The significance of psychology in web design is undeniable. Each element on the web page can affect the user’s mood, which is why their position, shape, color, and even their spacing are of utmost importance.
To be honest, we already know how users respond to some variations. But these general rules aren’t always applicable, which is why we collect and analyze behavioral data.
For that reason, we’ll start by explaining what behavioral data is and why it’s important, and then tell you how to collect it, and integrate it with usability testing.
What Is Behavioral Data and How Is It Relevant?
Behavioral data refers to the information on all the actions users take on your website. It tells you where and what they click on, whether they stumble and where that happens, and at which point they drop off and leave the page.
If you’ve ever used web development consulting services, you know they take care of the basics of web design. Behavioral data allows you to dig deeper.
First things first, analyzing user behavioral data allows you to identify points in the customer journey where they get stuck, struggle, get confused, and leave. This way, you’ll know what people are interested in, and what they ignore or dislike.
Furthermore, behavioral data is great because it doesn’t just tell you what the entire website’s performance is like, but also how specific pages and sections are doing.
All this will help you understand what your customers want and care about, which you can use to increase your conversion rate and improve your website design overall.
How to Collect Behavioral Data
There are several ways you can collect behavioral data. You can use:
- Session recordings
- Heat maps
- On-site surveys
- Website analytics tools
Each of these methods can tell you information about the drivers that bring the users to your website, the barriers they face and why they abandon your website, as well as the hooks that convince them to convert.
Of course, the best big data companies can help you with this task, but there are many things you can do on your own before contacting the pros.
Let’s see how this looks like in reality:
Knowing Why Users Are Coming to Your Website.
There are three types of users browsing on the internet: the ones that just browse, the ones that already know what they’re gonna buy, and the undecided ones.
If you thought of converting the first ones, don’t. Regardless of what you do, you probably won’t change their minds. They just came to read and learn, nothing more.
The second group is the users that have already decided to buy something. There’s no need to do anything about them, for obvious reasons.
The third group, the undecided ones, are the users that you want to analyze and target. Depending on what you do, they will either make a purchase or won’t. So how do you do that?
Well, the first thing you should do is find out where they came from. You can do that by looking into the Google Analytics, section Source/Medium. You’ll see a list of different sources, such as organic (found you through a search engine), Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or through a direct message.
Once you know that, you can go even further and examine which pages users land on through organic search. These pages are where you should place a survey.
A survey shouldn’t be too long because no person is very fond of them. Stick to the short questions like: why did you decide to visit our website? or how did you hear about us? or what are you looking for today?
Based on these questions, you’ll be able to determine who your target audience is, what are their goals, and what barriers they face in reaching those goals.
Knowing Why Users Leave.
Instead of wasting your time looking at all of the pages on your website, focus on the ones that have poor performance. Go to the section Behavior in Google Analytics, then to Site Content, and eventually to Exit Pages. Look for pages with the highest exit rates.
Once you’ve identified the most abandoned pages, use session recordings to see what exactly users are doing before they decide to leave. We suggest that you create a spreadsheet where you will write down what the users were doing in detail so that you don’t miss anything important.
You can also use heatmaps to get a better idea of what they clicked on and how far down the page they’ve scrolled. Note that users are lazy, so there’s no reason to put any important information at the bottom of the page.
When you’re done gathering the information, it’s time to draw conclusions. Maybe they abandoned your page because the link on the CTA button isn’t working, or the page isn’t rendering correctly. It could be that the content is a bit dull.
The only way you’ll know is by tracking user behavior.
Knowing What Will Convert Them.
After you’ve figured out the drivers that bring users to your website and the obstacles they face, it’s time to find what will hook them to convert.
The next time someone converts, don’t just celebrate – learn from it, too. Analyze what you’re doing right and then apply the same technique on other pages.
The best way to do that is by collecting user feedback. You can use a post-purchase survey and put it on the “Thank you for purchasing” page. Another way of doing it is by email. You can use the “Order confirmed” email to ask your new customer some questions.
Interviewing is also a good idea, but not all people like talking to strangers. For that reason, not everyone will pick up the phone. But even a few answers can give you a clue as to what can be improved.
Integrating Behavioral Data with Usability Testing
It was a widespread opinion that the road from data collection to data implementation is an ongoing DataOps vs Data Engineer battle. In reality, they need to be in harmony for the best possible results. Collecting all this data won’t do you any good without proper analysis, implementation and maintenance after that. A good way to use all that you now know is to pair it all with usability testing.
If you’re not sure what usability testing is, it’s a practice of evaluating the functionality and design of the website by observing how users behave as they complete specific tasks.
There are a couple of methods to do this:
Moderated Usability Testing
Moderated usability testing is done in the UX lab or in a corporate setting. Basically, a moderator will ask the participant to perform certain tasks and observe their behavior. The participant will be asked to think out loud while performing the tasks so that the moderator knows what’s going through their head. This is all done in real-time.
Thanks to the progress in technology, this kind of testing can now also be done remotely since participants can easily share their screens with the moderator.
Unmoderated Usability Testing
As opposed to the previous one, unmoderated usability testing is done without the moderator being involved. Participants do this testing in their own environment.
This kind of testing is cheaper than moderated usability testing, but there are some limitations. For instance, it’s best not to use it on prototypes with low fidelity or on wireframes. Also, participants tend to be less engaged without the moderator’s presence.
Using this testing method, participants are asked to look at the website’s page for five seconds. The moderator will then ask them some questions and ask them what they remember. If they can recall the brand identity of the website, easy-to-digest information about the product, and the reasons why this product is useful for the visitors – the web page is good to go.
If the participants can seem to remember any of that, the website design will need to be improved.
Card Sorting Testing
This kind of testing method is best for organizing purposes. The participants will be asked to arrange different items under predefined labels or categories. This information will help the moderator see if the existing website architecture and the participants’ answers match.
If they don’t, the website architecture will need to be changed, as it probably doesn’t make sense to the users.
With first-click testing, the participants are asked to complete a certain task, while the moderator observes what they click on first and evaluates if the participant had a difficult time finding their way. These clicks are then presented on a heat map to see which places were clicked on the most, and which ones had a low number of clicks.
This testing method is great for identifying navigation problems, as it helps with the better positioning of the most important links and buttons on a page.
The testing methods we’ve previously discussed are done when the web designer is basically finished with their job. As opposed to that, preference testing is conducted in the beginning, when design proposals are still being examined.
Preference testing is pretty simple: the moderator will give the design proposals to the participants and ask them to choose their favorite one. Once they do, they’ll be asked to explain why they chose that particular design.
Behavioral data is of the essence in website design, as you can tell. It allows you to know exactly what needs to be done to satisfy the users and gently push them towards converting.
We suggest that you start with Google Analytics and see where that takes you. Good luck!