Usability Testing| 2019

WordPress Website - Usability Issues

The first question while working on new software or web application comes to mind is "Can I learn how to use it?"

Let's see why Squarespace and Wix are easier to use than WordPress


Background is a popular and versatile platform that is widely used for blogging and creating websites. The system offers many customizable features and themes, allowing flexibility in writing, publishing, reading, designing, and sharing content with others across the world. It is widely used among a diverse group of people and organizations and has extensive functionality. 

My Role

UX Research

Usability Evaluation 


Software Used: 
Team count : 4
Duration: 4 Months


Need to find the pain points of the users and usability issues in the existing



The main usability issues found were:

  • Different tabs perform same function and allows confusion as it is internally inconsistent.

  • Icons are not externally consistent with other applications.

  • Tabs works as menu bar on different pages which seems externally inconsistent with design patterns use in other websites.

  • Error messages use jargons/technical terms which creates confusion as it does not speak user’s language.

  • Password credentials is not provided with requirements which results in violation of error prevention.

Design Process

Market Research

  • is a platform used for blogging and creating websites for professional, educational, or personal use. It facilitates the user's ability to customize the presentation of their blog or website and share their work (media, text, etc.) with others.

  • The target audience of WordPress includes personal bloggers, website developers, students, and professional business writers.

  • WordPress’ market share is more dominant than competitors like Joomla and Drupal, holding a 59.9% market share with over 26 million active sites as shown in the article cited below.

  • Wordpress is used by a variety of organizations from Fortune 500 companies, to music brands, start-ups, and many more.

Competitive Analysis

Web Application Name: Drupal



Create and manage great web, mobile and social experiences.

Drupal’s flexible platform lets marketers and developers overcome bottlenecks and delays so they can run a fast and agile team and create amazing experiences.



Web Application Name: Joomla



  • Make light work of data privacy requirements

  • Track and manage information access or removal requests from your users

  • Article management

  • Contortionist-level flexibility for your Custom Fields

  • Enriched frontend

User Profile

Heuristic Evaluation

Using the following heuristics which is modified as an extensive version of 10 Neilson's heuristics to evaluate the usability of the WordPress web application.

  • External Consistency: The app uses design patterns consistent with other apps and the system (Android)

  • Internal Consistency: Words, Signifiers, and Phrases have the same meaning throughout the system.

  • Group 'Like Widgets/ Functions': Place similar labels, widgets, and functions in close proximity

  • Frequently Used Functions Optimized: Only display the most relevant information and features

  • Speak the User's Language: Signifiers, phrases, words, and concepts must be consistent with the user's culture and industry

  • Perception of Feedback and System State: Feedback to user's action should be visible, and perceptible

  • Appropriate Selection of Design Patterns: Design choices should be beneficial to the user on the context of use

  • Minimize Knowledge in the Head: Display information when required without making user memorize it

  • User Control and Freedom: The system must put more effort to make it easier for the user

  • Error Prevention and Recovery: The system must prevent users from making errors and if they do, should help users recover easily.

Evaluation Process
Research Questions
  1. How easily can users customize their website and blog?

  2. How well does the site support the navigation for the users?

  3. How do users implement system help functions when encountering language they do not understand?

User Testing
Design Details

Within-subjects test, which was held between December 4th-7th, 2018 in various locations, 5 participants were asked to participate in a one-hour usability study session evaluating Each participant was asked to complete 7 tasks related to customization, navigation, and user-friendliness on the website while using the think-aloud method. The screen and the participant’s facial expressions were recorded using Loom, a Chrome extension. After each task, the participant was asked to rate the ease of use of their task. After completion of the whole evaluation on, the participants were debriefed and completed a post-test questionnaire. 

Task Design 

Website Study Usability Evaluation Pre-Task 0

You are helping your friend with their blog. Navigate to find the blog.


Group 1: Customization and Navigation


  • Website Study Usability Evaluation Task 1.1: You realize that you are not satisfied with the layout of the most recent post. The text is hard to read. Make it look more reader-friendly for the visitors of your website.

  • Website Study Usability Evaluation Task 1.2: You don’t like your friend’s design choices. Choose a new look for your site.


Group 2: Customization 


  • Website Study Usability Evaluation Task 2.1: You want to change the name of your website to “My Travel News.

  • Website Study Usability Evaluation Task 2.2: You want to accent your homepage by adding a visual element such as a logo, image, or graphics.


Group 3: User Friendliness 

  • Website Study Usability Evaluation Task 3.1: You want to add a post on to your blog about a research project or a course project that you have recently performed to showcase your academic achievement.

  • Website Study Usability Evaluation Task 3.2: You are a professional blogger and want to draw your follower’s attention for which you decided to highlight the important information in your post.

Test Design 
Task level of Sucess: Measure
  • Passed: Participant completed the task successfully without any difficulty or help from the moderator.

  • Passed with Help: Participant successfully completed the task, but had clear challenges or struggled with understanding the task, or navigating the system. The participant was given verbal guidance or prompted by the moderator with a question like, “What are you looking for?”, “What would you expect this to do?”, or “What would you do from here if you couldn’t find what you were looking for?”

  • Failed: Participant did not complete the task successfully, completed the wrong task instead, or gave up.

Results and Findings
Long Term
  • ​To improve groupings like widgets and functions and internal consistency, we recommend listing all customization features together so the user can access all like functions for customizing the site in one area.

  • We also recommend consolidating the customize links in the left navigation sidebar menu and in the bottom menu because the user was confused that customize appeared in two different places in the UI and the user wasn’t sure if it would take them to the same place. This was not clear to the user at first but the user figured out that it did go to the same place.

  • To improve external consistency and group like widgets/functions, we recommend a larger change of grouping the customization options for both the overall website and blog post editing into one place.  This was very confusing to users to have to go back and forth in between the website styles and the blog styles to make edits. By creating one place where the user can edit the styles, fonts, colors, and layout, the user would have less clicks to access options to edit their content.

Short Term
  • To improve internal consistency, we recommend linking the “My Site” button consistently to the homepage no matter where the user is in the website.  Users struggled with consistency of button actions and were confused with how the button changed where it linked to depending on where the user was in the website.

  • To ensure external consistency, we recommend making the “Site Title” editable similar to the function of editing a blog post title where the user can type directly in the text area to change the text. Multiple participants attempted to complete this task by first clicking on the actual title of the site to make edits before going into the Customization menu.

  • To improve speaking users language, we recommend using consistent terminology for menu items and buttons to differentiate the places the user will be taken to. Buttons and menu items such as “My Site”, “Visit Site”, “View Site”, and “Blog Posts” were very similar in wording/meaning. Some users were confused as to why “My Site” didn’t say “My Blog”.  There was general confusion amongst participants with how WordPress used the terms “website” and “blog” interchangeably.

Area of Research for future
  • ​AmbiguityHaving same names for multiple functions that serve different purposes.

  • Themes (Customization): Not being able to choose a template even after searching for one, in order to customize the blog/website.

  • Introduction to functions: Short tutorial can be added for assistance.​

Limitation of this Research

​Limitations in this usability evaluation:

  •  Most of the participants in the usability evaluation conducted by our team were of the age group 18-25.

  • Participants had some experience with blogging and two of them had blogs of their own.

  • Having these factors as limitations we felt that we had limited chances to observe different age groups of people  and people with different levels of experience while executing the tasks.