When you own an online store or even a monetising blog, it’s unfortunately not possible to stand behind all your site’s viewers and see how they interact with your pages. Which sections do they ignore? Which links get clicked first? How far do they read before exiting the site? Other than asking a site viewer to fill in a questionnaire to find out their experience, a better way is to harness the use of tracking tools that help display the visitor journey.
Any site owner who takes the process of good web usability very seriously will want to collect as much data as possible, but what tools can they use to understand the habits of web visitors? Most web owners will already have Google Analytics, as it’s the best free tool to know how many visitors you get each month, their location, and how they came to find your site. However, there are a few other tools that can immediately tell you which parts of your site are popular and which ones can be improved.
Similar to a thermal imaging camera, the heat map tool will display which parts of the site are frequently visited and which are disregarded by using colours, such as red for hot, yellow for warm, and blue for cold. With this website analysis, you can tell that visitors might be immediately interested in the top navigation bar and trending news section, but never use the search bar because it’s difficult to find. The level of activity is easy to spot and you can quickly tell which links are being clicked the most – especially important for anyone with an online store that wishes to know if any products are completely uninteresting.
Best option: Crazy Egg
While some tracking tools can tell you which pages have been visited or even how long they have been open, what’s also good to know is how far the reader has scrolled down the page. Particularly for a news blog, if it becomes obvious that most people are quitting after about 25% of the article, then there’s either too much text or it’s not engaging enough. It’s important to spot the trends of readers and then make adjustments based on them
Best option: Plerdy
Not much kills website views more than slow-loading pages, as some visitors can be incredibly impatient and never return. A website speed test will analyse how fast your website loads and identify any potential issues if it appears slower than normal. The results are generally pretty easy to understand even for novices to the world of website hosting.
Best option: Pingdom
Finally, a good website crawler tool will provide you with information on any broken links (404s) that might appear on your site, as well as pointing out any duplicate content or metadata which is too short, too extensive, or even missing altogether. Discovering any potential issues before a user does, means you’ll have a much greater chance of making sure viewers return for a second visit.
Best option: Screaming Frog