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Ryan Short of Teknision (far right) speaks to attendees of Web Analytics Wednesday in Ottawa May 25.

Blinking text. Hit counters.

These were the ways we used to attract visitors’ attention and track our success online. We’re a long way from Geocities and Angelfire, but have our testing and measurement practices evolved since then?

User Experience Designer Ryan Short of Ottawa’s Teknision spoke about designing websites that actually get visitors to convert. With a mix of client-based anecdotes and some general comments about what works, Ryan described how simple changes to call to action and font can improve conversion rates by 20-30%.

Testing is the key

It’s difficult to predict how visitors will react to new calls to action and web page design, but a systematic approach can help to give conclusive results.

If there was one message that Ryan seemed to want to drive home, it was that many A/B tests are done incorrectly, with multiple changes to the web page. This makes testers unable to determine exactly what element was responsible for the improvement (or decline).

One testing example that Ryan cited was Google increasing the number of search results on their page from 10 to 30. While Google may have speculated that searchers would more easily find what they’re looking for without clicking to page 2, the added page load time actually had a negative impact on click-through rate. This feature test lasted about two weeks and was then dropped completely.

Planning your attack

Many organizations also fail at properly identifying goals and designing their website in order to get visitors to complete these goals, Ryan said. Laying the conceptual framework for a website before beginning the design work can save lots of headaches and many hours of redesigning down the road.

We’re a long way from hit counters, but many organizations still fail to consider the visitors’ experience when designing a website. These reminders at Web Analytics Wednesday will make sure our websites look like they’re a long way from Geocities too.

Update:

Read Jordan Louis’ notes from the presentation. Download .doc (15.5 kb)

Photos courtesy Jackson Lo.

Special thanks to William Johnson for live-tweeting the presentation!

 

For more information about Web Analytics Wednesday in Ottawa, or to become a speaker or sponsor, contact Ben Myers –  bmyers@publicinsite.com.

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