How to Use Website Tests to See Your Website Like Your Visitors
One of the hardest truths to grasp for small business owners when it comes to websites is this ain't about you! Instead, your focus should always be your visitors and how they see your website.
Many people add features to their website that they think are cool. However, they don't consider whether those features will serve their visitors. You are not your website’s user, you have no reason to browse your website! But your customers (and potential customers) do. They are going to use your website as the main point of contact for your business. And they need to be able to find the information that they are looking for.
You can check to see how your website is performing, if you already have one, by running a few simple website tests. If you are building your website for the first time, these website tests will help you keep in mind the different aspects of your website and how they serve your visitors as you build your website page by page.
If you already have a website, you might be trying to figure out if you need to update it or scrap it for a new one. (If so, don't miss this article that walks you through ten signs you might need a new website!) These website tests can guide your design choices in the future before you start over!
Let's get to testing...
Website Tests: The Blur Test
To find out what the main focal point of a page on your website is, the blur test isolates eye-catching elements to ensure the next step for your visitor is obvious.
To conduct the blur test, take a screenshot of a page on your website, and then use your favorite graphics editing program to significantly blur the screenshot.
If you do not have a graphics editing program, you can use PicMonkey, which is a free online photo editor.
Here's how to conduct the blur test on your website:
- Upload a screenshot of your website to PicMonkey
- Choose Focal Soften from the Effects menu, and apply the following settings: Blur 50%; Focal Size 0%; Edge Hardness 0%; Fade 0%
Upload a screenshot of your website into your graphics editing program or a free editor online, like PicMonkey.
Then, apply a strong blur to your screenshot to see what elements stand out on your page.
What is the first element that stands out? That’s the focal point! Is it an appropriate action or interactive element for that page on your website?
If your page on your website does not have an element that stands out after conducting the blur test, you may want to rework the page to make sure it is clear to your visitor what they should do next!
Website Tests: The Five-Second Test
To find out if your website visitors will be sucked into a page on your website or quickly navigate away, you need to know if they understand what the page is about when they land.
The five-second test helps you determine if a visitor can quickly understand who you are, what you do, and what value you provide.
Here are some sites that will help you test it up:
- FiveSecondTest.com makes running this test super easy - you can create a test and invite users to complete it for free, or you can use their panels of visitors for a low fee.
- UserTesting is also a useful platform for completing this test.
Before you test your own website, I highly recommend trying this test out on websites you are familiar with. Set a timer for five seconds, load up the page, and see if you can answer these four questions when you are done:
- Who does this website belong to?
- What do they do?
- What value do they provide?
- Are you interested in learning more?
Try out the five-second test on these websites (at the time of posting this article, they are shining examples of perfection): Dollar Shave Club, AirBnB, Freshbooks.
Website Tests: The Challenge Test
To find out if your visitors can find the information they need, conduct the challenge test with family, friends, and perfect customer volunteers!
The challenge test asks the participant to complete specific tasks on your website as you watch them, so you can find any navigation problems, search issues, or organization missteps.
Some examples of tasks that you may ask a participant to complete are:
- Tell me what the ingredients are in XYZ product.
- Explain why XYZ products are better than ABC products for your skin.
- Find out where XYZ Company is located.
- Add XYZ product to your shopping cart.
- Apply the coupon code “WTFBBQ25” to your shopping cart.
- Explain what you should expect when ordering from XYZ Company
If you cannot have a participant complete the challenge test with you in person, you can also use Skype which is a free video messaging service. Ask the participant to share their screen via Skype, then navigate to your website and complete the tasks while you watch.
Website Tests: On-Page Surveys
Find out if your visitors can find the information they need or complete the tasks they came to your website to do; on-page surveys will allow them to tell you what they think! Website visitors are a wealth of knowledge, and they’ll be happy to share if you frame your questions properly.
Always make sure that an on-page survey is presented at the right moment. For instance, a survey asking if someone has found what they are looking for wouldn’t work properly if it was presented to a visitor immediately when they arrive on your website. Or a survey asking why they didn’t purchase from you when they haven’t visited any ecommerce pages would create confusion and be off-putting.
According to ConversionXL, here are the best three questions to ask:
- What is the purpose of your visit to our website today?
- Were you able to complete your task today?
- If you were not able to complete your task today, why not?
Read up about effective on-page survey strategies over on ConversionXL here.
If you aren’t sure what software to use to conduce on-page surveys, here are some of my favorites: VWO On-Page Surveys, Hot Jar, WebEngage.
Website Tests: Live Chat
Like on-page surveys, live chat features provide valuable feedback to get your current visitors involved in improving your website!
Gather what the points of friction on your website are. Then you can even fix them right up for a visitor live. (I recommend Olark, but there are plenty of options out there.)
Live chat also helps you provide stellar customer service. Consequently, many brands have seen an increase in conversions or sales when offering live chat to visitors.
Website Tests: Heat Maps
You can deploy heat maps to gather information without bothering or even involving visitors. To find out where your visitors are navigating, spending time, and reading on your website, use heat maps.
Heat maps work by creating a “heat signature” of where visitors on your website are looking or moving their mouse. For example, high-focus areas are bright red while low-focus areas are light blue or purple.
Heat maps can tell you when visitors think they should be able to interact with an element. (And if your website is not performing intuitively, a change might be in order.) In addition, they show you where they focus on a page and what calls to action (CTAs) work well.
Some of the on-page survey services mentioned previously offer heat maps, but I personally love Crazy Egg as their services are focused solely on heat maps and other visitor mapping technologies.
Have you run your site through any of these tests? Do you plan to? Tell us about it in the comments!
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