DIY User Experience Evaluation: Where to Look & What to Look For

Lauren Owens - October 8, 2014

User experience can mean the difference between traffic that converts and traffic that bounces. If you suspect that your website is not performing as it should be, it may be time for a user experience evaluation. Follow these steps in order to find the “holes” in your website that could be contributing to a negative user experience.

Step 1: Look at Your Google Analytics Data

Your web analytics data shows whether your website is “working” as it should – driving conversions, encouraging engagement and helping you accomplish your business goals. Key metrics to consider include page-level conversions, bounce rates and exit rates. If you have low conversions and high bounce and exit rates, there’s a chance your content is not performing as it should.

If you find that there are pages where a large amount of traffic is dropping off, consider how you can improve your website’s content, calls-to-action, and messaging in order to quell exit rates and improve conversions.

Step 2: Consider Your Purpose

This is not an existential question but a practical one: What is your website for? Do you want to sell product? Drive leads? Educate your customers?

Consider how your content, website organization, messaging and calls-to-action support this. And, consider how they may work against this. If, for example, your content and messaging doesn’t support your goals for your website, it may be time for an overhaul.

Step 3: Look at Your Calls-to-Action

What, specifically, do you want users to do once they land on one of your web pages? How is that goal born out in your website’s calls-to-action?

Briefly scan your pages. Where are your calls-to-action? Are they missing on your blog or content pages? Are they “buried” below the fold? Or, are they non-existent, confusing or off-message?

Without targeted calls-to-action – even on your content pages – you could be missing out on conversions simply because you’re not opening the door and inviting your users to explore your products and services.

Note: The operative word here is targeted. Your calls-to-action should connect with a user’s needs. This could be done on a page-level (see the end of this post for an example), on a category-level, or universally via a single persistent call-to-action.

Step 4: Consider Your Messaging

Your website should accurately, comprehensively and visually communicate who you are and what you do, while speaking directly to your customer’s needs. This is best done with a combination of written and visual content that is easy to read and understand.

It can be challenging for a business owner or webmaster to “see” their site’s messaging from a customer’s point of view. But challenge yourself to step into your customer’s shoes and view your homepage and interior page messaging with your customer’s knowledge, experience, needs and expertise. Are there things your average customer might not understand? How can you make them clearer?

Step 5: Consider User Expectations

What does your average user want from your website? Information? Specific products? Bargains? How can you create, and drive users toward, this content while accomplishing your business objectives?

Step 6: Look at Your Content

Your web content has a big job to do – representing your business, proving your value and communicating to your customer in a way that is concise and complete. If your content is hard to read, confusing or incomplete, it might not be doing its job effectively.

Does your content need an overhaul? Follow these steps for creating effective textual and multimedia content.

Step 7: Perform a Mock Checkout

Try to buy something from yourself. How long does it take? What gets in your way? Specifically:

  • Do users have to sign-in to make a purchase or can they check out as a guest?
  • Are users offered time-saving payment options such as PayPal or Google Wallet?
  • Are users distracted away from payment by additional / unnecessary calls-to-action?

Challenge yourself to look at the checkout process holistically – what elements are necessary? What elements are slowing the process down? How can you improve the user-friendliness of your shopping cart in order to reduce abandonment and improve conversions?

Step 8: Go Mobile

Now it’s time to look at your website from a mobile perspective. Visit your homepage and a popular landing page to see how it looks on the small screen. Do you offer a mobile browsing experience that rivals your desktop experience, or are your users given a “watered-down” version of your site? When you consider that all traffic is trending toward mobile, it is extremely important that you address mobile issues sooner rather than later.

Advanced Steps: Perform Content Experiments

One of the best ways to determine which site elements and calls-to-action help to drive conversions is to test them. Google makes this relatively easy with Content Experiments, including A/B Testing (available in Google Analytics).

Want a Little Help?

It can be difficult to scrutinize your own website. If you need a little guidance, we can help. Our content experts can analyze your website with your goals in mind and help you determine how best to organize your website so that it best represents your company and accomplishes your goals. Read more about our content strategy services or contact us.

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