Op­ti­mise a site’s pres­ence

So­phie King out­lines how you can con­tin­u­ally im­prove a brand’s dig­i­tal pres­ence

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So­phie King out­lines how you can im­prove a brand’s dig­i­tal pres­ence

Ev­ery web­site can ben­e­fit from a pro­gram of con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment but how do you know you’ve made it bet­ter? Af­ter all, when de­sign­ing any­thing it can be easy for us to let our sub­con­scious opin­ions creep into our de­signs so it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the value of data. A com­bi­na­tion of quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive re­search should be ap­plied to any de­sign, by defin­ing a hy­poth­e­sis and back­ing up your re­sults with re­search. Steve Krug’s bril­liant book, Don’t Make

Me Think, sug­gests you should al­ways ask the fol­low­ing when de­sign­ing a web­site: is it use­ful, learn­able, mem­o­rable, ef­fec­tive, ef­fi­cient, de­sir­able and en­joy­able? These are the key el­e­ments that make up a dig­i­tal brand.

con­tin­u­ously im­prove

As tech­nol­ogy evolves and users de­vices change, a de­sign can never be con­sid­ered per­fect and the need for user ex­pe­ri­ence

(UX) is on­go­ing. Web­sites need to be con­tin­u­ously re­viewed to as­sess how ef­fec­tive they are – for ex­am­ple, how users are in­ter­act­ing with them, what this tells us about their goals and why there may be few or no con­ver­sions. Im­prov­ing your plat­form can help you stay ahead of your com­peti­tors.

Gath­er­ing data

A key first step to op­ti­mis­ing your dig­i­tal brand is col­lect­ing data. You need enough data to know how users are in­ter­act­ing with your web­site. Luck­ily, there are a lot of great on­line tools that can help you.

HotJar can help you un­der­stand ex­actly how users in­ter­act with your web­site by cre­at­ing heatmaps, record­ings, sur­veys, con­ver­sion fun­nels and much more. The abil­ity to watch real peo­ple use your web­site gives im­por­tant in­sights into its dif­fer­ent el­e­ments. Be warned, you may see users in­ter­act­ing with it in a dif­fer­ent way to how it was first de­signed.

You can com­bine this data with Google An­a­lyt­ics for more in-depth in­sights. It can help you see where users are leav­ing the site, what the bounce rate is and an end­less list of more op­tions

Gath­er­ing anony­mous data is great, but you should never over­look the value of talk­ing to real peo­ple. Con­duct­ing us­abil­ity test­ing pro­vides you with in­sights not avail­able on­line. You can fol­low up re­search found from on­line tools and ask why peo­ple don’t per­form a cer­tain in­ter­ac­tion, as well as test as­sump­tions col­lected from the data. From ask­ing ques­tions you can gain an un­der­stand­ing of what is stop­ping you from achiev­ing your busi­ness goals.

Test­ing

Once you’ve gath­ered data and iden­ti­fied user pain points, you need to de­ter­mine the most ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion by test­ing.

There are sev­eral meth­ods you can use to see which of your so­lu­tions has the best re­sults. A/B test­ing com­pares the orig­i­nal web­site against one vari­a­tion or you can run a test com­par­ing the orig­i­nal against mul­ti­ple vari­a­tions. These two types of tests will help you iden­tify which is the most ef­fec­tive op­ti­mi­sa­tion.

Op­ti­mizely is a test­ing plat­form that al­lows you to run and man­age tests on web­sites with­out devel­op­ment ef­fort to change the source code. In­stead, you can change com­po­nents or add new HTML and JavaScript di­rectly through the plat­form and it will track the re­sults. You can even vary the size of the au­di­ence par­tic­i­pat­ing, which is handy for tests that could have a neg­a­tive im­pact.

Con­tin­u­ally run­ning small tests on real users en­ables you to make al­most un­no­tice­able changes to your web­site that can add up in a big way over time. It also helps re­duce devel­op­ment over­head that can be in­volved in tri­alling an idea that might end up be­ing un­suc­cess­ful.

Re­vis­ing UI

Tests that have shown a pos­i­tive re­sult should then be passed onto devel­op­ment and im­ple­mented on your web­site.

These will need to be im­ple­mented as soon as pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, if a test proves you can gen­er­ate 20% more sales then you don’t want to wait to make the change. At DAM Dig­i­tal, the re­sults of tests are picked up as devel­op­ment tasks and tracked to record their im­pact af­ter they go live. In this way you can see if the re­sults of the orig­i­nal test still ap­ply.

Con­clu­sion

With so many on­line data track­ing tools avail­able, there’s no ex­cuse for not know­ing your users. It’s easy to col­lect and act on data and make small changes that achieve big re­sults. For a brand to have a great dig­i­tal pres­ence it needs to be mem­o­rable and users need to have a good ex­pe­ri­ence as this will lead on to pos­i­tive re­views, feed­back and, hope­fully, more users vis­it­ing your web­site.

To con­tin­u­ally op­ti­mise your brand’s dig­i­tal pres­ence, you need to lis­ten to your users, gather data and run tests that prove you have made a more suc­cess­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, whether that’s ac­cord­ing to sales, ser­vice or what­ever it is you judge the suc­cess of your web­site by.

King is a UX re­searcher at DAM Dig­i­tal, a Lon­don­based dig­i­tal agency that’s de­signed web­sites for brands such as Cos­mos, Marie Curie and Cri­sis.

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