The Brain’s View of a Website

May 31, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #31

By, Todd Follansbee
President, Web Marketing Resources

Understanding how the brain works helps in building a great web user experience.

Smile by Tom Newby3 The Brains View of a Website

Distracting, no? Your brain doesn't like it when things don't appear as they should.

One of our goals as user eXperience (UX) consultants is to make it easy for visitors’ brains to form “mental models” of a website. Put another way, we understand that the brain is trying to predict how a site will behave and if we fail to meet those expectations, confusion results.

The brain can only hold 7 + 2 random pieces of information in short-term memory at one time. Yet, it has an incredible ability to process volumes of information if it can fit it into a pattern. The brain’s skill at finding patterns also makes it excellent at recognizing when something is outside the norm.

For example, something simple like a piece of spinach on a friends tooth can be so distracting that we often must concentrate hard to hear what they are saying over the “noise” our brains are making about the spinach.

Simply put, the brain doesn’t like things that don’t fit right. More accurately, it doesn’t like things that don’t fit the way it expects them to fit.

One basic example of why pattern recognition matters

When a visitor lands on your homepage, his brain is looking for clues to patterns it recognizes. Often the first thing to look for is a hyperlink, the basic key to web information. If hyperlinks aren’t obvious or don’t consistently fit a recognized pattern because one is blue and another is green, flags go up. The brain keeps trying to make sense but when things are too random, the visitor is soon too distracted to focus on content.

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Nine Reasons Your Customers Aren’t Converting and Tools To Find Out Why

May 30, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #30

By Conversion Rate Experts

Turning visitors into customers can be hard. It’s even harder if you don’t know exactly what they want or how to convince them to take action.

In this article, we’ve listed nine common reasons why visitors don’t convert and some tools to help you find out why.

Reason 1: You’re Ignoring The Mud Tracks on Your Website

For a long time, visitors to New York’s Central Park were taking shortcuts across the grassy areas, leaving ugly, well-worn mud tracks across them. The park’s planners took an unusual decision: instead of trying to prevent people from taking these routes, they encouraged them to do so by paving them. The planners acknowledged that the routes revealed the ideal placement of the tracks. These dirt tracks were an example of what designers called desire paths. Desire paths are clues as to how users would like to behave.

For Central Park’s planners, it was easy to see the desire paths’ grass turns brown when walked upon. However, many of the desire paths on your website can only be seen using technology. Here are some tools for making them visible:


  • You can use 4Q to find out why visitors failed to convert

4Qsurvey Nine Reasons Your Customers Arent Converting and Tools To Find Out Why

  • By installing Kampyle or Opinion Lab onto your site, you can gather feedback from customers, so you can hear their suggestions.

Kampyle Nine Reasons Your Customers Arent Converting and Tools To Find Out Why

  • ClickTale’s Mouse Click Heatmaps can be used to identify if users are clicking on unclickable images

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Analyzing the Impact of the Digital Fold

May 29, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #29

By Michele Hinojosa
Director of Digital Analytics, Red Door Interactive

In the traditional world, we talk about the importance of being “above the fold”: appearing in the top half of the front page of a newspaper. However, on the web the picture is a little murkier. Website visitors will use different screen resolutions, browsers, window sizes and toolbars, essentially leading to a different “fold” line for every user.

Shrinking Screens 31 Analyzing the Impact of the Digital FoldAdd in the proliferation of devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone) and the challenges are further compounded. So is there even the same impact of content being above or below the fold for online users as there is in the traditional world? Might this impact vary by user, by site, or by page?

Staying Above or Scrolling Below the Fold?

On pages such as a home page, the location of content above or below the fold may have a greater impact. After all, when a visitor arrives to a site, they need to figure out what content or products to dive deeper into. In this case, products or content areas highlighted in the top area of the page may receive higher engagement, simply due to the higher number of “eyeballs” on it during an evaluation phase.

However, the same may not hold true for deeper pages within the site, or for all-in-one landing pages. On a product detail page, where reviewing the content on the page may be crucial for making a decision to proceed to the next step, the click-through rate for a call to action at the bottom of the page could potentially be higher than a call to action at the top of the page.

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Making The Case For A/B Testing

May 28, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #28

By Justin Cutroni
Director of Digital Intelligence, Cardinal Path

We all know that web analytics is a process. And the most critical part of that process is making changes. But deciding what changes to make can often be very difficult. That’s where website testing comes into play!

Rather than blindly implementing what you “think” is the best solution, why not try a few different solutions and measure which one has the best impact on your website? Sounds logical, doesn’t it? This is the basic premise behind A/B testing.

Testing Assumptions

We all make assumptions about visitor behavior that are clouded by our familiarity with our own site. Testing your assumptions is the safest route and can also lead to great insights about your website’s visitors.

In an A/B/N test, you’re comparing the results of something original against, for example, a landing page, versus a new version.

AB and Multivariate Testing Making The Case For A/B Testing

A multivariate test is like an A/B test, but you’re usually testing multiple parts of a page, like the image, a button and maybe a headline.

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Why You Should Be Checking Out Site Search Analytics

May 28, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #27

This posting was originally published in Designing Search: UX Strategies for eCommerce Success by Greg Nudelman (John Wiley, 2011)

By Louis Rosenfeld

Co-author, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (O’Reilly, 2006) and Site Search Analytics: Conversations with Your Customers (Rosenfeld Media, 2011)

Not sure if your site’s searchers are getting what they need from your search system?  Then there’s good news:  somewhere in your organization, searchers’ queries are being logged. Find that data and use it:  it’s a goldmine of user research and insight, and you already own it.  Unlike other types of web analytics, it’s semantically rich:  it records users’ needs, not just their actions.  And most importantly, they’re expressing their information needs in their own words.

