Archive

Archive for the ‘Site Design’ Category

Conversion Optimization: How to reduce friction and anxiety in a checkout process you don’t control

March 3rd, 2017

Engaging in conversion optimization requires making a modification of some sort to improve conversion. But, what if there are steps in your customers’ buying journey that you can’t control?

For example, we often hear from marketers that they don’t really have the time or resources to change their shopping cart in significant ways to improve conversion. Or, if you’re in affiliate marketing, channel marketing, or simply have a go-to-market partner, you might control the beginning of the funnel but have no control over the final conversion. Perhaps you sell a product through third-party stores and distributors and have no control over that process.

I was recently in this boat myself. Not only am I a student in the University of Florida/MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program, but I’ve been working on marketing it before the April 1st application deadline as well.

The Optimization Process

The first thing I did with the team was map out the customer journey — starting with not knowing anything about the program all the way to enrolling as a student in the program.

Now, here was the great irony. Session 2 of the MMC5436 Messaging Methodologies and the Practice of Conversion Optimization course in the program walks through the optimization process and the first, second and third steps you should take. The very first step is reducing friction and anxiety.

Reduce friction and anxiety

However, when we looked at the step in the customer buying journey with the most friction and anxiety, there was nothing we could do to reduce those elements because that step was the University of Florida application.

Read more…

The Five Major Factors to Look for When Evaluating a Website

April 23rd, 2015

Recently, MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments, distributed an internal survey to find out what elements or factors people consider when evaluating a website for the following attributes:

  • Appearance of the website
  • Clarity of the information provided
  • Timeliness of completing purchase
  • Ease of placing an order or making account changes on the site
  • Ease of navigating the website

To do this, the team that distributed the survey asked five open questions and allowed responders to answer them as they chose. After each question, they asked the responders to rank their top three factors or elements that correlated with the question asked.

In total, there were 13 anonymous responders that the team estimated were almost evenly split between MECLABS’ content production team and our services department, which actively builds, tests and evaluates websites on a daily basis.

After the distribution team received the results, they looked at the most commonly mentioned element or function and determined which elements are the most important when reviewing a website.

They took the results and used a word cloud to visually represent the answers. To that end, the three most commonly mentioned factors on the whole survey were:

 

When looking at the totality of a website, people want information that is clear and easy to understand while allowing them to see the value of the website and its services.

In order to find out the important elements or factors that affect the evaluation of a webpage, the distribution team asked the following questions and received the following answers.

Note: The answers to each of the following survey questions have been broken into categories. These categories were not part of the survey’s original questions but are themes determined by the distribution team in order to organize the results.

Also, the question and answers concerned with layout (located under “Appearance of the website”) are different than the category layout. The question and answers refer to the layout of a webpage as a whole, whereas the layout category refers to the layout of that specific element of a website.

 

Appearance of the website

What factors or elements do you consider when judging the appearance of a website?

Layout

  • Whitespace, visual spacing of elements, balanced elements, minimalistic, simplicity, organization of information, clear eye path, easily scannable

Navigation/Navigating

  • Clear funnel, easy to find what I’m looking for, clean navigation, thought sequence

Content

  • Value, clarity, typos, readability, clear and concise copy, clarity of message

Aesthetics

  • Color, real versus stock images, pleasing to the eye, aesthetically pleasing, datedness, modern

Functionality

  • Functionality, up-to-date framework

The most common factor when determining the appearance of a website is its layout. It’s important to balance visual elements with the whitespace of the webpage to create a clear eye path that directs you into the elements you really want people to spend more time viewing.

Layout was the most commonly used term when answering this question, but another equally important factor mentioned by the responders was how dated versus how modern a website is.

You can have a great layout, but if it doesn’t age well, it will negatively affect the overall feel of your website. Be sure to talk with your designers about new design trends and which ones you should incorporate into your webpage.

Read more…

How Design Impacts User Experience: Reducing anxiety by infusing your page with value

April 13th, 2015

In the age of free content, how can you capture leads and foster a relationship with people that consume the articles, videos and updates on your site?

Site design and the quality of content you produce can strongly influence the way that people engage with your site.

Using an example from the Harvard Business Review, we can see an example of a layout infused with value for the user.

