Knowing what the user experience is about is the first step to optimizing a website. As discussed in the first post of this series, usability, sales, and branding are the three basic concepts to focus on. The next step is putting your knowledge to action.
Usability experts donâ€™t really know what works on a website until they test it out. Luckily, there are plenty of free or inexpensive testing options for all online businesses to take advantage of and profit from for their website.
Analytics: Deciding on one unique webpage design is tough. To avoid uncertainty, test multiple page versions and see which one gets the best response from your visitors. A/B and Multivariate testing split your traffic amongst the multiple webpage versions you are testing.
Visitor Behavior: See and understand visitor behavior on your site. How visitors move their mouse, fill in your forms, or even how far down the page they scroll, if at all, reveal valuable information about the performance quality of each webpage. Visitor Recordings and heat maps are great, as they let you mark, track, and debug any usability errors or hard spots.
â€œMake or Breakâ€ Web Pages
All pages on your site are important, but there are some pages that hold more value than others. Have a look at these vital webpages to keep an eye on.
Landing pages are designed to be seen and encourage visitors to convert. When perfecting your landing pages, make sure to take into account the answers to these questions.
â€¢ How do visitors use the page? Is it how you originally intended?
â€¢ What do visitors like the most?
â€¢ Do visitors care about page content?
â€¢How do visitors respond to the design elements located on the page? Where does their mouse move? What grabs their attention? Pay specific attention to their interaction with arrows, buttons, word content, and colors on the page.
â€¢ Are marketing campaign page segments working?
If you are an ecommerce site, travel site or any website with many products, your search box, as well as the search page of results can have a large effect on your visitors.
â€¢ How do your visitors search? Is it with filters that are used? By the number of listings looked at?
â€¢ Grid layout vs. List layout: Is it better to list out the search results or have them displayed as a grid? What do your visitors respond to better? Do images help?
â€¢ Multiple vs. fewer, more detailed listing per page?
â€¢ Create wish list. Customers are essentially creating a wish list each time they enter a desired product into the search box. Use this to your advantage for either email marketing campaigns or sales promotions.
Determine the value of content and webpage elements on your product pages.
â€¢ Make sure content is organized and easy to scan.
â€¢ Check your copy. Words are powerful and when used correctly, succinctly and clearly can motivate visitors to become customers. As this great Smashing Magazine article advices, keep your audience in mind, avoid common mistakes and optimize your content for SEO to give your site more presence and traffic.
â€¢ Are your call-to-actions effective? Are they visible?
Checkout/Shopping Cart Pages
â€¢ Look out for length! Long forms can be a turn off.
â€¢ Avoid an option to exit. Your goal is to push visitors towards conversion, not give them a call-to-action to opt out.
â€¢ Resell and reassure. To keep your customers coming, you want to make them feel confident in their purchases, as well as during their shopping experience.Give product and delivery information on the check out/shopping cart page itself so customers do not have to browse back/navigate away from the page.
â€¢ Study your abandoning visitors. Find out what they are up to, where they go after they abandon your page/site. Check visitor history and behavior. Do they return to checkout again? Do visitors quit in the middle of the form? Do they go back to the product page to research again? If so, you should focus on this page instead.
â€¢ Study your converting visitors. What do they click on, look at, etc.?
For more shopping cart tips, check out this Web Designer Depot article.
Conducting case studies with your testing tools is a great way to keep track of how your usability improvements are increasing your conversions and ROI. Have a quick look through these case studies to learn what you can find out from your own online performance.
About the Author
Billy is a UX and UI consultant at ClickTale working with some of the internetâ€™s largest websites. His clients have ranged from small business and non-profits to Fortune 500 companies. Billy is a New York University graduate with advanced degrees from NYU and Texas A&M.