How to Test Visual Design

September 13, 2019 posted by

Many teams I work with are interested in measuring
exactly how their visual design affects the overall user experience. Some aspects of visual design are pretty easy
to assess. For example, people form first impressions
about visual appeal almost instantly. So you can assess these overall impressions
by briefly showing people a design, then asking them to list a few words describing it. But visual design details like fonts, colors,
and layouts can have important effects on UX that reach far beyond the initial first
impression. Measuring these effects is a little bit more
challenging. There’s two main techniques to keep in mind
if you want to make data-driven choices about these visual design details. The first is to assess both opinion and behavior
because subtle differences like slightly larger fonts won’t be noticeable to most users at
first glance. So to find out how these larger fonts affect
the UX, you need to actually let people interact with the design and read some content. Then you can observe things like how much
they read, or how much they understood. The other technique to keep in mind is to
test multiple versions of the design with different visual approaches and compare your
results. This comparison increases the sensitivity
of your test. So it’s easier to identify differences and
understand what caused them. You can do this type of comparison using an
A/B test if you have an unambiguous measurable goal of that particular part of the design,
such as getting more people to sign up. But you can also do comparisons with simple
usability testing. This is a good choice when there’s not a single
specific goal, and it can be very sensitive to small effects because you can have the
same user test more than one variation. If you do this, make sure to vary the order
in which you show people the different designs, so that you don’t show everyone the same version
first. While there is a subjective component to aesthetic
impressions, by using good research methods, you can ensure that your visual design is
usable and appealing to your audience, not just to your designers or internal decision-makers.

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