From functionality to visuals, every element on your website affects the customer experience. A website not only portrays your brand presence but also effectively lead the customer on a journey that ends with conversion.

However, if your conversion rate is low for or bounce rate is fluctuating, it’s time to address and improve the customer experience. Start by testing elements of your site to find out where and how you can improve. Here are a few tests to run on your site in 2019, providing the insights you need to improve customer experience this year.

1. Page Speed

Page speed is the amount of time it takes for a specific page on your site to display all content. According to a Section.io study, a page with a three-second load time experiences a 17.1 percent bounce rate, and a page with a seven-second load time experiences a 32.3 percent bounce rate.

The longer your page takes to load, the higher the chance that a customer will leave the site. Don’t take this risk. Instead, test your page speed to understand how long it takes to load and what factors might be impacting performance. Here are a few popular free tools to test page speed:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights: PageSpeed Insights (PSI) scores your website on a 1-100 scale, then rates it as fast, average, or slow. PSI offers a robust amount of feedback, but for simplicity sake, you’ll want to focus on the page speed analysis and ‘opportunities’ section which provides suggestions on how to improve page speed.
  • Pingdom: This tool breaks down which content is taking longest to load on the page (image, script, CSS, etc.). You can easily understand what specifically might be slowing down your page speed, as well as view recommendations to increase page performance.
  • Google Analytics: If you already use Google Analytics (GA), head to the “behavior” menu to find page-load times from a sample of actual customer page views on your site.
  • WebPageTest: Created by a former Google engineer, this tool allows you to test your website performance from different locations and browsers. WebPageTest is a slightly more technical tool, with a lot of information, but helpful if you want to A/B test your page speed on multiple browsers.

2. Mobile Friendliness

Mobile has overtaken desktop when it comes to search, with 63 percent of site visits from a mobile device versus 37 percent on desktop, according to recent reports. With more than half of potential customers visiting your site via smartphones, you’ll diminish the customer experience, and lose valuable conversion opportunities by not having a mobile-friendly site.

Run a simple test of your mobile website by having a few friends load it on their phone to see how it looks and performs. Alternatively, to get in-depth tests and diagnostics on your mobile performance, try these free tests:

  • Google Mobile-Friendly Test: This tool shows you what your site looks like on mobile and if it’s mobile-friendly. It also flags any pages or content that do not load on mobile.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights: PSI also offers mobile stats for your site that analyzes mobile-friendliness.

3. Product Pages

If you’re selling products online, your product pages are the most important areas of your website—that’s where conversions happen, and there are a number of elements to test separate from the rest of the site. Here are a few ideas to consider when testing on your product pages in 2019.

Boost buyer confidence: Test fun features that make customers more confident in purchasing the product. For example, in How to Start an Online Clothing Store, ecommerce experts, Selz, suggest: “Stand out by developing a creative method in which customers can determine accurate size descriptions, whether via a detailed sizing chart tailored to your store, or even a tool in which they can virtually try on clothes.” With so many tools available, there are many options available to add these types of features to ecommerce sites.

Play with product titles: The title of the product adds to the perceived value of it, so play around with this. A/B test titles on your top-performing pages to get a sense for what format and words drive the most conversions. Remember to test the product title alone, as opposed to changing imagery as well, so you can isolate the results accurately.

Be available: Potential customers may leave simply because they’re confused. Get these buyers to the sale by adding a live chat functionality. An answer to simple questions about sizing, color or availability may be all they need to click through and buy. There are many live chat options available; your current ecommerce system may even already offer this feature, so start there.

4. Heat Mapping Tests to Measure User Flow

Heat maps are a visual representation of how users are interacting with your site. They can provide valuable insights on where your users are clicking, bouncing, repeating actions, and converting. If there are issues with user flow, this will make them easy to see.

Heatmaps are useful when you want a comprehensive view of how the user interacts with your site and can be as simple or dynamic and complex as you want. There are fewer free options than with other tests, and free maps run the risk of being less sophisticated. Here are a few free and paid options:

  • Smartlook: This is an analytics service that offers a free trial with three heat maps included.
  • CrazyEgg: This paid service is an industry standard for heat maps. They offer free trials as well, and a robust platform with high-quality heat mapping options.
  • HotJar: This is another popular analytics system that offers dynamic and interactive heat mapping. If you want to test it first, try the basic plan for websites with three heat maps (capped at 2,000 pageviews/day).

5. User Experience With Recorded or In-Person User Testing

User experience (UX) tests are used to get an unbiased third-party user’s feedback. This person visits and interacts with your site providing insights on how potential customers navigate the site, where they click or hesitate, or if they can easily find what they’re looking for.

Many of the services we’ve already covered offer recorded UX testing, including HotJar and CrazyEgg. Here are a few other recorded UX test options:

  • Loom: If you have users that are willing to test your site, and you feel comfortable setting up your own UX tests, Loom offers a free chrome extension where you can record their activity while browsing your site.
  • Inspectlet: This tool incorporates real-time session recording for users. The free version even offers 1,000 recordings per month.
  • Validately: A more in-depth service that lets you not only capture video of UX tests but audio as well, so users can talk you through their experiences and thoughts. This tool starts at $199/month.

In-person user experience testing is one of the more expensive and in-depth tests, where you pay for testers to come to the same physical locations so you can watch them interact with your site. The benefit is you’re over the shoulder of the tester. You can analyze their body language and directly communicate about their opinion. You can also choose to moderate the session, i.e., tell testers where to go on the site, to get even more feedback.

6. Your Search experience

Search will play a crucial role in your website user experience. Site search users are more than 200 percent more likely to convert, according to research from WebLinc. How do you make sure this crucial group of users is able to find the content they need? Look at your site search usage analytics through your search provider and try to spot these issues:

  • Queries with no results. This is a dead-end for your customers, and a sign that content needs to be created to address this issue. Don’t ever let customers get to a “no results” page. Instead, try providing suggestions for what they could have meant or relevant content that users in similar contexts have needed.
  • Queries with a low click through rate on results. Your customers aren’t seeing what they need to see from your results page to click. Experiment with the titles on the results page first to see if it’s just a matter of “advertising” the content correctly for the query, and then look into creating content for these queries.
  • Popular queries with a high click through rate. This is a sign that this content may need to be more prominent on your website and possibly needs to be broken apart into multiple content pieces. Think of ways to extend and promote this content through your recommendations.

Test Your Site to Optimize Customer Experience

A lot of time, effort and resources go into developing a highly functional website that will not only convert leads but deliver a positive customer experience. However, once your site is up and running the work doesn’t end there. This year, commit to testing your website to ensure that you offer the best possible customer experience, and therefore drive the conversions you hope to see.

Interested in learning more about how to improve your website? Check out our recent blog post on improving your conversion rate.

Blog Post28 Ways to Improve Your Conversion Rate

About Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, a content marketing agency. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.

Read more from this author