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"usability" category

Once they are on your website, what next?

3rd May 2013
Categories: copywriting, usability

OK, so you've worked hard at getting visitors to your website, and now they're coming in droves. The only slight problem is.. they're not buying anything. What do you do next?

First of all, let's talk about where they arrive.

The page a visitor first sees when they come to your website is called a landing page. If they've typed your domain name into a browser's address bar, they will normally come to your home page, so that, for those people, is the landing page. But you can create multiple landing pages for different purposes:

  • business card
  • email signature
  • online advert

Equally, the search term your visitor types in may lead them to one of your internal pages that closely matches that term - so any page on your website could be a landing page.

Ideally your landing page should be tailored to the needs of the visitor. If they've come looking for information about your house cleaning robot, for example, give them a quick reminder of the key facts and ask them to buy,  If they're looking for a competitor's widget, give them the comparison table and ask them to buy yours.  And so on.

Your customers are on a mission

What's next?  Typical visitors will have a purpose in visiting your website, so the fewer clicks from the landing page to the destination page the better.  If there can be a button on the landing page that adds the product to their basket and takes them to checkout, showing whatever discount they've earned, great. From that point, the fewer clicks to secure their purchase and thank them for it, the better.

A short path to the target page means not a lot of words on the way

While you want to satisfy curious visitors, investors, prospective employees, and search engines with a whole range of relevant and interesting content, once you've examined the optimum path from landing page to destination page, you'll see that you cannot squeeze all of your amazing copy onto those few short pages.  Blaise Pascal wrote "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I've written a long one instead".  Why not take the time to make it short and snappy (without getting rid of your in-depth pages elsewhere)?

A word about "squeeze pages"

'Squeeze pages; is a horrible term; I don't know who invented it. Probably an American who had read a marketing book about how to invent categories so that you can be the best in them. What do they do? They combine a landing page and a destination page, and a lot of spammy "convincing" sales talk in between, and they tend to be very long. Well, guess what? They look like the web equivalent of the shopping channel. They're not for you.

Usability Analysis - Part 2

16th November 2011
Categories: usability

We're working with a local educational establishment on an application which helps them receive student submissions.  There is a twice-yearly submission window, which means a period of intense activity followed by 5 months of preparation for the next window.

This forces us to follow a neatly defined 'plan-develop-test-release' cycle, which could apply to any other website, but isn't usually top of the agenda.

During the testing part of the cycle the idea is that you test  that the system functions properly given a wide variation of parameters, but also that the system is usable, i.e. that perhaps the less savvy users will still be able to understand and navigate the web application.

However, during the release section of the cycle there are inevitably events we can learn from.

For example:

  • do users fail to understand the terminology and ask the same questions?
  • will users benefit from having different concepts separated over multiple screens, so they don't miss anything?
  • do website administrators repeatedly ask us to perform system level tasks, where we could create an 'app for that'?

Yes, the thrust of the usability effort has got to be looking over shoulders of new testers during the test cycle, but usability is also understanding patterns which emerge from mass usage.

A six month cycle can really focus the mind and help a website increase any metric - conversions and sales for example.  Let us know if we can help you plan your usability analysis and release cycle.

Why "Click Here" is wrong on so many levels

10th November 2011
Categories: usability

Have you ever seen (or perpetrated) the 'click here' crime?  It's when you have a sentence on your web page that reads something like "To see our brochure about ecommerce apps, click here" (where 'click here' is a link).

Here's why it's wrong on 3 levels:

  1. Readability.  If your customers are reading your webpage at 100 miles an hour (and they will), a set of underlined 'click here's aren't going to help.  Far better to emphasise the important words (like the "ecommerce apps") by turning them into links.
  2. Accessibility.  If blind people are using your website, they'll hear "link: click here" instead of "link: brochure about ecommerce apps", which doesn't work, especially if they're getting a summary of links!
  3. Search engines: if you're linking to the ecommerce apps page with the words "ecommerce apps", search engines will add those words to the information they have about the page (i.e. they'll go into the search index along with all the words on the page, for retrieval later on).  Which means the page shows greater relevance to those words.

Why not take a look at your website copy now and correct those pesky 'click here' links? 

Usability Analysis

22nd April 2010
Categories: usability

Usability analysis is carried out in order to discover how real web users perceive and use a website.

It is undertaken with subjects who do not have any knowledge of the website in question. Subjects are given a series of tasks, and the observer records their opinions and behaviour while browsing the website. Once the test has been carried out, we present a full report with recommendations.

Benefits of Usability Analysis

Usability analysis takes the expert out of the web design process and identifies how real people use the site. Once usability analysis has taken place and recommendations have been put into practice, the percentage difference in user activity can be huge. Among the improvements this process can bring are:

Helping users find the product catalogue without being tempted to look at other websites.

Preventing users from dropping out of the website through frustration.

Helping users understand and trust the purchasing process.

Getting users to stay in touch with the site (e.g. via an email newsletter).

Helping existing customers to find answers to questions.

A UK shoe shop asked for our help with usability, and changes made as a result of the analysis helped to double the number of users going through the 'checkout'.

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