Have you tested your website recently? How fast does it load? Does your checkout function properly? How are people interacting with it when they land on your pages?
If you don’t know the answers to questions like these, we highly recommend making website tests a priority for your brand.
Why Should You Test Your Website?
Simply put, you should be running tests, collecting data, and making changes based on those tests because that’s what businesses with successful websites do.
There’s a lot to be said for knowing your audience and following your gut, but taking this extra step is always helpful – whether it’s to show that your gut was right, or offer a course correction you haven’t thought of that will improve your customer’s experience.
Testing also proves the effectiveness of your site. Once you get good at reading your website tests, you will be able to show what updates are helpful, and which areas you need to tweak.
This also helps to bring clarity when you want to make bigger decisions for your site. If you would like to change your homepage, for example, working with the results of initial website tests will help you navigate what changes to make first and what could be the most beneficial changes for your brand.
5 Tips to get the Best Results for Your Website Tests
Before we jump into the right website tests to improve your brand’s customer experience, let’s talk about the way to approach testing. It takes a little bit of getting used to and it can certainly be a little jarring in the beginning!
1 – Keep an open mind.
When you’re looking at the results of your tests, especially for the first time, keep an open mind. If you haven’t been watching your data closely, how people interact can be surprising. You’re guaranteed to learn something. The numbers don’t lie. So if you’re seeing something that you didn’t expect, do some critical investigating. Ask yourself, “hmm, what is my audience experiencing that is making them do this?”
2 – Opinions don’t matter, data does.
You might not like to hear this – most business owners don’t – but your brand is not you. How your brand is experienced should depend on how your customers interact with it. If they aren’t into something that you love about your site, you’ve to improve it or let it go. When you start testing regularly, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to let the data steer you towards the best converting site you can possibly create!
3 – More website tests are better.
The more you test and implement the things you learn, the better your website will be. We have found that it’s best to consistently run user experience website tests so that you can improve your site over time.
The bigger challenge for small business owners here is typically ensuring that the website traffic numbers are high enough. If you have low traffic to your pages, it could take some time to get enough data to justify making a big change. We like to say that if a handful of people can skew your numbers, you need more traffic before making changes.
4 – Testing is a muscle.
This takes time and consistent flexing to get good at it. When you start running website tests, do it with a specific goal in mind. Repeat your tests and practice waiting for the results before making your next move.
5 – Make sure you’re asking the right questions.
Running lots of website tests means that you’re going to get a lot of data. While something things are pretty straightforward – like, “what are people clicking on when they get to my page?” Other questions like, “Why doesn’t this page convert to sales?” are going to be more complicated to answer. All of the answers to your questions do lie in your data, but if you’re not 100% clear on what you’re solving for, you can get lost in the data pretty quickly. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed or solving for problems that aren’t the main priority.
The Four Stages of Website Testing
Now that you’re armed with the best testing tips in the biz, it’s time to talk about what website tests you should run to improve your user experience and conversion rate!
1 – Start with a website speed tests
This one is pretty simple, and it can save you a lot of headache. For every second your audience has to wait for your site to be interactive, the more eyes you will lose on your site. The best place to start is with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights. Just type in your URL and follow the instructions to improve your pages. This helps make a big difference to make sure people get to your website in the first place!
2 – Check out your page views using a heat map
Once you’re sure that folks are reaching your site, the real testing fun begins!
Heatmaps are an easy first step when beginning your site testing journey. They can be very eye opening because they show you where your website visitors are engaging the most on your site. Having information about your visitors behaviors when viewing your pages allows you to understand the intention of your potential customers.
Knowing where your website visitors are looking and clicking provides valuable insight into where you should focus your user experience optimization efforts.
Once you know where people are engaging, the next step to consider is A/B testing.
3 – Conversions using A/B tests or sequential website tests
Once you know where your visitors are viewing most, you can continue by further optimizing the pieces of content within that area.
Subtle changes can have HUGE and very surprising effects on conversions. Split testing allows for you to show 2 different variations of a particular feature of your site to 50% of your audience.
More users= better split test data.
It is important to note that in order to split test properly you will need a fairly large group of users. You don’t want to base the decision on the behavior of only a small percentage of people, so allow for time to pass or push traffic to your test page for better data.
If you’re a new brand or have a smaller audience, a good alternative would be sequential testing. This is essentially the same as split testing, but rather than testing both options concurrently with just 50% of your audience, you test the changes one at a time with your full audience.
This does take a bit more time than a split test because you’re not running your options at the same time. With this testing type you will gain information on the subtle feature changes that affect conversions and that data will allow for your brand to make the most effective decisions for permanent design and layout changes.
If you’re looking for a great right website testing platform, check out this HotJar vs Crazy Egg comparison:
4 – Usability Tests Using Focus Groups or User Testing
Once you’re in a comfortable place with your online tests, another helpful type of test to consider is direct user testing.
This is different because it is qualitative rather than quantitative and is based on the users’ opinion. Focus groups are a great way to facilitate user testing! You do need to make sure that you work with a representative sample of your ideal audience. This is such a powerful metric that if your audience is off, you can steer your brand off course!
This type of usability testing gives you information on how your website and brand is perceived and understood. This data is incredibly helpful for ensuring that new features are clear and that they function properly.
Usability tests can (and typically should) be done when a feature is still in development. The results from the test can provide valuable insight on what to move forward with, and what to continue to optimize.
Results from a usability test can help save time and money by giving you feedback before you’ve spent more completing the project.
Starting consistent website tests and making relevant updates can be a tough habit to create. But think about it this way. The more the know, the better you can be. You can do a speed test in less than one minute. Just dip your toes in and let us know how it feels!
Happy site testing! If you have any questions about finding the right website tests for you, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org