Website usability can often get overlooked.
Often the marketing and aesthetics of a website are prioritized over usability, which is understandable given that they seem to be of greater importance.
It could also be assumed that getting traffic to a website that looks amazing is enough to achieve your goals but this is not the case. If users do not have a good experience once they land on your website it is likely that they will leave without taking the actions you want them to.
Another reason why marketing and the visual appearance of a website could be prioritized over usability is that they are more obvious and easy to measure factors. You can tell just by looking whether a site is pleasing to the eye and if it is likely to impress potential visitors and similarly, it is easy to know if you are getting traffic to your site. There are many factors involved with usability, however, and it seems to be a harder metric to analyse.
How do we know if someone has had a good experience on a website?
Of course, they may leave a review or comment which lets us know, but this is rare. More often than not happy visitors leave happy and unhappy visitors leave unhappy never to return and we will never know about it.
Fortunately, there are some useful ways that we can collect data about the actions and behaviour of visitors to our websites that can help us to make informed decisions regarding design and structure here are some great ways to get this data:
Once set up, you will be able to log into your account and see statistics such as the number of visitors and which pages are being visited, but you can also set up goals to see when certain actions are taken on your site (e.g. when a specific button is clicked) and you can set up e-commerce tracking if applicable to track revenue.
If you have goals set up, you can use the data to make informed decisions; if a page is getting a lot of traffic but nobody is clicking the button you want them to, you can start to analyse why. Maybe it needs to be moved to a more prominent place or changed to a color that makes it stand out more.
Also included with analytics is important data about user behaviour, such as the time they are spending on your webpage (time on page), the bounce rate, and the time spent on the website in a visit, and number of pages visited. This data can help to identify potential problems if the metrics are too high/too low.
Analytics data can only tell you so much, it can’t give much information about the physical actions a user takes on your website. Heatmaps can help with this as they track cursor movements, scrolling, and screen touches. This is particularly useful as you can physically see which areas of a web page people concentrate on and which ones are neglected. This information can be used to adjust layout, CTA positions, and other things.
3. Eye tracking
Eye tracking software can actually show you where someday is looking at all times on your website and produce a map of the eye movements.
This is a step up from heatmaps, but while they can be easily added to a website using a piece of code, eye tracking tests are a little more complicated (and expensive to set up) as you would need to get some test subjects to browse your website while you record the eye movements.
The data collected would be invaluable, however, as it can quickly identify any of the most and least important areas on a webpage, as well as the user journeys taken on your site, thereby allowing for efficient optimisation of on-site elements.
4. Ask people for feedback
There isn’t really a better way to find out how people feel about your website than to simply ask them! Constructive criticism is a valuable tool and can really help to find problems and where improvements can be made.
There are several ways you could collect this data, a simple feedback form on the webpages themselves is a good way as long as the form itself doesn’t impact usability of course. There are also feedback websites you can add your site to and then others can leave feedback and give advice. You could send out surveys to your existing customer base and give them a quick survey or just ask people who use the website in general to give feedback.
5. Get a UX review
For those who are really serious about perfecting their website UX, a professional usability review is an option. You will basically pay a company or individual to test your website and provide feedback which you can then act upon. The main thing with this one is to make sure you employ someone who really knows what they are talking about, it isn’t worth going cheap on this, check their credentials and previous feedback and ask for references.
If you set up as many of these data collection points as possible then you will be armed with a large amount of information about how people are using your website which can then be used to make adjustments and to carry out A/B Testing, you can then track the changes to see if there are improvements.