Developing a small business website is a daunting task considering the various elements needed to create a professional online presence.
The website code and graphics are developed by professionals that have a firm understanding of best practices though it’s nearly impossible to create a website that completely matches the needs and expectations of visitors and it’s for this reason that conducting user testing has become essential to optimize the presence to improve conversions and engagement.
The Importance of Website Testing and Usability
Information, on a website, is only effective if visitors can easily find and consume the content. A website with clunky design and code mechanics leads visitors into an ineffective sales funnel which defeats the purpose of launching a website for the business.
Website testing and usability presents ways to combat indecisiveness of site visitors, including:
- Tailored navigation which improves a visitor’s ability to discover information
- An optimized sales funnel which qualifies site traffic and improves conversions
- Usable interactive features such as social sharing, hover effects, and feedback
- Logical structure behind interlinking which improves SEO rankings and engagement
The website testing process reveals the kinks in a website and provides data to make logical changes to fix these problems. The testing improves usability which keeps visitors on your website for a greater amount of time and gives them a firm understanding on how best to discover and consume content.
Elements to Consider for Website Testing
Every element of your website could be, in some form or another, tested.
The amounts of elements that can be tested are astounding but the important thing to remember is to aim for the big wins by changing the major elements, which may include:
- Web page graphics
- Media comparison (audio vs. video)
- Shipping rates
- Trial offers
The most important item to remember when conducting a test is to focus on just one element at a time.
Tracking two elements, for example, on a Web page such as the headline and by-line will result in data that is unusable because one cannot make a logical judgment as to which element, changed, truly had an effect on increasing conversions. A spike in conversions, by using multiple elements, could have been one-sided so making a change would negate possible bonuses from implementing an increase of conversions of the two separate elements.
A singular focus will prevent an overlap in data.
Using Feedback to Apply Logical Updates and Tweaks
There are various ways to approach user testing for websites:
User testing services, such as those provided by UserTesting.com, plants your website in front of testers which provide feedback through visual and audible cues; you can set guidelines for the testing and then review their feedback from within a dashboard.
Heatmap tools, CrazyEgg.com, for example, grants you the ability to monitor and visualize the interactions visitors have with your website through “heat maps” which show ranges in interest based on a cold to hot scale. Installation is simple through the use of a few scripts; after installation you will have access to a dashboard to see these reports.
Split testing, which is easy with Visual Website Optimizer, gives you the ability to run multiple tests on your pages and then use that data to make appropriate changes; these are very easy to setup and will provide value within a very short scope of time.
Low-Fi Methods to Test Your Website
You can have strangers view your website as you peer over them can be just as effective as the flashy tools and services. Sit with a person as they browse your website, record their feedback, and thank them for their service.
Each set of tools and services will provide a different set of data and feedback so it’s up to you as to which type of changes you’d like to make. The best course of action is to use a variety of tools to which you can compare reports and have a broad understanding of what could change.
Each set of tools and services will provide a different set of data and feedback
Once you have the data, listened to feedback, and posed the changes to experts it’s just a matter of handing the work to a professional developer, experienced member of your team, or diving head first into handling the matter.
Small changes, even as low as 0.01%, can have a significant impact on conversions, in the long-run. Keep your head in the mindset of the long play (just like investing) because these minute changes add to your bottom-line as time presses forward.
Implementing a series of website tests to improve usability and conversions will create a significant improvement to a website sales and engagement. Elements should be testing one at a time and done repeatedly after each successful improvement. Use any and all tools and resources available to you that conform to your ideas, vision, and budget. Apply the feedback received from testing as part of a logical update schedule to continually tweak and optimize the website.
Website and user testing, with the right tools, does not need to be difficult. A sound investment in time and resources is well-worth the decision once the actions begin to reveal and provide value.