We all know that the usability of our website is important along with how well we convert visitors but in reality websites get left in their current state and the idea of improving things gets left by the wayside. Usually every once in a while someone gets the idea that their current website looks outdated and has a new one built. Elements of the website are changed based on nothing more than opinion (and sometimes ego). Then the new site gets rolled out and suddenly conversions drop.
The truth is that testing is important and design changes to your website need to be informed by data. Both qualitative and quantitative.
In this post I’m going to share a number of usability and conversion rate optimization tools that will help you start to move your conversion rates in the right direction. Some of these tools are free and others are paid, although the paid ones aren’t too expensive.
Improving usability starts with optimizing the time that it takes your website to load. GTmetrix provides a comprehensive tool that will grade the speed of the URL that you type in. You’ll get a detailed breakdown of all of the elements that make up your website and that could affect the load time.
You also get the option to export reports along with recommendations to a PDF and you can see a waterfall type visual that maps everything out into a type of timeline view so you can see what loads (scripts etc) and when they load in conjunction with everything else.
#2. Pingdom Speed Test
Pingdom’s Speed Test is an alternative to GTmetrix, it provides a similar set of features but gives you 4 different views:
- Performance Grade
- Page Analysis
When you run a test your results are then marked against other sites that are tested to give you an average, so you may find that your site is slower or even faster than the majority that are tested.
#3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a power house of data that is free to use and while the way that they have restructured the options recently does take a bit of getting used to, I’m actually warming up to the new layout.
This is where you will get quantitative data about who your visitors are, where they are from, the technology they use and how they behave on your site. You’ll also be able to track the completion of particular goals that your users complete, such as purchasing a product.
There are a few reports that will come in especially handy:
- Visitors Flow
- In-Page Analytics
When it comes to split testing, you may find the ‘Content Experiments’ section especially useful. Here’s what you need to do in order to make the most of this with landing pages:
- Create several versions of a landing page (they must be on different URL’s, although your original landing page will be the main URL)
- Add the URL’s
- Google will give you some code to add to your website
- Run the test and your traffic will be split the different landing page variations when visitors visit the main URL
Spur is a free app that will allow you to critique your web pages by providing a straight forward tool that brings together classic design elements such as intersections, sizing and contrast for example.
Take the intersections tool for example, it will enable you to make sure every point lines up with each other point on the page that it should.
#5. User Echo
User Echo is a great tool that integrates a helpdesk, support community and live chat functionality in one neat package. There is a free package, but you can expand functionality from $15/month.
- You can display a feedback button to the side of your website and use it to gather qualitative data about what your visitors really think about your website.
- The community system integrates a helpdesk that allows visitors to submit private tickets to your support staff.
- Feedback matters and User Echo makes it easy to collect.
#6. Amplify Connect
This tool doesn’t have as many features as User Echo, but that doesn’t matter because Amplify Connect is free – no limitations, just an easy to use system that involves adding a snippet of code to your website and a few settings tweaks and you’re good to go.
Amplify Connect will add a friendly looking tab at the bottom of your website, when users click on it you can choose to greet them with questions about their experience. There will be a navigation menu so you can also have a contact form to make direct feedback extremely easy.
#7. Usability Hub
Usability Hub offers a number of extremely helpful tools including ClickTest and Five Second Test. You can use them to test anything from landing pages, navigation elements or even the colour of a logo.
The way it works is by displaying different designs to visitors and allowing you to ask a question about the designs below or simply pick which you prefer. You can choose to pay for a premium account or you can do tests for other users in order to earn credits. This is a great way of getting some qualitative data.
#8. Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg will help you find out exactly how people interact with the pages on your website, whether it’s a landing page or a checkout page.
The way this system works is by giving you access to visualisation tools so you can see where users are clicking. You can also find out where they are scrolling and how traffic from different referral sources reacts to your website amongst other things.
This article wouldn’t be complete without a powerful tool to take your landing pages and split test them. While Google’s Content Experiments tool is free, Optimizely isn’t and it’s true to say that you really do get what you pay for here.
There’s no limit to the number of experiments you can run or variations of your landing pages but you are charged on the number of visitors that are run through your split tests. Prices start at $19/£13 per month and you can scale this as much as you need to.
You don’t even need to waste time building multiple variations of your landing pages or mess around with any coding. Just add your URL and it will get pulled into Optimizely – you can then set your original design and create multiple variations using the Optimizely editor.
There are a lot of tools on the market, after all usability and conversions are important. Especially since how much of a difference a small improvement can make. If you’re interested in finding out how much low conversion rates are costing you, check out this conversion loss calculator by TagMan.
Which tools have I missed? And which have gotten you great results? I’d love to hear more in the comments below.
Images: ”Web design concept: computer keyboard with Mouse Cursor icon and word Web Analytics on enter button, 3d render / Shutterstock.com“
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