Why it’s important to separate fact from feeling when it comes to website design

Apr 5, 2022

Published by: Irwin Hau
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When you want to understand whether your website is performing well, you can’t just go off looks alone. Things might look great on the surface, but there could be problems lurking: perhaps your customers are finding it hard to navigate through your website. Maybe they aren’t even reaching your pretty portfolio page. And if your checkout process has more steps than Niesen Mountain, there could be storm clouds on the horizon. 

We shouldn’t operate our businesses on feelings, but rather, on facts. So what are some of the qualitative and quantitative specifics you should look to in relation to your website? 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how data and the latest e-commerce web design statistics will help you understand what’s been effective. We’ll also share some tips on useful numbers to keep an eye on, including:

  • Qualitative analysis tools (which ones to use, and why)

  • Google Analytics pageviews (are people flowing through your site / are there any roadblocks?)

  • Google Analytics bounce rate (which web pages are performing / underperforming? Is your website converting?)

  • Google Analytics average time on page (does your page content need to be shortened?)

  • Google Analytics device usage (should you optimise for computer or mobile devices?

What can qualitative analysis tools tell me?

Qualitative analysis tools take a different approach to data, instead of presenting you with numbers and percentages, they aim to give you an understanding of the “why” behind customer behavior.

There are plenty to choose from, but here are our top picks:

  • Dynamic heatmaps: These tools track user clicks and show you where people are clicking the most (and least). This can be useful for understanding what’s catching people’s attention on your website and where you might want to put your call-to-action.

  • Surveys: Another way to understand your users is by conducting surveys. This gives you an idea of who your audience is, what their needs are and how they feel about your website, what their pain points are and how you can improve your user experience.

  • Session recordings: Session recordings are a great way to see how users are interacting with your website in real-time. You can see what pages they are visiting, how long they are spending on each page, and when and how they convert. This information can help you to improve your website by identifying any areas that need improvement and streamlining the UX.

What can pageviews tell me?

Put simply, a pageview is recorded every single time a user lands or loads a page (e.g. If a user closes a page and then loads it again, that counts as two pageviews).

The formula for average pageviews:

Average pageviews = total no. of pageviews divided by total no. of visits during the allocated time period

So your pageviews are high. What does this mean? Well, it can point to two possible scenarios: 

  1. Users are enjoying browsing through your website to read your content; or

  2. Users are clicking from page to page because they can’t find what they’re looking for

So which is it?

Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer. This requires a bit of detective work from your end through creating context. Is your website predominantly (for example) an information or resource hub for students? Or are you simply trying to sell a product? 

If it’s the latter, your users may well be struggling to find their desired info which is why they’re hopping from page to page. In this case, we suggest consolidating and restructuring your UX journey and your content, so it’s less spread out. Most users are time-poor these days and want their information served up on one easy platter.

What can bounce rate tell me?

Firstly, how is your bounce rate calculated?

Bounce rate = percentage of sessions that result in a user exiting the same page (a session that begins and ends on the same page).

Where does your bounce rate fall?

26 - 40%: excellent

41 - 55%: average industry benchmark

>70%: a little disappointing

When do you want a high bounce rate?

Without context, bounce rate has much less meaning.

If your website is a blog page or an info resource hub, then perhaps a high bounce rate is desirable. It might indicate that your readers have found the info they’re looking for, whether it’s the exact recipe they want to make for dinner or the how-to guide to fix their exact problem. In this instance, a high bounce rate is nothing to fear. 

When do you want a low bounce rate?

If you’re selling a product or experience, you might expect and want your users to navigate deeper through to your other pages, such as your case study pages where you can show off your good work, or a travel itinerary page with the trip highlights. 

A low bounce rate is desirable when your UX journey plan consists of users traveling through a sales funnel, from the homepage to the product page to the shopping cart and then checkout.

Bounce rates are very much a work in progress. Looking at how your bounce rate has peaked or dipped over the last year can help you understand if the content changes you’ve made through the year have been effective or if they’ve served as a roadblock to the rest of your website.

What can you do to improve your bounce rate?

To understand why users are leaving a particular page, you need to look at their interactions at a micro-level. Use bounce rate trackers and heat map tools to watch exactly how users interact with a page, where they click, and the content hotspots they linger. With this insight, you will be able to understand why people are bouncing from your page.

What can average session duration tell me?

A session duration period is recorded when someone lands on your website and for the duration, they stay on your website. The timer only stops when the user exits your website or if they have been inactive for 30 minutes. In the latter scenario, Google then records that as a bounce and session duration as zero seconds.

Session duration can be an indicator of how engaging your website is; how much people are spending reading your content, or diving deeper into the other parts of your website. Longer sessions generally correlate with more engaged activity and interested readers.

Shorter session durations can point to users who found what they’re looking for, which is a good thing. However, this can be a minority or part of a bigger number of users who are on the other hand confused with your content or frustrated with confusing navigation.

Google believes longer session durations indicate users enjoy your content and that you’re a better match for the search query you were found for. This positive feedback system then will promote you higher on search results pages and boost your organic traffic—so it’s certainly worth uncovering what kind of content resonates the best with your audience to improve their interactivity and the time they spend on your site.

How can I improve my average session duration?

Currently, the industry standard is 2-3 minutes, so you can definitely work on optimizing your content if it falls under that. Here are three tips:

  1. Create more video content 

  2. Write shorter, more engaging chunks of text 

  3. Link internally to extend your user’s journey 

What can I learn from device usage?

Google Analytics reports can reveal the breakdown of your users’ devices. They will fall into three categories, mobile, tablet and desktop. With this data, you can know better about how your audience is interacting with your website and optimize mobile or desktop wisely with your marketing budget.

From general industry research, mobile device traffic is growing at a faster rate than desktop, with a jump from 63.3% in 2019 to 68.1% in 2020. Meanwhile, desktop traffic was sitting at 35.7% in 2020.

NOTE: Inside Lucky Orange, you can filter visitors by device type to study behavior differences across the various platforms.

It’s interesting to note that mobile sessions typically convert at a lower rate. It may be that users like to use mobile for a first impression and taster. If impressed, they’re more likely to return via a desktop browser to seal the deal. This has been attributed to the perceived impression that desktop experiences can seem more secure and easy to follow through (eg. more stable wifi at home and no prying eyes on public transport when entering payment details).

Mobile users are often on the go and less forgiving of bad mobile experiences. Here are some strategies you can implement to optimize your mobile conversions to make the most of your mobile traffic.

  • Ensure your website scales properly to all mobile screen sizes and is truly responsive

  • Check that pop-outs are easy to exit

  • Keep your call-to-action above the fold and not hidden

  • Enlarge your buttons so they are easy to click with the thumb

Bottom line

A pretty website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a successful one. 

Numbers and metrics alone can also be meaningless. However, if you combine these two elements and add some context with your own website goals and the target audience in mind, then you can unlock some seriously powerful insights. It’s no longer guesswork, and you can really see how your website is performing and where there’s room for improvement. 

The bottom line: Having both a beautiful design and the brains from this data is a powerful tool that gives you the best chance at staying competitive against your competitors.

How Lucky Orange can help you

Lucky Orange is a tool that can help you understand your website visitors through dynamic heatmaps, survey tools, user feedback and more. The best bit? All the information you need is stored on one platform.

Create unlimited dashboards and customize the view so all that data makes sense to you. Armed with this info, you can start making real changes to improve your website’s performance.

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