It’s a fact - trends influence how we use the net and view (and judge) websites. It is important therefore to keep your site stylistically fresh and the information it contains up to date and relevant. Whether your site is simply designed to attract visitors in order to tell them about your services and product offerings, or whether it’s a full blown ecommerce sales tool, taking time (on a regular basis) to review your site is vital to ensure that you are getting the most from it.
Here are a few simple things you can do to check that you are focusing on the user experience (UX).
1. Competitor Review
This is easy to do. Simply pick three or four direct competitors (remember these aren’t necessarily businesses who are geographically close to you) and compare their websites with yours for strengths and weaknesses. The easiest way of doing this is to create a checklist or spreadsheet and then note your findings. Here are a few things you might wish to consider:
- What sort of content is on the website?
- What is the navigation like?
- Is it easy to find the information you want on the website?
- What functionality is on the site? (eg, things like live chat, blogs, downloads etc.)
- Do they have links to social media? If so, what social media do they use?
- What sort of images do they use?
- Do they use video?
- What are the ‘calls to action’? are they prominent and easy to find?
If they are doing something that seems to work well, shouldn’t you be doing something similar?
2. Analytics and Statistics
If you don’t have an analytics tool embedded into your site, do this right away. Google Analytics is free, relatively painless to install and the stats it provides are easy to interpret. Some things to particularly look out for:
- High bounce rates on pages (this may indicate - perhaps they don’t contain the information that the visitor is looking for; maybe they fail to engage the visitor because the content is difficult to interpret (too much text? too little text? too complicated? etc)
- Pages that receive little or no visits (do they need removing or revamping?)
- Popular pages (these are working well, but can you improve them? or use them more effectively to drive visitors to other parts of the website or follow a call to action?)
- Relevant keywords – these are the search terms people are using that have led them to your website. Are your visitors finding your site for the right reasons? or are they searching for a well known brand or television programme and finding your site because you referred to these in a blog article for example?)
- Ask yourself about the websites you visit… Why do you visit them? and what do you want to accomplish from them? Then think about why people would want to visit your website and what they would want from it. Take a pragmatic and common sense approach. If, for example, you don’t like ‘pop up questionnaires’ appearing on a page as soon as you land on it, then it probably stands to reason that your site visitors won’t either!
- Use the analytics to help to see if your website is reaching your visitors, addressing their requirements, and importantly, achieving your goals. For example, if your main goal is to get visitors to visit your blog, how well does your navigation work to get them there? Check how many clicks it takes for them to reach this goal. Do they find it easily? Ideally, they should be able to reach it in 2 or 3 clicks. Does it take more clicks to achieve this (how can you improve this?) or is it taking people too long to reach the goal (or are they not finding it at all?)
Ensuring your site visitors have a good user experience isn’t rocket science, and happily, as a web user yourself, you have all the necessary skills to judge how well your site is performing in this regard. So go on, spend an hour or two reviewing your site – I assure you it will be worth it.