Category Archives: User Experience

How To use Google’s Search Console To Boost Conversions

Google’s Search Console is Free!

Budgets are often very tight with start-ups and yet it is important to have visibility of how your business is performing in the digital space.  When I advise start-ups on how to optimise their website or app the first thing I do is set them up with Google’s free Search Console tool. Unlike many free solutions the Search Console provides webmasters with a  comprehensive set of tools to inform and improve a site’s performance from an SEO, user experience and conversion perspective.

What is the Search Console?

Previously called Webmaster Tools, the Search Console is a fantastic free site performance tool that seeks to give webmasters the information they need to effectively manage and improve their digital experience. Without this tool set up you will be largely in the dark about many aspects of your site’s performance. Indeed, many companies end up needlessly  paying out a lot of money to SEO agencies for simple tasks that they could manage themselves if they had known about Google’s Search Console.

Once you have Search Console set up you will be in a much stronger position to set SEO targets and understand many of the issues that may be holding your site back in Google search. It can also help you improve the user experience by resolving errors and usability issues.

How do I set up Search Console?

All you need to do is login into an appropriate Google account and go to webmasterstools/home   and “Add a property” within the Search Console. Then follow the simple instructions to confirm your ownership of the site.

The easiest way of doing this is often inserting some code into the header of your site before the closing </head> tag. Alternatively, if you have Google Analytics on your site you can also use that to validate your ownership of the site. If you get into difficulties just contact your website builder or designer for assistance.

Initially you won’t have any search data to look at but you can check the console for any signs of errors or usability issues identified by Googlebots. These are the programs or spiders as they often called that Google uses to crawl your site to understand the type of content you have and index pages for Google search.

The Dashboard:

 

The dashboard of the Search Console provides a useful overview of the health of your site. This includes site errors, DNS errors, server connectivity issues, URL errors, page not found (404s), and a graph of the total clicks over the latest 28 days. This is great, but you can get much more detail about your site by digging into the left-hand navigation menu.

Image of Google Search Console Dashboard

Search Appearance:

This includes structured data which helps Google understand the mark-up of your pages so that it can add rich snippets (or Schema.org) and other information to your search result. Rich snippets describes the structured data mark-up that webmasters add to HTML to enable search engines to better understand what type of information is present on a web page. So, rich snippets are the visible result of structured data that appears in SERPs.

Image of Data Highlights page from Search Console

You can add structured data to your site using a plugin for WordPress.org such as JSON-LD. You can also add structured data to your page using the Data Highlighter tool  (see above) which you can access in the Search appearance section of the navigation.

Rich cards provide data to Google about events, products, or opportunities on your site. Google has five types of rich cards; recipes, events, products, reviews and courses. The Search Console provides sample mark-up for each type of card and a Structured Data Testing Tool to validate your mark-up.

The HTML Improvements tab informs you about any issues related to your page tags. Whether it is missing title tags, duplicate title tags and whether title tags are too long or too short.

Accelerated Mobile Pages provides you with data on errors relating to your AMPs and informs you how many AMPs have been indexed by Google. It also allows you to test AMPs and then submit them to Google for indexing.

Image of Accelerated Mobile Page test in Search Console

 

Search Traffic:

Under this section you can view Search Analytics which provides data on search results, including key words, clicks, impressions, CTR and average position. This information is essential for understanding how successful you are with SEO and identifying key words where you have good authority. Use the data on your average ranking for keyword phrases to inform new content development to build on areas where you have good authority and to understand which words have the most potential from a volume perspective.

Image of Search Analytics in Search Console

This section also shows how many external links there are to your site and who is linking to what content. This information is crucial in understanding how effective your link building strategy is and also what content other sites are most interested in. External links are important to your SEO strategy because they are one of the few ways that Google can tell how well regarded your content is to other web users. It also helps direct more traffic to your site and explains why so much effort is put into link building.

However, be careful about placing links to your site on random blogs as Google is looking for links from sites with a good authority and may potentially penalise you if it becomes aware of such activity. However, where you are getting lots of external links to your content from good authority sites this suggests you should explore creating more content on this topic to capitalise on the interest shown.

Search Analytics also provides additional information on internal links, security issues, international targeting (useful for segmenting content by language) and mobile usability issues identified by Google. Mobile usability is especially important to monitor as Google continues to give more and more priority to mobile users.

