I’m going to help you take your service to a new level today. We’re going to play a game. A game motivated by our users. When you visit a new site, what questions come up in your mind? How long does it take you to decide to stay or go?
Visitors who are new to your site do the same thing. They come, with many questions and few answers. In a few moments they answer the questions to their satisfaction and move on or become your customer.
Today’s exercise is about knowing what these questions are, identifying how you would answer them, and then learning how visitors answer them. Knowing where your visitor’s answers to these web questions differ from yours will empower you to improve.
Now for the web testing questions:
1. Who runs this site or business?
Not every visitor is looking for your biography and social security number. Still it helps to have an indicator that lets them know they can learn who you are. Why? Knowing who you are helps build rapport. Having no way to find out who you are (especially if someone is looking) may create the impression that you have something to hide.
2. How do I reach someone if something goes wrong?
My biggest fear dealing with any new business is what happens if something goes wrong. Who do I contact? A contact form helps but that is not always enough. Some people might perceive that as a black-hole. Consider putting a phone number on every page and make sure your Contact page has more than just a form.
3. How will this site benefit me?
On your homepage is your sales message coming across? You’re trying to reach your visitors and make them into customers. Make sure you let them know how you can help them. At Feedback Army, I offer a service to review websites to improve usability.
4. What is this going to cost me?
If you’re offering a paid service (or if your site is free)–say so. I’m not offended paying for something. I do like to know what I’m getting into before I start. Sites that expect me to ask for a quote are the worst. If you’re one of those businesses relying on high prices and low volume, consider putting up a very high price. At least visitors will know what they’re getting into. If a visitor doesn’t know what it’s going to cost, chances are they’re not going to be your customer.
5. What exactly will I get from this site?
If you’re offering a service, it isn’t enough to “say” what you’re giving. Show your visitors what they will get. On this site I provide several sample reviews I received permission to display. Make sure you’re doing the same thing. If you’re selling something tangible–show pictures. If you’re selling software–screenshots.
6. How long is this going to take me?
When a visitor comes, some may leave if they have the mental perception that it’s going to take awhile to use your site. When I think usability testing, I think lots of money, reports, and expensive consultants. To combat this with Feedback Army, I emphasize “Two Minutes to Create a Test” right on the homepage.
7. What am I expected to do on this site?
Next a visitor needs to know what they need to take advantage of your service. This feeds into the “how long is this going to take me?” question. When I was setting up this blog, I found the excellent ThemesPress WordPress Theme Generator. I came to their site with the expectation that creating a WordPress theme from my existing template is painful. They immediately make the steps clear on their homepage. I saw that I needed my HTML and CSS. From there they’d provide everything else. This gave me the confidence that I met the prerequisites to use their service.
8. Will this site be here tomorrow?
Given what a visitor can see about your site, they will make a snap judgement about whether your site will continue to exist or not. Taking the time to have a decent design and indicating what years you’ve existed will give confidence to visitors that your site will continue to exist.
9. What do others think of this site or service?
Human beings (and the occasional surfing cat) are influenced by others. Quite a bit. We don’t have the time to reason about everything ourselves so we look for answers in social cues. Use this to your advantage. If people are saying good things about your service, make sure your users know this. Whenever I see press coverage or even a genuine looking testimonial, I perk up.
10. How often is this product or service worked on?
Next, make sure you keep your site up to date. My biggest pet peeve are sites that fail to update the footer of their site with the current year in the copyright. I had someone contact me to discuss their “patented software”. I took a look at their site and saw 2008 in the footer. This immediately told me no one is paying daily attention to the site. Check these details. If you can’t keep your site up to date, then consider leaving the dates out.
Now you know my usability questions (and some of my pet peeves). Have you answered these for your site yet? Once you do, the next step is to see how users would answer these questions. You can use Feedback Army to do just that. Pick out five or six of usability questions and create a test. This will give you an outsiders perspective to how you’re presenting yourself. Once you find the disconnect, you can fix these items and ask again.