User experience (UX) is the application of user information. A website with effective UX understands who their users are, what they need, what they value, and their capabilities of finding and understanding the information they seek. The actual business component of UX isn't far off. By improving the quality of users' interaction with and perceptions of your website or personal brand, you can effectively position yourself, your service, or your product. The way you improve your UX is trough UX testing.
Why is website UX testing important? In short, UX is important because it's a measure on how easy and enjoyable your website is for your users. The actual technical components of UX includes many aspects of your WordPress website, including navigation and layout, performance and load time, readability and credibility, and more. The easier and more enjoyable your website is, the more chances you have to achieve your business goals.
User involvement with your website is very transactional. They come to your website to consume information, interact with you and/or others, and/or purchase something. If your website doesn't allow your users to accomplish their goals easily, they will leave faster than you can say “bounce rate.” There are other websites out there that can and will fulfill their needs.
Navigation and layout makes your website easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Performance and load time allow your users to get solutions to their problems as quickly as possible. And finally, the readability of your valuable content and your credibility is the magnet that closes the deal, keeping your users engaged and encouraged to discuss.
After you optimize some of the low hanging fruit, you can follow through with UX testing to see how your optimizations fair and what else you should probably do.
Getting Started with the Technical Components
First before you do anything, I would recommend hooking up your website to Google Search Console and Google Analytics and see what your page speed score is. Google Site Kit is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to connect all three of these services and helps automate the connection and monitoring process. I also like to run a Performance Check through ManageWP just so I have a few other points of performance data. What you're doing here is beginning to collect basic stats of your website and check how your website is currently performing.
After that, there are two main areas of focus to start with – ease of use and performance. Valuable content comes right after your website is structurally sound.
Ease of Use
This involves not only how easy your website is to use, but also how it's laid out (navigation and layout). Can your users find what they need in less than 5 mouse clicks or finger taps? What about 3?
Do you have a Start Here page or use your homepage to link everything? Can Google and other search engines get to all of your content?
As you think about how your content is accessed, many of you will find that your website isn't as easy and intuitive to use as you think it is. Here are a few things to look for:
- Keep your navigation bar clean with important pages or posts linked. Make sure menu is accessible from every page.
- Make your information easy to find. Use clear titles that indicate what the page is about.
- Make sure your content earns its spot on the page. Don't use language like Welcome to my Website.
- Make sure someone can land on your website and tell what your website is about in 5 seconds.
- Make sure your USP, your CTA, and your content is clear.
- Some design use all caps in their landing pages. This can be fine if used sparingly as all caps take longer to read since they are square.
- Choose a legible font and format text to make your content scannable.
- Refrain from using too much contrast. If you do, then nothing stands out.
I've read that a few marketers take the approach of the 14,000 Things to Be Happy About book to model on what to do with their website. While I could agree on the simple premise of the concept with an easy to read layout, I would caution you to take the approach of this book for your content strategy. Content without explanations, asides, and other potentially useful information would make for some dull blog posts.
Performance and load time is a little less subjective since the effect is near instant. The tools and methods, however, will vary.
- Make sure you’re using a mobile responsive theme. Mobile responsiveness is probably the single most important thing you can optimize for. Impact has a nice summary of an Experience Dynamics study where 52% of users say that a poor mobile experience will reduce the likelihood they'll engage with the website. Furthermore, mobile users are five times more likely to abandon your website!
- Mobile device layouts are narrower. Make sure your navigation menu, forms, tables, and other content is visible without having to scroll or zoom in. These are problems you need to be aware of.
- Refrain from overusing post sliders or image sliders. These can significantly slow down your website.
- Use related posts or related products to guide users to additional content. If this is not built into your theme, be careful how you implement this with custom code or plugins. Depending on how this functionality is coded can impact the performance of your website.
- Optimize your images. Images are the number 1 object that slows down your website.
- Enable caching and minify code where possible to reduce the number of requests on your web server.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to quickly serve global users to reduce the risk of crashing your website with a surge of traffic.
