User Experience Design and Testing

UX Design is a bit of a buzzword at the moment. It’s actually referring to “User Experience Design” and with competition online ever climbing you can see why it’s become such a big deal.

It has always struck me that, although web designers can and have created some beautiful designs since the advent of faster internet connections, sometimes we’re all very caught up in how beautiful our design looks and forget to focus on the point of it all. The point of web design is indeed to make the user experience so great that at no point will they want to drop out of your online sales and marketing process or leave because they can’t see what to do next. We all have such a low attention span when we’re online nowadays and it’s for obvious reasons with such information overload. So, it really is true that if a website makes one mistake in the flow of a customer’s use of it then that customer will be gone in the blink of an eye. Scary how hard it is to sell to or capture anyone online, eh?! Actually, it’s a pretty logical process.

Ok, so you have a great web design, hopefully already channelled towards achieving your brief (which I’m hoping was put together by your customers and users rather than yourself). The site is now live and everyone sits back and admires it! All the budget has been put in to the design and build and what’s left will be used on SEO – right? No, please don’t follow that pattern. Ok, the design and build are important but the work must really start once you’re live.

Your first priority once your site is live is to get analytics tracking installed and also the much lesser used mouse tracking tool on the site – there are several available to choose from. Believe it or not, when we read a website so many of us subconsciously allow our mouse to follow our eyes around the screen. This mouse movement can be recorded and used to show us how our visitors are viewing and using our site. Great isn’t it, people don’t even realise they’re doing it but it’s valuable information to the site owner.

Now we need to get traffic to the site through Search Engine Optimisation, link building and generally building an online presence through social media, article writing, blogging, the list goes on and on. The web is an easy place to market yourself and your site these days if you know what you’re doing and we want to be taking advantage of as many opportunities as funds and time resources allow.

So, the traffic is coming and we can see how people are using the site and where and why people are dropping out. The UX Designer at this point becomes very precious about his or her design and gets upset as you start to change it but change it you must and a good UX Designer will not only understand that but will happily help you to do it. You must respond to the snagging list which has been identified on the site and streamline the site better in those areas. Thanks to Google’s Experiment Analysis Tool we can serve up different pages and test them against the goals we set to achieve. We track them, we test them and we analyse the results. Certain pages we test against other versions of the same page will show better conversion and retention rates than others so we keep those, discard the others, but keep tweaking and testing. We keep doing this until we’ve got the best visitor retention and conversion rates we think we can possibly achieve. This is called A/B split testing and is really important to optimise site performance. In a study I read the other day, I saw stats showing that, on average, site owners spend $96 per visitor on SEO and traffic generation and only $1 per visitor on conversion tracking and testing. Why invest so much on driving lots of traffic when your site isn’t capable of retaining or selling to them?

The whole process may seem daunting and time consuming but it really is just a step by step method. The web is going to be here a long time with usage only set to increase so you’ve got plenty of time and can spread activity out doing it bit by bit as the budget allows, but please do do it. It will be money well spent if you’re serious about your online presence and you’re website is in it for the long haul!

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