A Web Site Usability Study
Having recently launched our new site, Google Analytics has become a bad habit. And though it easily told me how many people were visiting our site, I wanted more information. Basically I wanted to know how people were traveling through the site, what they were looking for and whether or not they were finding it.
I started looking at Google Analytics, which allowed me to easily see common paths through our site and which pages were looked at the most and for how long. From this I could tell that people were checking out our homepage, our services pages, our about us pages and then heading to a contact form. I instantly realized that our contact form conversion was not good, given the number of people who visited the page.
So I took this a step further and did some heat map testing of the site. A heatmap basically provides a light pattern over the top of your web design, showing you where people are (and are not) clicking with their mouse. This helped to further define the popular path and menu items people were taking and clicking on. But it didn’t answer the questions to why more people were not filling out our form and were they finding the information they were seeking.
Recorded Visitor Sessions
So the next step was to deploy a visitor session recording system. This was actually the first time I have used one of these systems and it was a little freaky. Basically it takes a recording of user sessions on the site. The play back looks like a video of your web site with a mouse moving around, pages changing etc. The recordings showed Web users typically traveling the path that we had already figured out from analytics and heatmaps. However, it also showed Web visitors getting to the contact form, scrolling down the page (I assume to see how long it was), and immediately clicking like mad on other pages.
We immediately shortened our contact form, it was clearly intimidating in how long it was. I also put together the ‘2-Minute Pitch’ video that can be seen on the homepage which follows the common path of most users in regards to the information they are looking for: Who are you, what do you do? How do you do it? and Why choose you?. This was designed to provide the information people were looking for in a different medium. My much less scientific gut is telling me that what people are clicking around for after getting to our contact form is pricing. We made a conscious decision to not publish our pricing but the internal debate continues with this latest study fueling the fire. This is a topic for another day.