Powerful tools for UX/UI research and better website design

February 4, 2020   |   14 min read time    Austin Walker Austin Walker

If you’re reading this, you probably already have a good idea in mind of what you’re looking for in your marketing. Or, you’re looking to understand more about how to empower your website. One of the best ways to do this is by studying your user experience (UX) and gauging how the user interface (UI) is affecting your website’s visitors. Ultimately, you can get these visitors to convert more by understanding how they are utilizing your website.

Make an adjustment, add new content, make sure that stale content is removed or updated. Then update.

The good news: it’s not extremely complicated. Simplicity is genius, right?

There are some concepts that have been intermingled over-and-over. For instance, the use of UX and UI.

These two concepts are commonplace in the design industry. However, they don’t mean the same thing.

In this post, we’re going to help explain the difference between User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). Then, we’ll cover tools that we use to better these two concepts with our own clients (and you can use for yours as well).

Let’s go ahead and move right into it.

Ch. 1 What is UX?

User experience is a measurement of how well a user interacts with the user interface.

Think of it like the buyer’s journey. A buyer moves through the purchase of a product by identifying they have a problem, researching how to solve their problem, identifying solutions to their problem, making a selection based on what fits their needs best, then makes a purchasing decision.

If there are sticky points, or a company is having difficulty being identified during the buyer’s journey, they won’t be a part of the selection process.

When it comes to UX, this can be the same. The moment that there is a point of stickiness on a website or within the user’s navigation, they could leave the site and be gone forever.

Here are some questions that are often asked when considering UX from the user’s perspective:

Can you use it? Can you find it? Does it serve a need that you have? Do you want to use it? Do you find it valuable? Do you trust it? Is it accessible? How accessible is it?

So, ultimately, why is all this so important?

First off, the better experience that your users or visitors have, the more likely they are to make a purchase, sign up, or take action in your company’s online goals.

Even more important, is the fact that Google algorithms are set to understand and measure user experience metrics as well, and it is a ranking factor that can be seen throughout Google’s search algorithm.

It makes sense for Google to do so, considering that their search rankings are showing the links to websites that should most easily answer the query that was input into the search bar.

Poor user experience on a website could look bad for both your company and for Google’s engine results.

At this point, you’re probably familiar with RankBrain, but if not you can check out the link. This is Google’s name for the engine that takes SEO factors into account when ranking your website. The ranking factors include behavior metrics like pages per session, bounce rate, dwell time, and organic CTR.

Image Tags and Headings

Image tags will help determine what an image is for both a user as well as a crawler, even if the image fails to load.

Headers on a website help someone navigate throughout the site, as well as increase their ability to scroll through to important information that is relevant to them.

Content Size

At this point, there really isn’t a “golden” number, but having content that thoroughly and adequately answers the question a visitor is asking will probably need at least 600 words.

This will ensure a better experience, since with a complete answer, visitors won’t have to struggle to find more, and it saves them time.

For instance, a complete list of tools, rather than just the top 10 might be more along the avenues of a page you’d want to develop.

Mobile Friendliness

This one is huge. If your website is not translating well onto a mobile device, you’re going to have issues ranking, as well as getting traffic.

Since October 2016, mobile and tablet traffic has taken over desktop traffic. So what this means for your company, as well as your users, is that mobile readiness has been important for at least the last 3 going on 4 years.

One of the more difficult things is to get your website to translate well onto a mobile device. Sometimes you’re able to just have it translate well through whichever company is hosting your website, but other times you need to have someone design it for you. At that point, it might make sense to understand how to translate a HubSpot website onto a mobile device.

Page Load Speed

Here is a great ranking factor from Google. This measures how quickly your page loads when a user clicks onto it.

Why would this be important?

According to Kissmetrics, most web users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less, and for 40% of users, if they have to wait 3 seconds, they’ll move onto another page.

Imagine losing 40% of your traffic overnight.

Google actually has a speed test tool in Google Search Console that you can utilize to measure your site’s performance. Many of the other tools we discuss in our final chapter also have applications to monitor page load speed and alert you if something is going wrong.

