At ATAK we try to explain our development process as user centric. Our focus, when building a new site or application, is to first define all of the user types (a browser, a registered user, a daily/weekly/monthly user, the site administrator, and second or even third level administrators with different permissions). Once all user types are defined, our designers can then design with each user group’s main intentions in mind. As most come to understand, this process is very challenging as many user groups react differently to certain processes, especially as more user types are defined and the navigation/guidance path becomes more complex. Further, if the business is a new business, potential user groups may not be discovered until the first version of a website or an application is launched.
In our experience, a good website is always one that evolves so to always improve the experience of its users so they will become promoters for you. For all of the time, effort, and money spent into creating your brand, it would be nice if those investments spread by users who enjoy what you do for them.
So, clients always ask “if my site is new, or if I am shy about asking customers directly, what are some tools or resources to test my website?” Our clients are basically asking for ways they can get feedback about their website from outside eyes.
Below, we have put together a few resources that may help:
www.UserTesting.com - UserTesting.com lets you “look over the shoulder” of people in your target audience while they use your website. You get to see a video of them using your site while they answer your questions. This is a great tool for web developers, agencies, marketers, project managers, conversion rate optimizers, entrepreneurs, etc. Users are prescreened and meet certain demographics you can set. Each test costs about $50.
http://www.conceptfeedback.com/ - Here users can post their website, landing pages, mockups, wireframes, applications, and interfaces. Users get detailed analysis from experienced design, usability, and strategy professionals. There are also tools to share results for team website evaluations. This is a great tool to help evaluate website performance. Results are quick, clear, and efficient. The price is about $99 per expert and free community feedback is available.
www.labsmedia.com/clickheat/index.html - ClickHeat is a visual heat map of clicks on a website page, showing website hot and cold click zones. ClickHeat is an OpenSource software, released under GPL licensce, and free of charge. http://www.crazyegg.com goes a little bit further in that it also show how far down visitors scroll on the website and ways to differentiate referral sites.
Landing Page Testing
http://unbounce.com/support/getting-started - Unbounce makes it easy for Marketers to create, publish and test landing pages. Choose from built-in editable templates for lead generation or click through pages, or create a landing page from scratch using a powerful browser-based WYSIWYG editor. Publish the page live using your own domain name, and quickly set up an A/B split test - all without any knowledge of HTML. There are social widgets, a form builder, video inclusion, and more.
BrowserStack - http://www.browserstack.com - Live, web-based browser testing allows instant access to all desktop and mobile browsers. This is a super-fast tool that is cloud based. No software installation is required. This service included official mobile emulators and is compatible on Windows and Mac.
Browser Shots - Browsershots makes screenshots of your web design in different operating systems and browsers. It is a free open-source online web application providing developers a convenient way to test their website's browser compatibility in one place. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to our central dedicated server for your review.
Google PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. Reducing page load times can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates. This tool is free.
W3C mobileOK Checker offers various website tests to determine its mobile-friendliness levels. It assesses basic usability, efficiency, and interoperability, based on the WS3 Mobile Web Best Practices. A Web Page is mobileOK when it passes all the tests. This tool is free.
W3c Markup Validation Service - This validator checks the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc. If you wish to validate specific content such as RSS/Atom feeds or CSS stylesheets, MobileOK content, or to find broken links, there are other validators and tools available. These tools are free.
Search Engine Health (SEO)
http://www.linkresearchtools.com - The LRT provides an enormous amount of SEO metrics which are fully integrated, from nearly every backend imaginable, like Google, SEOmoz, SEMRush, MajesticSEO, Sistrix and many more. The toolkit supports a broad scope in SEO analysis from quick backlink checks to very deep competitive landscape or link prospect research. Customized reports are created based on your keyword, topic, and language. The Link Research Tools are the tools that many top SEO professionals swear on. Plans Start at $269/month.
http://www.seomoz.org - SEOmoz PRO combines SEO management, social media monitoring, actionable recommendations, and so much more in one easy-to-use platform. Tools help with rank tracking, on-page recommendations, accessibility issues, competitive analysis, keyword analysis, etc. Pricing starts at $99 a month.
Google Analytics not only lets you measure sales and conversions, but also gives you fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back. This is free.
Another site statistics/data alternative is https://www.optimizely.com which goes in a slightly different direction. When it’s time to take action and make changes to your site, there is no replacement for dedicated technical resources - in most organizations, these resources are hard to come by and typically demand waiting in line. Optimizely acts as your on-demand technical team, with technology that turns your creative changes into instantly generated and deployed code.
In closing, a good website is one that is always evolving. Keep your website current, user centric, and error free. Your conversions will increase as you close open loopholes.