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by Gemma Holloway on 5th June 2013
Hi. Today I’m going to cover a selection of tools and tests that you can use to improve the user experience of your website.
As you may remember, not too long ago I did another video focusing on the five core aspects of improving the user experience of your website. Today I’ve split up this presentation into the same five key areas and will provide you with a selection of tools under each heading so that you can test each individual aspect.
So let’s start with site speed. As the speed of the Internet increases as does the user’s expectations of the load time of your website. Therefore, these two tools, Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights allow you to test one web page at a time so that you can determine which elements of that web page to improve so that the load speed page of that page increases.
Pingdom will give you a comparative score related to the other web pages which have been tested within the tool. It will then present this to you visually in a selection of slider rails so that you can understand which areas it is that you need to improve to increase that load time.
PageSpeed Insights gives you the same kind of score, but in a marks out of a 100 perspective. It will then give you a selection of ways that you can increase this speed under various headings. You’ll have some high priority headings. You’ll have some medium priority headings and some low priority headings. So you know which ones will have the biggest impact on the load speed of your web page.
Let’s move over to personalisation. This is a pretty big tool, so I’m not going to cover it in detail today. As a lot of you may know, Google Analytics have recently released into beta their Universal Analytics platform. This allows you to track your website data from a user-centric perspective as opposed to a visitor-centric perspective. Basically, what this will allow will be for us to collect data about individual users so that we can then present them with information tailored to their experience. I spoke last time about personalisation being important to allow the user to feel really wanted. Therefore, this kind of platform will allow us to present the user with that experience.
Let’s move over to layout. Here I have covered one tool and two very simple tests that you can carry out. First of all enhanced link attribution. Now this is an extension of Google Analytics in page analytics. All it needs is an extra line of code inserted into your Google tracking code. It will then allow you to see the clicks on the various clickable elements of your web page as percentages so that you can determine which areas of your web page or which elements of your web page are most popular.
You can then take these percentages and shuffle around the various elements on your web page to allow you to have the most popular elements in the most easy to see places. So, for example, if you’ve got a “Buy Now” button further down the page, which is receiving a high percentage of your clicks, you may want to then boost this to above the fold on the page so that you then increase that conversion rate further.
Next is the squint test. So this is something that you can perform on your own web page. Basically, all it requires is for you to look at the page in question and simply squint your eyes. This will allow you to see which features on the page are the most prominent. Therefore, if when you squint your eyes the most prominent thing is an image which has very little importance and your call to action kind of fades into the background, then you know that your call to action isn’t prominent enough. This will help identify which areas you need to make it come out of the page more.
This is also the same goal as the upside down test. Basically, what that involves is printing off a copy of your web page and simply turning it upside down. This will mean that you spend less time focusing on the written content on your page and more on focusing on the various elements and what it is on the page which stands out to you most. You need to make sure that the key features you want your users to focus on are the key features which stand out to you in that situation.
Let’s move over here to appearance. I’ve put two tools here, both of which focus on the same thing. However, they are slightly different in the way that they’re applied.
SES Theme Split Test allows you to present a user with one of two variants of a web page. So 50% of the time web page A will be presented, 50% of the time web page B will be presented. You can then collect the data and differentiate between the two as to which web page performs better. This allows you to change the appearance of your website on both web pages, and then determine which appearance users are more comfortable with and interacting more with.
A/B testing within Content Experiments is the same kind of process. However, it’s carried out through Google Analytics. So it depends which method you would prefer to apply, whether it be through Google Analytics or whether it be through a WordPress plug-in.
Finally let’s move down to navigation. The navigation of your website is important because it has to make the journey for your user as stress free and comfortable as possible. So by implementing Google Analytics Site Search you can track what users are actually searching for on your website. It’s likely that users will be searching for things that they can’t find easily when they originally get to your website. Therefore, by looking at this data, you can determine what it is you need to incorporate into your core navigation.
So say you’ve got a shoe website, and you see a lot of searches a lot of the time for high heels. You then look at your navigation. You’ve got things such as trainers, boots, all that kind of stuff, but you haven’t got a core navigation for high heels. This will then highlight the necessity to have that incorporated into your core navigation.
The following two are, again, very simple tests that you can carry out yourself. Cue cards are just simply writing down the various pages on your website that you believe to be the most important. You might have the contact us page, you might have the about us page, your services, your products, various product categories, for example, each on an individual cue cards. Then give these cue cards to someone who knows nothing about your website. Ask them to organise them in the way that they expect them to be organised on your web page. This will then allow you to determine where users expect to find things on your website.
So going back to the shoe example, per se, you might find that high heels should be under evening shoe as opposed to under women’s shoes, for example, dependent on where participants place that cue card.
Finally, this is probably one of the most simple things, but something that isn’t very often implemented. It’s just to simply watch your users interact with your website. It’s okay understanding your website and knowing where you need to go for various things, but for someone who knows nothing about your website, it might not be so obvious. So simply watching someone trying to make a purchase on your website, watching someone trying to submit a contact form, this will then highlight where they get stuck and then allow you to understand which elements of your user journey you need to simplify and make clearer.
Hopefully, I have provided you with a good selection of tools and tests today, and hopefully this will help you improve the user experience of your website.
If you’d like some more information, feel free to contact us on any of the social profiles which will follow.