What is web usability? It is frequently debated, with many ideas and suggestions circulated via blog, Twitter, magazines, rants, and seminars, but are we really defining what we mean? In all of the chatter, there is one factor consistently discussed:
Usability cannot be estimated or guessed. It needs to be assessed. A new stream of web heat mapping technology like HitMap is emerging to address this.
Other frequently used ways to assess website usability have distinct benefits and drawbacks:
Analytics is an example of a current method based on metrics that attempt to tell the user story. They do provide a wealth of data that can be sliced and diced in numerous ways. Analytics have become the staple of website owners who want to know more about the traffic on their site.
For all the numbers generated, however, they don’t necessarily provide information on how people are using the site or their activity on individual pages. Jacob Gube states, “You can’t determine the effectiveness of a user experience design based solely on statistics such as page views, bounce rates and conversion rates.”
Another usability assessment in its simplest form is where the website owner decides if their website works ‘for them’. The challenge here is that they often assume that their customers will think and act just like they do. In doing so, the owner often forgets all of their implied knowledge, such as the names of products and services, or in which category they can be found. Their site will work for them, and yet many of their prospective clients will still not find what they wanted as easily as they wanted. When this happens, bounce rates go up and businesses lose conversions.
Eye-movement tracking is a great example of technology being used creatively and effectively to see how people scan website pages, often pointing out where users ‘zone-out’ on banner ads. This technology also requires investment at levels more suited to enterprise sites, or requiring custom headgear (i.e. done in an ‘experiment’ or lab at a specific test time and place). This information, combined with analytics can almost give you the why, but there’s something still missing.
Usability or focus groups can provide useful feedback with varying degrees of reliability of results. Usability.gov states, “What you do not learn is how users really work with Web sites and what problems users really have with those sites”. The costs associated with hiring focus groups have also meant that small online businesses do not have the budget to undertake tests with realistic sample sizes.
Another testing option is the Split test where you create two versions of the same site and see which performs better. This does create an increased burden of time and overhead in setting up two versions, making this often unrealistic for small and medium sized businesses on a tight budget or timeframe.
Tracking clicks is not profoundly new, it’s just that the value of this technology has been largely undersold or overlooked in the analytics age. HitMap is a very new approach to making click data easily accessible and usable to the everyday website owner. What click tracking can tell you is where users are actually clicking on any given page. This can tell you where your website design or programming is failing to meet your site visitors expectations. This information gives a clear visual representation providing instant feedback on a page’s successes and failures.
Knowing where visitors find challenges on your site is only as good as a doctor diagnosing an illness. Acting to correct issues is what will win your website users over and increase your time on page, and subsequent conversions. A heat map will continue to remind you of the opportunities lost until you do something about them. HitMap allows you make changes that are often quick and easy, but with significant impact. When website issues are fixed, the heat map will light up like a radar, showing up in all the right places on your web pages.
The cost of HitMap is tiered to allow even the smallest to largest websites to use it - there's no barrier to entry.
Best of all, you don't have to wait. HitMap is powered by Lasso 9 and runs so fast you can be learning about your pages successes and failures right from the start. In real time. No waiting for reports, no waiting for someone else.
Learn more about HitMap and how it can help your website’s user experience!