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Put Big Brother to Use For Yourself

Right now there's someone struggling to use your website. In a moment they will abandon your website because they couldn't easily find what they were seeking.

I've found that most small business websites are created without considering how people will use them. I've noticed that smaller jewelry websites (fewer than 20 pages) seem to suffer the most
because very little thought is given to organizing those pages well. Good website organization happens when you try to figure out what a customer might be thinking, and then grouping information together to meet expected needs.

On the other hand, when building sites with more than 20 pages, you naturally have to think about basic organization; otherwise, the site becomes confusing to use. Sometimes the organization process is simply guesswork with how a person will use the site. Other times a programmer will apply their previous website experience.

The next time you redesign your website, you should consider hiring someone who has a few years of experience with website analytics, so they can apply what they know to your new website. However, relying on someone's past experience to develop your future website could lead to trouble because Internet design and aesthetics change too quickly, and
users expect similar good experiences across every website they use.

Users have the best experience when a website is easy to read, intuitive to use, and aesthetically pleasing. The user won't even be aware of those factors when it's done right. Few people recognize great user experiences; but everyone quickly notices when a website is difficult to use.

Smartphone technology and new programming trends both push the need for better usability. What was good on older smartphones like the iPhone 4s and Samsung Galaxy SIII Android, are not going to be best for the newer iPhone 5c or Nexus 7 Android smartphones.

Although that past experience is valuable when creating a website
design, there are more accurate ways to directly measure how your site is keeping a customer's attention. You certainly shouldn't launch a print, radio, or billboard campaign that leads customers to your website if it is the weakest link in your entire marketing strategy because your ROI will be lower.

You should test and measure your website before your next redesign. You should specifically perform "usability testing" with the goal of creating the best "user experience.” One method of measuring website success and usability is by secretly video recording every user to your website. There are several companies that specialize in "session recording," which captures how someone moves their mouse around your website, and everything they click on. You can Google "session recording" to find different types of recording services.

The point to session recording is that you can clearly see what part of your website is confusing for users, and then create a plan to fix it.

Analyzing the massive data collected from session recording is an
enormous task. You literally have to watch the recordings and take notes. You have to identify patterns in user behavior and create suppositions based on those patterns. You would have to watch a lot of recorded sessions before you can make sense of it all.

This should sound like a ridiculously big task, because it is. I just completed a 6 month process of recording sessions through the 2013 Holidays, Valentine's Day 2014, ending with April 30, 2014. The data captured was overwhelming, but it was used to guide the rebirth of a slightly redesigned and reorganized website. It took a full 6 months to gather enough information to formulate reasonable suppositions for the redesign.

I'm not suggesting that you set up the session recording and analyze them on your own. But this is something you should consider doing in addition to, or even instead of the money you are spending on search engine optimization (SEO) right now. Like the offline marketing I mentioned above, every SEO process is less fruitful if your website can't retain a customer's attention.

Most Internet users aren't aware that session recording exists, and you really can classify this as Big Brother watching you. If this sounds frightening and intrusive for website users, consider that this is no different than the video cameras you have in your jewelry store. You could probably redesign a better store layout too if you spend a little time watching your security camera footage.

AT: 07/01/2014 12:40:45 PM   LINK TO THIS ARTICLE

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