Google Index:

Index status confirms the number of pages on your site that Google has indexed and so can be found via the search engine. Blocked resources tells you about pages where the Googlebot can’t access important elements on your page and so Google may not be able to accurately index the page. Remove URL allows you to hide URLs from search engines as the page may contain out-of-date information or may just be obsolete for whatever reason.

Crawl:

The Crawl section provides you with data on errors detected by Googlebots when crawling your site. Although page not founds (404 errors) may not harm your SEO ranking it can damage the customer experience and so it is important to monitor crawl errors on a regular basis.

Generally I would advise initially deleting all the page not founds for both desktop and mobile. You can then check back in a few days to see which ones have been replicated since you removed them from the console. Many 404 errors don’t recur as they are not even correct URLs and so this way you can concentrate on those that matter.

This section also shows how many pages on average are crawled by the Googlebot. But don’t wait for the Googlebot to crawl your site if you have new or revised content to index. Use the Fetch as Google function below to test how Google crawls and renders a page on your site. This identifies whether Googlebot can access a page on your site and you can then submit the URL for indexing. This is especially useful for a rapidly changing site as you don’t want Google displaying old or out-of-date content.

Image of Fetch as Google from Search Console

The Robot.txt tester allows you to edit your robot.txt file and check for errors. Robot.txt files are used to tell Google which parts of your site you don’t want to be crawled and indexed by a search engine. The Sitemap tab allows you to submit a new sitemap to Google which helps it to understand how your site is structured and assists in the indexing of individual pages by Google. It also tracks how many pages you have submitted for indexing and how many pages Google actually indexes.

The Security Issue tab shows if Google has detected any potential security problems with your site. If your site is hacked then Google provides a number of resources to help resolve the problem.

Finally, the Additional Resources tab includes 9 links to free resources such as Email Markup Tester, PageSpeed Insights, Google My Business and Custom Search. Check these out as a number of them can help improve your search engine marketing and grow your organic search traffic.

Conclusion:

When seeking to improve your SEO performance the Search Console should be your first port of call. There is little point in spending money on an SEO agency until you have fully digested what the Search Console is telling you. Even if you decide you don’t have the time or expertise to resolve all the issues identified by this tool, use the Search Console to inform and prioritise objectives for your agency to follow. Further, use the Search Console to monitor your SEO performance over time as a successful strategy should be capable of improving key metrics over time.

Thank you for reading this post. If you found it useful please share using the social media icons below.

 

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

 

7 Awesome Free Tools To Create Buyer Personas

Free tools and resources to create and share buyer personas:

A buyer persona is a great strategy for improving your understanding of your important customer segments and communicating  this knowledge to the wider business. I have previously outlined a process for creating and using buyer personas to improve conversion. But if you need a tool for building buyer personas from the segments you have identified here are some excellent free resources.

Below are 7 free tools for you to create and share your buyer personas. I have summarised each one to provide an indication of what they offer.

My personal recommendation is Xtensio as this has an excellent template that is easy to complete and customise. You can also add new sections as required.

Buyer persona template from Xtensio.com

The Magnificent 7:

 

1. Kayak: This tool uses a question and answer approach, though the number of questions and topics is not very comprehensive. This does make it a quick tool to use, but not all the questions will be relevant to all personas and there does not appear to be a way of changing the questions.

There is also no save functionality on the site as your persona is emailed to you within half an hour of completing the process. The lack graphical formatting or a one page summary does limit the use of the tool, but it can be used to help start the persona building process.

Image of Kayak.com buyer persona creator

 

 

2. Makemypersona from Hubspot: This is a free step-by-step wizard to take you through the process of creating your own buyer personas. In addition Hubspot offers a free downloadable template in exchange for your name and email address. The online tool is very intuitive and easy to use. The tool allows you to select a stock photo to represent you persona and emails you the completed persona as a word document after about 15 minutes.

Makemypersona.com homepage

3. Personapp: A free web based app for creating informal personas and sharing with your colleagues. Join up and start creating single page personas in a matter of seconds. You can easily add new sections to customise the template for your specific needs.  It allows you to save your personas online, share, print and save personas as a PDF document.

personapp.io homepage

4. Up Close & Persona: A free app that asks you questions to help you understand what motivates your audience. The interface is simple to use, though some of the questions have too few pre-set answers (e.g. there are only 3 age ranges). The app does have a fairly extensive range of questions and displays the full persona when you submit at the end. The persona is also emailed to you, but it would benefit from a 1 page summary of the persona rather than having to scroll down through multiple pages.

