How to identify what's working, and what's not, on your website.
For most online business owners, whether you run an online shop or are focused on delivering a service-based business, your website will be a constantly evolving project. Updating blog posts, updating your bio with new information and updating your products/services. But how do you know what's working effectively on your site and what might need to be improved?
ANSWER: Get to know how your users are using your site. In the web-design world, we like to call this User Experience Testing.
Now 'User Experience Testing' sounds very technical, so I wanted to show you three simple tools to make it super easy to identify how people are using your site, and how you can improve the experience for them.
If you haven't yet installed Google Analytics, I urge you to do so ASAP, it's totally free to set up, and most website content platforms such as Wordpress and Squarespace make it really easy to link up.
Now, there's a whole lot of information in there, but don't feel overwhelmed - we just want to focus on the Audience section, and particularly, the overview.
Here we can find the following key information to help us identify a little about your audiences patterns on your site.
METRICS THAT TELL YOU ABOUT THE USERS:
Users: Users are the people visiting your site - each unique user will be counted once throughout the duration of your selected period.
Page/Session: This shows you the average number of pages that a user clicks through when they're on your site, per session. If this number is low, you want to consider adding things like 'related posts' at the end of each blog post, call to actions and 'deep-links' throughout your content to get them clicking through to other content on your site.
Bounce Rate: The number of people, on average, that visit your site and leave after viewing one page. If your page/session number is low (1 or 2), you can expect your bounce rate to be high.
New Visitor vs Returning Visitor: Are visitors to your site returning? Now, there's no hard and fast rule of whether you want more returning visitors or new visitors, I like to think it's good to have a 'balance'. You want to ensure that your website traffic is coming back to your site, because they're interested in your content and consider you a knowledge leader, but you also want to be bringing new people into your inner-circle of knowledge. Promoting your blog posts on other platforms, such as your social media account and through your mailing list is a great way to get people returning to your site. If you're looking to boost your new visitor count, think of some ways you can promote your site, such as guest blogging on a peers site or running some Facebook advertising.
Avg Session Duration: This shows how long people are staying on your site each time they visit. If you're known for your long, detailed blog posts that share alot of powerful information, but your avg session duration is only a couple of minutes, unfortunately your content isn't engaging your users to stay on your site. Try incorporating some interesting content in your side bar, or reviewing your navigation links and again, providing a call-to-action or further reading at the end of each blog post.
If you're interested in delving a little deeper into understanding your analytics, you can check out Google's free 'Analytics Academy'.
USER TESTING EXPERIMENTS
Now, if all those figures and stats bore you to tears, there are other more 'visual' ways to get to know how your users are navigating through your site. Sites such as Peek and Criticue offer user testing to website owners - primarily free of charge!
With Peek, you will receive a free short video of someone navigating your site, you can also use their sister-service, User Testing, to get a more details and targeted video test - however, this does come at a cost.
Criticue offers a more targeted approach, whereby you upload a screenshot of your site and ask for some specific feedback. This is a great approach if the Peek User Testing video providing something specific for looking into further.
While these are free services, and great for 'first impressions' for someone that knows nothing about your business, it's also worth considering mimicking the same process with your tribe. You could conduct a reader survey, or ask them to conduct their own guided navigation video - and get some real-life feedback from the people who actually use your site! (Remember to reward them kindly for their advice!).
SUMO ME - HEAT MAPS
Heat Maps by Sumo Me, provides great real-time feedback on where your users are clicking on your site. This is great for showing up things such as images that users expect would click through to another page, but currently aren't. Heat maps also show how they're responding to different elements on the page, and are a great way to apply some basic testing for opt-ins. For example, you may have an opt-in sign up form in your header, sidebar and footer - but they all link to the same sign up form. Applying a heat map will allow you to decipher which form is working best, and use the space where the others are for some other information that might be of value and interest to your users.