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How to Quickly Identify Areas for Improvement on Your Website.

If you’re not a designer and you made this request before, this is what your designer is hiding behind their smile. If you’re a designer then well… you know.


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Kinga Adamczewska

3 years ago | 5 min read

Photo by Will H McMahan on Unsplash

When someone Googles “How can I improve the user experience” or “How to improve engagement/retention/conversion” they will get a lot of tips on how to improve the overall performance of your website or see ideas on what can be added to the website.

As a result, designers get requests such as “make this button bigger”, “make the logo bigger” or “change all our buttons to bright red with a yellow border”.

If you’re not a designer and you made this request before, this is what your designer is hiding behind their smile. If you’re a designer then well… you know.

But why?

Take a step back. Are any of those “tips” aimed at your users? Does the writer understand what your real problem is, and who your users are?

How many of those articles are written by designers who spent years researching, looking at user behaviors? I can say that I haven’t seen many of them.

Sure, there are great articles that will tell you to use the best practices on your websites such as using white space, improving speed or having consistent elements.

I will link them in at the end of this article. But once you see articles that tell you to add pop-ups, more sign up boxes, make your CTA’s bigger — you are in the wrong place.

Why? Because those might work for some — and cause more harm to others.

Pop-ups might work for a specific target audience, but if you hit Gen-Z with them — they are more than likely to leave and never visit your website again.

So what should you do if you — or your client have a low budget but need to identify areas for improvement? Very rough journey mapping.

This quick exercise will help you get insights into areas that can be improved so that you, as a designer can understand quick fixes that you can make, or if you’re not a designer and also don’t have access to one due to a low budget or time constraints — you can identify those areas yourself.

So let’s get started!

Step 1. Gather your team.

Decide if you want to do this alone or with others. If you can get others on board, you will probably get it done quicker and have more insights.

Make sure you have people that have an understanding of your business, your users as well as your website. It could consist of devs, marketing, exec, customer service. The more knowledge the better. That way you are sure not to miss any information.

If you do decide to go ahead with a team effort, you will also need to choose a decider and a facilitator.

The decider will be the person who makes the final decision in case people are not agreeing on something. This will remove any unnecessary discussions that can go on for hours.

This person should have a good understanding of all areas of business, that person will have the final say.

You also want to have a facilitator. This person can be one of the teammates, or someone brought in from the outside.

Their role is to make sure conversations don’t go off-topic and we are focusing on the task. This person will also be the timekeeper.

Step 2. Create an empathy map.

Start off by creating an empathy map. This doesn’t have to be a long exercise and will help you with other things in the future — for example, it can be a great tool for copywriters.

Everyone should have an idea of who your user is — this is the time to talk about that person and put it all on paper. It will help you to put yourself in the shoes of the user and see things from their point of view in the following steps.

Come up with a name for your person. This will help your team emphasize with them even more. You can use this template to make it.

Think about everything your users like and dislike. You can start the conversation by asking questions such as:

  1. How old are they?
  2. What do they like doing?
  3. Where do they live?
  4. What’s their job?
  5. What are their goals in life?
  6. What influences them?
  7. What are they scared of?

At the end of it, you should have a map that looks a bit like this (but hopefully fuller 😉) — and a clear understanding of who your user is.

Step 3. Map out their workflow.

The first step is understanding the task user is trying to complete on the website. What is it that they are trying to do? Write it down. This could be something like reading an article or canceling a subscription. Place this at the beginning of the flow.

Now think about the user's goal for this particular task. Your first instinct might be to think about what your business goal is or what you want the user to do.

This is about what the user wants to get out of this. It could be things like making their life easier or learning something new. Add this to the very end of the lane.

Now think about every step user needs to take to get there. This might be even before they land on the website. Are they googling you? Did they already know your website? Did someone send them a link? There could be a few possible scenarios that lead you into or extend from one path.

Write down each step they need to take in order to get to their goal. A good idea is to go through this path and document each action you are taking so that you don't miss out.

After that think of areas of this path that they are struggling with and also emotions they are feeling at each point.

Are they happy? Is there anything that could be causing friction? Do they like what they have to do or is it complicated? You can also write down any questions they might have as they go through the journey.

Think of it from their perspective and as someone who never seen your site before — if your user is a 70-year-old man who doesn’t use his computer more than once a week and you’re a tech-savvy 20 year old, think of all the areas that they might find confusing — look back at your empathy map to help you with it.

If you’re struggling with this step, ask someone for help! If you know someone close to being your targeted user, ask them to go through it and tell you what they feel.

At this point, you might start thinking of ideas to fix those pain points.

Step 5. Repeat step 4…

… until you run out of tasks!

Of course, the ideal way of understanding what your users think is to complete some user testing, but sometimes we don’t get a chance to do it.

There might be many reasons for that and it’s always best to complete a round of testing but if it’s impossible, this can really help you understand some of the pain points your users are facing that you can later test.

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Kinga Adamczewska


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