Stop people from ‘bouncing’ away from your website after only one page.
What’s your bounce rate? I guess it would help to explain what a bounce rate is. Here’s what Wikipedia says…
Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is a term used in web site traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.
The formula used to calculate bounce rate is: Bounce Rate = Total Number of Visits Viewing One Page / Total Number of Visits
But here’s an easier way to say all the gobbly-gook above:
Bounce Rate = # of People that see 1 page, then leave.
So bounce rate is a shorthand phrase to explain ‘low interest’ or, in a more colorful way, BORING websites. The higher your bounce rate, the more people are coming to your website, viewing one page, and leaving. Frustrating, isn’t it?
What’s your website like?
If you own a website, you’re probably wondering how to make more money, or get more followers, or whatever. And in order to sell something – an idea, a product, your service – you need to keep the customer’s interest.
If you only have a website associated with your company, you might have even said, “God, that’s ugly… if only they would do this…”
Stop, you just did usability testing.
Wha? What did I do? You just did usability testing: a simple, free, and fast way to get your website to keep customer’s interest and increase sales.
- Usability testing usually takes about 4 hours,
- it takes no money,
- it requires only 5 people
- and it’s easy to do.
Really? Really. So read on.
Why is usability testing important?
Now that you have a metric (bounce rate) to explain low interest of your website (read: boooring) you can do something about it. Usability testing is the answer. It’s important because it is incredible value and low or no cost to you.
And making the changes to your website are usually easy, so when you do start getting feedback, it’s not hard to change for the better.
Much of the changes are more about creative content building, some of it will be navigation. One thing is for sure, if you do usability testing, you’ll see patterns of not-so-great design emerge in your website, and you’ll feel like you know what to do. And that feeling is priceless.
Origins of usability testing.
Usability testing has been going on since someone tried to sell something to someone else and the process flopped. That probably translates into thousands of years of bad sales pitches. Some cave-dweller probably asked after the failed transaction, “How could that have gone better? Perhaps I should ask someone else what I did wrong trying to sell these yams.”
Where I first heard of usability testing is Steven Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think. I still consider it one of the most influential books I have read to date, for business or otherwise. It also made me a better salesman.
So usability is a tactic.
Sure, it’s a tactic. I’m defining tactics here in terms of time to implement and ease; it’s a bite-size piece of action that you can take, right now, with little or no preparation, with 5 people.
Okay, so getting 5 people to participate for about 45 minutes each is kinda tough, but I’ll show you ways to get around that below.
But usability testing is also a strategy.
Yes, it is. It can be a strategy – and should be.
We’re using the definition of strategy here to mean a process over time, over months, over years. You need regular feedback, though that doesn’t mean frequent feedback. Doing usability testing say, 1x/month, is usually optimal if you’re just starting out.
What is the benefit/cost to you on that pacing? About 50 hours of testing, and up to double your income. Really
How do you do usability testing?
What you need.
|- 2 Chairs
- A table
- Internet connection
|- Grim determination to fix website
- Don’t fight with subject
- Ask only questions, don’t provide answers
- Can’t get depressed from answers
|- Basic (“What is this site about?”)
- Discovery (“find the red shoe”)
- Search (“How would you find X?”)
- Summary (“Would you buy from this site?”)
What you need for usability testing.
How you do it.
- Basically, you find someone in your ‘target demographic’ to take the test, that has never seen your website before.
- Offer them something for taking the test.
- Setup a time for them to take the test, tell them that it should take about 45 minutes.
- Meet, and tell them before the test…
- There are no wrong answers.
- You want them to speak out loud, so you can ‘hear their thoughts.
- You will not get offended by anything they say, so be free with your comments.
- Have fun.
- Take the text. Try to have a rough feeling of how long it will take for each question, so you can finish roughly on time.
- Allow the subject to explore if they want, just keep them talking about what they see.
- If they ask questions about “where do I go now?” turn it around and say, “what do you think you should do?” Remember it’s not a true test if you give all the answers!
- Have fun. Seriously, have some fun in your life. Just keep saying, “it’s gonna be worth it!”
Keep in mind.
- They should have no prior knowledge of the website. (don’t use company employees, for instance)
- Incentive could be anything; lunch, your product, cold-hard-cash.
- Remember to pick people that would likely buy from you if they knew about you.
- Keep the invitation simple.
- Avoid talking about testing beforehand.
- Even one tester is better than none.
It’s so easy, you have no excuse for not doing it. If you don’t do it for your business, you really have to ask yourself if you’re in business to win or lose. Here are some of the excuses Steven Krug says people use (and I tend to agree, since my clients have used them too):
You’ll be amazed.
It’s so easy. It’s really easy to do. It’s scary the first time you do it, sure, but after the first time, you’ll see the benefit, and it will always outweigh the cost. After a while, you’ll get really good at it.
It’s immediately revealing. With only one test subject, you’ll see things that you should have guessed yourself.
A pattern will emerge instantly. With two subjects, you’ll notice patterns already starting to emerge.
Most of the changes are simple to implement. Most of the changes are going to be navigation and headings. Don’t be afraid to think big, though, on changes. If you have never done usability testing before, there is probably a full redesign somewhere in your future. DO NOT DESPAIR! Remember, this could make you thousands of dollars over the months ahead!
Using Analytics/Metrics to gauge success.
OK, so there is one caveat to this whole usability testing thing. You need to have access to analytics, like Google Analytics. See more information on our Analytics & Metrics page.
- Steven Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think book on amazon.com
- Here is Steve’s site, called Sensible.
- See more information on our Usability Testing page.
- Usability Testing tagged articles.
- See more information on our Analytics & Metrics page.
- Analytics / Metrics tagged articles.
You Call to Action!
- Be the FIRST commenter (with a good solid comment, not just a ‘hello’) on this article and get 30 minutes of our time; we’ll participate as one of your subjects, or give you feedback on the usability testing process. Just contact us.