Ch. 2 What is UI?

In simple words - User Interface

UI designers are people that are more concerned with how a product is laid out. So for user experience designers, they’re in charge of understanding how the product feels, while the user interface designer is going to be more concerned with how everything is laid out.

For example, if we’re thinking about site structure, or organizing content within a website, then we’re thinking more user interface.

Ch. 3 UX Research Tools

We already know that UX and UI are extremely important. But why?

The better that a company pays attention and makes adjustments to their user experience and user interface, the better that they cater to their users.

And that’s important for ranking factors, as we learned in Chapter 2, but it’s also important to the business as a whole. If your company is boasting customer-centricity, it’s not possible without paying to important factors in the user’s experience.

And that’s why there is UX research, and tools to measure these important factors.

There are a lot of tools out there that some people might use to help manage their content and host their website. HubSpot is one of those sites, but what kind of tools do you use if you want to understand how the content is being utilized?

So you can get started in your own user experience research, we’ve provided a ton of tools that we use, as well as others that are popular in the UX research space. We hope that you can utilize them to get an understanding of what adjustments you need to make in your own new website design, as well

Check out another article for even more information on what UX research factors are important for your upcoming HubSpot website design.

Ch. 4 Common UX Research Tools

Appsee

Appsee is a mobile application analytics platform that uses qualitative information that enables you to track and optimize the user experience (UX) in your app.

Beyond just real-time analytics, Appsee will help you understand the performance of your website as well. They utilize performance metrics such as crash rate, DUA, and CR to make sure that your mobile app is working the way that your users are going to expect.

User Recordings

Appsee has user recordings which allows you to not only see a visual representation of where your visitors are clicking, but what they are scrolling through.

This can help you understand why they’re not converting, which forms they may prefer, or hang-ups in navigation that might be getting them to turn away.

The timeline that is provided can give a clear understanding and allow for you to go back to different parts of the recording to better understand what’s going on with your visitors.

Touch Heatmaps

Appsee will also aggregate touches, pinches, and swipes into a heat map. Heat maps will give you an indication of what users are specifically searching for, how the position of your specific click points might be affecting certain behaviors, and let you know how effective the user interface (UI) is for visitors.

More importantly, you can identify unresponsive click spots and features within your website.

Realtime App Analytics and Alerts

Now, really, how important is real-time analytics for your mobile apps?

The answer is it can be critical.

Setting up a funnel within Appsee, you can have the application alert you, for instance, if your funnel completion rate drops below 60 percent.

You can also set the application to alert you when crash rates get really high.

Google algorithms are monitoring different aspects of both your UI and your UX. If navigation is difficult, crash rates are high, or visitors are having difficulty getting through the rest of your pages (i.e. broken links) you can be penalized.

Losing rank can be difference between making your sales goals in 2020, and not.

Conversion Funnels

Conversion funnels are not a difficult concept to understand, but can be one of the most important metrics that you have on your website. Ultimately, you’re trying to sell either products or services on your webpage. And if your pages aren’t converting, you’ll need to make a change.

Within the video recordings of your conversion funnels, you can see how long it’s taking active users to complete each steps, as well as where they’re dropping off. You may even be able to deduce a reason through other features within the software.

Watch recordings of the conversion funnels in order to make sure that users are using your mobile app in the way that it was made to work. Find new solutions to the issues that they’re having and increase your conversion rates.

Action Cohorts

If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you’ve probably used the user retention cohort tool before. This measures how often people are coming back to your website in however many days.

Now, if you have an app where in-app purchases are how the company is making money, then the purchasing cohort analysis that Appsee can provide will be detrimental to your company's success.

Actively measure how often people are coming back to your app, are completing purchasing, or are not completing purchasing. You can even check out recordings to see where your app can improve and make the experience easier for your users to make a purchase.

Retention Analytics

With the action cohorts, you’re able to see what visitors are taking specific actions, and if they’re doing it over and over again.

