Design Improvements Based on Actual Data

Find out a how I approach the ‘manage’ stage in my four step project process by using CrazyEgg to continually improve my clients websites based on how visitors are interacting with it. Creating a great design is only part of a successful web design project. Once a site has launched it’s essential to install analytics so you can start to see how visitors are interacting with the website, and if you’re even getting the number of visits you or your client hoped for in the first place. Having produced lots of designs for a leading conversion rate optimisation company, I’ve got a pretty good understanding of where to place calls to action and what to include in a design to give visitors confidence and trust to buy your product (if you’re selling something), or contact you regarding a service if your site is a lead generation tool. Sometimes though its difficult to predetermine how visitors are going to use your website. Your visitors are human and we’re all different after all. Out of 10 people to visit your site you can bet that 2 or 3 are going to pose a question you didn’t see coming if you sat next to them whilst they used it, or totally miss the phone number in the sidebar of the site that you thought was so bold it was going to slap them round the face! User testing a prototype of your clients website is the best way to go to ensure that you cover those points listed above (and of course many more), but lets face it, not every client has the budget/time for their designer to produce a full on prototype of their site before designing and building it for real. The next best step – and one that I always undertake – is to wireframe the site. Ideally if you have access to your client’s customers, then show those wireframes on paper to them – take their feedback on board and make changes based on what they say. In an ideal world it should be an agile process – quick iterations and changes based on feedback provided by the client’s users or people from the same demographic. However, even if you or your designer has gone to all those lengths you can’t sit back and leave you’re site. There are always improvements to be made once it’s out there. One bit of kit I’ve been installing on my client’s websites of late is CrazyEgg. Its a web app that allows you to see an overlay of where people are clicking – literally anywhere on the site, even if its not a link – and you’ll be suprised to find some people clicking things that you think are obviously not links. There is also a scrollmap which shows how far people are scrolling down the page, which is particularly handy if you’ve got a long page with some calls to action or maybe a form further down the page. There’s a few more useful features too, but even armed with the simple overlay its easy to make design improvements and minor modifications to a website to improve its success. Below you can see what the scrollmap looks like. Take a site I’m working on at the moment. It launched a while back and its not quite getting the traffic that my client hoped for. We’re just starting an on-page SEO campaign to improve that, but out of interest I installed CrazyEgg on the homepage of their site to see how the visitors they were getting were interacting with the site. The homepage is literally where all of their visitors are landing from Google. Now the homepage isn’t your typical homepage, in that there isn’t a main navigation as such – the client didn’t want that. There are just 3 logos to access the different divisions to their business, above that the logo and strapline and then under the 3 logos links to special offers and bookings. Once you get into the three main areas then the site becomes more typical and a main navigation bar appears. What CrazyEgg revealed was that actually visitors didn’t seem interested in clicking to ‘enter’ the various divisions of the clients site, or seeing the special offers right away, they just wanted to read about my clients business and get their contact details. Those links were only accessible in the footer on the homepage. CrazyEgg showed me exactly the number of people clicking these links and proved that my initial concerns about excluding these links prominently on the homepage had been justified. Based on that data I have been able to make suggestions to my client about how we can go about making some minor changes to make that information more easily accessible for their visitors. I’m literally about to make these changes in the next week or so, and I’m really excited to measure these changes to see if they out perform the previous version of the site. So, thats a little insight into the final step in my 4 step process – Plan, Design, Build, Manage. Managing a completed site and improving the way it works is an essential part of the service I offer, but something I’m not sure ever web designer thinks about. If you’re reading this and not a client of mine, then please feel free to get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you get started improving your website based on actual data of how your visitors are interacting with your website.

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