Website Analytics Show You Haven’t Met Your Goals. User Research Tells You Why.
Our clients are great at setting and measuring goals. We learn a lot from them. Most of them utilize web analytics to set conversion goals, as well as measure traffic, pages viewed, and bounce rates. Most of these clients I would categorize as “numbers” people. They have come to realize, however, that numbers can only tell part of the story. Analytics can tell you what your web visitors are doing, but they can’t tell you why. Analytics and user experience research are the perfect marriage of quantitative and qualitative. Analytics give you the big picture in terms of behavior and user research gives you insight into specific behaviors, preconceptions, and expectations. Most importantly, user research gives you the information you need to FIX A PROBLEM, not just diagnose it.
Utilize user research to inform design
User research helps you take a step back from what website analytics may be showing you. Many of our clients come to us having never before performed user research (one-on-one user interviews, diary studies, or even surveys)—but they know they aren’t meeting their conversion goals or they know website visitors are dropping off at a certain page. User research helps inform a product or website that has yet to be built and provides information for how an existing product should evolve:
- How do you ensure your visitors accomplish the tasks they set out to accomplish as well as achieve your own business goals?
- How do you align your product with your user’s mental model, making the experience with the product seamless from start to finish?
- How do you create something people will actually use?
- What critical features can you add that your competitors lack?
Utilize usability testing to help fix problems
Moderated usability tests are the best way to diagnose and fix problems on your website. Analytics may indicate users are not doing what you want or expect them to do. Or you may not be achieving the conversion goals that have been set. Some of our clients have never actually seen someone use their product or website “in the real world” and are completely taken aback when they watch their first usability test. By asking representative users to perform tasks on your website, you are able to see through the eyes of your customers. There is no other way to replicate this. By diagnosing and solving usability problems early on, your company ends up saving on development costs (the costs to fix or re-do) and the resources associated with customer service inquiries. Most importantly, fixing usability problems leads to increased conversions and sales.
Measure, fix, repeat
Just like you check your analytics on a regular basis, user research and usability testing need to be measured and re-tested on an ongoing basis to provide the most impact. Luckily, analytics can help you measure the success of your user research and testing (are users using the new feature? are they visiting the page you want them to? have you reduced the number of abandoned shopping carts?). After some of the problems are fixed, the website or product needs to be tested again to ensure the fixes actually solve the problem. Periodic user research and testing ensures you are:
- developing features customers will actually use
- providing the best customer experience possible
- increasing sales, conversions, and customer loyalty
Your competitors are involving the user in their design and development efforts. A great user experience is not just a point of differentiation—your customers expect it.