How to Know Your Visitors - A Guide for Beginners

Author: Siân
Published:
Read time: Approx. 7 mins

Designing a website for how you want to see it is simple. Bright red and white may be your colour scheme, but is it user friendly? I doubt it is when put in to practise. The red begins to become painful on the eyes of the user and they quickly leave the site. This happens because you have designed your site around your branding and colour scheme rather than how a user would be seeing it and the experience they would be expecting.

You can ask experts in web design to help you make your site more user-friendly, but in the end they'll only be able to give you generic advice. In order to design for your users, you have to ask your users what they would like to see. They are the only ones that will be able to give you advice on what looks good and what doesn't, as well as what they would expect to see that's missing.

So, How do I build a website for my visitors?

You probably have an idea for a website, or looked through templates and come up with a design that you like, and you've picked your favourite colours (or the colours of the business) and thought it looked pretty good.

You've also probably thought of images to have on there, or taken photos specifically to go on the website, that are of your products and services, or generic to the industry you're in. 

Also you're probably looking at text to have on there and decided what to shout about and how to have it formatted.

But at the end of the day, this may not be the look that your existing and potential customers are looking for. It may be so far from it that it puts them off. You have to convince them that your services are better than your competitors and that you're able to solve the problems that they have.

In order to do this, you need to make sure your website is easy to follow and navigate through. Also you need to make sure that your visitors can easily find the information they are looking for. This means you need to understand how your clients will be interacting with your site, by understanding this, you will be able to iron out any design flaws that will make it hard for people to interact. Generally, users don't like to click on much, so the fewer the clicks, the better.

There are two ways you can overcome this. 

  1. You put yourself in the shoes of your visitors. You navigate around the site as they would and interact in ways that they would. If you find you get stuck or the information is hard to find, then you may need to consider a redesign.
  2. You use an online tool to gather information from the visitors themselves.

How to see your site through the eyes of a visitor

This can be hard to achieve on your own. So here's some tips that you can use in order to try and see your site how a visitor would.

1. The Blur Test

The blur test (often referred to as the squint test) is a design technique that is used in order to find what the eye is drawn to.

The idea is to look at a blurred version of the page to see what elements stand out. The element that stands out the most should be related to the purpose of the page you are looking at. For example, if you want to be contacted then the contact details / contact form should stand out the most.

Blurred website test

What do you think we want you seeing on this page? If you think it's the blue button in the middle of the image then you're right. That blue button is the call to action for you to contact us. Also you can still see the logo, so your brand identity is also getting through.

Now try it with your website. If you can't clearly make out your objective, then you need to re-think your design.

2. The Five Second Test

This is a simple test which involves you showing a colleague / friend / family member an image of your website for five seconds and then hiding the image. You then ask them what they can remember from the website. This can help you understand if your calls to action are clear enough or if your headlines are memorable. 

Five seconds may not seem like long, but if you have a visitor which is browsing different sites trying to find the information they are looking for, they may give in after this amount of time. So make sure it's clear.

If you don't have anyone you can ask for this, then try fivesecondtest.com, which will allow you to try it for free, by showing it to other users and asking for their feedback.

 3. Heuristic Testing

This is one to carry out with other people, whether they're colleagues or family and friends.

The idea is to sit down and give everyone a few tasks to carry out on the website. This can be from navigating to a certain page to finding certain information.

They will then sit with you and direct you on where to click on the pages and what you should be doing. 

This form of testing will show you how others navigate through the site and whether they are likely to be going through the same thought pattern as yourself. You should also be asking why people are choosing to use the method they are.

Getting Feedback from your Real Users

This is useful in order to know why your real customers are staying on the site and why they're leaving.

The main problem with this comes when you realise that your users can come and go as they please. So let's look at ways you can get feedback from them.

1. On-Page Survey

An on-page survey is a little form that either sits over some content or is sitting in the bottom of the screen. This can allow the user to submit brief answers about their experience.

However, a word of warning. Surveys such as this can be seen as a bit intrusive, so make sure you stick to the point of finding out if your website helped them and they found what they were looking for.

2. Consider Using Live Chat

You've probably been on a website at some point where you've had a window pop up asking if you'd like help and that *insert name* is available to talk. This is live chat.

It allows you to interact with your customers and visitors and can also help you track what is causing problems with your site. 

Using chat like this you will be able to find out which pages are causing problems, any item descriptions that are not well enough explained and whether any customers are dissatisfied with the service they have received.

Conclusion

You should always try and think of your customer before yourself when it comes to design. The best thought out design for you may not be viable for most visitors to your site. Remember to gather feedback and even revisit the design of your site often making little changes.

A/B testing is also another good way to monitor this, but that's for another day. Sign up to our newsletter today and be notified when we add new blog posts.

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