First, the Harvard Business Review lets users read up to five articles before asking for a commitment. This allows visitors to get a sense of the breadth and quality of content so they can ensure that they’re getting a valuable experience.

Let’s review the overall look, feel and strategy of its registration process and design as well as examine how it impacts the visitor throughout the registration process.

 

Paywall page

After reading the fifth article, the user is given two options: Register for free in exchange for more information, or subscribe to the all-access version.

Let’s take a look at how the page is laid out.

 

First, look at the white space.

Can you feel the fresh air?

S – p – a – c – e

The simplicity of the page creates a “no pressure” feeling and lets the visitor know that they aren’t seeing an ad or being urged to make a decision.

However, you can clearly see the two defined calls-to-action, separated by a thin gray line.

Both sides indicate some level of value. However, the paid option has an image and lists several more bullet points worth of advantages over the free option.

Read more…

Customer Response: The surprising reason why color matters

October 30th, 2014

Can something as simple as a change in color have an impact on whether a customer will use a search tool on a page?

Intuitively, we thought it did, but we really couldn’t be sure until we tested. This led us question this particular page for a large media brand:

 

The Variable Tested:  “I want to … ” search box

 

The page was a normal page layout with a white background. However,  we wanted to test the impact of color on the search box.

 

The Treatments: “I want to…” search box color variants

 

Read more…

Website Optimization: 6 tips for effective 404 pages

September 25th, 2014

I’ve come across some beautifully designed 404 pages over the years. However, once the one second of artistic appreciation ends, I’ve been left confused and lost. The designers of those pages, whether Web designers or marketers, missed a great opportunity.

Your 404 page should have two objectives:

  1. Notify visitors they’ve encountered a problem of some sort while landing on the page they wanted
  2. Guide the visitor to what they wanted or to something else of value

A 404 page doesn’t have to be a dead end, or even a “Go to [Homepage]. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” card. It can be a user-friendly and functional page. It can have a greater purpose.

Read on to learn six tips to creating more effective 404 pages. You’ll also see “Not this, But this” examples demonstrating the tips.

Consider this blog post a creative swipe file of 404 pages, if you will.

 

Reduce Friction and Anxiety

 

Tip #1. Establish where visitors have landed

Not every visitor on your website who lands on a 404 page will have come from somewhere else on your site. When another site links back to your website incorrectly, or with an expired link, you potentially have visitors who are brand new to your site.

If your 404 page provides no way for new visitors to know where they are, chances are they’re going to press the back button never to be seen again. You just lost an opportunity for a new customer or reader. On the same note, if you provide no useful link for them, the back button is where they’re probably going to go.



The “Not this” page gives me nothing. Am I on a farm page? A livestock for sale website? A personal site for someone who really loves pigs? I have no clue based on the webpage.The “But this” example keeps its logo in place so visitors immediately know where they are. The copy of the page also gives clues as to where they are and what they can do on the site, even on the 404 page. 

 

Website Optimization: Testing your navigation

September 11th, 2014

As we are testing our websites, we often focus on homepages, landing pages and funnels. These are the pages that “move the needle” and get results. However, there is one aspect of many sites that goes unnoticed by optimizers — the site navigation.

Site navigation is important because it gets your visitors where they need to be. Also, it’s usually one of the static elements of your site.

The navigation is visible on all of your pages and is often the one constant throughout the website.

It simply makes sense to focus your efforts on such a high visibility area that has such a great impact on your customers’ experience.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What can I test in my navigation?”

To answer that question, I’ve constructed a short guide to help you start optimizing your navigation.

Potential navigation testing opportunities include:

  • Changing link names that may be confusing
  • Optimizing subcopy (if you give details in your navigation)
  • Changing hierarchies or organizations
  • Adding or deleting links
  • Optimizing visual features (icons)
  • Optimizing navigation indicators (hover and click functionality, lines, highlights, etc.)

 

Begin with goals and objectives 

It’s important to have clearly defined goals and objectives when testing your navigation.

While you want your site navigation to drive conversions, you should always remember that this is ultimately a tool for your site visitors.

It should guide them where they need to go in a clear, concise manner. So how do you measure your navigation’s success? What would be your primary KPI? In many tests, our KPIs are conversions or clickthroughs. However, much more thought must go into defining navigation KPIs.

Read more…