Increasing Conversions Through Better Usability #smx

James Fenelon, Interactive Product Director, nFusion

What is it?

  • Usability testing provides measurement and ease of use and user success
  • Helps explain how test subject respond in: time, accuracy, recall, emotional response
  • Benefits:
    – First-hand data from users
    – Discovery of errors and areas of improvement
    – Saves development time and money
    – Reduces guesswork and arguing

Why is it important?

  • Site impression is made in 1/20th second

Start with the right strategy

  • Usability is about helping site visitors accomplish THEIR goals
  • Start be defining:
    – Business goals
    – Visitor goals

Some Usability Options

  • Can range from basic to high-end
  • Basic Techniques:
    – Heuristic reviews
    – Card sorting
    – Prototype Testing

Heuristic review

  • Evaluation method that helps to identify usability problems with the user interface
  • Provides:
    – Identification of user experience/website usability issues
    – Prioritization of what to fix

Information Architecture and Usability

  • Is the menu-naming terminology consistent with the user’s perspective?
  • Are navigational titles clear and mutually understood?

Card Sorting – Validating your IA

  • Many techniques
  • Write the name of each main item on index card
  • Shuffle deck and give to user
  • Ask them to sort into groups and explain

Prototype Testing

  • Using wireframes to decide best usability for website
  • Best way to start? On paper.

When to do it?

  • Earlier, the better
  • Any usability testing is better than none
  • Usability for optimization is not a one-time activity

Alissa Ruehl, Manager of Website Effectiveness Consulting, Apogee Search

  • How can I improve my conversion rate? It depends.
  • You have to understand your problems before you can fix them.

Step 1: Goals

  • Improving conversion rate
  • Have you identified your goals?
    – Yes: Continue
    – No: Start over.
  • What is the purpose of your website? (sales, leads, email signups…)
  • Optimize to ALL of your goals.

Step 2: What is your traffic doing today?


  • Start with purchase process (Do people abandon your shopping cart?)
  • Moving on the Entry pages (Where are you sending your traffic? Homepage? Products? Categories? Test them.)
  • Where do people abandon?
  • Focus on your biggest problems first
  • Use tactics that fits the issue (usability testing, page testing, focus groups, etc.)

Lead Generation:

  • Is quality an issue? Integrate with a CRM system
  • Instead of focusing only on web forms you could track past the lead and analyze & optimize towards
    – Human scrubbed leads
    – Qualified opportunities
    – Sales
  • In a few years, tracking only leads will sound as silly as tracking only clicks now.
  • What do people do when they enter your site?
  • How’s your lead bait?
  • It never hurts to focus on your forms
  • How’s your call-to-action?

Conversion Strategy Summary

  • Dig deep to understand & optimize to your goals
  • Use your analytics to find your unique goals
  • Tailor the therapy to the type of problem
  • Look at level of difficulty compared to level of impact

Kimberly Krause Berg, Usability and SEO Consultant,

What are your site requirements?

  • Project Management
  • Organizing and planning your web site
  • Napkins, sticky notes, whiteboard
  • Write everything down!
  • Team signs off
  • Test cases

Business Requirements

  1. Sell products online
  2. Provide information on our company
  3. Provide excellent customer service
  4. Be accessible to everyone

For example…

  • About Us page
    – Provide bios of staff
    – Presidents message
  • Blog
    – Global reach
    – Host ads
  • Catalog
    – PDF version
    – Subscription
  • Social Network
  • Shopping Cart
    – Custom cart
    – SEO friendly
  • Marketing

Functional Requirements

  • Derived from use cases, mental models, user personas
  • Programmers’ domain
  • Determine specs for browsers, OS accessibility, bandwidth, performance, platform, mobile use, programming

Scott Brinker, President & CTO, ion interactive, Inc.

Landing page options

  • Option A: Technology & psychology to “optimize” pages.
  • Option B: Give them what they really want. –> “Wow. Thank you, that’s really what I was looking for.”

Searchers expect pieces to fit together:

  • Intent
  • Keyword
  • Ad copy
  • Landing page (where things tend to fall apart)

Other thoughts

  • Think big, test small.
  • It’s not about the number of tests, but what you’re testing?
  • Find what they’re looking for and give it to them.  That’s what landing page usefulness is all about.


  • Information foraging – how people interact and deal with your site
  • How do you balance content vs. ad excitement to increase Quality Score? You can have a relatively small amount of content and still have a high quality score.
  • Should you remove navigation so you can increase conversions? Don’t ever leave people without a choice. You could remove navigation if it’s too distracting, but still leave them with options.
  • Can you change design for landing pages? You can experiment with a lot of looks and feels…people are used to micro-sites. It’s about quick, cheap tests.
  • Quick tips from panelists:
    – Ask yourself what it would take to double, triple, quadruple how many landing pages you have.
    – Is your elevator pitch on your homepage/landing page?
    – Any usability testing is better than none.
    – Conversions happen when calls to action are available when people are thinking about them.