Upcoseandpersona.com homepage

5. Userforge: One of the most  flexible tools for collaborative user persona development. By using URLs rather than static documents it allows everyone to easily access the latest iteration of your user personas. The wizard only asks a few simple questions, but you can then add as many sections as you need using your own headings for a comprehensive user persona.

Userforge.com homepage

6. Xtensio: A free forever buyer persona creator tool to build as many personas as you like. Also has a “How to guide” to help you with the process. This is one of the better online tools as it asks you to complete an online template to create each persona. It has an extensive range of questions, but each field can be amended to suit your needs.

xtensia.com homepage

7. Youandco: A simple step-by-step wizard allows you to create your buyer persona and then send it to you as a word document. This is a fairly basic persona, but once you get the word document you can then add more detail to create a more comprehensive persona.

Youandco.com homepage

Bonus resource:

Learningspacetoolkit: This is a great free resource website which includes PDF guides on creating personas and running workshops to create user personas.

There are some excellent free tools here to help you create buyer personas. To get the most from personas see my article how to create a buyer persona to improve conversions. This will help you complete a customer  journey analysis to significantly improve your sales and revenues. Although it’s not an easy process and it will take some time to complete, it will definitely be worth the effort as you should see substantial benefits for your organisation.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

How To Use Personas To Improve Conversions

Personas and website optimisation

 

Why is it that there is so much talk about buyer personas and yet I often see little evidence that they are utilised effectively to improve the bottom line and significantly increase conversion rates? They make a lot of sense but rarely do they appear to be discussed when companies create website optimisation programs. Rightly or wrongly they seem to be primarily the domain of UX people rather than optimisation teams.

This represents a missed opportunity for conversion optimisation as when used wisely buyer personas can help identify the gap between your brand narrative and the actual user experience. Such analysis can be invaluable for creating targeted content and for developing ideas for A/B test hypothesis and general improvements to the user experience.

In this post I cover:

  • how to create buyer personas,
  • how an innovative approach by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg  to customer journey analysis utilises personas to their full potential to improve conversions.

So, what is a persona?

A persona is a detailed portrait of the characteristics, needs, motivations and environment of intended or important user segments. It should include their name, age, career, income and other relevant characteristics such as their goals and values. It should not be made up of the average customer as the mean is skewed by outliers and so you are unlikely to find many, if any, Mr or Mrs average customer.

A buyer persona created by personapp.io

How do you create a persona?

Personas can be as simple or complex as you want them to be, the important thing is that you use data you hold on customers and interviews with customers or prospects to build your personas. The biggest mistake people often make is that they assume they already know who their customers are, what goals they have etc. Neither do you have to conduct expensive market research or cluster analysis.

You don’t need a large budget to create a buyer persona as you can gather data on customers yourself and group your findings in a spreadsheet. There are many sources of data that you can use apart from customer account information.

Google Analytics Affinity Category report

Look at your web analytics as the Audience section in Google Analytics has information on demographics, interests and geographical location and language.  Contact your Customer Service agents as they talk with your clients on a daily basis and check out  social media to see what they say and look at their profiles. Find out where your customer hangout (e.g. online forums or societies they are members of) as again there may be a wealth of free information available here.

Use descriptive headings that relate to your area of interest, such as device, time of day, behaviour and career goals. As you build up data on different characteristics or behaviours you will start to see patterns emerge that could suggest relationships between the profile make-up of customers and their needs and motivations.

Don’t just look at demographics as often behaviour is the most important characteristic of individual customer segments. However, these patterns will help you begin to identify customer clusters that you can investigate to understand what they have in common and how they differ from each other.

Voice of Customer:

Image of young women on a laptop computer

Now that you have an idea of potentially different customer segments you should get out and interview a small sample of customers or prospects who roughly fit the profiles you have so far. Ideally you should go and meet customers in their natural environment (i.e. where they normally browse your or your competitor’s website) as much of our behaviour is contextual and observation is often more insightful than asking direct questions.

Image of hotjar.com homepage

If for whatever reason you can’t visit your customers there are many low-cost Voice of Customer tools, such as Hotjar that allow you to recruit customers when they are on your website. You can then arrange for a Skype call or web meeting to conduct your interview. Draft a short discussion guide to ensure consistency of your interviews, but ensure you keep most of your questions open-ended to allow users to express their opinions.

If you give them a task to complete you can ask them to give a running commentary as they browse. This can help you better understand how they behave and identify potential pain points in your user journey. You may also pick up on the language they use for your sector.

