Google’s Advice for Testing Your Website

Ever wondered whether your targeted audience is really finding your website useful? Is the high bounce rates from any of your pages a matter of concern for you? Well, you’re in luck… Google is giving out some simple and handy tips on its latest Webmaster Central Blog that will help you understand and analyze the usage of your website from a visitor’s perspective.

For example, did you know that on average users scroll down 5.9 times as often as they scroll up, meaning that often once a page content is scrolled past, it is “lost” .

If you have never though of these things before or did not succeed in finding an answer to these questions before, this is a good opportunity to find an answer to these questions.

I have outlined Google’s advice for you below:

First, think about your user

Whether you are launching a new web project or completely revamping your existing site some important questions need to be asked answers to which will add value to your website.

  • How might users access your site—home, office, on-the-go?
  • How tech-savvy are your visitors?
  • How familiar are users with the subject matter of your website?

 

Simple Testing

Even before you get started a brief profile of your user’s behavioral patterns will give you enough information to help you plan the website content and design as per the user’s liking. So basically you should be looking for information that helps you score your site for its functionality, ease of finding information and common site interactions.

  • Sample size: You can start with your family and friends and even a group of five people can provide substantial information on the common problems in your layouts and navigation.
  • Choosing your testers: While every tester will give a different feedback, concentrate on the feedbacks that only focus on a particular pattern rather than on every individual issue encountered by the testers. For example, if more than 50% of your testers have the same usability issue; it’s likely to be a genuine problem on site.
  • Testing location: Getting the users to navigate your site in your presence will give you an opportunity to observe how every individual navigates the web in their personal natural surroundings. For those who cannot do this remote testing is also a possibility and Google+ hangouts is a handy tool for this purpose.
  • How to test: Ask your testers to complete 4-5 tasks, which summarize your website’s goal, and observe them. If they are around you ask them to speak out their experiences and opinions rather then giving it to you in writing.
  • What to test: You can use a basic test model in HTML to test the basic interactions, in case you do not have a fully functional site for testing. This way, you can test different navigation and layouts alternatives and check their performance before actually implementing them.
  • What not to test: Your focus should be on the usability of your site rather than appearance, because only quantitative tests conducted over large groups (200+) will get you a real feedback about the appearance of your site. To test the effectiveness of your design you can offer a few descriptive keywords and ask your users to rate them as per their liking.

 

Apart from these, keep a check on things like:

  • Highlighting hidden text/content appropriately so that it is easily accessible by the user.
  • Use proper and effective language that is eye catching as well as easy to understand. Avoid using “Learn more…” in link text—as users seem to avoid clicking on a link which implies they will need to spend time learning about something.
  • Check your page load speed on various network connections like public places with WiFi, secured office connections etc. Google’s Page Speed tool comes in handy over here.

All in all Google has come up with solutions to your long pending designing/redesigning woes and investing some time here will surely help you reap good returns in the future.

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By Rene LeMerle

Rene is the marketing manager of ineedhits.com - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for Gooruze.com - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.