Benefits of Site Search Analytics

You can benefit from it in many ways, including these:

●    You can identify gaps in your offerings.  Do people keep searching for a product you don’t currently offer?  Maybe you should reconsider.

●    You’ll determine ways to improve your site’s search interface and search results design, leading to better conversion rates.  At minimum, you’ll know how wide that search box needs to be

●    You can suss out the points at which navigation and search fail, and squash them like bugs.

●    You can learn the tone and flavor of your users’ language, and make sure that your own content–titles, metadata, and copy–matches up well with that language.

●    You can devise a variety of search-related metrics that you may not have considered before.  These in turn can be integrated into your organization’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), enabling you to do a better job of assessing how well your organization is meeting its goals.  So your managers ought to like site search analytics as much as you will.

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Online Pop-ups: Amazingly Annoying or Annoyingly Amazing?

Alon Weinstein
May 26, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #26

First, let’s define the term pop-up: Automatic pop-ups are windows opened in a new browser or tab, generated via JavaScript.

These include pop-ups on retail ads, software service sites, even the small alert pop-ups that appear on the bottom right hand corner of your computer screen.

Next, let’s agree: Everybody hates pop-up windows.

In most cases, pop-ups are usually ineffective as an advertising tool. They frequently get blocked by pop-up blocker, which is an integrated part of most browsers today. Additionally, window pop-ups can be harmful to webpage usability, since there is no option to navigate back to the page the visitor was on, and are usually closed as soon as they are opened.

Wikipedia mock up Online Pop ups: Amazingly Annoying or Annoyingly Amazing?

Would you use Wikipedia as often as you do if you kept on getting these annoying pop-ups?

The “Up” Side

However, believe it or not, some industries thrive off of this annoyance. For example, the gaming and diet industry heavily depend on pop-ups to get the attention of a customer. And it seems to work.

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Conventional vs. Unique Website Design

Talya Rachel Judovits
May 25, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #25

While having a unique web design works for some online businesses, it can be risky for most. Being different certainly has its advantages, but can cost you some converting customers in the process.

Web Users of Habit

Web users are only human, and, after years of getting used to traditional web usability standards, have specific expectations when arriving to a website. Here are some webpage elements most visitors expect to see:

Top Menu Navigation Bar

Our eyes are trained to go from top to bottom. Tool bars that are not included at the top of a webpage can be overlooked and/or cause visitors confusion.

American Express Homepage Conventional vs. Unique Website Design

The search box and top navigational menu follow the conventional web design layout.

Search Box

Some visitors come to your site with a specific product/service/ keyword in mind. If the search box is not there to help direct them straight to what they need, they are quick to bounce away.

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CEM Analytics: It’s not all about the UI

May 24, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #24

By Gary Angel
Co-founder, President & CTO, Semphonic

CEM Analytics tools provide a field-day for classic Web and UI analysts. To an analyst, being able to see what happened INSIDE a page, how users scrolled, where they looked, how long they spent, feels like being kid on Christmas morning with all those un-opened presents under the tree. It’s great, but there’s another side to CEM Analytics that I think often gets ignored and should get more attention both from the tools and the practitioners.

Two Tiers by Nycmominthecity1 CEM Analytics: Its not all about the UI

Two-tiered Segmentation

In Semphonic’s practice, we focus heavily on segmentation. We believe that every Web analytics metric and KPI should be placed in the context of two simple questions. If you tell me that traffic on the web site was down, my first question to you is, With whom? If you answer Customers, I’m going to ask what type of Customer visit  is it Customer Support (that might be good) or re-Purchase (that would probably be bad) or something else entirely. Until I know the Who and the What, a metric simply doesn’t have any meaning. We call this a Two-tiered Segmentation and think it’s ideal for Digital Analytics.

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Persuasion Design: Principle of Reciprocation

May 23, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #23

By, Todd Follansbee President, Web Marketing Resources

As persuasion designers, we recognize that one of the most powerful principles is reciprocation. Research shows that every society in the world subscribes to the rule that we are more likely to comply with someone who has done us a favor. Proper use of this principle on the web has increased compliance by 300%.

Enhance Perceived Value!

Every business offers free subscriptions, discounts, and trials so how do I make mine effective/stand out? A key piece to successful implementation of the reciprocation principle is this: the higher the perceived value of the gift, the greater the feeling of obligation. Frame your offer to enhance the perceived value to the recipient. Focus on what’s in it for them. For example, instead of a free subscription, offer a subscription worth X dollars that will save them money and make life better because of XYZ. A free trial is good, but a free trial of software that will help them work smarter, valued at $175, is better. I’m not suggesting that you mislead people with arbitrary values, but rather that you substantiate your claims to improve credibility.

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Designing to Support Visitors’ Goals

May 22, 2011

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #22

By, Deborah J. Mayhew, PhD
Goal Poster by EvelynGiggles1 Designing to Support Visitors GoalsDeborah J. Mayhew & Associates

One important aspect of the design of your web site is how well it supports the primary tasks and goals of your target visitors. This sounds obvious, but many web sites fail to optimize this aspect of design, and this can have a significant impact on web site success.

You may well understand what your visitors’ goals are, and think your web site design supports them. But you may unwittingly fall short in providing not only what your visitors need, but also how and when they need it.

For example, let’s say you have designed a checkout process for your eCommerce web site that collects all the necessary information on billing and shipping that you need to process the transaction on your end.

Turning Tables

But, have you addressed what your customers’ need to complete the checkout process from their perspective?

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