Add this information to your spreadsheet to give more depth to the personalities of your customer segments and their buying style. Building personas is an iterative process and so your customer interviews are bound to result in some changes to your segments. However, try not to create too many different segments unless you have evidence that each is reasonably large and important to the sustainability of your organisation.

 

How can I use personas to improve conversion?

 

jane-brooks-buyer-persona

Personas need to be shared throughout an organisation if they are to have a significant impact upon how people think about your customers. However, they also have an important role to play in your optimization program.

Conversion experts Bryan and Jeffery Eisenberg  have created an agile business process for using personas that improves communications, execution, testing and makes more money for your organisation. Rather than following the normal approach of customer journey analysis of going down the happy path (i.e. the preferred user journey), they suggest assuming your prospect failed to convert with your brand. This allows your team to focus on what can go wrong rather than how great your preferred user experience is.

Image of Buyer Legends process

This is a team exercise so get stakeholders from all key areas that influence or control the user experience together in one place. Make sure you get the support of key stakeholders first as this often helps to obtain cooperation from different departments.

Step 1 – Buying style:

Firstly consider the buying style of your chosen buyer persona. It is important to define this as it will influence how your customer responds to the user experience.  Normally it is a good idea to begin with a enquiring, deliberative, detail type personality as they are most likely to uncover issues with your user journey (which is what you want). It is also necessary to choose a conversion objective so that you have clarity on the end-goal. Below you will see the four buyer styles based upon the work of the American psychologist, David Keirsey.

 

Image of Keirsey's four human temperaments
Image Source: Conversion Sciences

 

Step 2 – Pre-mortem:

The pre-mortem involves evaluating the customer journey on the basis that the customer did not convert with your brand. This gives everyone permission to raise doubts and concerns about the current user journey so that you can generate a list of what went wrong with the existing customer experience.

Relate any frustration, wrong turn or dead end back to your chosen persona by imagining what would happen, how would the customer feel about it and at what point would the issue result in the customer dropping out of the conversion journey.

Once you have gone through the full customer journey focus on generating a list of possible changes, fixes or solutions for each failure point. They may not always be ideal, but they can be evaluated later on in the process.

Step 3 – Outline a user story:

Now describe the user story using reverse chronological order to work backwards from a successful conversion. This has the advantage that you have to be more thorough in specifying customer actions and their rationale for each step in the user journey. It also helps you view possible alternative user paths generated from the pre-mortem analysis. These may require additional interventions or new branch paths.

Step 4 – Write the Buyer Legends:

Now that you have outlined the user story it is time to write a draft  of the Buyer Legends in chronological order. This allows you to create a narrative of a successful user experience which explains what happens to the customer and how it makes them feel at each step of the user journey. Use the check list below to ensure you cover all the key elements of the legend. As you go through this process also consider:

  • What actions need to be undertaken for the customer to complete your goal?
  • What opportunities may have been missed?
  • What shortcomings of the user journey might prevent them from purchasing?
  • Where are their opportunities for upsell or upgrade?
  • How could we reduce friction in the user journey to make it easier for the customer?

 

Buyer legend 1.     Person Use the persona to describe who the customer is.
2.     Their purpose What are their larger goals?

How do they define them self?

What are they trying to accomplish on a larger career-wise, personally or socially?

This defines the context of the purpose and motivation

3.     Objective of interaction What are they trying to achieve by dealing with company?

What is your conversion goal at this stage

4.     Sequence of steps Describe the story of what the customer is doing at every step of their progress through the process
5.     Rationale behind identifying the problem & solution Describe how the person is thinking at each step in the process
6.     Key decisions Outline the key decisions the customer has to make to complete and what she needs (features, benefits, testimonials, reviews)
7.     Emotional struggles What are the emotional dynamics – strongly felt need, pressure from others, trust, time vs money?
8.     Anti-goals What concerns and anxieties around what they don’t want to happen (reliability/break down)
9.     Constraints Any additional constraints or limitations that the customer has to consider?
10. Alternative options What alternative options does the customer have? What would an experience with a competitor look like?

 

Ensure the legend is easy to read as this will help everyone follow the story line.

Step 5 – Measuring the Buyer Legends:

Image of tape measure
Source: Freeimages.com

To ensure the Buyer Legends is measurable and actionable here are some important definitions to use during the process.

