Initially, most site owners only care about the amount of traffic and rankings their sites receive. They feel that a large influx of traffic will have them diving in piles of cash like Scrooge McDuck. User experience, average time on the site, and bounce rate are not discussed until I show how receiving quality traffic along with quantity is the real key to success. The best way to see why your traffic is deciding to exit your site early, or on a specific page, is to perform tests. Below I discuss three ways to test for usability on your site and the tools to get the job done.
Also, bear in mind that different bounce rate percentages will be acceptable to different businesses. A higher traffic site could be fine with a higher bounce rate in contrast to a less popular site. The suggestions below focus on small to medium-sized businesses.
A/B or Multivariate Testing.
Most people make the assumption that A/B includes testing two different pages. One person sees A, and the next person sees B. It is a little more complicated than that. Most times A/B testing includes more than two versions, and instead of splitting 50/50 will choose a smaller portion to test. You can also devise a way that new visitors are the only ones actively doing the testing. In my opinion you get truer results by testing the new visitors because most people, your returning customers, don’t like change. Just look at the massive amount of Facebook groups dedicated to returning to the previous version of Facebook. Therefore, it is much easier to gleam information out of new visitors without inconveniencing your return traffic. Multivariate, on the other hand, deals with multiple variables that you check.
There are a multitude of tools out there to perform A/B or Multivariate testing. I personally enjoy Google Website Optimizer even though other tools out there may be more user- friendly. The Website Optimizer allow you to do A/B and multivariate testing with east-to-read page section reports at the end. The beauty, as with most Google tools, is that the Website Optimizer is free.
Crazy Egg (Heat Maps are Your Friend)
Crazy Egg is one of many heat mapping tools that easily translates user activity into a visual map. This is a life saver if you have to show a client or boss who may have trouble understanding your slew of reports. Additionally, it can help before you begin A/B testing to see where to put icons and to determine where a high portion of traffic is centered. Even if you’re not doing testing it still helps to narrow down design choices and overall layout of your page.
Crazy Egg starts out at nine dollars for their Basic package. For the price of a movie you get to peer into the mind of users. You really can’t beat that deal. Crazy Egg has additional packages up to 99 dollars per month.
What once was a luxury item available only to large firms has become a reality for any SMB. Services like Usertesting.com now give you the power of remote testing with affordable prices. Set-up is simple. You supply your URL and instructions to soon-to- be visitors. The price per visitor is 39 dollars, but you receive written feedback and an online video of the visitor walking through your site. There is much debate on the amount of visitors you should have test your site. Use more than 1 but you could probably stop at around 5 or 6 visitors.
The real question is when you should use this kind of powerful testing. I would strongly suggest taking this step to do final tweaking to your site. You have the ability to ask follow-up questions from the instructions you previously laid out. Make sure the instructions are task oriented and able to be completed in a timely manner. The follow-up questions should help you cement any additional thoughts that may not be answered by the visitor following your instructions.
These are just three ways in which to track how your visitors are viewing your site. There are many others. The way to maximize your users’ experience is to see what they like and dislike. Consistent tweaking, monitoring, and questioning will provide you with a great understanding of what works for you site and what doesn’t. Do you have a specific way in which you like to monitor or test your traffic? Let me know in the comments below.