Your website is a work of art. The design is clean and beautiful, the visuals fit perfectly with your brand, and the entire site is structured to quietly guide users where they need to go.
But there’s a problem: Users aren’t cooperating.
Most of them seem to insist on using your site incorrectly. They’re not navigating to the right pages, no one is contacting you or filling out the forms, and most importantly, the number of people buying what you have to offer is much lower than it should be.
This is a trap many companies fall into: They put great effort in designing a website based on how the user is “supposed” to use it. But when the analytics don’t match the creators’ intent, they’re often left scratching their heads, wondering why.
Part of the problem is perspective. Your “ideal” user isn’t the same as your actual user, and reconciling the behavioral differences can be difficult.
But the problem often lies deeper than that: You’re looking at analytics that offer information about the beginning and end of the story (how many users visited your site versus how many users converted), while ignoring everything that happens in the middle – the part of the story where the mouse’s movement can give you the most information about your users.
What the Mouse’s Adventure Can Tell You
It’s important, of course, to know where your users begin and end. This tells you which pages are your entry pages and which pages caused users to leave your website altogether. But this is only a fraction of the story. The user’s mouse makes many passes and clicks along each page, and these motions can tell you a lot about what’s working for your site – and what isn’t.
More and more websites are beginning to favor the long-scrolling front page. Animations, videos, and tons of information beautifully unfold in front of the user as he scrolls down.
The problem, however, is that not every user makes it all the way down the page. A recent Nielsen study found that about 80 percent of users don’t continue below the fold at all. If this proves true for your website, you may want to reconsider your approach or make sure the vital information appears at the top of the page.
Monitoring where users click – and where they don’t – can be the difference between someone signing up for your service or leaving to find that service elsewhere. Often on graphic-heavy websites, there are a couple of images that users may misinterpret as clickable, resulting in frustration or causing them to give up altogether.
Are users clicking where you want them to? If not, why is that? Are the calls to action clear, or are they buried somewhere users are missing? Discovering where the user clicks on your site can be the key to understanding where your site is leading him astray.
The Length of the Journey
The amount of time users spend on each page on your site can tell you a lot about the quality and clarity of those pages. Are users spending too long on pages that are meant to be portals to more important locations? Are they not spending enough time on the pages with a lot of information? Knowing where users actually spend their time can help you create pages that work with the user, not against him.
Filling out the Form
The most important element on your site – the contact form – can also be a major bottleneck for users. Forms that are too long or complicated or appear redundant can stop a user in his tracks. Knowing where a user tends to give up when filling out a form can tell you where your weak spots are and what you need to change.
The mouse’s adventure on your website is so important because it shows where your users’ behavior deviates from your intentions. By uncovering these insights and tailoring your design to anticipate users’ actions, you can create a website that is both beautifully designed and beautifully functional.
About the Author: Danny Wajcman is the co-founder and Vice President of Sales and Operations at Lucky Orange, the premier service for website optimization and improvement. Based out of Overland Park, Kan., Lucky Orange is a complete suite of tools for website optimization and usability analysis. Using Lucky Orange, you can understand visitor behaviors, diagnose trouble areas in your conversion funnel, determine causes of abandonment, and evaluate your website optimizations to measure successes.
Photo credit: Lindsey Turner