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5 Key Areas to Test on Your Website

Posted on 8.30.2012

There are a lot of elements that you can test and tweak on a website, and depending on what type of site you run, the importance of those elements varies. 

That being said, there are some general aspects of a website that always have an impact on user experience and a site’s overall performance. The only way to know if you’re offering visitors an optimal site experience is to continuously use A/B or multivariate testing tools to discover how user-friendly your site actually is.

Just about any element of a website can be and should be tested – from the general layout of to ad placement. But if you’re looking for a good place to begin, start with these five key areas:

1. Call-to-Action Buttons

Whether you’re an e-commerce merchant looking for the perfect “Add to Cart” button, a service provider searching for the ideal “Sign Me Up” icon or a content producer who wants a stellar “Read More” symbol, every website features some type of call-to-action button, making them among the most important features for a site owner to test.

Not only should the placement of these buttons be tested, but so should the design, color and copy. For example, does “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” garner the best results? What about red buttons vs. green? Circle vs square? And so on…

The only way to answer these questions is to test, because every website is different. However, a good starting point is to begin with actionable, concise and strong copy. That being said, you must also take into consideration how the text can be interpreted; although “Buy Now” is short and to the point, it could also make a consumer feel like their shopping experience is over once they hit the button, while an icon that says “Add to Cart” makes consumers feel like they can continue shopping.

The same is true when it comes to testing the colors, placement and size of call-to-action buttons. Without testing, it is hard to tell how these elements can be interpreted by your brand’s consumers. This is why site owners should come up with a few different button designs that fit into their brand’s image, and then start testing the buttons’ design and placement.

2. Navigation Menu

A site visitor’s user experience can definitely be negatively affected by an inefficient navigation menu. Navigation Menus are essential for getting visitors to travel around your site, which is why testing this important element can not be overlooked.

While the design and location of these menus are important, the most critical aspect to test is the menu's text, because just like call-to-action buttons, some words can be interpreted differently by visitors. For example, vague words, such as “Information,” should be avoided. Instead, try to use more specific words, such as “Resources,” or even more specifically, “Whitepapers.” Additionally, navigation titles should be short and to the point. Instead of creating a section labeled “Recently Reduced,” merchants should try simple words like “Sale” or “Clearance.”

Site owners can also play around with the location of their navigation menu, but in most cases the best spot for this feature is the top of a website. This is because the top of a website is typically where navigation bars are features, and by moving it somewhere else, you could easily interrupt the user experience.

3. Social Sharing Icons

While you may think that all social sharing icons are similar, that is not always the case. Just like call-to-action buttons, social sharing icons can vary in size, shape, design and even copy.

And while all of the aforementioned aspects of a social sharing icon are important, one of the most debated topics when it comes to these buttons is placement. For example, should a content producer place social buttons at the top or bottom of an article? One could make arguments for both; while placing the icons at the bottom of an article may be a good idea, because consumers typically share content after reading it, you could also argue that many people don’t even finish reading the articles they open. The only way to know which placement works the best for your site is to test, but site owners can start by placing their buttons in easy to find locations. 

Aside from button placement, site owners should also pay close attention to the size and design of the social icons they choose, because although these icons are necessary, they shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

4. Email Newsletter Signup

Email is still the king of online marketing, which is why the effectiveness of a site’s email newsletter signup area is very important.

As with testing call-to-action and social media buttons, users can test everything regarding their site's email newsletter signup area – from the actual signup form to design and location. 

Typically, a clean and simple newsletter signup form that only asks for the site visitor’s email address will earn the best results. This is because many consumers will be put off by having to enter too much personal information. Additionally, depending on how important email marketing is to your brand, you can test different areas to promote your company’s newsletter. For example, if your company is attempting to greatly increase the number of its email subscribers, you might want to feature the email signup box somewhere toward the top of your site, while a company that already has a large list might feature their signup box in the middle, or toward the bottom of their landing page.

5. Promotions

It can be very easy to overlook testing promotions. This is because most site owners are concerned with the core features of their website, and not elements that have been added and may only be sticking around for a limited time. However, testing is vital for site owners who want to get the most out of their promotions.

For example, merchants who are running a free shipping promotion for the holidays will want to test where this offer catches the most attention. While a small free shipping icon on the top of a site may be effective, featuring a larger free shipping icon on the landing page for a limited amount of time may be more helpful in boosting sales. The only way to find out the best placement is by – you guessed it – testing.

And although placement is essential, the design and copy are equally as important. So don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, as with all of the other elements that have been previously mentioned, create a few different promotional designs that can be tested quickly and easily. Then, after reviewing the results, choose the highest performer, so that you can get every penny possible from your promotion.

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