What is the first impression you give to potential homebuyers?
More often than not, home buyers are beginning their home search online. Your website is your chance to make a positive first impression. The experience on your website can set the tone for your entire working relationship. Additionally, search engines are placing more and more value on user experience every day. Factors that create a negative user experience send signals to search engines, which will cause you to rank lower in search results.
When analyzing your user experience, keep these core questions in mind.
Can users find the information they need when shopping for a home?
Can users easily navigate the site?
Is there a clear way for users to contact you?
Is the next step towards buying a home clear to users?
Your UX Toolbox:
Your Everyday Multi-Tool: Google Analytics
You should be using Google Analytics on a regular basis to check key metrics that provide insight into your website’s user experience.
Site Speed:This tells you how fast your website is loading for your users. I’m sure you have given up on a website that takes too long to load or accidentally clicked the wrong button if some parts load more slowly than others. It’s frustrating, and your website visitors will feel the same.
Conversion Location:If all of your lead conversions are on your contact us page, your users could be having difficulty knowing how to get information on a specific community. The majority of your website lead conversions should be happening on the community page level.
Bounce Rate/Pages Per Session/Session Duration:These are your Quality Metrics and are grouped together as they should be analyzed together. If you only look at one, you are only getting a portion of the story.
For example, if you have a highPage Per Sessionbut a lowSession Duration, users are clicking through your pages quickly and could indicate trouble finding the information they need. A highSession Durationand highBounce Ratecould indicate a problem with your CTAs or the need to better communicate next steps.
Your Behavior Analysis Tool: Heat Maps
Heatmaps, such as HotJar.com, let you visualize behavior on your site. Allowing you to track mouse movement, scroll, and clicks on your site. Heatmaps give insight into the elements on your site that are used most, and how much of the page people actually view. This tool is especially valuable when deciding on navigation changes or CTA placement.
Your Big Picture Tool: User Testing
Usertesting.com is a simple way to get live comments and reactions on your website. You select a demographic for your audience and write a collection of instructions and questions. Then, the company sends you screen recordings of different users with verbal responses to your questions. It is helpful to see where people get stuck navigating your site, if your call to actions & next steps are clear, and how people respond to your content.
I like to schedule at least two user testing batches when making any large changes to my site--one before the changes are complete and one after.
Your Specialty Tool: User Surveys
I generally avoid user surveys. They are commonly a pop-up that’s triggered on the website that asks users to complete a survey. I would not use these as a long-term tool because the pop-up can negatively affect the user experience. But, they can be useful to run for a short period of time, if you need a specific question answered.
The next step is gathering all the data and working with your web developer to implement changes to fix the problems you found. Your website should be evolving continuously to keep up with changes to your buyers’ expectations. Dedicate a portion of your marketing budget for regular testing and development costs every year.