Loop11 ArticlesPosted by on November 02nd, 2012
When it comes to mobile website usability, there are many more things to consider because of the inhibited screen size. The following are seven things you should think about during the design process and check for after your mobile website is complete to ensure that mobile users are getting the best experience.
1. Look for responsive template designs and test them before purchasing.
If you are in re-design mode for your website, be sure to be on the lookout for templates that have a responsive design or are designated as mobile-friendly. Then test the template you are considering on a mobile device before purchasing it. To do this, simply go to the demo site for the template on your mobile phone to see if the design works with your browser. If it doesn’t, see if the template designer offers mobile customization as well.
2. Download mobile compatibility packages for WordPress.
For those using WordPress as a CMS on their own domain (not WordPress.com), you can look into plugins like WPtouch or WordPress Mobile Pack. These plugins will detect whether a visitors is coming to your website from a mobile device and present them with a mobile-friendly design instead of your main one. Be sure to go through the options for these plugins carefully to make sure they are displaying the pages you want visible to mobile visitors and test your website on a mobile device to make sure everything is configured correctly.
3. Don’t use popups or floating elements on your mobile website.
Outside of running into a website that only uses Flash on an iPhone, the next most irritating thing on a mobile website is a popup or piece of floating content. The challenge with these elements is that they are hard to close because the X is generally somewhere outside of where you can zoom. That or there is no way to close it, and no matter where you scroll, the floating social share button, ad, etc. keeps covering the main content. Sure those are easy to manage on a desktop browser, but make sure they don’t appear on your mobile website.
4. Rethink paginated content.
A popular trend on blogs is to paginate posts, so instead of having 1,000+ words on one page, it will be spread across two or three pages. And while this sounds like a great idea for mobile as it would decrease the load time by having less to load on one page, here is the issue. Someone who is in an area with a choppy 3G signal is going be able to load page, but not the rest. Chances are, they will get so frustrated that they won’t try to get back to that content later either.
5. Offer the option to visit the full website.
Assuming that your main website is not all done with Flash, be sure to offer visitors the opportunity to use the full site instead of the mobile website. This way, if they are looking for something not available on your mobile website, they can still access it via their mobile device. Of course, if you do offer this option, make sure that your site isn’t set to automatically redirect every time someone lands on a page from a mobile device. Otherwise, they’ll almost get to where they want to go and then get shipped back to the mobile website again.
6. Add your phone number throughout your website in the text, not as an image.
Smartphones allow website browsers to click on a phone number anywhere on a website to call it directly, but only if the phone number is in the text of the website. A lot of businesses tend to put their phone number in an image just for design / formatting purposes, but this doesn’t help people contact you when needed. As a side benefit, having a local phone number in the text will also help you with local search rankings.
7. Test, test, and test again.
Web designers know to test their latest projects in a variety of browsers because not all browsers are created equal. The same goes for mobile devices. What works flawlessly on your iPhone may not work so well on an Android. Your best bet is to try your mobile website on a few different mobile platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows. The easiest way to do it if you don’t happen to own one or more of these devices is to slip into your local electronics or mobile sales store and run a few quick tests on the demo devices. Try to test key conversion areas such as submission forms or mobile shopping carts to ensure a good experience for your mobile users from start to finish.
What mobile website usability tips would you like to add to this list? Please do so in the comments!
The guys at Balsamiq asked me recently to write a brief article for their customers on how to conduct usability testing with Loop11 on prototypes and wireframes built with Balsamiq. My article below shows the steps involved in putting a simple Loop11 project together to test a prototype of the Kayak website.
We’re excited to announce the first of a number of new features for Loop11 in 2012 – Clickstream Analysis. The clickstream analysis will replace the ‘Most common navigation path’ by allowing you to analyze task navigation graphically and instantly understand how visitors navigate a task through your website.
The clickstream report provides a graphical representation of participants’ navigation through the website so you can see their journey, as well as the path they took before abandoning or failing a task.
You’ll notice that we made the visualization highly interactive so you can interact with the graph to highlight different pathways, and to see detailed information about specific pages. For example, if you want to dive deeper into your pages, you can hover over the node to see more information at a glance.
