How to Test Your Website Like a Buyer
When we create a website, we start with some ideas in mind. We think about our business objectives, our customers and our products or services. We plan for the various stages of the buying cycle and create content that helps customers learn, become excited and ultimately buy our offerings.
And when we have our technology, our content and our payment gateways in place, we feel like we are ready to go. We test our site, ensure that it works as planned, and then launch (hopefully) to great acclaim.
But how we look at our website and how our customers use our website are often completely different. We view it from the inside-out. Customers view our website (and all our marketing) from the outside-in.
To get closer to the customer experience, here are a few tips that you can use to test your website like a buyer:
It may be obvious, but asking your customers to pre-test your website can yield important insights. Don’t try to “think like a customer” — include real customers in your development process. Ask them to explain what they are doing as they surf your site — what works, what could be improved and what needs to be moved.
Heatmap your site.
Learn in more detail about what people click on, what they read and what gets their attention through the use of heatmapping technology like CrazyEgg or SessionCam. Most sites provide low cost starter plans — and the results should give you plenty to act upon.
Google Analytics is a free tool that has a Visitors Flow report that allows you to see how visitors flow through your website. Look at how many “drop offs” occur at each interaction. Then revisit the heatmaps to understand why your customers disappear from your site. Is there a call to action? Is there a clear next step? Use the data to help you make design decisions.
No brainer conversion.
Pricing is notoriously difficult to get right. But in the web world, it’s easy to test, measure and adjust your pricing models. What you are aiming for is a “no brainer” conversion — the price that elicits a “why not?” in the mind of the buyer. A great example of this is the Flickr Pro account cost. At $24.95 for a year, it is a “no brainer” to upgrade from the free account. Find your own no-brainer conversion price.
Finally, walk through the use cases you used as a basis for your site. Re-validate them. Make sure that they make sense. Make an actual purchase using your own credit card (or have a friend do the same). Does it feel like a website you can trust? Do the on-screen messages make sense? And are there follow-up or confirmation emails?
Remember, for many customers, your website may be the only experience they have of your business. Give them an experience to tell their friends about, and they will.