  1. Catalyst: This refers to the place where the customer first identifies your brand or organisation.
  2. First measurable step: Usually a landing page, but this is the point where you customer enters the measurable part of the journey.
  3. Road signs: These are important stages in the user journey where customer expect and require certain information to continue with the process.
  4. Detours: Many customers will not blindly follow your preferred user path and so it is necessary to construct paths to deal with these forks in the road as otherwise customers may abandon your website and never return.
  5. Measurable step: Whenever a customer leaves behind evidence of an interaction (e.g. via web analytics) with your brand.
  6. Forks in the road: Decision points create forks in the road where customers have a specific question, need or concern that can lead them away from the desired path. People don’t like being forced down a path if they are not comfortable with it and so it is essential to create detours that can nudge the visitor back down the preferred path.
  7. Destination:  The end game and final measurable touch point where the user converts.

Use these definitions to help dissect your Buyer Legends and generate discussion around potential improvements in the user journey.

Step 6 – Review and prioritise:

Going through this process will undoubtedly generate lots of ideas and discussion along the way. Ensure you capture these ideas and insights so that they can be fed into your optimisation program.

Interestingly Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg have found that the Buyer Legends is often the tipping point for a significant improvement in sales and for effectively communicating the marketing vision to the business as a whole. Specifically the Buyer Legends is beneficial because it:

  • Helps everyone see the user experience from the customer’s perspective.
  • Enables marketers, designers and other teams to visualise and better understand how the user experience differs for individual customer segments.
  • Allows marketers to consider the language your customers use to ensure  content resonates with your target audience.
  • Segment content by different personas using the Buyer Legends to identify their specific concerns and hooks that motivate them most.
  • Improve the quality of content marketing as the Buyer Legends process brings out the personalities and interests of customers.
  • Identify missing content, steps or dead ends in the user journey that need your attention.

It is likely that you will have many more ideas than you can cope with and so it is worth using a prioritisation approach such as P.I.E to manage the flow of ideas and allocate resource accordingly. Once you have completed this process with one persona you can repeat it for other buyer personas to further enhance your understanding of key customer groups.

For more details about Buyer Legends get the book; Buyer Legends by Bryan & Jeffery Eisenberg with Anthony Garcia.

Although it requires a good deal of thought, and it will take some time to complete, it is definitely worth the effort as you should see substantial benefits for your organisation. If you need help in going through the journey yourself contact Bryan or Jeffrey via Twitter or go to the Buyer Legends website.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

9 Tools For Getting Design Feedback For Websites

For many websites there is hardly a day goes by without a new page or updates being rolled out. Rightly or wrongly there is constant pressure to keep websites looking fresh and to add new functionality or content to improve the customer experience and increase conversions. However, from my experience of evaluating website performance one thing is guaranteed, customers will always surprise you with how they interact or don’t interact with a new page or website.

Image of lady lying on the ground next to laptop
Source: Freeimages.com

 

That killer functionality will rarely instantly take-off, if at all. Visitors will not behave as predicted on your new website and they will often complain about the changes you have made. Key metrics will drop, and though they may largely recover, some measures will never be the same as on the old page or website. In some cases this may be welcome, but often conversion rates will suffer. So what should you do to prepare yourself for the launch of the new customer experience?

 

If you can you could A/B test your new design against the existing page or website. This will confirm how your key metrics are likely to change as a result of the new design, but it won’t tell you why visitors are behaving differently. To answer these types of questions you need more qualitative feedback rather than numbers. Below are 9 tools you can use to get design feedback from customers or experts to help identify where users may be having trouble with your new customer experience.

 

  1. Criticue:

This free tool provides you with the ability to get feedback on website designs from a community of entrepreneurs, usability experts and web designers. Reviews for your website are earned by you providing feedback on other community members’ designs. For each review you submit you earn one credit and this gives you the right to request one review of your screenshot. Importantly all reviews are moderated before any credits are processed and so this minimises the potential for misuse of the community.

Image of Criticue.com homepage

2. Five Second Test (Usability Hub):

Get feedback from real people on your landing page, wireframes and mock-ups to understand people’s first impressions of your design during their initial 5 seconds of viewing your design. This helps you evaluate how intuitive your page is by understanding what a person can recall about your design based upon those first few seconds.

Price: $99 per month for access to all services.

fivesecondtest.com homepage

 

3. Loop11: 

Online usability testing with your first project free (up to 5 tasks and 2 questions). Covers over 40 languages, provides heatmaps and clickstream analysis, real-time reporting, and you can test on mobile devices.

Pricing: A Free usability test is available for new customers. Pay as you go costs $350 per project. All plans include 1,000 participants per project, unlimited tasks and questions, testing on mobile, real-time results and 24/7 email support.

