Why You Need UX Research Data Before Redesigning Your Website
Design trends are continuously changing and, even after a few years, your previously fresh design can start to feel stale. But redesigning your website can be costly if your new design makes your website harder to use. The stakes are too high to shoot in the dark, which is why we recommend conducting UX research before (and after!) your redesign.
What is UX research data?
Here at Blue Compass, we perform UX research so that we can understand how users are interacting with a website. User data reveals all sorts of insights about your online presence, from why users are not filling out a form to which content users are interacting with versus scrolling right past.
You might be asking, can’t you find out similar data using an analytics platform? After all, analytics tools allow you to see which pages people visited and where they came from. Yes, we can learn some of this information using Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, but without performing true UX research, we have to make inferences about what the data means.
With UX testing, you don’t have to guess - various UX research methods allow us to observe typical user interactions with a website, and some tests even allow businesses to directly ask users for their feedback on hard-to-complete tasks. User research encompasses all the tactics we utilize including heatmapping, mouse tracking, user testing and more. We use a combination of these methods to learn more about users, and from the data we receive, we determine how best to incorporate UX trends into a new website design.
How do I get user data from my website?
Whether you are hiring a UX consultant, a UX agency or tackling the UX research on your own, there are many tools available. Before you can choose which tool or research method to use, you must determine your goals.
If you’d like to find out directly if users can easily convert on your website, consider conducting a user test that lets participants in your target demographic try to complete specific tasks. By using a panel of participants, you can learn how your exact target audience interacts with the website. They will be able to rate how difficult each task is and share any other comments or thoughts.
Or, if you’re wondering if your website is easy to navigate and if the content architecture makes sense to users, there’s a user test for that! You can try card sorting, a research method that allows participants to sort pages according to which navigation tab they’d expect to find them. You might be surprised to learn what topics and content users associate with each other and which they do not.
If you’d rather collect aggregate data about how users interact with your website, heatmapping is a great choice. Heatmaps create a visual representation of where people click or scroll most often on your website. This visual map allows you to identify the most and least clicked elements easily.
If you’re not sure where to start, a UX consultant can help you figure out what type of data you need to collect and which tests to run to make actionable decisions.
How User Data Influences Website Design and UX Trends
Website redesigns are fun, and it can be easy to get caught up in the design without thinking beyond the looks. For a website, functionality and ease of use are two of the most crucial factors in keeping users on the site. Planning a website redesign without understanding how the website works for current users first can be detrimental to a business.
Why do I need UX consulting if my website is working for my business?
If you're website is generating a lot of conversions, that's great! Next, you just need to know how and why users are converting so you can make the right subtle design updates. Websites that are converting well still need facelifts from time to time - after all, design trends become outdated. Imagine planning a redesign for your website without first knowing that a specific button on your homepage drives a significant portion of your conversions. With the redesign, you might remove or change the button, unknowingly causing your leads to tank.
Think of how much better your transition to a new design would be if you conducted user research beforehand, and UX trends were strategically used when creating the new design. Now that sounds like a beautiful website that actually works - the best of both worlds for your business!
Sometimes, when a website is performing well, it can be easy to overlook UX trends because you don’t think you need to rely on them. But the stakes are highest for websites that are working before a redesign; UX testing allows you to ensure your new website is rooted in UX data that will continue your business’ momentum.
Your Current Website is a Gold Mine of Data
It’s essential to understand how users interact with your current website before planning a new one. Not only do you want to be aware of the good, but you want to know the bad, so you can do better the next time around.
UX research allows us to understand user’s pain points so that we can make their online journey easier and more pleasant. How? Through heatmapping, mouse tracking and other UX research methods that allow us to see what users are doing on your website.
We can see where they’re getting stuck and what's causing them to leave your site. We can discover if users know how to use the resources provided on the site or if they’re skipping over something altogether because it does not interest them.
Once you have this information, you can then design a way to make the content more appealing or replace that information with more relevant, interactive content that leads to more profits for your business.
When you jump into a redesign without taking the time to analyze what’s happening on your site right now, you may very well make the same mistakes over again - that means wasted time and wasted money.
A Pretty Design Isn’t Enough
Your website should be designed with user tasks in mind, which means the design should support what users are trying to accomplish online.
How do you learn about user tasks on your website? Spend time looking through Google Analytics data such as events or goal conversions. These are usually some of the most critical website actions. You can also ask your website users directly through a survey to find out what actions they’re taking when visiting your website. Each design update you make should guide users on their path to complete online tasks.
How to Know If Your Design Updates Are Improving the User Experience
As with any marketing decisions, it’s important to go into UX research with a plan. Once you’ve gathered some actionable insights, decide how you want to go about implementing them. So, how can you track your progress?
If you’re testing out just one element, or slowly redesigning a page, we recommend A/B testing. Split tests are useful because you can compare just one change, giving you more accurate results. We often use the split test method on button text or the placement of specific website elements.
Another way to track progress is to start with baseline metrics. For example, if you’re interested in getting more conversions on a form, gather at least three months of data and come up with an average number of form completions. Then, as you run your split tests, compare your new conversion numbers with the baseline.
Ultimately, the goal of UX research is to create a better online experience, and we find that behavior metrics are useful in determining if the quality of the site is improving. The bounce rate, average time on page and pages per session are all important behavior metrics to keep an eye on when you are making design updates.
Post-Launch UX Research
UX research shouldn’t stop once the website has launched. We recommend conducting post-launch UX research so you can continue to gather new data that can be compared to the previous website design. After a redesign, you can get a fresh look at how users are interacting with your new design by collecting additional heatmapping and mouse tracking data. At Blue Compass, UX is an ongoing process!
How UX Consulting Will Benefit Your Website and Your Business
A new website based on user data combined with UX design trends results in more conversions - which means more profits for your business. By performing UX research in-house or working with a UX consulting company before you jump into a redesign, you can ensure your new website is user-friendly from the beginning, saving you money and frustrations in the long run.
Plus, happy users are more loyal to your brand. Instead of running away from a frustrating website, they will return, and they’ll bring friends. A website designed with data and according to UX trends is an asset for your business.
Get Started With UX Research
Not sure where to get started? Blue Compass has your back! Check out our UX consulting and research services to learn more about how our UX research process and how we can help you grow your business with UX consulting.