Test, Test & Test Again! Why Pre-launch Testing Is So Important For Your Website.
Testing your website or app before launch is a crucial step that unfortunately is often neglected. Making sure things are running as smoothly as possible now can spare you from a myriad of headaches down the line.
Let’s take a look at some things you may want to test before going live….
Ensuring your website is functional in all the major browsers is absolutely essential. Your site may look fantastic in the latest version of Chrome and Firefox; however it may not perform so well in Internet Explorer 8.
Make sure you test on every browser you possibly can, and don’t forgot to trial your site on different hardware. People should be able to use your site whether they are on a mobile device or tablet, and on each operating system.
Once you’ve checked on every piece of hardware you can physically get your hands on (better for peace of mind!), you can utilise tools such as BrowserStack and GhostLab. They are an excellent resource which allow you to test on over 300 web and mobile browsers and emulate a huge range of devices.
If you are running an eCommerce site, it is vitally important that your cart and checkout sections are running smoothly. If users are adding things to the cart, they are very likely to end up as a successful conversion; nothing hurts your conversion rate more than a bad checkout experience.
A/B testing can be tricky when examining your eCommerce checkout system, due to the smaller sample size of people using this process versus simply visiting your website. However, it is worth persevering, as an effortless, intuitive checkout process will do wonders or your
Some things worth testing are:
Login checkouts versus Guest checkouts
Does your website have more new visitors or returning customers? If you are getting increasing numbers of new users on your site, test whether emphasizing the guest checkout has any effect on your conversion rate. Stressing the guest checkout process is normally a good idea anyway, as most platforms allow registered users to use the guest system if they wish.
From a UX (user-experience) standpoint, you shouldn’t force a user to register to make a purchase. Visitors often want to make a quick order without giving away too many details, or filling in too many forms. If you are making people sign-up before they can checkout, test what effect a guest checkout has on your conversion rate.
Trust and security seals are an often overlooked factor in the eCommerce process, but they can have a large effect on your conversion rate when used correctly. Online shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy and security conscious, so it’s important to be aware of security seals can change visitor’s behaviour.
Don’t just rely on conventional wisdom and stick with “Norton Secured” and be done with it; test which seals work best for your customer base. Make sure the seals are prominent without dominating, testing a couple of different placements can be beneficial; it seems like a small detail but they can have a big impact on conversions.
Charity Donation Pages
Designing effective donate forms is a slightly more subtle task than trying to maximize conversions on an eCommerce site. Users are not purchasing a product from you as such, so you need to be mindful of these modified expectations.
However there are still a variety of factors you can test to maximize your donations…
Try testing your donate forms placement on the page. Does it work better above the fold? Should it appear in a pop-up call to action?
Also try adding your donate form to the footer of every page of the website, it could be that users are particularly inspired to donate while reading the ‘about’ or ‘our work’ page.
The design of your donation form can significantly impact your conversion rate.
Here are some things to test:
- Copy – do users prefer a more concise style or are they not getting enough information
- Testimonials –does adding a testimonial from a previous donor make users more likely to donate?
- Photos – try different pictures on your form, you never know what the most emotive combination will be.
- Layout – do visitors prefer a one column design or a two column design?
- Donation level – try testing various default donation amounts, a lower amount may increase total conversions.
Eye Tracking Studies
Eye tracking tests used to be out of reach for all but the biggest agencies with the largest budgets. However, with increasingly sophisticated webcam technology, this is starting to change.
There are numerous benefits to having eye tracking tests carried out on your website, such as:
Identifying Usability Problems
Eye tracking can help you answer key questions about the usability of your website, including…
- Does your design guide users through your site efficiently?
- Where visitors expected to find features on your website.
- Did visitors notice a new element; such as a link, button or advertisement?
- Which parts of your site are users reading and which are they skimming?
- How different groups of users, such as members and non-members, experience your design.
- Is a feature such as a chat box or CTA (call to action) a valuable aid or a negative distraction?
Having users discuss their experience using your site is a valuable exercise, but often people find it hard to accurately articulate how and why they made certain decisions.
Eye tracking takes some of the guesswork out, mapping eye movements in real time. This illuminates some of the unconscious processing that goes on when someone is navigating your site; invaluable data when it comes to the testing stage.
A visual representation of usability issues is a critical part of testing your website. Showing heatmaps and gaze plots makes it so much easier to articulate to your team the user-experience that currently exist.
Inviting key team members to observe the live-view of an eye tracking session is worth hours of them simply watching a mouse pointer moving around the screen.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is a broad subject that is difficult to master, but there are some basic things you can do pre-launch to at least make sure your ranking isn’t being actively hurt.
- Create unique meta-descriptions and title tags, Google doesn’t like duplicates.
- Try to secure high quality links pointing to your website as soon as it goes live.
- Pick a domain which doesn’t have a lot of competition for its search terms.
- Make sure you are running analytics immediately so you can react to any problems.
- Test there are no broken links and 404 errors on your site.
- Keep Image Alt Tags keyword focused – and make sure every image has one before going live.
As you can see there is a lot to think about before your website goes live. However, it’s much easier to deal with these issues early on than to try and fix things when your site or app is live and operational.
Keep these key issues in mind and you’ll be on your way to a successful launch in no time. Good luck!
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