Below you can see an example of a task that performed well in usability testing (in this instance with a task completion rate of 92%). A quick look at the analysis shows that 90% of participants went directly to the success page from the homepage. The orange lines are a visual indication of the magnitude of participants who failed the task at different points in their journey through the website. Navigation through the website is clean and uncomplicated, which should be the case when the participant has a clear direction.
By contrast, the clickstream below is for a task that was performed comparatively poorly, where the task completion rate was only 32%. In this example, there is clearly confusion as to where participants should navigate from the home page to complete the task.
This is our first step in tackling clickstream analysis and we look forward to hearing your feedback as you begin to use the report in the coming weeks. We’re excited to bring you the first of a number of new features for the year, so stayed tuned for more!
As always, we welcome your input on how we can make the clickstream analysis more useful for you, so let us know in the comments below.
How many participants should be used for Online, Quantitative Usability Testing?
Qualitative usability testing has traditionally been based around small sample sizes of 5-20 participants. However, the growth of online testing tools and quantitative usability research is changing the game. Whist many experts agreed that for qualitative, lab-based testing small samples sizes of 5-20 participants is sufficient. Online user testing has created a new wave of analysis such as benchmarking, A/B testing, competitor comparison, validating and much more. These kinds of quantitative analyses require larger numbers of participants to validate the data.
For example: Let’s say your company is testing two different versions of wireframes so management can decide and approve one to implement and allocate resources to. It would not be very good practice to use 10 participants and get a 60%-40% success rate. It would be very hard to validate a study and implement a strategy based on 10 participants. However, if 500-1000 participants were used, that data would be a lot more accurate, and management would have valid data to approve of the findings.
Some specialists, such as Usability Sciences, recommend up to several thousand participants for more high level quantitative testing such as, click-stream data, or multiple cross-tabulations. They have broken down the % error for margin based certain numbers of participants. Read the full article here.
2011 was a big year, not just for world despots, but for Loop11 too. Whilst global dictators everywhere fell to revolutions, Loop11 contributed its part to the remote, unmoderated usability testing revolution. As revealed in the recent UPA biennial survey the use of remote unmoderated testing grew by 28%. Our own usage statistics also show some interesting figures which we thought we would share with you here.
Here are some big numbers about Loop11 in 2011:
… 60,456 participants:
That’s right! 60,456 participants from all over the world took part in Loop11 usability testing projects. From Brazil to Japan and students to retirees, people of all ages and places participated in Loop11 usability tests.
… 2165 usability testing projects created:
2165 different projects were created using Loop11. Whether our customers wanted to test a current website, benchmark their competitors or test a new design, Loop11’s various capabilities allowed them to conduct a variety of usability studies.
… 34 languages:
Projects were created in 34 of the 42 different languages available. Of the 2165 projects created, 72% were in English followed by 4% in Spanish, 3% in German and 2% in Portuguese.
… Over 30 countries:
Our customers from all around the world used Loop11 to conduct remote usability studies. From China to Australia, Loop11 was used by people everywhere and anywhere to conduct remote usability testing!
… Dozens of different devices:
As more and more people used Loop11, one of our best features really came to fore. Loop11 was used to conduct usability testing on an array of different internet enabled devices. PCs, iPhones, iPads, Androids and all sorts of other internet enabled devices. We even had someone test the usability of an ATM interface by putting the interface online and using an iPad as the touchscreen. Now that is genius!
… 4,300 new customers:
Overall, it was a great year for Loop11. With 4300 new customers who signing up to Loop11.
We’re sure 2012 will be an even better year. With the growing demand for remote usability testing, and with more new cutting edge features and quirky promotions coming your way, we aim to raise the bar once again.
Happy New Year and Happy Testing!
As you are reading this, dozens of our clients are running remote usability studies in an array of different languages. In the 2 years that Loop11 has operated, clients have run all sorts of usability tests in over 20 languages. Some of our clients in fact conduct the exact same test in multiple languages, which makes a lot sense if your website is multilingual. As you can see from the chart below, English is still the predominant language, but clearly the rest of the world is coming.
