Having a website is not an easy thing! Especially when it comes to an e-commerce platform which has to convert visitors into customers.
How many times have you come across a bad website as a user? How many times have you stopped before making a purchase due to a bad user experience…because you couldn’t find what you wanted or could not navigate the site? The answer for most of us is: many. Last week, Alan Clapman, Managing Director of Host Digital agency, shared his UX toolkit, which can significantly help boost user experience and increase customer conversion (the likelihood that a visitor will buy from you).
So, what are the most interesting tips that came up in this talk?
- Alan suggests that everyone should start by researching and determining appropriate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)—or in other words: the metrics that you want to track and address. He stresses that you cannot start testing user experience until you make your research—either qualitative or quantitative—about what your users want.
- Once you know what you want to address, you’ll have to clearly formulate a hypothesis, which you will then test (using your KPIs). For example, ‘If we add more product images, then it will be more appealing to the consumer, and therefore we’ll increase the conversion’.
- Solution design. That’s where implementation starts. In some instances you’ll have to create low or high fidelity prototypes. To put it simply, a low fidelity (low-fi) prototype is a quick sketch or a layout of how things may look, without much detail. It is something that will help you and your team assess your new feature/product/website, and get a general idea of the functionality and aesthetics. A high fidelity (high-fi) prototype, on the other hand, is a much more elaborate version of your low fidelity sketch. You’ll spend a lot more time finalising the details of your high-fidelity prototype, but it is an inevitable step if you’re re-developing something as big as your entire website.
- Conversion Optimisation. This is where the fun starts. You’ve done all your research, created a hypothesis, and based on all of that, created something new, e.g. a new homepage. But in order to actually understand if it works, you’ll have to do an A/B test. An A/B test is method whereby you test how, for example, two versions of your homepage perform. Your control version may have a big call to action button—‘Sign up for a trial’—while your test version does not. After 4-6 weeks, you’ll be able to look at the data and see, according to the KPIs you set up at the outset of your user experience improvement project, which one performed better, and generated more conversions. Based on that, you’ll proceed with the version which achieved better results. For A/B testing, check out the tools Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely.
Build Your UX Toolkit
Alan also shared some of the leading testing and insight tools used for UX.
Heap is a company that provides retroactive analytics which are great for quantitative research. Heap can capture diverse website data automatically and in real time, including clicks, taps, gestures, form submissions, page views, with no extra code needed.
When it comes to qualitative surveys, Qualaroo, Google Consumer Surveys and Usabilla are the key players. Qualaroo looks a bit like a live chat feature, but in reality, it’s a customer survey which encourages customers to give their feedback.
Hotjar creates ‘heatmaps’ showing where exactly your users have clicked or stayed the longest. By knowing the top (in)activity areas you can start making some hypotheses and assumptions as to what is happening during visits.
When it comes to wireframe design, Balsamiq, UXPin, axureRP and invision are there to make your life easier.
When it comes to usability testing, you can use various means to test your website. One of them is Chalkmark, which allows you to see where your users will click first while looking for a specified item on your site. Chalkmark will also create a heatmap, which you can then analyse to identify potential pain points.
For an e-commerce platform, categorising products might be a big challenge. OptimalSoft, UsabiliTest and Treejack tools enable your ideal customers to sort out the products into the categories that seem the most appropriate for them. These tools allow you to see how people actually perceive each product, and where they look for them.
This is an extensive list of tools that you can use to improve various aspects of UX, and you may or may not need all of them. But the most important thing to bear in mind is: if you want to cater to the needs of your ideal customers (and reap the rewards), then more often than not, you’ll want to run a series of tests and iterations to maximise your website’s potential.
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Anna & Kristina