Why it's Important to Continually Optimise Your Website
by Sophie King
WHY CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE?
When designing anything it can be easy for us to let our subconscious opinions creep into our designs and it is important to remember the value of data and putting our users first. A combination of quantitative and qualitative research should be applied into any design. Every website can benefit from a program of continuous improvement but, how do you know you’ve made it better? By defining a hypothesis and backing up your results with research and data.
Steve Krug’s brilliant book ‘Don’t make me think’ suggests you should always ask the following when designing a website: is it useful, learnable, memorable, effective, efficient, desirable and enjoyable as these are the key elements that make up your digital brand.
As technology constantly evolves and users devices change, a design can never be considered perfect and the need for UX is on-going. Websites need to be continuously reviewed to assess how effective they are (for example, how users are interacting, what this can tell us about their goals and why there may be little or no conversions).
Improving your platform in light of developing changes can help you stay ahead of your competitors, if your website stands still while the landscape around it changes your users could switch to other brands.
A key first step to optimising your digital brand is collecting data. You need to have enough data to know in detail how users are interacting with your website. Luckily, there are a lot of great online tools that can help you.
HotJar can help you understand exactly how users interact with your website by creating heatmaps, recordings, surveys, conversion funnels and much more. The ability to watch real people use your website gives important insights into the different elements of your site. Be warned, you may see users interacting with the site in a different way to how it was first designed/built.
You can combine this data with Google Analytics (GA) for more in-depth insights. GA can help you see where users are leaving the site, what the bounce rate is and an endless list of more options.
Gathering anonymous data is great but you should never overlook the value of talking to real people. Conducting usability testing provides you with insights not available online. You can follow up research found from online tools and ask why people don’t perform a certain interaction as well as test assumptions collected from the data. From asking questions you can gain an understanding of what exactly is stopping users from achieving your business goals.
Once you’ve gathered data and identified user pain points, you need to determine the most effective solution by testing a hypothesis (a statement which can be proved right or wrong).
There are several testing methods you can use to test variations of your solutions to see which has the best results. A/B Testing compares the original website against one variation or you can run a Multi-variant test which compares the original against multiple variations. These two types of tests will help you identify which is the most effective optimisation.
Continually running small tests on real users, allows you to make almost unnoticeable changes to your website that overtime can add up in a big way. It also helps reduce development overhead that can be involved in trialling an idea that might end up being unsuccessful.
Tests that have shown a positive result should then be passed onto development and implemented on your website. These will need to be implemented as soon as possible. For example, if a test proves you can generate 20% more sales then you don’t want to wait to make this change. At Dam, the results of tests are picked up as development tasks and tracked to record their impact post go-live. In this way you can see if the results of the original test still apply.
SUCCESS [OR FAILURES!] ARE EASILY PROVED OR RECONCILED
With so many online data tracking tools available, there’s no excuse for not knowing your users. It’s easy to collect and act on data and to make small changes that achieve big results. For a brand to have a great digital presence it needs to be memorable and users need to have a good experience as this will lead onto positive reviews, feedback and hopefully more users visiting your website.
To continually optimise your brand's digital presence you need to listen to your users, gather data and run tests that prove you have made a more successful experience, whether that is sales, service or whatever it is you judge the success of your website by.
Written by Sophie King
Published on 17 August, 2023