Ok, so your website has been found by a new user, but what sort of experience are they going to have now that they have arrived? Usability testing helps guide the customer to your chosen end point.
This end point may be the creation of a new order, or maybe just a simple enquiry. Ultimately, your website is online for a reason, and you must ensure that you lose as few visitors as possible.
What is Usability Testing
When we develop a new website, we think about how we would interact with the particular site, how we would navigate around the site, and what we would like to achieve whilst being on the site.
Hence, we look to keep the navigation simple and consistent - we certainly want our users to find their chosen items. We also keep each page layout consistent, if the navigation moves around, the customer can easily be put-off and frustrated.
When talking about a product for example, we might link to a similar product to provide the customer with options, and we will certainly provide as much information and imagery as possible.
We also feel that it is important to use a website search tool, many visitors (myself included) prefer to simply type in their chosen keyword, and avoid going through the navigation structure. However, providing a sub-standard search tool will certainly result in the loss of the visitor - how many times have you seen the words No Results Found! Check out our Google Mini service for an example of some bespoke search hardware and software.
Providing a site-map is certainly useful, especially for large and complex sites.
Setting out a good page structure is also important. The user will obviously make a first impression based on what they see at the top of the page, so putting important information near the bottom of the page may result in the loss of the visitor. Choosing colours and typefaces is very important - if your visitor struggles to read the copy on your site, then they will quickly leave.
Google Analytics provides some very powerful tools to help us monitor our websites traffic. A particularly useful service is the ability to set "Goals" for our customers.
A goal is clear in its meaning - it is the process of funnelling a visitor to a specified endpoint. As an example, we always create a cart process goal when developing an e-commerce web application. In this case, we monitor where a visitor leaves the process, and hence we try to determine the reason for this and therefore fine tune the system to minimise the drop-out rate.
We have found that a smooth, simple and intuitive cart process is vital for any successful e-commerce website.
It is easy to upload a new website, but if it hasn't been tested on real people then how do we know it will work! There is certainly no substitute for a good and thorough testing campaign giving friends, family and Joe Public the chance to identify any pitfall in your system.
Give us a ring on 01670 501 599 and we will give you a hand improving your website.