Posted by Steve Parker, Jr. (@sparkerjr)
Can you believe Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already come and gone? 2012 is fast approaching, and now is the time to kick your marketing into high gear. Have you started thinking about your website usability and conversion testing resolutions for the New Year yet? Often digital marketers focus on website testing initially, but an ongoing focus on website usability is rare, even though it’s the best way to increase conversion rates. Make one of your New Year’s website resolutions a continued focus on web analytics, specifically conversion action and website usability and testing.
Through website usability testing, you can uncover the dissonance between visitor expectations, conversion action and the functionality of your website. A recent article suggested methods for informal website conversion testing, perfect for those on a tight budget. All you need is a quiet room, a computer with a webcam, a strong Internet connection and a task statement that clearly explains the conversion action you want your subjects to complete. Using the webcam to record your subjects, you can have them “think out loud” as they attempt to complete the conversion action or sit alongside them, observing and taking notes. Whichever method you choose, you’d be shocked how often your subjects may click the “wrong” button, miss what you presumed to be a clear call-to-action or struggle with the seemingly easy task. Conversion testing is a great way to uncover the reasons your conversion action isn’t being taken. By adjusting your website to accommodate for the common mistakes your subjects make, you can significantly increase conversion rates.
If you want more data from your website testing, the following types of conversion testing can be very helpful. These technologies can show you what people are looking at, in which order and for what length of time.
Eye-tracking helps detect problems in awareness and interest of the decision-making process (i.e. if your test subjects are not looking at a particular part of your page, they are not aware that the conversion action exists). Eye-tracking studies are great for testing page layout and visual presentation of content and images.
This kind of conversion testing uses mouse movement as a proxy for visual attention. The data is collected through code which is placed on target pages to record site visitor actions.
Simulated Attention Studies
Use algorithms to evaluate landing page components or whole pages for areas of site attention. The algorithms calculate based on best practice rules for items proven to influence attention, such as color use, font treatment and image recognition. These studies are great for testing website usability before finalizing and publishing the page.
Regardless of which method you choose, the point is to monitor your website usability continuously and use the results to improve the functionality of your website for your customers, thus increasing conversion rates. Mark this down as one of your website resolutions for 2012.
Image source: Flickr