However, with the retention analytics, you can visualize what percentage of users are actually coming back, or even how many have never come back again. Obviously, with a high percentage of people that are never coming back, there may be severe issues either with marketing’s targeting of users, or there may be significant issues within the user’s experience. Utilizing all of this software’s tools can help you identify which one it is.

Integration

Are you not a developer? Are you afraid that Appsee is going to be difficult to implement?

One line of code gets the app ready to go within your application. You probably won’t need any help implementing the solution, but if you do, here’s a quick blog on how to implement code into your mobile HubSpot website.

Hotjar

Hotjar is a service that helps to capture multiple types of user feedback so you can turn more of your visitors into customers.

With heatmaps, visitor recordings, conversion funnels, form analysis, and a ton of ways to get personal feedback from your users, Hotjar works really well for your UX research.

Heatmaps

Hotjar has a lot of the same features when it comes to heat maps as Appsee does. Minus one specific difference.

Although Appsee has features for mobile, Hojar will show the heatmaps across all devices, including tablets. With this awesome feature, you can monitor the success of click throughs, movements, and scrolling throughout every device that your company has built your website on.

Visitor Recordings

So now we’re getting into the exciting stuff. Visitor recordings can be viewed within all devices, so you can understand what kinds of actions are being taken more seriously through each of the devices, as well as what can be improved to help your visitors have a better experience.

Watching these recordings can give you a better idea of how you need to structure your website in an up-and-coming redesign. It may also clue you into what kinds of content your website needs to continue to produce in order to keep your users active and engaged across all devices.

Form Analysis

Ever wondered which parts of your form are turning the most users away?

That’s what form analysis is for through HotJar. You can determine different percentages through each of the fields within your forms to understand what may be benefiting your users, and what’s keeping them from actually following through completion.

What if you could increase your form conversions by even 5%? It could be huge for your business.

Feedback Polls

Feedback polls are designed to help understand what pain points your visitors are having while taking certain actions, so you can better understand how to improve their overall experience.

With HotJar, you can even custom design the questions to get feedback from specific users or even very specific points within each of your website’s devices.

Incoming Feedback

Up to this point, there’s been a lot of information that we can collect with HotJar that can help improve UX.

However, with their incoming feedback tool, you can actually get instant visual feedback on what aspects of UI your visitors are most happy or most upset with about at any given moment.

A/B testing certain designs can only take you so far. When it comes to actually understanding how a certain design is making your visitors feel, this is a great tool to get that feedback. Since you can make changes and get feedback almost instantly, it allows for you to be able to make changes, or even just better understand what type of interface your users are expecting from your website.

Surveys

With surveys you can get feedback directly from your visitors. What better way to help understand what issues they have or even what aspects of the flow of your website they like?

In Hotjar, you can visualize each answer by the question. That gives you the power to get quick understanding of what the answer to your hypothesis might be.

Second, with the ability to ask users for feedback easily across all your platforms, getting quick feedback from your visitors is simple.

Usertesting.com

Usertesting is great. These guys have actually compiled a huge database of users that are paid to test out website changes, give feedback on design, and all sorts of other UX/UI things.

Just like Hotjar and Appsee, they can also help you see your own visitor’s experiences through screen recordings, but if you’re testing a new audience you’d like to move into, then having a database of willing testers will most likely benefit you.

Start with the problem

With a lot of development, one of the big things that can really go wrong is you end up building a product or service that no one wants to use, or very little anyways.

Then the product fails and it falls on your lap.

By utilizing the paid testers within Usertesting, you can ask questions to understand what your potential audience is facing before you even make a decision to put your developers to the task. This save time, money, and a lot of unnecessary failures.

It also allows you to address what the solution would look like for users before you even build. That will make the process for UX even easier as the product or service develops. Now the potential users can already tell you what they would want in your solution.

Use Response

There are a lot of companies out there that are continuously moving towards automation when it comes to customer complaints or concerns.

