Heuristic Analysis for Beginners

Heuristic analysis for beginners. How to evaluate your own eCommerce website.

For all the people out there that don’t quite understand Google Analytics yet, there’s a way you can still improve conversions for your website. I’m talking about the heuristic analysis. This is a great solution, no matter the level you’re at, it can always bring valuable insights.

Heuristic analysis is based on expertise, or to put it in other words, look at it like a collection of wisdom acquired by experts after many experiments, problem-solving and learning. It’s a set of principles that are meant to guide us in conversion optimization. And please keep in mind that it’s only supposed to guide us, so not everything is going to apply to everyone 100% of the time. But it is a great place to start.

Let’s take a look at some areas you can analyze and see what improvements you can make.

Relevancy

First, we’ll start with relevancy and the reason for this is because in order to expect visitors to take any action, your website has to be relevant to them. Also, when using ads, make sure the text and visual elements match those of the page you promote. If there is a big difference between those two, visitors will leave immediately because it’s not what they expected. And for the page or product you want people to see, make it relevant for your target audience. Talk about what they want to hear and show them what they want to see, so they will resonate with your product and be more engaged.

Ask yourself: Is this product relevant for my target audience? Or is this image/text relevant to them? And then adjust accordingly.

Trust

After landing on your website, the first impression must inspire a sense of trust in visitors. Trust is a part of the foundation for any kind of relationship, so you want people to trust your site. You should aim for a clean theme with no clutter and definitely no ads. Avoid looking spammy, don’t use weird color combinations. When you write your copy, write naturally like you would speak and be clear so you won’t come across as a scam.

Look at your website and ask yourself: Would I trust this if I were a customer? Would I want to make any transactions on this website?

Usability

When it comes to users actually taking action on your site, things have to, but really have to be easy. I’m talking about the usability of your website/store. How easy it is to navigate around? Can you get to the most important pages with ease and within maximum 3 clicks? The purpose is to have people make an action and you should facilitate that for them. Make sure pages like Contact Us or information like Shipping is visible and accessible throughout your website.

To test this with no budget, have a friend that hasn’t seen your website before and have them perform certain actions. Ask them to find the shipping info or the return policy and let them do it, don’t guide them, don’t say nothing. Watch how easy it is for them to browser around and take notes.

Clarity

Speaking of usability, your website had to breathe clarity. This is a little bit tied to trust and usability as well, so it’s that important. When we’re talking about clarity we talk about how understandable are your headlines/sub-headlines. Do your product descriptions contain every important aspect that visitors want to know? If you sell a service, is it clear what you do and how you can help users? Avoid having too many distractions, meaning too many link or menu items. On each page have a hierarchy starting from the top with what’s most important. Also, be consistent with your design and text copy.

Look at what you want to sell and ask yourself: Is it clear what’s this all about? Or better yet, show it to some friends and ask them what they think that is.

Motivation

You have to give people some reasons for why they should buy what you sell and also why they should buy from you. Keep in mind there’s competition out there and you have to make it clear why visitors should choose you instead of someone else. Here you have to think about what matters to them. What are their needs and pain points. IF your product/service solves a problem, accentuate how great people will feel if they purchase it. Appeal to their emotional side and back that up with factual things. This motivation part is no exact science, so you will have to test and adapt along the way.

But do ask yourself: How many reasons are on this page for why I should buy this? Write them down and think about whether they are relevant/impactful or not.

Information

Tied to usability is information. People will have many questions and objections in regards to what you’re presenting to them. That’s why you have to facilitate the info they might need to know in order to make a decision. Don’t try to hide your return policy or shipping cost/time info. Have a FAQ section that addresses the most common questions users might have.

Ask yourself: Can I easily find information about this product/service? Ideally no farther than three clicks away.

Safety

When it’s time to take action and purchase from you, this process has to look and be safe. Keep in mind that they have to trust you with their personal info and card details. So, it’s no wonder why so many people abandon checkouts. Use a secure payment method and show that to people so they know it. Things like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay can definitely help. Also try with secure badges like Norton, or let people know they can get a full refund anytime. The point is to minimize or eliminate perceived risk, because most of us don’t like to take risks.

Ask yourself: If I were a customer, would I trust this website with my address info and card details? You can also show it to someone else and ask them what they think.

Confirmation

After all that, make sure there’s something that confirms their actions or that the actions they took give them feedback. When they complete a purchase, show a Thank You page and reiterate that they just completed a purchase. Make use of confirmation emails to make them feel good about their purchase and keep them up to date.

Ask yourself: When I do this, is there any feedback that confirms my action?

Base your decisions on facts

Now, what you have to keep in mind is that you should always be testing. That’s our creed around here. Every change we make is based on the A/B test results. We don’t just change things around just because the industry experts say so. Except of course in the case something is broken, like a bug, error or something. Other than that, before you make up your mind, test and see whether the real world results confirm your assumption.

Andrei Pavel
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