Want to add more science to your web design? Start by using web analytics!

Chapters:
Article written by Claudiu Murariu
Product manager for PadiAct.
Google+ profile

When it comes to design, some say the best way is to keep it simple. But remember that we’re not talking about fashion and make-up, so that statement can be a bit ambiguous.

Nowadays, a web designer has two important cards up his sleeve in order to build a great website:

  • Creativity, meaning original, groundbreaking interactive designs
  • Analytics tools, meaning research and statistics that can help you improve certain aspects of your design or focus on specific areas

The best design is the one that you can’t see

…is an observation we have heard a lot of times and it means that the best design is the one that is able to influence your actions without you being aware of it. A great web design can influence the online behavior of its visitors, making them stay longer on your website or visit it repeatedly.

Web design is not just about instinct, about what you think looks good, it’s also about data, statistics that you can use to account for your decisions. Remember that a designer’s job is a continuous process, ending only after he is able to know the impact a certain design has on users’ experience.

Since we haven’t found web tools to improve your creativity, we’re going to focus only on analytics tools for designers. Here are some smart and easy tools you can you use to receive feedback from your visitors:

Click Heatmaps

If you are looking for a virtual map made out of clicks on your website, we’ve got just what you need. In 1879, French scientist Lous Emile Javal realized that people pause on some words and move very quickly through others. In in the 1980s, his idea of eye tracking was used in order to see what advertisements in magazines people focused on most.

How can you use eye tracking while visiting a website? There is the complex and expensive way and there is the easy way: research has proven that there is an 88% correlation between mouse and eye movement.

While eye tracking is prohibitive for most companies out there, click heat maps can be obtained for around $100 a year with products like Crazy Egg. Their tool can show you where users click the most on your website, thus enabling you to identify the most popular areas and make improvements.

Example of click heatmap from Crazy Egg.

Example of click heatmap from Crazy Egg.

Video Observations

Jacob Nielsen says that: “Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.”

You might not afford extensive usability testing but you can afford recording video sessions of the mouse movements your visitors are doing on your website. Such video sessions are great to spot problems or errors that happen on your website and need immediate fix.

Video observations are poor business analytics tools, but they can make wonders in identifying design flaws on your website.

We often use Click Tale to watch user behavior on newly designed pages and in the past it helped us discover design flaws like:

  • forms that make it difficult to users to fill them
  • call to action buttons that seem to be invisible to users
  • errors encountered by users and their inability to fix them

User feedback

Design is what users interact with and feel, so their feedback is crucial. We can’t go and knock at our users doors and ask them about their experience with the design we generated but we can knock on their screens, in an elegant way.

When a user finishes the action he came to your website for, it’s a great moment to ask him for feedback, especially about his user experience.

We’ve had great results with such methods and each time we used Usabilla, our favorite tool for getting feedback on future releases.

Ask users to point and click to offer feedback with Usabilla

Ask users to point and click for getting real feedback with Usabilla

AB Testing

You are probably tired of hearing about AB testing. Though everybody talks about it, too few designers do it on a regular bases.

AB testing is easy and helps you discover in a scientific way the best version of your design. It’s never too late to start, and once you start, make sure to never stop doing it.

You may remember Google Website Optimizer, the tool that made it almost impossible to setup an AB testing campaign. The good news is that it’s now a part of Google Analytics, thus making it really easy to implement a campaign.

The best part of it is that you have full control on success metrics and you get to make a deeper analysis. Google Analytics Content Experiments is able to eliminate the guessing part from design and decides for you which design leads to the most conversions.

Google Analytics Content Experiments results page

Google Analytics Content Experiments results page

Using web analytics tools for designers allow you to experiment with different designs in order to achieve your goals and receive constant feedback from your users. Less instincts! No more guessing! Just facts and all the data available out there to create a great website.

Editor: Evelina Catoi

Want to add more science to your web design? Start by using web analytics! by

1.100.000+ email leads collected with

PadiAct helps you get more email leads. More and better.

FIND OUT MORE