Instead of customers having to call or talk to an agent on the phone or online, the answers to most of their problems are already available.Or, bots have become more popular as a company determines what responses fit the best for questions and concerns that their visitors have.

Customer support is one of the more important factors of user experience. It's a huge benefit to have, as well. If a potential or current customer is reaching out because they're having difficulties, it means that although they're having problems with either the product or their navigation, they're giving your company a chance to redeem itself and get their problem solved.

Feedback Software

For any of your users that are attempting to give you feedback for issues that are above or below your radar, Use Response has the solution.

With feedback software, users can anonymously give feedback or suggestions to a company about how to improve their products or service.

The feedback is added into a project management portal, so that certain stakeholders can be involved on what to do with the new information. The projects can also be hidden if it's not fully ready for those same stakeholders' eyes.

It's a great way to keep the entire team on task with what they need to do to help improve visitor satisfaction, as well as keep your inbound users happy.

Help Desk Software

Help Centers have been behind part of the automation aspect of customer support software. Think of it as a huge catalogues FAQ center. For the concerns and questions about how to use your products or services, pricing, or even just what others are saying, the help center helps keep your phone lines mostly open for what's important: sales.

For any of the concerns that aren't being fulfilled by the automated side of the help desk, the company's AI will help direct an inbound concern to a help agent that is within working hours, so that none of your potential incoming questions are lost throughout the process. Whichever of your users have questions, they'll get the help they need.

Live Chat with Messengers

Facebook Messenger and Skype have been effective communication methods for years. And that's why it's important to have them, as well as many other communication platforms, available for potential customers to reach out on.

Software provided by Use Response includes the ability to have a platform that will translate conversations from all of the different services regardless of the device that a user is on, as well as the operating system that it uses such as iOS or Android.

The software also provides canned responses to some of your potential customers questions, as well, so that you can keep your agents open for leads that are ready to close, as well as put more people into the pipeline whom are interested in utilizing your products.

Google Forms

Google Forms allows you to create and manage surveys for customers responses or even employee responses for free. All you need is a Google account. Whether you're asking for feedback about certain tools that you provide or you have questions regarding how the service you provide is doing, these forms work pretty well.

The interface is pretty easy to use. You can certainly customize one of the forms to receive feedback, or even just use one of the WYSIWYG forms if you're looking to just get it done quickly.

One of the best things about this service is that the data collected in the responses is stored in the cloud, so you can access and analyze the data in detail from anywhere in the world. Since the forms are a Google product, they easily integrate with Google Sheets, allowing for mass amounts of data to be downloaded and utilized within the spreadsheet program.

There are a lot of services that do the same thing. However, with Google Forms, you'll find that there is no charge for a specific amount of questions or how many respondents are in the survey. It continues to remain free.

Typeform

So when it comes to forms, there's not a whole lot more that can be discussed. Or so you'd think.

The feature that Typeform uses is really cool. Instead of going to your users with a boring huge form for them to fill out, instead, they provide more of a single conversation piece that your visitors and users can interact with. For instance, it would be a lot like having a customized bot talking to someone who is reaching out to your business.

You can have this same effect with any of the surveys that you might want to use as well.

With Typeform, there are a lot more options for new designs, but more importantly, Typeform seamlessly works with Slack, HubSpot, Google Sheets, and a whole lot of other applications.

This allows for you to contact the potential customers and clients that you already have. You don't have to waste a bunch of time switching over to a new system; you can utilize the leads that have already come through.

Ch. 5 Wrap-up and Conclusion

For anyone looking to improve upon their users experiences or even the interface that they're producing to improve performance, UX Research is a must.

With the quantitative and qualitative data that's produced through any of the mentioned tools, your company can make smarter decisions about what your users identify their needs with, and how you can deliver. It certainly is a lot better than just producing a design and hoping people like it.

If you've gotten through a lot of your testing and are ready to put together a design for your website, or are developing the content that will enable your visitors to have great experiences, download our website content planner guide. It's a complete guide to give you step-by-step instructions on how to turn your website content into information that your visitors will love and can utilize.


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