The Micro plan costs $158 a month and is designed for organisations with between 1 and 10 employees, plus for non-profits and public sector clients. The SMB plan costs $410 per month and is for 11 to 100 employees. The Enterprise plan is priced at $825 per month.

Loop11.com homepage

4. Peek from User Testing:

Get a Free 5 minute video of a real person using your site. You only need to provide your name, company phone and email address and you can have up to 3 tests per month.

Peek.usertesting.com homepage

  1. Proved:

A crowd sourcing tool for getting almost instant feedback on an idea, prototype or a new product development that you want to check-out before it goes live. Feedback is normally provided within 3 to 4 hours and guaranteed within 24 hours.

Pricing: A free trial is available (English only) for up to 3 respondents for one test per account and with feedback within 48 hours. A starter plan costs $149 per test for 25 respondents and supports 11 languages. The basic plan costs $299 per test for 50 respondents and the Pro plan is priced at $499 for 100 respondents.

 

Proved.co homepage

6. Sitepoint:

A forum of web designers and developers set up specifically to give design feedback from over 350,000 registered users. Sitepoint is a media company which serves the web design and development sector by publishing articles and e-books. Free membership provides limited access to the community, but for $99 per year you can get Premium membership which gives you access to over 5,000 videos, 83 eBooks, and live Q&A and chat with experts.

Sitepoint.com premium homepage

 

7. Usabilla:

Provides insights from users through a customised feedback button for websites, apps and emails. This allows users to select the part of your website that they want to give feedback on and there are multiple targeting options.

Prices: No costs shown on the website.

Usabilla.com homepage

8. UserBob:

 Provides videos of users talking about what they think as they use your website. UserBob recruits people to visit your website. Set a scenario for the user and specify a task for them to attempt to complete. During visits respondents record their screen and voice as they think out loud about the experience. You then receive a copy of the video to learn about what users say about your site.

You decide how many users you need, what demographics match your visitors, and how long each one should spend on your website. The test is instantly made available for users to participate and you will normally have a video to review within a few hours.

Pricing: Start at just $10 for First Impressions where 10 users
will spend one minute each on your website. Users will discuss their first impressions of your website, who they think it is for and what you can do on the site. Task Completion costs $20 for 5 users who spend 4 minutes attempting to complete your task. The price of the Custom test is variable. This involves between 1 to 10 users each spending up to 8 minutes with a specific scenario and user task to complete. You may also specify user demographics for Custom tests.

Userbob.com homepage

9. WhatUsersDo: 

Get videos of users as they browse your website, app or prototype. Respondents describe their impressions as they complete agreed tasks and these are recorded together with their screens and mouse movements into online videos. UX experts then analyse and summarise into high, medium or low UX reports.

A managed service offering is available which covers the WhatUsersDo research platform, instant access to an online panel from over nine countries, lab tests and UX experts to manage research and deliver insight reports.

Pricing: Pay as you go starts form just £30 + VAT per user and
includes tag videos, ability to download videos, download clips and PDF reports (including video). Prepaid Test Pack starts from £300 + VAT and provide for more cost effective user testing than the pay as you go plan.

Prepaid plans: All plans include design and scoping support from
UX specialists, expert analysis of results, and account management and email and phone support.

The Starter plan costs £10,000 per year for 50 video test
credits (1 credit = 1 completed video). The Repeat plan costs £20,000 for 100 video credits and the Regular plan is £30,000 per year for 150 video credits. An Enterprise plan is also available with 200 video credits – price available on request.

whatusersdo.com full service usability testing

 

For other usability testing providers see my post on how to do usability testing to improve conversion and for other online customer feedback tools see my post on how to use online Voice of Customer tools to boost conversion.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

 

6 Myths About Website Optimization That Must Die

 Misconceptions About Website Optimization:

 

Website optimization is a test and learn process. If we restrict our ability to learn by listening to commonly held misconceptions about website design and performance we risk undermining the whole optimization process. These myths must die!

1. It’s about improving the customer experience.

Why are people so obsessed with improving the customer experience?

It is certainly desirable for the user experience to meet certain standards (e.g. relevance, clarity, loadspeed, accessibility etc), as otherwise this could harm conversion. But it should not be an isolated goal though, there has to be a return on investment as there is always an opportunity cost for any expenditure.

We could all create a fantastic user experience by giving free access to everything on our site or reducing prices below the market rate. But unless this provides a net-gain to the organisation we could quickly go out of business.

