The days of designing websites based merely on visual components are over, unless like being invisible.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against well-designed websites. Visual design of your website plays a key role in shaping your potential customers’ opinions of your brand. The first six seconds after someone lands on your website can leave a lasting impression of your company – good or bad. A great design can significantly increase a web site’s effectiveness. Mistakes made when designing your website can negate all the efforts spent on an advertising or lead generation campaign.
But, thanks to the numerous tools like CrazyEgg, Optimizely, Clicktale, and Google Analytics, designers can get real data that helps marry of design and analytics for optimal client results. I am learning more about how to use these tools for design purposes every day, but I can’t say I’m an expert quite yet.
What is Data Driven Website Design?
Data driven website design takes a scientific approach to the layout and visual elements of a website. A data driven website design is based on quantitative findings of traffic analysis rather than the whims of the designer (not that the whims of a designer are a bad thing).
You can use heat maps that show where users are clicking, customer flow charts that show where a visitor dropped off, or the old standby, A/B testing. No matter what you use, they all do one thing: help inform people (designers) what actions visitors take so we can create better experiences for them. Ultimately, that is our goal since better experience almost always equates to more sales, leads, conversions, etc. A website design which increases any of these metrics will significantly increase a business’s profits (duh, right?).
Data is Everywhere
Here are my questions to anyone reading this. What do you use to help you make design decisions? Are you using any of the sites I previously mentioned? Are you looking at heat maps of your user experience? Are you looking at any analytics? Are you doing any A/B testing? We live in a world of data. You’re basically inside the Matrix right now, with ones and zeros everywhere you look. If you’re not using data to make design decisions, you need to start.
I am lucky enough to be around data geeks all the time. Part of our mission at Portent is to help people analyze their data so they (really we) can improve the effectiveness of their website. Many of our clients see how all these numbers can help them with SEO and PPC, but design and analytics don’t always seem compatible.
Let me be clear: I am not saying we designers use data to make 100% of our design decisions. But I am suggesting we as designers start paying attention to the information that is available to us to create awesome designs that work for customers.
Your Call to Action May Not be Orange
Every customer comes to you for help solving a problem. They want more sales, leads and customers, so they think that a better design and a user experience will do this. They are actually right almost 100% of the time. How are you solving this problem for them? Are you looking at their purchase process? What page(s) are causing people dropping off the sales cycle? What colors are you using for your calls to action (CTA)? Have you A/B tested any of your CTA’s? The best color may not actually be orange, you know.
There are hundreds of ways to analyze the traffic on your website and I suggest the design community start using more analytics or data. I know some have used a few of these techniques for several years and others are starting to use them more and more. But more of the design community should move our thinking enough to “allow” data to influence our design decisions, not to make the decisions for us. The data is out there and easy to access. Using it will make the CMOs in your company very happy when we can show them how changing a page color and layout can give them an additional $400,000 of revenue. Go forth and analyze data, it could be fun!
Have an Amazing Day,