Monday 28 April 2014

Usability testing: What should you measure?

Usability does what it says on the tin – it’s a measure of how easy something is to use. But how do you measure something so subjective? That’s the topic of this blog post.

But first, why does usability matter so much? Enhanced usability results in improved conversion. By increasing conversion on your website you can increase sales before even beginning to increase traffic to it. Conversion is all about generating more sales from your visitors.

Now on to which usability factors you should measure:

Can visitors achieve their objectives?

Can you remember the last time you shouted at a screen because what you wanted to do wasn’t obvious? We’ve all been there.

Recently this has happened to me because:

The buying process timed out while I was digging around for my card, I couldn’t find a phone number and when I couldn’t sign up for something I wanted to pay for because it had no register button for new users!!! Makes me slight angry just thinking about it!

It’s called task analysis, the process of analysing which tasks will be most important to your visitors, then accessing whether they are:
  • Intuitive / easy
  • Learnable / memorable
  • Efficient / quick
  • Error free
Sometimes users make mistakes, no one’s perfect. So help them out, and show them exactly what they need to change on their enquiry form, how to retrieve their password or continue where they left off.


When you’re looking at how easy your website is to navigate, one thing to think about is the number of clicks an action requires to complete. Of course, the fewer, the better.

And how many navigational features are there on your website? Main menu, sidebar, footer menu, widgets, … To many can be confusing. So keep it simple and consistent throughout your website.
Are your categories intuitive? This is based on opinion really, but if you ask enough people you will get a consensus.

Multi-platform Accessibility

Gone are the days where websites can ignore their mobile visitors. Responsive web design is vital to stop mobile users exiting your website immediately.

How will the goals of your mobile users be different? Perhaps your mobile users want directions and opening times over business information. Measure how easy it is to complete these tasks on the responsive version of your website.

Load time, is another important measureable thing for desktop users and it’s crucial for mobile users. In fact, 66% of smartphone and tablet users are frustrated with page load times.


Language must be more that understandable, it must be engaging and on brand – these are fairly subjective but there are several other important factors to get right, like making sure the text is large enough, that it is legible against any background and jargon free; these you can easily test.

Customer Satisfaction

This is the user experience part of usability. If your website does not provide a pleasant customer experience your customer service team may never get the chance to call, email or meet those potential customers.

You’ll need to assess how your website makes visitors feel. Is it enjoyable to use? Is it useful?  Have you got the tone correct? And ultimately, are your customers satisfied with your online offering? In a way, this encompasses everything we’ve just been talking about because it brings us back to conversion. Satisfied visitors will convert and become customers.

If you’ve found this article useful, we’ll be following it next week with: Usability testing: 12 tools to measure how easy your website is to use. Where we’ll look into some of the various usability testing tools available.

Monday 14 April 2014

6 Areas To Improve Customer Retention

Customer acquisition and customer retention are vital for business growth. SEO (search engine optimisation) primarily deals with customer acquisition, but in this blog post we're going to focus on retention. Customer retention is all about getting the most out of the leads or clients you already have, converting them from one time buyers to loyal customers and brand advocates.

The aim is simple, to do more with your traffic by increasing conversion and retention.

1. Get the delivery right

They want it now. Customers are naturally impatient, if they’ve paid for something they want to start using it straight away. For this reason the speed and reliability of your delivery service is of upmost importance. You must offer fast delivery options for those who really do want their product now and ensure that your standard delivery service arrives on time or early. In addition, keeping customers informed on the progress of their order will keep their minds at ease making the whole buying process more enjoyable for them. Under promise, over deliver makes for happy customers.

2. Use registration to make repeat purchases speedy

Online registration enables the customer to store their own information, so that they don’t have to keep on filling it in every time they wish to place an order. It is also a great way to get customers to sign up for your email updates.

Websites that use registration to take all of the hassle out of making a second order can see a large increase in the number of repeat purchases. Amazon is a great example, they offer registered users one click payment.

3. Make password retrieval easy

We are all busy people with lots of things floating around filling our heads – which makes remembering passwords difficult! The last thing you want is for a 'ready to buy' customer to put off their purchase because they can’t remember their password. Setting up security questions which allow customers to reset their password quickly will allow them to continue with their order.

4. Have an easy to understand and free returns policy

Confidence in the quality and effectiveness of your product is freeing. Offering easy and free returns can encourage repeat business because the customer sees that you are confident in your product and if they know that they can return then they will more easily be persuaded to buy because it’s less of a commitment.

5. Make customers feel looked after with personal emails

Personalised emails saying a genuine thank you once a customer has made a purchase will make them feel appreciated. And if you have online registrations you will know the birthday of your customer, sending a birthday message with a coupon of some kind is another nice touch.

If you have goals and tracking set up in Google Analytics you’ll have access to information on shoppers who have abandoned during checkout. There are many reasons why they might have abandoned; one of them is that they might not have had enough information on the product. A friendly personal email saying: “we noticed you recently abandoned your checkout, is there anything we can help you with?”

