Tests to help raise your conversion rates
Any issues impeding purchase, engagement and adoption create a significant risk of wasting your investment in software development.
There is no substitute for real-world testing by testers who use your software in the same unplanned way that real-world users do. Coming fresh to your projects, they uncover what’s going on in a complex environment of continuous change, updates and deployment.
Broadly speaking, tests fall into two categories:
1. Functional testing
Functional issues are defects preventing completion of vital user journeys. They lead to baskets being abandoned and customers being stuck in loops or thrown off websites altogether.
Inappropriate redirects, 404 pages, incorrect filter results and checkout issues can all seriously damage revenues and reputations. Functional testing identifies these kinds of issues using non-disruptive methods and then orders them according to severity using impact analytics.
Depending on the project and client requirements, lesser issues might be classified as suggestions, escalating to those flagged as affecting conversion if they block the user from continuing their journey.
Testers work at scale on a range of real world devices and browsers. They can quickly uncover where certain specific browser, device or operating system issues are present, and they can replicate real human behaviour much more effectively than automation solutions.
2. Non-functional testing
This is where testing by real people excels. Non-functional testing includes the usability, performance and exploratory testing that brings profound customer insight to brands.
“A website that isn’t easy to use or understand… can result in lost sales, squandered internal resources and damaged brand reputation — costs that are too high for companies to absorb.”
Website usability testing typically covers how easy it is to navigate the site, the efficiency of performing desired actions, the number of errors the customer makes in pursuing those actions, the level of satisfaction and how memorable, in a good way, the experience is.
Usability testing will flag up illogical, confusing or unclear parts of the customer journey, and pick up on reactions to colour and other design choices for future optimisation.
Professional testing companies should offer real-world testers matching your target demographic. Testing feedback then reflects the behaviours and opinions of the people who matter most to your bottom line.
Conducted at scale, on relevant device and browser combinations, testing should be able to quickly script and mobilise the right-sized test group (from the appropriate demographic) to uncover the shifting and specific UX problems that are impeding revenue growth.
Iterative usability testing is central to assessing the impact of changing designs and customer journeys of ever-evolving feature-rich ecommerce sites. The insights delivered help you make the right changes where they matter most.
For example, research by the Baymard Institute, an independent web UX research institute, shows brands can increase conversion rates by over 35% solely through better checkout design.
As brands become more focused on international opportunities, it’s vital to have devices on the ground and real people with local knowledge spotting conversion issues, such as:
- Different payment solutions prevail in different territories – common problems with integration need to be identified and remedied
- Translated content must be clear and culturally aware – translations rendered on local sites must not distort boxes, stretching them or making them unreadable
- Inappropriate, insensitive or offensive content carried over from other sources must be identified as a priority
Localisation testing will be continuous as the speed of new releases of functionality increases and local conditions change.
Retail red letter days such as the cyber weekend, as well as unexpected news events and trends emerging overnight, can drive unpredictable spikes in traffic to your website.
Human performance testing can concentrate on specific areas to ensure a site can cope with high levels of concurrent traffic with ease. A mass test on the payment section of a site can mimic the effect of a flash sale or other rush to your website, as the effect of multiple and simultaneous real-world payment attempts are noted.
Effective stress testing like this should also let you isolate variables in order to determine the ability of your site to cope with particular events:
- Isolating all traffic to one particular geographic region
- Isolating performance across multiple browsers, platforms and devices
- Isolating the speed of image loading on specific devices and browsers
Exploratory testing gives qualified, professional testers the freedom to apply their creativity, product awareness and industry knowledge to uncover defects and possible usability issues.
In scripted testing, test cases are designed first, followed by test execution. In contrast, exploratory testing is a simultaneous process of test design and test execution. It allows teams to replicate real-world behaviour and decision-making beyond a script, to take a thought wherever it leads them and help developers identify areas of weakness.
Exploratory testing creates a constant feedback loop between testers and developers. It requires a high level of skill and is a vital component of agile development.
Finding a professional testing partner who can deliver the full range of functional and non-functional testing in scripted and exploratory contexts can be key to unlocking the full commercial potential of your site.
Colour contrast, screen reader capability, keyboard navigation, call-to-action identification and captions are all outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) guidelines, providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility.
An accessibility audit demonstrates your commitment to continuous improvement in this area, while professional testing by experienced specialists supports your compliance with the legislation around accessibility while improving the experience of all users.
Ideally, an early-stage review gives you a firm foundation for future web and app development, but it’s never too late to take action on accessibility, as a mid-life check or ahead of a significant release.