I recently attended an event in Montreal where Albert Lai spoke. Albert’s a serial entrepreneur with a number of successes (and failures) under his belt. Great speaker. One of the things he said really stuck in my mind (which I’m paraphrasing), “It’s all about the market. Don’t do things based on your own personal whims of what you think is right or wrong, good or bad. Listen to the market. It’s always right. And you’re typically wrong.”
It’s important advice – especially for startups – because we often live in a bubble building our web apps till our heart’s content, thinking we’ve just invented the next Google. It’s not that entrepreneurs don’t seek out advice, but whether we listen to it is another story. One of the biggest hindrances to taking advice (even our own) is time. We’re rushing to launch, building as quickly as we can to get a head start on the competition, and we don’t necessarily have time to sit back, get good feedback, assess it and adjust accordingly.
Nowhere is this clearer than in people’s websites. Most people will agree on the importance of design. There are exceptions (think: Plenty of Fish) which in my mind just prove the rule. Where most websites fail is in their organization and navigation. And in their missions. What’s the goal of your website? If you don’t have a clear answer to that you need one as soon as possible.
Everyone will “test” design out — just ask a bunch of people, “Does this new design look good?” But information architecture, navigation and the effectiveness of a website in meeting your goals … people just don’t test those things enough.
The Sooner You Start Testing Your Website The Better
The minute your website goes live, you should start testing whether it’s working or not. And one of the best ways is with heatmaps. A heatmap shows you where people are clicking on an individual page. I use a service called crazyegg. It’s a simple way to very quickly get a ton of insight into how people are using your website.
In the spirit of openness, I’ve included two screenshots below. One is for Standout Jobs’ home page and the other is for our employer sign-up page. This is only 4 days worth of data, and we haven’t changed anything significantly because of these results, but we will be making changes soon.
Standout Jobs Home Page Heatmap
Standout Jobs Employer Sign-Up Page Heatmap
What Do You Think?
Instead of analyzing these results on my own, I thought it’d be interesting to see what everyone else thought. The heatmaps don’t show number of page views or clicks, but I think the sample size of data is big enough to start drawing conclusions. So what are yours?