Days of designing websites based merely on visual components are gone. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against great designed websites. Visual design of your website plays a key role in shaping the opinions of your potential customer and of your brand as a whole. The first six seconds when someone lands on your website can leave a lasting impression of your company – good and bad. Just as a well-designed website can significantly increase its effectiveness, mistakes made when designing your website, can negate all the efforts spent on an advertising or lead generation campaign to promote your site.
However, thanks to the numerous tools like CrazyEgg, Optimizely, Clicktale, Google Analytics and others, designers can get real data that helps create the perfect marriage of design and data for optimal client results. I have been learning more and more about these tools, but I am not ready to say I actually know how best to use them to meet the objectives of the website design projects we get challenged with here at Portent. But I am getting closer each month.
Website Design with Data
Designing with data takes a scientific or more analytical 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. There are heat maps to look at that tracks where users are clicking, there is customer flow which shows where a visitor dropped off. There is, of course, A/B testing and others, but they all do one thing: help inform people (designers) what visitors are and are not doing so we can create better experiences for the visitors. Ultimately, that is our goal, since better experience almost always equates to more sales, leads, and conversions. A website design which increases any of these metrics will significantly increase a business’s profits (dah, 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 users? Are you looking at any analytics? Are you doing any A/B testing? We live in a world of data; data is everywhere, such as big data, small data, data this, data that. How are you helping your website design using data?
I am lucky enough to be around data geeks all the time. Part of our mission at Portent is to help clients analyze their data so they (really we) can improve the effectiveness of their website. But I am starting to question how great web design is accomplished. Are designers using data to make decisions about their design? I want to be clear here, I am not saying we designers use data to make 100% of the 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…data.
Your Call to Action May Not be Orange
Every customer comes to you for help to solve 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? Where, what page(s) are people dropping off? 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 am suggesting that the design community start using more analytics and data. I know some have used a few of these techniques for several years and others are starting to use them more and more. I am only suggesting that we move our thinking slightly 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, and using it will make the CMO’s 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!