Readability and credibility are two-thirds of creating great content. The other third is usable information. Try to avoid using generic terms and show value without requiring your readers to decode the information. This is a little trickier with technical content, such as this post you're reading now. My positing on this post is to quickly deliver the basic information, give a few tools and additional resources, and then explain what to do next.
As you go along you'll see what your more popular content is. Be sure to create landing pages, funnels, or CTA buttons on your most commented or visited pages and posts.
One CTA could be an email form. As previously hinted at, avoid using generic terms like subscribe and newsletter on your CTA. Focus entirely on why your reader would even care to get on your email list. Then be sure to follow through and send cool stuff with confirmation and similar language to your website.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when creating content:
- Further your knowledge and deepen your impact. Make yourself worth following by constantly improving, even after you establish yourself as an expert.
- Be careful with being too boring. Most consultants and managed service providers are really bad at this.
- Give helpful information but be careful about giving all the information. If your information delivery is through a fire hose, your content still won't be effective.
- Keep related products limited to the category or funnel of readers it's designed to serve. Posting your course or product everywhere will net you an extremely low conversion rate. Your product or course is for your super fans, so put it behind a funnel or category.
- Don't run down everyone who visits. Not everyone is interested in your premium product so you lose nothing if you limit its visibility. You can learn to introduce it at the right place and right time. You may not need to use the velvet rope technique but you do need to qualify.
- Think about your positioning and hierarchy of content. How do your blog posts, clusters, article series, or ultimate guides fit in?
UX is pivotal in improving your conversion rate. The more you help your users find what they need, the more successful you become. This is where UX testing comes in. Once you get the basics setup and collected some initial stats, you can begin testing to see what else you need to do.
- Highlight problem areas with Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Look for errors, bounce rates, and other issues.
- When using Google PageSpeed Insights, check speed for both Desktop and Mobile, with preference to the mobile score.
- UsabilityHub for UI and usability testing.
- ConversionXL, web design from scratch.
- If you’re having trouble, user personas or customer avatars can be helpful tools.
Types of Testing
- Prioritize users when possible. Create and send a visitor survey if applicable.
- Try minimalist testing when there is one thing you want a visitor to do.
- Try the squint test for layouts and design. This is where you squint and try to determine what and where the different sections and design elements are.
- The hardest copywriting and marketing job will be of your own creation. Besides the tools above, return to your projects with fresh eyes or find another expert to give you their experience. This can be an expert in your field or a UX professional. Don't be afraid to seek one out. Everyone has coaches and gets lessons.
- Besides UX testing, have others look at your website. Recruit some of your friends, family, connections, and co-workers. Have them test your website and provide insight.
Gathering UX Testing Findings
I know this stuff can get a little crazy when you're first starting out. It's also crazy if you try to compile lists from experts. You can really get in the weeds here. But, if you stick with it, things will start coming together. By the time you’ve done the base optimizations to you site, started collecting data, tested your website, and asked others for input, you should have a clear list of things to improve upon.
Chances are that list is sizable. Don't try to do everything at once. You're not going to suddenly lose everything. Start with the items that have the biggest impact first, then work your way down to tweaks and modifications. If some identified problems are difficult to diagnose and fix, you may need to iteratively improve and perform further testing.
Now, how long do you do this for? When is your website truly done? This is difficult to answer. Here's a point of view from Miles Beckler on when a website is finished:
UX Testing Conclusion
UX may seem like something that only nerds should worry about. Thinking this way is a mistake. UX is not something you want to ignore. Improving UX will improve your users' ability to find what their looking for. This inherently makes your website rank well by reducing bounce rates and increasing tracked goals and conversions. Doing some UX testing is a great way to identify website issues and allow you to easily create a road map of improvement projects. Being on WordPress makes this all the more easier.
Let me know what issues have stumped you or how you've tested or audited your WordPress website's UX by commenting below. What else would you like to see here? Would examples of different websites across multiple industries be worth looking into?