How can UX Design affect your SEO? | Optimisey

By | August 26, 2019

So welcome to our talk:
How can UX effect your SEO? I’m Nick Duffield I’m a user experience designer
for a company called E-Life Sciences in Cambridge. My path to UX is a very
typical one: I started off as a graphic designer
first of all, made my way into web design and then transitioned into UX design.
Some of the companies I work for: people like Microsoft Research in Cambridge I
developed websites and mobile applications for that company for their
research groups and both in marketing departments. Right now I work creating
tools for scientists to help them communicate their work. So today’s talk
we’re going to tell you about an SEO project that both Kamil and I worked
on, in particular the types of things that we learned doing this type of work
and the insights that we gained. I think an interesting thing about the project is
that we changed our own ideas about SEO – we found that our own discipline of
UX design played a bigger part in this stuff than we
initially thought. I think a good place to start is for Kamil to give you his
perspective on what UX design is. Good evening ladies and gentlemen my name is
Kamil. I’m an experience designer at Cambridge English. I work on digital
tools for… I help to build digital tools for learners and teachers and my
background same like Nick’s – is in graphic design I’ve been doing this for over a
decade now working on both printed and digital media and how I transitioned to
experience design – or maybe the better question is why I transitioned to
experience design – it’s because of situation I’m about to tell you. So one
day up I was given a brief for design a poster and it was pretty simple. Create
an artwork for the event, include information of what it is, when it is, where
it’s going to be held, simple job. I quickly completed the job and hand it over for
approval. And three days later eventually I managed to get some feedback from the
stakeholders and first thing they asked me: to make logo bigger – it’s like because
the logo cannot be big enough. And then they say ‘Can you move the
headline a little bit to the top? And the support things a little bit to the left?’
And I’m thinking to myself ‘What difference is it gonna make? Why are you
doing this?’ like and it’s pretty much same story throughout my career
there’s always seem to be a person who was a specialist and better how to
design and they knew how to do it better than me. And it always made me think ‘Why
did I do it? How can I prove that my work and what I do works?’ and so I started
researching on internet how to prove to how to communicate my designs better how
to how to create designs that work and more and more often I started coming across
user experience design. So I started learning and reading about it got
into it and pretty much that’s how I got my transition to experience design. But
what is experience design? So it’s a design process. It’s a process where all
the decisions are based around user needs and their behaviors and today
we’re going to focus on mainly three elements because there’s plenty of stuff
that’s included in experience design but today we’re going to focus on three
elements that I think may have the biggest impact on your SEO ranking. So
it’s interaction design – oh I should have done it earlier – interaction design,
information architecture and UI design commonly known as user interface design. And
some of the tools I use on a daily basis to achieve a greater information
architecture or great visual designs: stuff like user research, user surveys,
interviews, card sorting exercises or competitive analysis. And one great tool –
one more tool that I tend to use – there’s more internal stuff if before you go
outside is workshop, design workshops. This is trying to invite people from not
only your own department where you work we’re trying to get people from other
departments and brainstorm some ideas. And by having people who who
are not familiar with the product that you are working on you kind of get a
different perspective. And you can see how others understand product you’re
working on and it’s quite helpful. And how the UX and SEO
are connected how the two work together? I’ll let Nick to share his insights and
findings. [Nick] So an idea for a project: SEO and UX. I’d been doing a lot of training and
stuff like that and trying to figure out how to turn research insights gathered
through tools like Google Analytics and feed that into my design process. I
mentioned to Kamil that I was interested in this type of stuff and he suggested that I
look at a course called the Digital Garage by Google. So I don’t know whether
you’re familiar with this course? But it’s, it’s very basic and it’s aimed at very
small businesses to increase their presence on the Internet. While working through the course a few things stood out to me: firstly the
course recommended creating and crafting content in a meaningful way for site
visitors. UX would call this information design or information architecture. I
think – and I’ll just mention something about that to you – it also recommended
speaking to your customers and understanding how they describe your
content and speaking to them so that when you do write and create this
content you do it in a more meaningful way to them. It’s just typical user
research there – we do it all of the time and we use that to inform our design
process. On top of that it recommends optimising your site and that’s, what
they mean by that, is making it work in an expected way for users. And you know
like it when you make your journey through a website, clicking links and
hitting buttons and all of that stuff that’s just typical interaction design.
It’s just textbook UX. So when we were getting started on the project we needed
a guinea pig. And what we wanted to do was speak to a local business and see if
they would let us use their site to figure all of their stuff out and try new
skills. My hope was – we were going to improve their site. Getting started we had a few questions.