So we wanted to give a shout out to all the languages already being used in Loop11, such as; French, German, Russian, Suomi, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, Swedish, Czech, Polish, Chinese, Portuguese and even Bahasa. But more importantly, we want to remind people that Loop11 is capable of running user tests in over 40 languages, which means that there many more languages yet to be tried in Loop11.
Got a website in a foreign language you want tested? Try Loop11 for free.
There is a misguided notion that good SEO and usability need to clash. Some companies insist on focusing their resources on usability rather than SEO, and other companies take the opposite approach. There is no doubt that SEO and usability have two completely different goals. The goal of SEO is to rank highly in search engines for specific keywords, and the goal of usability is to make the online experience as user-friendly as possible. Traditionally, SEO friendly pages were usually filled with text links and keywords, making the webpage virtually impossible to use. However with the changes to the way Google indexes pages, good SEO and good usability can live side by side. These days, it’s all about defining goals, and striking the perfect balance.
So we put together a checklist of ten things to consider when creating the perfect balance between good SEO and good usability:
- 1. Identify Goals.
What is the goal of your website? Impressions, sign-ups or enquiries? Whether your website’s goal is conversion based or impression based should determine which direction to take regarding SEO and usability. If your website is all about impressions for display ads, then you probably won’t care much for usability.
- 2. Identify Your Audience.
Defining your audience will help validate your design, branding and marketing. Research this thoroughly.
- 3. Checkout Your Competitors.
Seeing what strategies your competitor’s are using will enlighten and inspire you. Are their website’s SEO or usability heavy? Are there any opportunities to exploit?
- 4. Usability Testing.
This is a crucial step. Does your website work? Is it usable? Depending on your experience and resources, there are various usability testing methods available, but we obviously recommend Loop11 as a usability testing solution for both novices and seasoned professionals. Any findings relating to bad navigation or usability should be addressed, and unless your website’s success is based on impressions, usability should over-ride SEO.
- 5. 508 Compliance.
Making your website 508 compliant will help both usability and SEO. Not only will pages load correctly in all browsers for all types of users, but good usability also means visitors will be able to use the site. From an SEO point of view, Google factors in the duration and pages per visits when indexing pages now.
- 6. Titles / Heading Tags.
This is potentially the most important area to strike a perfect balance between SEO and usability. The title tag is the most important on page factor for search engine indexing. But it is also the first thing the user sees. Obviously, headers are secondary to titles, but are still important. A good title / headline tag focuses on 1-2 keyword themes… nothing more! Headers and titles should be an extension of your keyword themes, reinforcing them. Every page of your website should have a different title. This makes both good SEO and good usability.
- 7. Keywords.
Once you have identified your main keyword themes. Don’t be tempted to stuff them all over your website. These days it’s bad SEO and usability. This applies to content, as well as metadata such as “alt” tags and page descriptions. Use tags exactly how they are meant to be used. For example, the “alt” tag should state exactly what that image is.
Your home page can’t be everything to everyone. So, identify 3-4 keyword themes, and use them on the relevant areas of your website. Just as importantly, make sure the content makes sense and reads correctly.
- 8. Landing Doorway Pages.
These days, this is both bad usability and SEO! If you have any, get rid of them! The Google-bot is now able to differentiate between genuine webpages and pages used to spamdex.
- 9. Links.
When creating internal links, it’s important to strike a balance between relevant keywords and good communication. Make sure your internal links are relevant. For example, if you have a link on your homepage going to a page about brown dogs. It would make good usability and SEO to label it “Brown Dogs” or “Learn More About Brown Dogs” rather than “click here for more dogs”
Dealing with external links has very little to do with usability. The only important SEO factor, is quantity, not quality. Logically, If there is a link to your website on cnet.com, Google will weight it a lot more than a link on a small time blog.
- 10. Structure
A well thought-out structure with the relevant names / titles / subdomains will help both usability and SEO. An internal linking structure that links to your most important pages should also be considered. Consider a bread-crumb navigational menu for both good SEO and usability.