Ever get the feeling that your website could be better but not quite sure why? Your intuition might be right.
If you are in that position, it's a good idea to start writing down all the things you believe are not quite right. Your step is to use a few tools to help you figure out why. Often using these tools to diagnose what is wrong is a lot cheaper than getting your website redeveloped.
Fortunately there are some seriously great free & paid tools that can really help you work out what is or isn't working.
Here we will outline a couple of the great tools we have used ans how you too can benefit from using them on your website.
One of the best tools that we use is Google Analytics. Now of course there are other analytics programs but Google Analytics is one of the most widely used and it's free!. At its most basic level, it can tell you lots of cool stuff like:
- where your visitors came from and which pages they visited on your website.
- how engaged people are with your content
- the number of visits from mobile devices versus desktop and laptop computers
- the screen size that your visitors view your website
Often a cursory glance at the data can tell you so much. For example, if your site is not optimised for mobile and you start finding lots of visitors coming to your website via mobile, then it's a good red flag to know that your website needs to change.
Possibly at a slightly more advanced level, you can also use Google Analytics to set up goals for actions that you want visitors to take. Some goals might be to call your phone number, contact you via a contact form, buy something, watch a video, stay on the site for over 2 minutes etc. You get the idea. The important thing though is to know what it is you want to measure in the first place.
Another cool tool is Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg has 4 main functions which help in the following ways.
- A heat map which is a visualization of where your visitors are clicking on your website. The brighter the area, the more popular it is. This is particularly useful especially if you have a number of links on the page. It can tell you what items on the page are getting the most attention from your site visitors.
- A scroll map which shows you how far people scroll down the page to find out more information. You might be surprised to find out very few people see the real estate on the bottom of your page.
- A confetti map that tells you exactly where people clicked on your website. You can sort the data by referrer, search terms and day of the week amongst many other things.
- An overlay map which shows the specific number of clicks that each link receives. It helps you to visually understand how many people click on certain links. We often use to work out what things are more important in our navigation bar. You use the information to remove unpopular pages or add new pages.
We used it on our website to determine what pages people were most interested in seeing. Our "clients" page was added recently and we've noticed that since we had added it this page has been getting a lot of interest.
Our take out from this is that people either wanted to know:
- If they were the right clients for us
- If they could trust us
Of course it could also be our competitors spying on us! Though checking the data in conjunction with Google analytics it seems unlikely.
Like Crazy Egg, Clicktale shows you mouse map and click heatmaps, however it also records visitor actions on your site. It's like watching little movies of what people are doing on your website. You can see their cursor and mouse movements from a movie file inside the dahsboard.
What is surprising is the length of time people stay on your website. Even though Google Analytics tells you the average length of time people are on your site it can be a bit of a shock seeing how short some visits actually are.
Clicktale also provides insight into the performance of your online forms. It make it easy to work out which fields take too long to fill or cause your visitors to leave. It's a great way of working out exactly what questions are a problem.
There a limit to how much is recorded - and this just comes down to what plan you are on. Different plans record up to a set number of visitors.
Now I realise that this might seem a little creepy. However, the important thing to understand is that your visitors are not personally identifiable. The tools are used in the spirit of improving the user's experience on the site as well as your own websites conversion rate.
Another tool similar to Clicktale is Lucky Orange.
Over in the right hand corner of our website is a little widget called Live Chat.
It sits discretely on your website. When you click on it, it pops up and simply provides an easy way to let visitors contact you.
You can set it up to take messages from site visitors or answers questions live as people hit your website.
Live chat allows you to hear from visitors who may not for whatever reason be in a position to call you. Some of the reasons might be:
- They don't have a phone available
- They are at work and don’t want to be heard
- They aren’t quite ready speak to someone and are worried about feeling obligated
- They can't be bothered waiting for someone to answer a phone call
You can learn a lot from live chat. It can be particularly useful for service type businesses that need to provide customer support. You often see live chat on web hosting sites. There are other versions of live chat including Olark and Snap Engage.
This nifty little survey tool asks your website visitor 4 main questions. They great thing is that if they answer the questions, you get to learn what things you can do to improve your website. The 4 key questions are:
- Based on today’s visit, how would you rate your site experience overall?
- Which of the following best describes the primary purpose of your visit?
- Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?
- If they answer yes to Question 3, it asks "What do you value most about the [Company] website?" If they answer no to Question 3, it asks Would you please tell us why you were not able to complete the purpose of your visit today?
Do you reckon you might get some interesting answers from this? Yep!
Now if you are concerned about bombarding every site visitor with a questionnaire, be aware that you can also control what percent of your site visitors are offered the survey. We have set our survey up at 50% so if you see the survey while reading this, you are one of the lucky (or unlucky if you are time poor) ones to see the trial. If you find the survey intrusive - let us know.
A Word of Caution
Just because there are all these tools at your disposal you need to careful using all of them at once. The reason for this is simple. Apart from annoying your visitor, it is because many of these tools use scripts to load code to communicate key information back to a server.
The issue is that if lots of code is installed on your website, it can take a while to load. Apart from giving the user a poor experience and potentially making your conversion rate worse, Google also prefer sites that load fast and if your site is slow to load it may just get penalized in the search engine rankings.
Enter in Google Tag Manager.
Instead of installing hundreds of scripts on your website, you can just install one - a tag from Google Tag Manager. Once you have installed Google Tag Manager, all you need to do is then add the script as new tags in Google Tag Manager.
Google Tag manager then manages the code and fires the code for you. Your site will load faster and you won't be at the whim of the IT department to install the codes for you.
Just be careful not to put Google Analytics into both your website and in Tag manager - if you do you might find some strange things happen to your bounce rate (or conversions if you are an e-commerce store).
We hope you have found this post of value.