ?

what else is there ?

thank you

I wouldn’t call it an “error” but if tha suits then why not :slight_smile:

Look out for things like people clicking a “wrong” link when trying to perform a task. It may be the wrong link to you but the user may think it’s the right one for that task.

I classify a “user error” as any action which either results in unexpected behaviour or an unexpected end result. :slight_smile:

That’s what I love about usability testing. If they can’t complete a task, it’s the web developer’s fault, not the user’s. :slight_smile:

Precisely! And it’s the way it should be too. It’s the developers job to make things work as seamlessly as possible, after all… they want the visitors and customers :slight_smile:

A user error is anything the user does that is ‘wrong’. That could include clicking on a link that doesn’t get them any closer to their goal, it could be failing to see/read relevant information on the page they are on, it could be typing into the wrong field (eg typing a search query into a log-in box), it could be not completing all required fields on a form or completing some fields incorrectly.

One thing to be careful of is that different people have different process tracks - if there is more than one possible route to the end goal, don’t “mark down” people who choose a different route to the one you would have chosen. What is most important is that people get to their goal, not necessarily how they get there (although any route that involves a lot of backtracking and undoing should be considered as user errors).

Maybe instead of watching what they do wrong, see what they do to complete the task and make that route easier?

I was told once that there are 2 main types of users (I’m know there’s more), those that are happy to take click on big graphics to drill down to the content and others who want a menu to drill down immediately to the destination. Point is, there’s lots of way users interact with a website, you can’t give them just one route.