User experience (UX) is arguably the most crucial aspect of a website. It affects every part of a customer’s journey – from how they perceive the brand to how easily they make a purchase.
Despite this importance, a survey by Econsultancy revealed that 12% of businesses do not carry out user testing and have no plans to implement it. Furthermore, a third of respondents stated they currently didn’t but plan to rectify that within the next year.
Of those who didn’t do any form of UX testing, more than 50% revealed that cost was a barrier to implementation. Although great UX has the potential to be the most profitable part of an organization, it is true that execution can be expensive. Afterall, according to Upwork, the average freelance UX designer can charge up to $65 per hour just for user research.
Although choosing an established professional or agency is usually the best course of action when creating a great user experience, there are several budget-friendly options which can still pay dividends. All businesses, from small firms to multinationals, have the potential to benefit from these:
Use data to learn how customers use the website
Google Analytics (GA) is an essential tool for businesses, providing firms with all the data they need to investigate website performance. Furthermore, this tool carries several benefits when evaluating UX.
For example, GA demonstrates when visitors leave a website or drop out before conversion. Timings can also be assessed to investigate how long, on average, it takes for individuals to navigate around the page.
Separately, heatmap tools can highlight where users are clicking on a webpage as well as how far they scroll. These might highlight, for example, that very few individuals are responding favorably to a call to action or reacting to a specific button.
As a result, this data can demonstrate areas for improvement which require just a few simple changes to fix. However, one downside of this approach is that it highlights problems – but doesn’t specify why these occur. That will require further analysis to determine.
Customers expect certain aspects from websites and understanding this can be crucial to success. For example, due to the growth of organizations such as Amazon, individuals generally expect e-commerce businesses to follow a precise formula.
On product pages, this might include elements such as reviews, multiple images, frequently asked questions, and in-depth descriptions.
While there is scope for innovation in UX, taking inspiration from competitors never hurts. By evaluating these organizations, going through their customer processes, and identifying elements which succeed, these own features can potentially be replicated.
There is always something to learn from competitor analysis – especially if several websites follow similar conventions.
Ask the customer
Customers are often an untapped source of feedback. Despite social media and review websites making it easier than ever for customers to express their opinions, businesses can be slow to capitalize on this opportunity.
For example, companies could potentially provide a small discount in exchange for users completing a questionnaire. We suggest following this format:
- Why did you visit the website?
- Were you able to achieve your goal?
- If not, why was this not possible?
This information can help pinpoint specific errors across a website and might also identify new opportunities for expansion.
Focus on the fundamentals
As you are working on a budget, it is essential to focus on the foundations of UX.
Use the budget you do have to get the fundamentals right, and you will see the greatest benefit from this (an obvious point, but worth mentioning).
Earlier we discussed the importance of business data in making informed UX choices. However, there is something to be said for taking a more basic approach. For example, by following the customer journey around the website, individuals can review common UX concerns and determine if they should be improved. These include:
- Website navigation – Does the website have clear menus, options, and an interface which allows customers to easily locate what they need?
- Page speed – Does the website, or certain pages, take too long to load? To put this into context, anything longer than two to three seconds may need to be investigated.
- The checkout process – Can customers easily purchase goods or services using the current system? In the event of an error, is this information clearly displayed? Furthermore:
- Can you use the checkout as a guest?
- Can you easily click on the links and buttons?
- Is it easy to read?
Think of the 80/20 rule, 20% of your input into the right places will likely give you 80% of your desired output.
Implement guerrilla testing
Guerrilla testing involves gathering UX feedback from users by taking a website – or item – into a public location and asking individuals to try it. However, this low-cost, simple solution has positives and negatives.
For example, while this has the potential to get a large number of fresh eyes on a situation – leading to several new ideas – the individuals approached may not belong to the target market. Therefore, any data collected might not be entirely relevant. Furthermore, it can be time-consuming to implement this process.
As a result, guerrilla testing is not something which can be completed in a few hours. To get the best results possible, it needs careful strategy and planning. We recommend this guide to guerrilla testing to learn more.
For the opposite of guerilla testing, look no further than this option. Remote testing uses screen-sharing software to record how customers interact with a website. Participants are set a series of tasks to perform – such as purchasing a product – then their actions are recorded.
When selecting this option, testers will need to decide whether or not to moderate the process. By moderating, testers are in the room and thus able to question participants further about their choices – usually leading to valuable additional insights. However, unmoderated users may browse the website more realistically, away from the gaze and questions of a moderator.
Regardless, remote testing takes place in an environment which is closer to how customers interact with a website.
Cost is not a barrier to implementing UX
Remember that user experience is all about the user, when working on a tight budget it’s important to base your decisions on data and testing, rather than instinct or following the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). Do this, and you will have a website which is designed around the user.
Good user experience is fundamental to the success of a website and those which make even the smallest investment will start seeing results. In this article, we have covered several budget-friendly approaches, each one demonstrating that cost really is not a barrier.