“Just make a super excellent web design, and let’s hear all the good things people said about it. Forget the usability testing. That’s just for nerds. Creativity rules!” and that’s the way some designer still thinking. But good design doesn’t work that way. Good design always comes with good web usability. It takes both to give the user great experience. You may think that you have designed a user friendly website, but user who got in the website for the very first time may not feel the same way.
The only way to find out: usability test. And all you need to do this is a test plan, and a user or two. Test plan doesn’t have to be very long that it takes pages, user will feels like doing school task and they will just run away. All you need in the test plan is just one or two line for each test subject such as links, forms, image, or any functions, and then let the users explore. They’re the users, by the way, they know where they would go.
You and the users have got to do this in the same room. You can always get direct feedback if they have some difficulties. At the end of the session, don’t just get rid of them away. Conduct more discussion. Ask them everything. How, why, what… Everything you can dig to maximize the user experience.
Getting input from users is great; knowing their requirements is important. This is where great experience designs come from.