Website Usability – what does it mean for your revenue?
It is not enough to look at the site traffic numbers alone as they can be deceiving. It’s equally important to look at the performance of the website in terms of how your customers are reacting to many of the visual elements placed in front of them. Reaction is the first step toward interaction, which is the fundamental building block of business.
The number one flaw I see in website designs is this; way too much visual information. More information loses your audience. We are not becoming a society of scanners, we already are one. Each of us now has the attention span of a gnat , and with so many other sites to choose from, we have to find exactly what we want in the least amount of effort - therefore we scan.
In the bigger picture of marketing, the better we know our audience the better we can serve their needs. The days of doing things the same ol’ way are long gone, and those that keep a “business as usual” mentality will die very quickly on the internet. Visitors coming to any website want things their way and if we are smart, we will adapt.
What can we do to adapt and learn what our visitors want? Do your homework and research. Careful analysis of your site traffic will reveal a ton of great insight, but knowing what to look for takes some practice as these numbers fail to tell the whole story.
Did the increase in number of pages viewed mean your visitors are more engaged with your site, or just lost? A high “time on page” can be positive for sales pages that require extensive copy but negative for pages designed to funnel traffic to another destination. The bottom line is that while numbers are necessary for understanding traffic patterns, they need to be examined in context.
Getting feedback from your target audience is also a great way to directly ascertain the effectiveness of site, page and navigational presentation. Survey your site visitors by enticing them with free downloads, subscriptions, or anything else in exchange for their opinion. Remember, you are asking them to take their time, which to most of us is a very valuable commodity these days. There are a number of panel groups who, for a fee, will make your site available to their members who get paid to visit and evaluate sites. This kind of feedback is very valuable if the visitors are representative of your market, however even if they are not your target audience you can still get some good insight on improvements.
Finally, you can try split testing or other forms of trial and error to test various layouts or ideas for improvement in achieving your goals. This method takes longer, but will teach you a valuable lesson as you come to understand how very subtle changes can produce significant results.
Understanding how visitors react to your site and making improvements accordingly is maximizing the potential of your existing traffic. For many businesses, this strategy can do far more for the bottom line than spending money on new traffic sources or increased exposure.
We welcome your thoughts on this topic – please share them so all may benefit.