Making sure your website works.
Let's face it websites are a huge commitment, both in time and money. Making sure that you build the right so site for the right market is uber important. So, how can you make sure that you get it right?
Make sure you are prepared before you start looking for a web designer. This will mean really evaluating your business's needs and goals. Perhaps even looking at your business like you never have before. You can start by finding answers for these questions:
- What type of business are you in?
- What is the primary reason for your website? Increase Sales? Generate leads? Provide information?
- Who is your target market? Age? Gender?
- Who are your competitors?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
- How are you going to market your site?
These are just a few, in fact we have put together a complete Project Planner document that we encourage our clients to fill out. Please feel free to downloadand look it over. I cannot stress how much we find that this first initial step is important. The information gathered in this step will allow your project manager to devise an Information Architecture that the entire site build will be based upon.
Testing, testing and more testing
If you are going to have a successful site, testing is going to have to be part of your future. No matter how good your designer or UX guy/gal is, they are designing your site based upon educated guesses. Albeit very educated guesses, but they are basing their decisions on what has worked for them and their clients in the past. So, it is always advised that we spend the time to make sure they get it right.
A/B testing (or split testing)is a method used to test two different samples to track which one converts better. The idea is to never stop A/B testing as you want to try to always improve your site's conversions. A few thing to remember when split testing. Only change and test one thing at a time.. this is very important, otherwise you will not know what change is responsible for the results. Also we recommend making use of some of the excellent tools that are available to make your testing both easy and cost effective:
- Google Website Optimizer - this tool come with Google Analytics and is free. Which always brings a smile to our face :-).
- Visual Website Optimizer - although not free this tool will not break the bank either. Very powerful software that tracks your goals and variances.
- Vertster, SiteSpect, Webtrends Optimize and Omniture’s Test&Target - tools for the big boys
Probably the most important thing you can do for your site is to test users to make sure you are doing the right thing. There are a number of excellent services that makes this a relatively easy test. Siverback - what type of monkeys would be if we did not give a shout out to the big boys on the block. Although it is a Mac only software, the price and the features make it a worthy candidate. Crazy Egg - this is more heat mapping but still useful Userfly - true user testing that tracks mouse movement Feedback Army - they allow you to submit questions about your site to be answered by users Five Second Test - shows your site or page to users for five seconds then asks questions about what they remember User Testing - probably the most traditional user testing of the bunch.. you can get video as someone actually uses your site Clicktale- really powerful software that I believe is the de-facto for user testing
I really hope this helps you create an effective site that actually works for you and your business. If you need any help or just want a professional opinion please feel free to contact us or leave a comment on this post.