 

Disney understand this and invest in creating a compelling customer experience because they know it allows them to charge more than your average theme park and people will return for more of the same. On a website we have the advantage that we can precisely measure the ROI though A/B and multivariate testing. Use these tools to ensure that money spent on improving your website has a positive and sustainable impact on important business goals.  Otherwise use the money for something else that generates a positive return.

 

2. Conversion is about good design.

What defines a ‘good’ webpage design is all too often based upon the subjective opinions of people within an organisation rather than the behaviour of visitors. People visit a website because they perceive that it can assist them in achieving a current goal, whether it is your content or the products/services sold. If your design doesn’t assist with this process then it won’t matter whether it is a flat or simple/minimal style because customers won’t return.

Design is definitely important as it helps to create a good first impression, and it ensures content and navigation are presented in a way that is clear and engaging to visitors. But design is an enabler to facilitate the user journey, and ultimately if a beautifully designed page does not help and encourage visitors to complete a key task of some kind it has failed.

Data should determine if a design is up to standard and not the subjective opinions of managers and designers. As Brian Massey points out often “ugly wins” when it comes to A/B tests:

“The specifics of design change from audience to audience. Probably the only general rule, and it’s a bit of a heartbreaker, is that too often we find ugly wins when we do our split tests.” Source: Brian Massey Shares insights on landing pages designed to convert

 

3. Consistency of design is crucial. 

How many times a day do you hear “consistency” given as the reason for why an element on your website looks like it does or why it even exists on a webpage? This is not an answer, it’s an automatic response that hides a lack of thought and is often due to lazy thinking or design.

Sure, if it is to align with a web convention this helps to meet
customer expectations and assists navigation or understanding it may be relevant. But, do you really think your visitors are bothered if your call to action button on one page is a different size or colour to what it is on another page? Do you think they even notice if your website is engaging and has compelling content? I think not.

Your visitor is trying to complete a task and that should be
your priority, not that everything is consistent.  If consistency is relevant and helps the customer meet their goal then great, but not if it is solely for your gratification and doesn’t assist the customer achieve their goal. Consistency for its own sake should not be a goal and should be challenged unless you have evidence that it is beneficial to both your customer and your organisation.

4. Brand guidelines must be adhered to.

This is like saying that you won’t use oxygen to breathe underwater if you think the colour of your tank clashes with your swimming gear. If we follow this rule we are basically saying that brand guidelines are more important than the organisation’s goals (e.g. revenue generation). This is not a healthy place to be in and it could contribute to the failure of the business.

Brand guidelines should be ‘guidelines’ and not set in stone. They are often based upon subjective opinions and may have little evidence to support them. Like any aspect of a business they need to have a return on investment (ROI) and if that ROI is not proven it needs to be challenged and if necessary changed. Otherwise the business and the brand will not evolve in response to changing customer needs.

5. Use tips and best practice. 

If it was this simple we would all just follow Amazon. Websites are unique ecosystems that attract their own set visitors who do not behave in a generic and predictable way.

Where you don’t have the traffic to test on a website you may have to implement changes that you have tested on another site. However, don’t assume it will necessarily work. Make sure you have appropriate KPI monitoring in place just in case it doesn’t go according to plan.

Similarly, tips about conversion rate optimization may give you ideas for making improvements, but again test them before you implement to ensure they work on your website.  The key to any successful website optimisation strategy is that you follow a systematic and proven process to identity and develop tests that have a high chance of making a significant impact on your business KPIs.

Following tips and best practice alone will just lead to a random testing programme that lacks focus and will probably fail to deliver consistent and sustainable results.

 

6. It’s all about the conversion rate:

Your key conversion metric is just one indicator of many that shows how your site is performing. It should not be viewed in isolation
from other KPIs, such as average order value, returning customer orders, or overall revenues. Any improvement in your conversion rate needs to be sustainable and provide an overall net gain to your business as otherwise it is meaningless. You should never rely on a single metric to measure success as websites are complex systems with many dependencies.

If Website optimization was all about the conversion rate we would all use dark user design patterns to trick visitors into making decisions that may not be in their best interest. Having worked in Gibraltar for a year I frequently had to book flights though Ryanair’s website. Their website employs such practices but it didn’t make me want to use them again if I had any choice.  Such practices are
counter productive in the long-run and can damage your brand’s reputation.

