Just hired as a conversion optimizer?
Hit the ground running and prove your worth in less than a week.
Often new testing & optimization hires try to do what they know best — run tests. And it is hard not to. Afterall, you want to prove yourself and the organization expects you to start making “improvements”.
In many cases, you are inheriting a prioritized backlog of tests where the design and dev wheels are already in motion. In other cases, executives are keen to run some tests based on some blog posts they have read or conversations they have had
“If this worked for them, it should totally work for us. We should test it. No brainer!”
Further, running a test ends up being a way to grease the wheels. (I do think this is useful since I have discovered issues only upon running tests that have gotten past code review, QA and product acceptance. So running tests (particularly A/A tests) helps identify any implementation bugs and issues with the data.)
However, one of the most important things you can do in those early days is make use of your “fresh eyes”. Organizations often become accustomed to their pages and flows which ends up being a blind spot that new hires can help spot.
This can be done by understanding the user experience on your website, also known as heuristic analysis.
“I already do it. What’s the big deal with that?”
Conducting the heuristic analysis methodically is the key. The process involves walking through the website, evaluating the flows using a list of criteria, making a note of areas of interest that could be causing leaks, overlaying data to confirm leaks and finally investigating and prioritizing solutions.
In this post, I will be reviewing CXL’s approach to heuristic analysis:
Get familiar with the the website
Start by familiarizing yourself with the website’s structure. Click around and go to key pages such as home page, checkout, form pages etc. Pay attention to the following:
- Navigation flows: Get a sense of the navigation options on the page (top nav, footer, body etc.) and destination URLs the page is linking to.
- URL structure: Check page URLs when going from page to page. This is useful when you measure flows in the web analytics tool. Also, check if the URLs are shared for different flows i.e. if the site sells 3 different products, do they have unique funnels that can be measured separately?
- Bad Pages: Identify pages that are throwing errors or not working as expected or are dead-end pages (typically 404) that present users with no useful options to continue browsing
Make a note of these areas of interest and follow this exercise up with an analytics inspection. Confirm all the suspicious stuff you noted during the walkthrough with data.
Conduct Technical Analysis
Using your web analytics data, identify the top devices and browsers that visitors use to browse your website. Walk through the site on these browsers and devices. The questions we are trying to answer here are:
- Does the site work with every major browser?
- Does the site work with every device?
- What’s the user experience like with every device?
Conduct Content Analysis
Identify the major sources of traffic to your website and top landing pages for each. Check those flows for the following:
Relevancy: Does the headline match the page content? Do call to action buttons match the value they’re going to get? Are the images on the page relevant to the content? If the user came from an external site (Google search, PPC, referral etc), will they recognize that it’s a continuation of their journey? Compare pre-click and post-click messaging and visuals.
Clarity: Clarity is important in terms of both content and design.
Content Clarity: Is the information on the page clear? Assess whether a user can instantly answer the following:
- What is this page about?
- Can I understand what the product / service is, and how it works (in a reasonable amount of time)?
- Are there supporting images and/or videos that help me understand it?
- Is the product information adequate / sufficiently thorough for making a decision?
- Is it clear what I have to do next?
Design Clarity: Evaluate whether the page’s primary goal is supported by design.
- Is there a strong visual hierarchy in place? Are less important things also less important design wise? Does call to action stand out enough?
- Is there enough white space to draw attention to what matters?
- How much top priority information is below the fold? If there’s more information below the fold, is it clear that they should scroll? Any logical breaks that stop the eye flow?
- Is the body copy legible?
Friction: Friction is anything that slows people down or refrains people from taking action. You can’t eliminate friction as there’s always going to be friction if there’s money involved (zero friction would mean free Ferraris), but you can definitely reduce it to a minimum. Evaluate the flows based on the following:
- Is the process complicated with too many steps and fields? Or is the language complicated with lots of jargon?
- Does the form require sensitive information?
- Are the pages loading slowly or are there technical issues?
- Is it easy to find next steps or a particular feature? Is the text legible?
- Does the design of the website look spammy/ scammy? Cheesy fake stock images, typos and poor spellings are major culprits here.
- Are there any usability problems?
- Are there privacy and security concerns?
Distraction: Every page has a primary goal i.e. driving users to take an action such as getting them to start a free trial. Everything that does not contribute to people taking that action could be a distraction, and should either be removed or pushed down in the visual hierarchy. Check to see:
- Are there any moving, blinking elements such as banners, automatic sliders that may be distracting users?
- Are there navigation elements in the conversion funnel that can be removed?
- Are there visual elements of lesser importance high in the visual hierarchy?
Motivation & Incentives: You want people to take action on your page. Are you doing a good job communicating why they should do that?
- Do users understand why they should take the action i.e. click a button or fill a form and what they are getting?
- Are features translated into benefits and is that something that’s desirable to the target audience?
- Could we apply some persuasion principles here that would be a good match, such as social proof, urgency or scarcity?
Finally, the following factors should be considered for users not ready to buy just yet:
- Do we help them in their research and evaluation process?
- Are there secondary calls to action to learn more about the product in the key funnels?
- Is there an effective email capture process? Does it have a proper lead magnet?
Note down all the areas of interest from the site walkthrough, technical analysis and content analysis. But be aware of your own biases — bias blind spot (tendency to see oneself as less biased) and confirmation bias (tendency to favor information that confirms our beliefs). Always double check the data to confirm if the areas of interest are indeed causing leaks.
After confirming the impact with the data, divide the areas of interest into two broad categories:
- To resolve: The solution is clear. Prioritize based on impact and level of effort.
- To investigate: The solution is unclear. Involve developers, designers, product etc. to brainstorm the solution.
This process can take a few days depending on how large the website is but can help you establish yourself and get the ball moving in the right direction.