Can Your Website Pass These Four Functionality Tests?

WebsiteDesignEDIT2

When people arrive on your website they expect it to be able to easily perform its core functional tasks, such as make a purchase or submit a form; it needs to be able to do what they expect it to do.

If your website doesn't perform as it should, you could be losing valuable traffic that may never return; why would a user come back if your website didn't work the first time they tried? First impressions count!  

If you want to make the most of the existing traffic you have, optimising your website's functionality is one of the first steps you should take. You can increase your conversion rate (number of leads/sales per 100 visits) while strengthening the trust in your brand and future proofing your website for years to come. We've outlined four areas most commonly associated with poor website functionality below. As you go through each section, use the testing ideas to evaluate your own website and see if there are any underlying issues affecting your conversion rate. 
1. Site Loading Time - Speed 
Amazon found after testing their website that for every 100 milliseconds of improvement in speed, their revenue increased by 1%. A study by Microsoft found that 79% of online shoppers will not return to a website on which they experienced poor site performance, and of those people around 44% would let their peers know of their bad experience.
Poor functionality can not only lose you conversions from visitors to your site, but magnify to all their family, friends and colleagues, too. 

Test!To test the speed of your website for free visit: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/  This will give your website a score out of 100 and give you actionable insights in how to improve your site speed. You can also access this tool from Google Analytics, where you can see pages of your website ranked by slowest speed, and so on. 

2. Broken links
 - Internal Links: 
Internal links are hyperlinks that when clicked take you to other areas of your website. For example, if your domain is www.sample.com , an internal link could be www.sample.com/example. Broken internal links are a conversion nightmare ; if someone is trying to make a purchase, sign up to your newsletter or access a bookmarked page on your website, and the link is broken, you're not only missing out on sales but the trust in your brand goes out the door, too. 
- External Links
External links are those that link from your website to another external website. When people share your content across the web, it creates external links that guide people back to your page so it’s important then to ensure if you change the URL or remove a page from your website, you implement permanent 301 redirects. If someone shares a page from your website or a piece of your content, and you change the URL or remove the page, you're hurting their reputation as well as your own, not to mention lost Google rankings that the page had. 

Test!The best way to test your internal links is to perform the top ten actions people would do on your site. Click on a link; does the website display the correct page? If you have an ecommerce site, try adding a product to the basket; does the website add the correct product? Testing your links involves going through your website and making sure each function is performing as it should be.Testing external links is something an SEO expert can do for you by performing a link audit on your website. These are critically important if you're looking to replace your website, you need a link audit and plan in place to keep all of the Google ranking authority your existing site has when you replace it with the new site.

3. Navigation
A logical and intuitive navigation is essential for helping your users find the information they're looking for, fast. Users need to be able to move through your different webpages as easily as possible. Consider all the different elements of your website, such as navigation menus, search boxes, links within the copy of a webpage, sidebar widgets and so on. 
Evaluating your sites navigation should be something that's undertaken during the build stage of your website, before it launches. The larger your site gets, and the more content it accrues, the harder it is to alter navigational elements. In saying that there are few ways you can test your current site, and evaluate plans for a new one down the track. 

Test!Consider how your webpages are categorised and organised. How each of your products or pieces of information is hierarchised will determine how easy or difficult it will be for users to find what they are looking for. Try using the blink test. Open your eyes for three seconds only on each landing page; is it clear what the page is about? Is it clear why the page exists? Is it clear where to go next? 
Test the efficiency of your navigation by checking the number of clicks or actions you need to take to complete a task, such as a purchase or to find a certain product; each extra click is another chance for them to back out of a sale. Have you ever noticed the positioning of checkouts in supermarkets? It's no coincidence they're placed so prominently in the store, making it almost fool-proof for people to find them and make a purchase. 

4. Search Functionality
In a traditional brick-and-mortar store the sales assistant would offer their service as soon as the customer walked in the store to help them find what they're looking for. Online, the search function acts as the sales assistant, offering customers direct access to what they're looking for as soon as they arrive on your site. 
Not only does this provide your users with a great experience but it also gives you valuable insight into what their needs are. With information about the exact products, services or information they're interested in, you can plan for future improvements to your website; such as changing the layout or promoting relevant products or information to the homepage. You'll know exactly what people are having trouble to find or specific products you would have success in stocking; a user's different search terms can tell you a lot about what their desires and frustrations are. If you already have a site search function, there are a few things worth testing to ensure its helping rather than hurting your conversions. 
Test!

Is your search function easy to find from every page? The most convenient location is at the top right of each page; it should stand out with an easily recognisable icon like a magnifying glass. Carry out a few site searches and see what kinds of results are returned; can you search by product code? Can misspellings and typos be interpreted? Are the results relevant and logical? Are helpful suggestions offered for searches that don't return any results?

Summary
How did your website go? Did you pass any or all of the tests? Poor website functionality can seriously hurt your conversion rate. Any functionality issues that may have slipped under the radar may be costing you valuable leads. For expert advice on how to optimise your website for more conversions, contact one of our team today.

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