6. Value loyal customers with rewards

There are all types of rewards, for referral, for loyalty or for first time buyers. It is really important to reward your long term customers and not just use rewards as a way to get new customers.

These six things can all be summed up in two principles: streamlining the purchase process and standing out from your competitors for exceptional customer service.

Friday 4 April 2014

6 Tips on how to write the ultimate FAQ page

“FAQ pages (on a website), done the traditional way, are the dumbest things ever.” Marcus Sheridan

In his blog article Marcus talks about ‘the traditional FAQ’ page, you know the type, where there is a really long list of questions and answers, perhaps ordered alphabetically, perhaps not ordered at all. You spend 10 minutes of your precious time scrolling through without ever finding the answer you were looking for… we’ve all been there. At this point I usually vow never to return to that website again!

So why do people have FAQ pages and are they really necessary?

Everyone else’s got one.

This is not a good reason. In a way FAQ pages have become like the unread but necessary web Terms and Conditions gathering dust on a website’s footer.

The difference is that users do actually need their questions answered.

People are increasingly searching Google with questions. Google, with its hummingbird update, is taking steps to further improve its understanding of language so that it can provide users with the most relevant answers to their long-tail queries (search phrases with lots of keywords). Anticipating these questions and providing the user with a dedicated page to answer their question is one way to improve your Google rankings. Put simply, FAQs will help your SEO.

Providing FAQs is important because unanswered questions could be stopping your potential customers / prospects from converting. The e-commerce website that provides an easy to find answer will gain the trust of the buyer; you want that to be your website rather than a competitor’s.

FAQs but done properly

So having an FAQ page is important but only if it’s done properly, but how do you create the ultimate FAQ page?

1. Keep your FAQ page customer focused

If it’s not a question that customers ask then it probably shouldn’t be there. Your FAQ pages doesn’t need to contain everything you want to say, some information might fit better on your ‘About’ page.

An easy way to find out what your customers are asking is to find out from your team what questions they usually encounter, then provide the solutions clearly. It’ll save your team time in the long run too because they’ll be able to point people directly to your FAQ page.

2. Organise

It’s really important not to randomly list questions or sort them A-Z, these are no good as there are just too many different ways to ask a question. Instead organise the questions into themes or categories that would make sense to the customer. If a question fits into more than one category, put it in both, anything that makes it easier for the user is a good thing.

Format the whole FAQ page so that it is easy to scan. One way to do this is to minimise the answers, but this technique often uses AJAX-based code. This coding is problematic for Google to understand, so steer clear of this if you want your FAQs to help you Google rankings.

A much better way to organise your FAQ page is to create a separate page to answer each question. This way, the user won’t have to scroll down through screens and screens of information before they get to the answer they need. Your FAQ page will consist of an ordered list of the questions, which all link to a page with the answer. This is great for your SEO because as we mentioned before, people type their questions directly into Google, and a whole page focusing on that topic will rank higher in Google than a page diluted with other questions.

If your answers are too short to justify a whole page, then you could just have a separate page per theme or category, either way make it nice and easy to navigate back to the main FAQ page.

3. Make your questions and themes task based

For example, talk about ‘making a purchase’ or ‘tracking an order’ instead of ‘billing information’ or ‘order history’. This comes back to being customer focused. You need to think how a customer would ask the question and search Google for the answer.

4. Give non-technical or jargon answers

Jargon alienates people. It’s exactly the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to convert prospects into custmers. Take the time to fully explain the answer, this will not only be more useful but I’ll also provide more content for Google.

It’s hard to know what’s jargon and what’s not when you use jargon every day. So get someone who doesn't speak 'your language' to read your FAQ answers over and feedback on them.

5. Link to products / services when you can

The best FAQ pages are those that answer the customers’ questions and provide them with an obvious way to continue their purchase journey. FAQs should all point to a goal, not just randomly provide information. The purpose of FAQ pages is to remove doubts customers have so they can take action, so make sure you provide a clear call to action. This can be a link to any relevant product, service or information on your website.

6. Make it easy for customers to ask a question

You’re not a mind reader, so you can’t possibly foresee everything a customer might want to ask. This is why it’s important to provide an option for a customer to ask a question. Do this by making sure your contact details are prominent and by providing a link to an enquiry form or email.

These recommendations will help you to create a useful FAQ page that Google and your customers will love. The results: you’ll not only get more visitors to your website but it’ll also help them to make a buying decision.

Let us know what successes you’ve had with an FAQ page, or if you have any FAQ writing tips you’d like to add (click into the article and scroll to the bottom to add a comment).

Each unique visit to your website is an opportunity for you to make a sale. Your aim should be to see the largest proportion of visitors as possible converting, by focusing on this you can increase your online income without increasing visits to your website.