What further confuses this is typically a lack of clear insight into your website's performance. For example, how well does your website convert visitors into buyers? What are the key decisions that visitors must make on your website? Do you give them the information and tools necessary to make those decisions?
Measure Progress with Website Analytics
Many companies mistakenly install a standard "website statistics" program and only get a group of standard reports. Typically, these reports do very little to help you judge the true effectiveness of your website. Want to get a jumpstart on creating your own website analytics? Just follow these 3 simple steps:
2. Get in touch with your visitors' behavior on your website
Track how many unique visitors you get, and how long they stay on your site (including how many pages they view). You want all of these numbers to be going up, since that means youíre getting more visitors who are staying on the site longer. You are maximizing the odds that they will do what you want them to.
Here are two examples:
Regardless of what you want to achieve, getting to website usability first starts with solid website analytics. Why? Because website analytics force you to identify those areas that matter most, and identify how well or poorly you are doing in them. Once you know this, you are armed with key data that can help you focus your efforts and determine where things like usability testing can help the most.
Leverage Usability Testing
Usability testing is where you take people who would use your website, and actually watch them using it. Typically, you ask the person to do things on the site, and you watch either over their shoulder, behind a one-way mirror, or via a second computer where you can see what's being recorded on the test computer.
So be careful when hiring a professional that seems to make the testing process complicated or costly. When someone does this, it's usually only for their own financial gain.
To successfully conduct a usability test, just follow these 5 steps:
1. Define your objectives. Begin with the end in mind
What do you want to accomplish with this usability test? Do you have specific areas of your website that you want to improve? If so, this is a great way to get ideas on how to make those areas better. Are you planning on rolling out a new area of your website? A usability test is a great way to do a "trial run" before the big launch.
2. Recruit the participants
This will take the most time, and can be the most frustrating part of the test process. You have to find people to participate (which can be tough, particularly if you need to match specific demographic profiles), and then you need to schedule them. Then, some will cancel, some wonít show, and some will be great test participants. The best way to get a feel for the person is to talk to them directly more than once over the phone. TIP: Be sure to call the person the day of the test to remind them about it.
3. Script the test
Youíll want to have an intro script, the test script, and a post-test survey. The intro script serves as a checklist of things you want to be sure to cover with the person before you start the test. TIP: During the part, try to focus on making the person feel comfortable giving their opinion, and reiterate that any feedback is good feedback. The next part, the test script, is a checklist of the actual things you want the person to do. This is followed by the post-test survey, which allows you to ask the person questions, and later compare those answers to what they said during the test.
5. Report the results
The best way to report the results is two-fold: First, do a quick, one-page or less recap of each session immediately after the test. That way, the information is still fresh in your mind. TIP: Include a picture of the user in your recap, since it will help make that person's feedback "come alive". Next, take the information collected during testing, and create 1 to 4 "personas": user profiles that explain the type of person, what they need from the website, what issues they encounter frequently on the site, and what can be changed to help them. This will help you explain the results to others, and you can reuse these personas later when you are adding or updating areas of your website.
How many people should I test?
For most usability tests, you can learn the maximum amount by only testing ten people. Too many more and youíll start to see too many recurring patterns. If you go less than ten, you might miss things or not see enough of a pattern.
What Personas are:
What Personas are not:
Reporting user tests as personas is a great way to:
Again, exactly how you choose to implement these techniques is obviously up to you. Even small steps can make a big impact. You don't have to have super-sophisticated website analytics, test your website with 100 users, or develop extremely detailed personas. Every step you take in these three areas, no matter how big or how small, will help you get more from your website, and your website marketing strategy.