This post is part 3 of 3, based on a talk I gave at UX New Zealand.
These are recurring UX trends that will help you to question assumptions about the websites that you’re working on. Use the insights to serve your users, and show your organisation what good UX looks like.
8. Automated links are not enough.
Links on deep-level content pages can promote other valuable content and increase engagement.
The key is making those links directly relevant to the page content. If you use automated links they’ll often reflect the taxonomy of your website or inconsistent tagging, rather than the needs of your users.
For example, when GOV.UK was launched the related links were pulled from parent website sections. However data showed us that most of these links weren’t getting significant clicks, so we manually curated the links to reflect user needs rather than site structure. This means that some pages only have one related link.
9. Conversions are just the tip of the iceberg.
(Or the bottom of the funnel).
The analytics world is obsessed with conversion rates and funnels. Conversions cover any meaningful interaction on your website like a purchase, form download, or someone contacting you. In reality tracking your conversions is just the starting point – the biggest improvements will come when you understand the whole user journey. Funnels require you to pick a set user path, and don’t always reflect the complexity of the user experience.
For example, ‘anonymous bank’ offered two savings options. Data showed that more people visited content on option one because it’s well-known, but more application forms are submitted for lesser known option two.
Turns out option two is much more attractive but fewer people know about it. Data showed us that we can use the popularity of option one to inform people about option two.
10. Small tweaks can make a big difference.
Making simple changes like adding a new page covering a popular search topic, or a well-placed link can result in big success numbers.
Take GOV.UK for example, there were 5K searches per month on the ‘Tax your vehicle’ page for ‘SORN’, which is a related need about declaring your vehicle off the road so that you don’t have to pay tax. We put a link in the Related content section of the ‘Tax your vehicle’ page and searches dropped to almost nothing. A small tweak, but one that saves people effort and time on a dreary task.
Google Analytics report showing over 5K searches for ‘sorn’ in a month:
A related link to the SORN page saw these searches drop by 95%. See the full case study on the GOV.UK blog: The search is over… almost.vist
Your users will surprise you.
This is why I love data – people do the most unexpected things. The interesting part is the detective work which involves figuring out the human intentions behind the data.
At Te Papa we were surprised by people visiting content about a Kaumātua Kapa Haka performance. We thought they wanted practical information like parking and performance times, but they actually were viewing live streaming of the performance which fulfilled Te Papa’s goals of reaching their audience beyond the museum walls. See the full Matariki case study.
Or RNZ, who thought their core website audience were the same as their radio listening audience. But instead of older, educated people who were ‘more likely to have bought fine wine and cheese’ than the general population, the website audience turned out to be young, news-hungry people getting RNZ stories through mobile news feeds and social media. This resulted in big changes to their digital approach. See the full RNZ case study.
And sometimes our hard work to make content user-friendly goes out the door. If you’re a fan of plain English you’ll know that acronyms and official names have ruined many a government website. But there are some times when those weird names catch on.
Take ‘Births, deaths and marriages’ Unlikely you’ll be needing help with all of these at the same time right? Doesn’t matter, because this government categorisation has got stuck in our heads. There are thousands of searches for ‘BDM’ and ‘Births, deaths and marriages’ in Google, both in NZ and the UK. Go figure.