User experience plays an essential role in converting website visitors into long-term customers. Yet, even in terms of websites, business owners often forego any serious consideration of user experience. This is a problem because poor user experience can drive mobile users to abandon your site.
Automatic site or task abandonment is an extreme case, but smaller frustrations from poor website UX can ultimately end up in the same place. After all, how often have you simply closed out a site that made it too much trouble to do what you went there to do in the first place?
Of course, there is the problem of how to measure website user experience.
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If you’re looking to optimize your site, keep reading for five ways you can measure website UX.
- Individual Feedback
Software tools and analytics can offer excellent ways of measuring user feedback, and we’ll discuss those more below. Yet, many business owners focus on those ways of measuring website UX while ignoring a far simpler and less expensive method. Ask people you know to visit the site and do some stuff on it.
You can even make it a set of non-arbitrary actions. For example, let’s say that you include an eCommerce component on your site.
You can create accounts for three or four people and give those accounts credits for enough to buy something small on your site. Then, you ask people to visit and buy something.
You can expand this approach by asking people to perform other common tasks, such as:
- Sign up for a newsletter
- Find your contact information
- Search for a specific blog post
- Navigate between pages
Afterward, you can ask them about their experience, such as what was easy and what was difficult. Were there any problems? Did you get stuck anywhere?
Any negative feedback, especially feedback you get from more than one person, indicates a problem with your website user experience.
One of the more popular methods of measuring website user experience is website heatmaps. Heatmaps offer you a picture of activity on your site. There are several varieties of heatmaps, such as:
You sometimes see these under alternate terms, such as attribution or behavioral heatmaps.
Click heatmaps are probably the most common heatmap. These show you where visitors click most often, which is typically around menus or call-to-action buttons.
These heatmaps can also help you identify places on individual pages where you get minimal activity. This is especially helpful if you expect activity somewhere on the page and don’t see it. It can mean there is a problem with your copy or page element placement, but you know to look there.
Some companies, such as Decibel, offer heatmaps for dynamic content. This can help you assess engagement with things like pop-up content.
- Session Replay
Another popular option for analyzing website user experience is session replays. Session replay essentially lets you rewatch the path a visitor takes on your site. As a privacy feature, most companies anonymize the users and provide general user data.
Even with these limitations, session replay can function in much the same way as individual feedback since you can watch where visitors hit stumbling blocks. It also provides you a more unbiased look into the user journey because the replays can come from any user who visits your site. That means you can see the journey of visitors from other countries and a broad cross-section of demographics.
Most session replay services use one of two technologies: client-side tagging or tag-free server-side. Client-side tagging options look a bit like a video replay, although it’s more like a reconstruction of a visit. Tag-free server-side doesn’t offer the video-like replay, but it bypasses most blocking software.
If you’re looking for specific information about the user experience that isn’t obvious from other available sources, you can always deploy surveys or polls to your customers or visitors. Do not go overboard with extensive polls or surveys. These work best with a less is more approach.
A good approach is to devise a survey or poll with three to five questions. You can leave these open-ended, but you’ll see higher response rates with grading options from bad to excellent or 1 to 5. With three to five questions, you can focus on a handful of high-priority issues related to your site.
You can encourage open-ended responses by offering survey takers an opportunity to describe anything they feel is important at the end of the survey. While only the more proactive survey or poll takers will offer that feedback, it can still prove invaluable in pinning down problems.
Analytics is a bit less refined than other user experience analysis methods because it tends to offer aggregate data from all users. Since you can get low-cost or no-cost analytics software, however, it’s also one of the most common methods of UX analysis.
Even with its limitations, you can also glean a tremendous amount of usable UX information from your analytics. For example, analytics is excellent at tracking visitors’ total visit times and their time-on-page.
Let’s say that you’ve been working on improving your blog content recently. You can look at your analytics to see how much time people spend on your blog. Depending on your software, you can even track that performance for individual posts.
If your blog improvement project is on-point, you should see an uptick in total time on your blog and total time per post.
User Experience and Your Site
Poor user experience can take a toll on your site traffic and sales through your site. That makes some level of UX analysis an important part of your website maintenance routine.
When in doubt, start with the low-cost options of analytics and asking people you know to visit the site. Once you wring everything you can out of that method, move on to more sophisticated methods like heatmaps, session replays, and surveys or polls.
Looking for more website tips and tech info? Head over to our Tech section for more articles.