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Swift Six: How to identify problems with your website

By Nick Leech - June 25, 2014

Hello! In this Swift Six video I’ll be looking at how to spot mistakes on your website. This is really important and something you should get into the habit of doing. If your site is full of mistakes, people won’t trust you and if they won’t trust you they won’t buy from you. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to another 123-reg Swift 6! This time, I am going to be talking to you about how to identify the problems with your website. Now this is a classic problem – you have spent hours, days and weeks building your website. You literally can’t see the wood for the trees, you can’t be objective anymore, you can’t see what’s wrong. So, how are you going to solve that problem? Well, there are a few different ways, I’m going to give you six.

The first one is – take a look at your competitors. Read their sites in great detail, spend a long time doing this. Is there anything that they’re doing that’s quite good? Is there anything that they’re doing that you really like? Are you doing the same thing on your website? If you see them doing something that you like, why not try it yourself? It’s not copying, it’s about learning what works in your market and it really makes sense to take the best of what you can and try to do it yourself.

The second thing – get some friends and ask them to look at your site. So what I suggest you do here is buy them a treat, make them a cup of tea, sit them down in front of your website and then try to set them a few tasks and tell them to do something. That might be to buy a product, that might be to get in touch, it might be just to find out some information. And then, one thing you can do is to actually watch them trying to do that and you will learn how they stumble on the task that you’ve set them. And the second thing is to then ask them some questions once they’ve done it because it might be that you can’t sit in the room whilst they’re doing it and get them to give you some critical feedback about the problems that they’ve found. And try to make sure that they’re not just saying nice things because they’re your friends. You know, you want them to be as harsh as possible because you can bet your website visitors are going to be harsh about you. So make sure your friends take that attitude as well.

The third thing – and this is one I particularly like because it’s a really quick one – this is called the squint test. So, with the squint test – kind of as it sounds – get your homepage or the page that you want to test in front of you on the screen and just squint a little bit at it. And what you are trying to identify is – what are the things that stand out on those pages? And whatever stands out on those pages – the chances are – that is what will have the attention drawn onto it for your website users when they arrive there first time. So you need to make sure that the thing their attention is drawn to is actually the thing that you want their attention to be drawn to and not some kind of minor addition that you’ve added at the last moment or something that doesn’t really add value to their visit there.

The fourth thing in our Swift 6 – this is a great service, it’s called fivesecondtest.com. I really like this website, it’s free, or at least there is a free version. Go to fivesecondtest.com, you input the URL of your website and then that is shown to other people for just five seconds. And after they’ve seen it for five seconds, they then need to tell you what that website was all about. So it’s a free crowd-sourced way of you discovering if your clear message gets over to your visitors as soon as they arrive. And why is it called five seconds? Well, the reality is that most website visitors make a decision to stay or to go within the first five seconds of arriving. So you need to get them in just that period of time.

So here’s the fifth way that you can use to identify problems – it is a service called usertesting.com and we in fact use this service here at 123-reg. So what happens here is that you – this is something that you need to pay for – sign up at usertesting.com – you can do something fairly low cost (something like $100) – and your website will be shown to testers. Now you can choose who those testers are, so you might want to choose where they are in the world, it might be that you want to choose their social or economic status, it might be that you want to choose their gender. And then you set particular tasks for these users to do. Again, it’s like sending a task for your friends, it might be for them to buy something, it might be for them to look for information. And then what happens is that that user’s mouse is tracked as it’s moving around the website and you get a playback version for that. And you also get an audio commentary from the person who is carrying out the task so that they can really verbalise the challenges that they are having in completing the task. With just a few tests – two or three tests – you will start to see themes coming back and you’ll be able to see where the problems are on your site.

And our sixth way to identify a problem is to add a survey to your site. Now, surveys- some people like them, some people don’t. Certainly, if I see a survey on a site I really have to quite like the brand in order to complete it. Nevertheless, it’s a valuable feedback tool. And there are some great paid for services out there, but Google actually have a free survey tool that you can add to your website with some really standard questions. So the survey tool is called Google consumer survey. And if you just add their standard version to your site, it’s totally free. And it launches a little pop-up that surveys your customers and asks very simple questions such as ‘Did you find this website easy to use?’, ‘Did you achieve what you’ve planned to achieve today in visiting this website?’ So just four simple questions in total.

Ok, that was our Swift 6 ‘How to identify problems on your website’. See you next time!

Further reading

If you’re unsure about the kinds of issues you should be looking for, I cover them in this video about spotting website mistakes.

Alternatively, you can learn more about building trust in your business with advice from these experts.