Using mind mapping software to test website usability

Explore Assurity 2 December 2013 Rupert Burton

Earlier this year, the government updated its web standards with separate standards for usability and accessibility. From June 2014, all New Zealand government websites will need to meet phase one of these standards. By June 2017, all public-facing web pages* will be required to meet these new standards.

The full requirements of these standards are available on the Government Web ToolKit website. They provide detail around accessibility and then direct the reader to the W3C site for further guidance. While it’s good to have all this comprehensive documentation, it’s not conducive to straightforward testing.

As part of our Lean testing initiative, we wanted to come up with a lightweight tool that would enable us to test our client’s website efficiently, but which would contain all the required information or direct the user to the original documentation where needed. Ideally, this would be something that is as easy to understand and to use as a checklist.

Our initial focus was the usability standard that, at least in terms of compliance, is fairly uncomplicated. It seems to be primarily concerned with making it easier for a visitor to:

  • Find information, such as privacy statement and contact details

  • Navigate around the site

  • Print relevant content

We used mind mapping software – in this case XMind** – to provide us with a visual representation of our usability testing:

We believe that it has more to offer than a simple checklist as it:

  • Can be used to show testing status and progress

  • Can show traceability to the original standards web pages (through hyperlinks)

  • Allows the user to add notes, files and images

  • Is quick and easy to update

A copy of this mind map is available for download. We’d love to hear your feedback on whether it assists in testing your website to the usability standard. Add a comment below if you’re interested in reading Part Two – An Accessibility Standards Mind Map.


* and all internal web pages built after 2014


*** Disclaimer: This is a tool we came up with for our usability testing. The use of this tool does not guarantee compliance with the government usability standards