Learn SEO and Keyword Strategy. Test your navigation for usefulness and understandability. When I’m optimizing a Website I’m not just looking at rankings. I’m looking at the over all usability of the Website and how we can make it more usable and understandable for our visitors.
And so one of the things I always recommend doing is testing your website to see how usable is with the words being used on the Website. And so this is called a Goal Test. We create practical scenarios such as booking a retreat package and then we sit back. We ask someone to accomplish that goal.
And we have to watch them and take notes to see how they navigate the site, what they’re looking for, and how they do it. The biggest challenge when doing this is to be quiet. Your first reaction is to help someone navigate your Website, and that’s the worst thing you can do.
What you are doing is testing the usability of the Site, and it’s critical for you to watch and take notes, and to be quiet. Let whoever is testing your Website make mistakes. Let them go in the wrong direction, because only then will you find out what’s wrong with your website.
Sometimes I call this the Mom test. I ask my Mom to navigate the sites, and I give her a goal to accomplish. In tests like that, it’s very fast to find the errors, and when something doesn’tmake sense it’s good to have a tester that let’s you know that it doesn’t make sense. Take notes, and that will give you immediate things that you can do to improve your website. So when you’re creating these tests, what you want to do is, develop scenarios. Scenarios such as, sign up for the newsletter, find the perfect spa retreat, sign up for updates or to be notified of specials.
You can also create goals that are much more specific and realistic to information that people are searching for. One exmple is to find the most recent blog post on Napa Vally. Or to find the answer to the question are bikes provided on the bicylcing tour. By creating realistic, true scenarios, it enables you to test the actual ability of people. To navigate your site using the hierarchy that’s available. Now, there is a Text-only exercise, and it enables you to test the speed, and the directness, and the success of people being able to use your website.
So in this scenario here’s an example of one of the tests. The goal is to find the difficulty level of the hiking trails. So before I book a hiking trail or a hiking trail retreat I want to know what the difficulty level is and how would I be able to find that before I book. So I’m given the primary navigation. So, for example, if someone is looking for the difficulty level of the hiking trails, maybe they select Tours first. When they select Tours in the test, then the sub-navigation of Tours shows up.
And maybe Tours by Activity is where I’d find that, but instead of finding any information specifically about the difficulty level. What I’m seeing are the specific tours, and so I’ve gotta go back. So maybe I’ll look in Resources and there I find FAQs. And once I click on FAQs then I see specific frequently asked questions for each tour. And under each tour are specific questions. And when I select backpack California, I’m saying that, I’ll find it here.
And once I click that, the test is complete for that specific question. And then I get a report that shows me, the ability, of people to find the goal based on the question and the navigation. So here’s a typical report. It shows me that to book the Big Sur Hiking trip, it rated a seven. Which means that the majority of people found it quickly, they went directly to the right place and it has a success rate of 70%, so that was great. However, my number two goal was to read the latest blog post on Napa Valley.
People found a blog post and they found it quickly, it just happened to be the wrong one, not the latest article. And so because the success rate was only 22% that showed me that my navigation wasn’t effective in that case. Finding information about hiking difficulty levels, people were indirect, they were fast but they went to the wrong place fast. And so that tells me that I’m not being clear in my navigation for people who are relying on my navigation to find specific information.
And so I went to identify any unclear paths. Look at what was easy and what was difficult, any illogical arrangements in the navigation structure. You can find this test on optimalworkshop.com. Optimal workshop has a number of tools available to increase the usability of your website so that you can present a useful, easy way for people to find the information that they want on your website.