Webmasters know when their websites have major problems, such as a barely functioning internal search or users venting frustration over inability to find critical content.
But what about minor problems? Things generally work as they should, but your webmaster spidey sense tells you it could work a bit better.
Trust your spidey sense! Nearly every website could benefit from small improvements in navigation, page layout, content, and more. So, where to start? Analyze data to prioritize action and to be sure that your action does, in fact, improve your site.
Here are some common website problems to consider.
Good user experience starts with ease of finding the information users seek. Identify key content and highlight it through navigation, search, and page elements to improve user experience.
Good UX gets users to your key (and most frequently sought) content quickly. Great user experience also helps them find answers within less-visited content that might be vital for a particular user in a given circumstance.
Perhaps you’ve received feedback that one PDF is hard to find. Or just from your own experience, you suspect that a certain area of your navigation isn’t laid out in the most effective manner.
The Solution: User Testing
Conduct user testing to understand how users navigate to out-of-the-way content. In a user test, users complete specific tasks on your website in order to reveal pain points. (We have an entire blog dedicated to this process if you’d like to learn more.)
User testing zooms in on specific tasks or areas of the website where the navigation might be lacking. The premise is simple: Watch how users complete these tasks to point the way toward improving particular areas of the website.
Page Layout Concerns
Getting users to the right page is one thing. Helping them find what they want on that page is another. On your key pages, you’ve likely crafted a structure that highlights your most important information and calls-to-action.
But what about those pages that draw less traffic? Do users fill out forms on those pages? Click call-to-action buttons? Gather data on the success of your page layout to understand whether it needs a content or layout reshuffle.
The Solution: Heatmap Testing and Google Analytics
Heatmap testing, combined with additional data from Google Analytics, is a match made in heaven to help you understand how users interact with your website. Think of it as artwork; Google Analytics sketches the scene, and layered heatmap data adds the color and depth to convey the full picture.
Start with Google Analytics whenever you’re trying to understand how users interact with your website to get data on what pages users visit, how long they spend on each page, and more.
A heatmap is created using a separate tool (we like Hotjar and Microsoft Clarity) you can set up on your website to gather data about where users interact with content on given pages. It allows you to see where users click, move their mouse, and scroll. Wondering whether users are clicking on your call-to-action button? Run heatmap testing to stop wondering and start knowing.
You can also see how often users click on that button compared to buttons on other areas of your website.
A heatmap showing where average users stop scrolling on a page.
Google Analytics and heatmapping, together, provide deeply revealing data about website interactions.
Say that you add new content to the bottom of a page on your website. Google Analytics shows how many people visit that page, but not where they spent their time on the page. Heatmaps show how far down the page people scroll, how long their mouse spent hovering over the important new content (a signal that they’re reading it), and even if they clicked on a call-to-action button within that block of text.
Content Doesn’t Match User Needs
Your website isn’t the only place users seek information about your business. They might turn to a virtual help center or ask questions of team members at physical locations.
But if someone is trying to get information from your website, you don’t want to drive them somewhere else. Does your support desk field similar questions day after day? That might mean that your site lacks some important content. Providing that content could free up support time for more complicated queries.
The Solution: User Research
The best way to find out if your users are getting what they need from your website: Ask them.
User research involves gathering information directly from your customers, clients, and other key audiences. They will tell you how they interact with your website, what information is missing (or too hard to find). Seeking out and listening to their feedback will point you to exactly what to do to improve their experience.
Website data can tell you that users click on specific pages and then leave without acting. But it doesn’t tell you why. To find out, conduct surveys, host focus groups, and run one-on-one interviews with users to gain their perspectives.
They will tell you that they left because they realized that this page would not answer their question and chose to look elsewhere. Or perhaps the page content loaded so slowly that they gave up. They’ll tell you where they got stuck, what’s missing, and what’s working.
Then you’ll know how improve your site and shape an experience that best fits the way they want to interact with you online.
Use Data to Make Little Web Improvements
Not every website issue should trigger a full redesign, especially if the site functions well and serves your essential needs. But we can never be complacent in business. If you’re not making the little changes that improve user experience, be assured that at least some of your competitors are doing just that.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our UX Strategy services page, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. Our expert team can help you identify and make website improvements that truly make a difference in your users’ experience.