Watch Your Site Visitors Carefully To Get The Critical Data You Need


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How do you know your visitors can complete their most important tasks successfully and efficiently? The answer is simple: observe them and use a stopwatch. In other words, get hard data on how people are progressing their tasks on your website, where the problems are that slow them down and push them off course. Don’t ask them, don’t rely on analytics, but observe.

Author and web expert Gerry McGovern recently highlighted an example of the folly of asking people about their online experiences.

The lady had just finished trying to complete 15 tasks on the website. “What did you think of the website,” the organizer asked her. “It was great,” she replied effusively. “I really liked it. Lovely website. “12 out of 15 of the tasks the lady had tried to complete had been totally unsuccessful.

In the real world, managers can often observe customers as they interact with products and services and identify where they get stuck or lost. Online, the equivalent is to perform remote testing with real people, monitoring and measuring their attempts to complete typical tasks on your website.

Insurance websites are unusual in that the range of top tasks is actually quite well defined. Typically, they consist of Find An Agent, Get A Quote, Compare Products & Services, How Much Insurance Do I Need, Initiate A Claim, Manage My Account.

Insurers therefore are at an advantage in that there are relatively few tasks to manage and get right. However, our experience over years of analyzing insurance websites would suggest that companies don’t manage tasks properly. Confusing navigation and links, missing or irrelevant content, and clutter all still persist and without doubt lead to confusion or abandonment.

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When companies rely heavily on website functionality for their core business, it is critical to manage top tasks properly. Failing to do so is simply careless. Tasks should be tested and improved iteratively until success rates are high and time to completion is optimal.

Furthermore, someone should be responsible for managing and improving the top tasks. Typically, for example, the ‘Compare Products and Services’ task might be the responsibility of the marketing, IT, and web teams jointly with a product manager. This means that no one person is in charge. Ideally, there should be a single individual with the job of improving and managing tasks with specific, well-defined goals to aim at.

Fortunately, it is not a major undertaking to analyze how well people can complete the top tasks on websites. Technology has made remote testing very cost efficient, and allows participants to be observed in their own environments. Today’s managers can quite easily get all the data they need to see exactly what pitfalls and hurdles are in the way of potential customers doing business on their websites.

If you need help finding out how easy it is to complete the top tasks on your website, let us know.


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