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Design Research

Website optimisation - live is not the finish line

19th September 2014

So, you’ve launched your new website and you’re revelling in the excitement, and likely relief, at having crossed the finishing line. But the job’s not done yet.

You’re undoing all your good work if you walk away now patting yourself on the back because the seemingly tiny stuff is where you stand to make the biggest impact. Further website optimisation will be needed to fine-tune the visitor experience.

Hopefully you will have installed a system for measuring how well your shiny new website is performing, because you have conversion or engagement objectives to meet right? And you need to make sure that you are now meeting your business objectives.

Not everything you did to improve your website is likely to have had an immediate, positive effect on conversion, since you were also thinking about wider factors like brand preference and customer satisfaction.

Data will give you the information you need to justify the money and man hours spent on launching the website. It will also tell you where you can further optimise your site for conversion and engagement.

Data will only give you part of the story

Website metrics interpreted correctly will tell you what is happening on your website. Where are visitors entering your site, more importantly at which point do they exit, how long do they stay for, what path do they take to arrive at content?

But these numbers will only tell you one part of the story, the ‘what’. To get to the ‘why’ and therefore the ‘how’ you need to add an additional layer of user research.

If you followed an iterative research and design process (experience design) to launch your website you will have reduced the risk of it not achieving your business objectives and customer needs. But it will also have armed you with valuable insight about your customer base that you can return to later on to help you identify the ‘why’.

Correlating your web analytics with user research can shed more light on what is happening on your website and enable your design team to create solutions to further optimise the customer experience.

So you have the what, and now you have the why. It’s time to work on the how. But beware of designing in isolation, your UX consultant and designer should be working collaboratively toward the solution. Armed with analytics, insight and now design solutions you can test these out in a live environment to find out which solution creates the optimum results.

Website optimisation tools and techniques

A website optimisation specialist may deploy tools such as multivariate testing (MVT) and A/B testing to find out which solution works best. If needed, they may also conduct interviews with people so they can observe them using the website in real-time. There are other tools available such as behavioural heatmaps, which provide additional information about how visitors are using your site.

Multivariate testing (MVT) – this is a terrific tool when targeted deliberately on points in a sales process where you know customers are having difficulty, or need to be persuaded to commit to purchasing. This evaluates multiple possible combinations of text, images, functionality on a single page.

A/B testing – this tool is used to evaluate the performance of one page against another page to identify which performs better with customers.

Behavioural heatmaps – tools such as Sessioncam track where visitors are clicking on your website. The information is displayed as coloured areas like infrared. The hotter the colour, the more people clicked in that area of the website.

By following a structured roll-out of site improvements, you can measure the impact of individual changes and use those learnings for future optimisation. Work on one page at a time and measure the impact of these changes. You’ve invested time and money in launching your new website, but it won’t be achieving its full potential if you don’t invest in future optimisation.


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