9 Step Guide to Developing the Perfect Website UX

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Optimal user experience is rarely achieved through visual design elements. What really matters is that the content is actually accessible and logical, factors which visual design can certainly support and effectively communicate. To present your website’s content in the best way possible, it’s necessary to consider several elements that directly impact the overall user journey, conversion rates, bounce rates, and more.

No matter the stage you’re currently going through in your website’s development, follow this nine-step guide to ensure your UX is optimized for your real visitors.

  1. Set up a Heatmap on High Traffic and High Bounce Landing Pages

A heatmap is more than just ‘eye candy’ — it’s an extremely insightful tool if you know what you are looking for. Your high traffic and high bounce rate pages offer you the biggest opportunity to retain more visitors on your site; heatmaps will identify how your visitors are engaging with these pages and the biggest opportunities for improvement.

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Once you’ve set up a heatmap, run these eight tests to reveal the most common problems and solutions on your site.

  1. Discover ‘Drivers’ on High Traffic Landing Pages

Drivers are your visitors’ intent. The best way to find these Drivers is by asking visitors to describe what they are looking for and why they want it. This can be done by implementing a feedback poll on your site.

Here are a few example Driver questions to ask visitors:

  • “Why are you looking for [service / product type] today?”
  • “What is missing on this page?”
  • “Where exactly did you first hear about us?”

Armed with powerful insights from your visitors, you can begin to prioritize content on your site, allowing visitors to better connect with your content, interface and experience.

  1. Survey Existing Users via Email

Getting answers directly from your existing users is the fastest way to reveal their intentions, roadblocks and desires — all in one shot.

Here is an example survey:

  • “What led you to look for [service / product type]? Explain in as much detail as possible how it will make your life easier / better.”
  • “What nearly stopped you from using us? List as many items as you can think of.”
  • “What persuaded you to [action e.g. buy / signup]? List as many items you can think of.”
  • “What could we have done to make your decision easier?”

You can add other questions you feel are valuable, but avoid going over 7 or 8.

  1. Set up a Funnel to Identify Your Biggest Barriers

A Barrier is a page that causes a majority of your visitors to leave your site. It’s easy to try and do too much by working on too many parts of your site all at once, so knowing your Barriers will direct your efforts. By creating funnels, you can see where you are losing the most visitors and prioritize work on those steps first.

The key to a great funnel is to build it backwards. Start by asking yourself this: What is the biggest goal? A signup, an order? Then create a funnel that maps back to your highest traffic pages. The general rule is to have a funnel for each goal on your site.

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Here are a few typical funnel examples by type of site:

  • E-commerce: Homepage > Product Pages > Cart > Checkout > Thank You Page
  • News / Blog: Homepage > Article Pages > Subscribe Page > Success Page
  • Web App: Homepage > Trial Signup Page > Interface > Upgrade Page > Thank you page
  • Lead Gen: Category pages > Landing page with form > Thank you page
  1. Set up Feedback Polls on Barrier Pages

Once you know where you are losing most of your visitors, it’s time to get their feedback on why this is happening. To do this, create a feedback poll that targets these pages and set it to appear on exit or when the visitor scrolls half way down the page.

Here are three questions you should ask:

  • “Quick Question if you decided not to [action e.g. signup / buy] today what stopped you?”
  • “Quick Question What is your biggest concern or fear about using us?”
  • “Quick Question What is missing on this page?”

For the best results, rotate between different question types.

  1. Set up Heatmaps on Barrier Pages

Generating a heatmap for your high exit pages can uncover some interesting things. You can quickly visualize how visitors are interacting with your pages by seeing their clicks, taps, mouse moves and scrolling. This will give you a better idea of what they are seeing and what they are ignoring, which may inspire new tests and changes to your site.

  1. Replay Visitor Sessions on Barrier Pages

Once you have responses from polls and usage patterns in Heatmaps (Steps 5 and 6 above) you can now get a good understanding of your visitors’ real journey. Put yourselves in your visitors’ shoes by replaying recordings of your abandoning visitors to see how they react to your pages.

Are they getting stuck at a particular step?

Do they abandon the page very quickly?

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By empathizing with your visitors, you can make better decisions on what to change or test next on your Barrier pages.

  1. Recruit User Testers to Reveal Drivers and Observe Barriers

At this point, you have a good idea of what your ‘Big Picture’ user experience looks like, but nothing beats spending one-on-one time with your visitors through user testing. User testing allows you to watch your users interact with your site and comment as they go along. This step is a really insightful experience.

Heres how to setup a user test:

  • Create a user testing signup form on your high traffic landing pages.
  • Give visitors an incentive to sign up for testing (e.g. gift card, early access to a feature).
  • Choose your list of users (aim for about 5 user tests).
  • Email these users and set a day and time to screen share.
  • Prepare a goal, a list of steps you want them to complete, and a series of questions that will allow you to uncover their Barriers.
  1. Reveal ‘Hooks’ with a Feedback Poll on Your Success Pages

Hooks are the most persuasive elements on your site that persuaded your existing users to act.

Knowing what your hooks are will allow you to convert even more visitors, and you can discover these hooks by using feedback polls.

From the results, you can discover:

  • Why people came to your site
  • Pricing feedback
  • Popular features
  • …and much more.

Equipped with this feedback, you can not only include these elements in future website iterations but you may even begin building products and features around them.

Now what?

It’s time to make some bold changes to your site. If you have the traffic for it, it’s highly recommend to split testing your changes so you can measure the impact on the bottom line.

We’re not done after this, though. Once you have addressed your visitors’ Drivers, Barriers and Hooks, it’s time to start from Step 1 again with your web analytics tool to uncover the next big opportunity. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s a fun exercise to ensure you’re capturing the most up-to-date and impactful UX feedback so you can ensure the best user journey, lower bounce rates, and increase conversion rates. It’s safe to say your boss will be happy about all of the above!

Disclosure:
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