Selecting Elements to Tune
There are a long list of potential problems with a Web site - and even if there are no obvious or egregious problems, there is always room for improvement - but where to begin? How does one know which problems are the most serious, or which areas of improvement will have the greatest positive impact?
Some questions to ask:
- What is the most important conversion action? Especially where users can take a number of actions, determine the one that is the most critical for making them convert.
- What is the largest audience? If you are able to segment the audience, determining which is the biggest determines where most of your efforts should be focused (EN: body count is less important than customer value)
- Where is your greatest profit? If making an impact on the bottom line is important, you may have more dramatic results increasing the sales of certain profitable items.
- What are the most popular paths through the site? If you can track common paths that lead to conversion, you can identify places to improve the click-through to conversion. If your most popular path does not lead to conversion, determine how to steer them in the right direction.
- How broad an impact will a change have? If multiple pages have the same problem, making one change can have a large impact.
- How granular a change can be made? If making large changes is expensive and time-consuming, are there smaller changes that can be made that will have some impact (e.g., making the "order" button larger, or moving the placement of a product image).
- How easy will it be to "sell" a change within the organization? If you're going to face an uphill battle, it needs to be for big results.
- How much effort will be necessary to support a change? Especially if your improvement means additional work, it will be a hard sell.
Tuning page structure:
- Consider the size and contents of the page header and footer
- Consider the size and location of page navigation
- Examine the placement of trust symbols and credibility logos
- Consider the placement and prominence of page content within the shell
- Consider the location and prominence of calls-to-actions
- Consider what is visible "above the fold"
Tuning information architecture:
- Consider whether the site is organized by content or by task
- Consider the clarity of descriptive text and choices
- Consider page titles
- Consider breadcrumbs or other context indicators
- Consider the placement of all page elements
- Consider the number of menu options
- Consider alternative navigations methods
- Consider cross-links among related information
- Consider the effectiveness of on-site search
- Consider the ease of avoiding, reversing, or correcting mistakes
- Consider the amount of detail provided
- Consider the writing format and tone
- Consider the choice of input elements
- Consider the implementation of actions (buttons or links)
- Consider the use of graphics, especially information graphics
- Consider the amount of screen space allotted to each item
- Consider the impression users take from images
- Consider the amount of detail in image captions
- Consider whether font sizes and treatments are used to highlight the appropriate elements
- Consider the colors used
- Consider the shapes and sizes of call-to-action buttons
- Consider the visual separation among elements
- Consider the amount and presentation of secondary information
Beyond considering the individual Web pages, consider the pages that a user will pass through in the course of performing a specific task. Many of the most important conversion actions require the user to proceed through a specific multiple-page flow.
The author uses a plank-bridge analogy: there have to be a number of sturdy planks at reasonable intervals to keep the user from turning back before they get to the other side. You should consider the "sturdiness" of each plank and the user's psychological state as they progress toward to goal
Timeless Testing Themes
The author has a handful of random tips here.
- Speed - Generally, the more time it takes the user to complete a task, the more users will bail out before the end - each click is an opportunity to bail
- Simplicity - Anything that "looks" complex is daunting and the user expects difficulty. Make it smaller, shorter, tighter.
- Identity - Ensure the user knows their context at all times
- Consistency - Use a consistent design, tone, and wording.
- Focus on the offer - Your advertising makes an offer to a user. Make sure that the site follows through with that offer, and does not lead the user down a different path
- Consider price sensitivity - Especially on the web, it is easy to comparison shop. If your price is not the lowest, what additional value do you provide to justify the higher cost?