Redesigning your website offers you a new chance to undo previous errors. It helps you consider the avatar of your website users to enable you to make it more user-centric. To avoid the confusion that may come with overhauling your website, here are five critical UX tests to take as you make plans to redesign your website.
1 – Comparative Analysis
The popular quote, ‘No man is an island,’ also manifests in the Internet world of pixels and websites. Your site does not exist singularly; neither does your product or service. There are tons of competitors out there. While this might seem like a potential setback, it can be used to your advantage. It can be utilized for intentional growth.
The comparative analysis involves spotting the difference between your website and that of your competitors. The essence of this is to identify aspects of their site that you can use on your site in a more improved manner. If their website is great, with excellent comparative analysis, you should leave with an armful of new ideas to implement on your site.
You can start by narrowing down your competitor websites to the top four. To efficiently collate the data, create a spreadsheet that houses items such as usability strategies employed; this includes (but is not restricted to) organization, ease of navigation, readability, etc. Study how your competitors use their search engine metrics. Compare their backlinks, domain ratings, and other crucial SEO practices to yours.
By doing this, you find a way to create a new user experience that would not seem like a rip off of your competitors’. Painstakingly studying and comparing the patterns may take a while, but your website’s improvement would be outstanding.
2 – Analysis Test
Following a comparative analysis, you should turn your gaze inwards. Now, you have a standpoint from where you can aim to be better than your competitors, or implement their working methods. One way to scrutinize the user experience of your website is by looking at the analytics.
The first obvious place to troubleshoot are areas where your site visitors experience the most difficulty. Eliminate pages that load slowly, obscure pages, and complicated navigations. Ensure you check out the bounce rates. A bounce rate in the range of 26 – 40% is excellent, 41 to 55 is average, 56 to 70 is higher than average but may not be much cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything above 70% is extremely low for anything outside the set of news and blogs. Regardless of your niche, there are always resources available for improvement. For example, here are 5 SEO plugins suited for law firm websites.
Next, study your conversion rates and sort the resulting data into factors that affect users, such as common devices that they use. Apart from noting areas where your users experience difficulty, you also have to do the converse — to pinpoint the pages that they repeatedly visit. For those pages, you have to capitalize on them and improve the UX to higher standards.
Carrying out an analysis test is one of the crucial steps to take when redesigning your website. This is because it embodies other aspects of your website’s complete functionality. Not only does it allow you to revamp your user experience features, but it also helps in the analysis of the performance of your content, links, sales, etc.
3 – Usability Test
What is usability testing? Usability testing is a method of understanding your product’s efficiency by asking its users to complete specific tasks while taking their answers and mannerism into thorough consideration. The end goal of the process is to understand your users and discover better ways to fulfill their needs.
The importance of usability tests can not be overemphasized. It is a practical, proven method to amplify your user experience. So how is it done? You conduct a usability test by setting up a realistic scenario. At the same time, the facilitator watches and writes notes, based on their observation of the users as they use the product. Body cues are observed, as well as the user’s report. In the event where a face to face interaction proves impossible, writing your survey questions in a way that the users relate to could do the trick.
For web design, development, and marketing, the A/B usability testing method is the most utilized. This tries to detect changes to web pages that maximize an outcome of interest (e.g., click-through rate for a banner advertisement). In this method, two versions (A and B) are compared, which are similar except for one variation that might affect a user’s behavior. Version A might be the one currently used, while version B may differ in certain aspects. For example, on an e-commerce website, the purchase funnel is usually an excellent candidate for A/B testing, as even marginal improvements in the drop-off, rates can represent a reasonable gain in sales. Significant improvements can be observed through testing elements like copy text, layouts, colors, and pictures.
At every stage of the redesigning process, usability testing should be employed. The initial test is called formative testing workflow and helps combat errors as soon as they pop up. When testing, you should consider certain factors such as obtaining user consent, inclusivity, and conciseness of your questions. To make it easier, run a pilot test with a friend or a member of your team. Their response would help you predetermine how an average user would respond.
4 –Card Sorting
Card sorting is a UX testing technique in which users sort their navigation preferences under several headings. For starters, you could shuffle tags with different headings, and ask them to reassign them to places where they think it would be most suitable. It is useful for designing menu structures, website navigation paths, and the entirety of your site’s architecture.
For instance, you could create the heading, ‘OUR SERVICES.’ The test subjects (read: users) would be required to sort what could be likely contained in that heading. There could be various options depending on what your website offers. This sort of technique is called the Closed Card Sorting Technique. This is because you have provided a heading for the classification. It is therefore left to the user to figure out what fits best.
On the other hand, a Closed Card Sorting technique involves a blind reassignment of the tags. It is akin to splitting your website into parts and having your test subjects rearrange it. No clues are provided. In other words, the users are to create the navigation themselves.
This method of testing is easy because it involves no high technicality. The tags and headings can be written on Post-It notes or index cards. When carrying this out, ensure that the way the items are arranged should be understandable by the audience. Keep it simple to avoid unnecessary confusion, and do not burden them with heaps of tags. Remember that the focus is on what they would be seeing when visiting the website, and not the mechanics behind it.
5 – Create a User Persona
After collating your data and studying the likely behavior of your users, the next step is to create a User Persona. A User Persona is a fictional character that represents the goals and behavior of an experimental group of users. It is used by marketers to understand consumer behavior, and you can implement this in tailoring your UX.
Your User Persona, although fictional, should be realistic enough. You should put into consideration their goals, impediments they face, the environment they live in, etc. It’s useful because your understanding of your user based on your data becomes more intimate than doing a UX redesign to fit a generic audience. It helps you build trust, empathy, and, ultimately, a good product with the users at the epicenter. For example, a client who is interested in robo investing may be young, male, and technologically minded according to your collated User Persona data.
How do you build a good User Persona? Since you already have your research data, you pick out behavioral patterns from them. This is where the results from your usability test, card sorting, etc. all converge. To infuse more personality, you have to create the quirks, face, and background of your character, you can do this in about 1-2 pages. The last step is to prioritize them. Remember that the purpose of redesigning the UX of your website is not to include what pleases you, but what resonates with your users.
Before redesigning your UX, ensure that your analysis is thorough. If you are confident that a change is needed to accommodate new technology, tackle high bounce rates, or update pre-existing poor UX, then the five critical UX tests above are ideal for you. You should undertake these tests as you go through the process of redesigning your website. Understand your users, their needs, and try to implement the new knowledge gained from your test results to create a seamless and smooth experience for them.