The Ryanair website’s travel insurance section is probably the worst culprit of this approach. This states that “If you wish to purchase travel insurance please select your country of residence”. Ok, so why is travel insurance in the country of residence drop-down menu? Below the list of passengers there is a further instruction; “If
you do not wish to purchase travel insurance, please select ‘Don’t insure me’ in the drop-down box.”

image

 

Ok, but the “Don’t insure me” is not at the top of the list of options because that would be too easy.  Nope, it’s between “Denmark”
and “Finland”. You also have to select this separately for each passenger because it is under country of residence. This is not an enjoyable experience and ironically it probably makes you more alert for any other money-making tactics that Ryanair might
use.

So don’t get obsessed with your conversion rate. See it as one of many important indicators of your site’s health. Ensure you don’t trade off short-term gains for damaging the long-term sustainability of your site.

 

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it of interest please share this post by clicking on the social media icons below.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

Recommended reading: You Should Test That! by Chris Goward.

 

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

Why Is Your Mobile Only User Journey Leaking Cash?

image of NASA Globe in Florida

 

The Rise of The Mobile Only User & My Experience with the NASA Tour Mobile Ticketing Journey

 

Since 2014 mobile devices have been the most used device to
browse the internet. But this is only a transient stage in the shift towards the dominance of mobile devices. The real change is mobile only, where users rely solely on their mobile devices and never return to a laptop or PC. According to research by Google more searches now take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. Facebook reported that over half a billion users only visited their site or App via a mobile device.

Image of a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and headphones

Source: Samsung.com

What does this mean for website optimisation and conversion?
From a user’s perspective there will certainly be even more potential for distractions and interruptions as people begin, re-start and end conversations whilst online.  However, the most important change is that they may never see your desktop site again, particularly if they use your App. So, if it’s not on your App or mobile optimised site it won’t exist from their perspective.

This was highlighted to me recently when I visited Florida. Between theme parks I browsed on my mobile phone and decided it would be great to go on a tour of the NASA facilities at Cape Kennedy.  I had noticed that a SpaceX rocket launch was due during my stay and went to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) site to ensure I wouldn’t disappoint my family (i.e. me).

After initially being confronted with a mobile responsive desktop site, I was taken to the KSC Complex “Mobile Ticketing!” page. What caught my eye here was the “Scan phone at entrance” message. Brilliant, just what I needed as I did not have easy access to a printer at the hotel.

 

image of Kennedy Space Center mobile ticketing site

 

I clicked on “Start Shopping” and selected the Daily Admission and Up-Close Explore Tour. Before I continued to the basket I browsed the information on the Up-Close Explore Tour. It promised to take us behind the scenes of the complex with commentary from a space expert.  Happy with this I then completed checkout and received a confirmation email with links to my mobile tickets.

 

image of Kennedy Space Center admission ticket

 

I took screen shots of each of my tickets and carried on with my holiday. When the day arrived I scanned my tickets at the turnstile and noticed lots of other people doing the same.

However, when I went to the information desk to register for the tour I was surprised to see people handing over their passports.  Sure enough, when it was my turn to be served I discovered that NASA requires all non-US residents to present their passports
to qualify for the Up-Close Explore Tour.

Unfortunately for me this was only displayed on printed tickets, not the mobile friendly tickets that I had used. Neither was it mentioned in the tour details or anywhere else on the mobile only user journey.

Although we still had a very enjoyable day it did spoil our experience and confirmed the importance of mapping out and testing the whole mobile only user journey from beginning to end. It also resulted in a refund of just over $100.

I had four people in my party, but we could make a conservative estimate that around 10 people a day are caught out by the lack of
messaging on the mobile only user journey.  That’s $250 a day or $1,750 a week in refunds. Over a year this would be a loss in
revenues of around $91,000
. This is certain to rise as mobile only journeys become the norm.

It is only a matter of time before mobile only experience becomes the most common user journey for many online businesses.  For this reason now is the time to ensure integration of mobile-friendly versions of all mission-critical assets, including promotional material, customer service and other key elements of the user journey.

Mobile only users expect to be able to access the same content as other visitors, but not on a site that was clearly designed for desktop users.  Asking them to pinch and zoom as they navigate around a site designed for a much larger screen is going to irritate and frustrate them. If you want to retain mobile only users you need to start
delivering a great customer experience for whatever device they decide to use. All relevant content needs to be easily and quickly accessible from a mobile device or else your competitors will probably take these customers away from you.

User habits and preferences are rapidly changing. Unless you act now to comprehensively integrate and test to meet the demands of the mobile only user there is a high risk that your customer journey will leak cash.

Thank you reading my post. If you found this useful please share with the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

 

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.