We knew the store that we that we were looking for would have would need to
poor indexing. If it did we needed to know why that would be. If users found
these sorts of pages we’d need to know how they use them. If competitors were doing better with their indexing than them we need to
figure out what that would be. So with all of these questions we had a basic
outline for our project. We went and proposed this to a friend of mine who had
a failing business. He had good footfall but the actual website that he had
wasn’t performing very well. To kick the project off we divided all of this work
into interests for both myself and Kamil. He carried out certain parts of
the project. Things like analysing Google Analytics I
was interested in, in the Google Search Console to figure out why this guy’s
site was indexed so badly or their ranking was poor. And we proposed
all this stuff to the guy and then he was interested. And we said look here’s
the deal: we’re going to learn stuff by performing all of these things on your
site and as a trade what we will do will write a report up and share this with
you and you can do what you want with it. You can give that to a developer if you
want to make those changes that’s great and that’s that’s pretty much the trade
we made. I think it’s probably a good time for Kamil to tell you about the
types of work that he was engaged in while doing that stuff. [Kamil] So we kicked off
with looking at – they gave us access to their analytics dashboard – and we kicked
off by just having a general overview of how their website performs. So we
compared the data from 2015 and 2016 and the things we wanted to search for was
potential problems, look at the flows we wanted to learn how many visits they get,
how often the visits happen and the conversion – the basic conversion rate. And
the key findings from just looking at analytics we learned that the visits
to online store and the physical store were pretty much – there was no surprises
there – it pretty much matched so there was highs in January and December for
for the sale period, then slight dip, slight increase in sales again over the
the summer period because this is an extreme sports shop – so kind of a muchness
there was no surprises. We had a look at demographics and from demographics we
learned that most of the visits were quite local, which again although sad
it wasn’t anything that would surprise us because we knew that they ranked
quite poorly so we didn’t expect the website to reach distant customers.
But the big stat, the big discovery, it was like a golden nugget – at
least for us – they had a 90% dropout rate at the checkout. That’s one out of 10
people completing a purchase. Obviously it was horrible news for the owner but
great news for us. For us it was another piece of research we could do – prepare
some hopefully works, work on some fixes and improve it.
So we got that all this insight, presented it to Nick’s friend, and
we told him what work we’d like to do next. And he agreed for us to carry
on with the project. And the first thing we did – with help of the guys in the store – we
organised a day of in-store usability studies. So we got the script ready,
because it’s useful to run studies by a script, we divided our roles. Nick was the
interviewer, I was observer and note-taker. And we set up a goal. And the
goal on that day was to learn why people are dropping at the checkout. And on top
of it we thought, by observing, we can learn how people are using the website
in general. We managed to get eight or nine subjects – I mean subjects – people
actually who came to the store and we asked them to purchase a product
using the website. Whether they’d wanted to use their mobile device – or we
had the tablet available and computer – asked them to search for the product they came
to buy and complete the purchase using the online store.
And the insights we got from this: we learned why there was a dropout rate: because
people couldn’t – first – they couldn’t find the checkout button. Second thing, once
they found it, they couldn’t identify the pay button because it didn’t look like a
button. Another thing we learned, as an extra, it took quite a long time and
a significant amount of pages for for people to scroll through
to get to the desired item. And there was a small problem with the oversized
cookie message – so it is pretty much would fill the whole screen on a mobile
device. So we knew what’s wrong: then we had to fix it. So we again split the
duties. Nick was going to go and create a set of wireframes
to present a new checkout procedure, a new button how it would look. And what I
wanted to do is to work on the information architecture of the website, that I was hoping, is going to reduce the search time of the items. And in ideal
world, where you have budget, stuff like that would be probably best to do with a
group of 20 people in a room like this and and do something we call card
sorting exercise. But as our project was more for us to learn, it
was pro bono, we didn’t have no budget. Our budget was zero. We had to be quite
creative on it. So I thought as the saying goes: ‘Good designers copy, great
designers steal’ and I’m a great designer – I’d like to think – so [Nick: One of the best!] yeah! But in a design world, or in the UX world we don’t
call it stealing. We call it ‘recycling of well
understood patterns’ yeah? So the best way to do it on the cheap, as in for free,
I took top ranking for competitive websites, scan the the website, check how
they group the items, how how they structure their information, mapped it
out and look for overlapping patterns. And based on the findings I designed a brand
new architecture for the shop we’re working for. And because, in a situation
like that, there’s no sense reinventing the wheel. Those guys ranking
on the top, which means: their customers like it, it works for them, it’s gonna
work for us. And I’m gonna let Nick now speak about the whole journey of
wireframes and Search Console. [Nick] Okay so for my part, the Search Console, it threw up a
couple of recommendations. Stuff that need fixing.
So that what happened is the staff, when they create new pages, have been doing a
typical ‘Save as’ type of thing and what they hadn’t been doing was changing the
page titles, things like the meta descriptions and the keywords they were
associated with these pages. So 65 pages had duplicate page titles, 822 – I don’t
know how they managed to get that number – had duplicate meta descriptions and there
were just like an abundance of duplicated keywords there. It just it
resulted in completely inaccurate page information for search results. Google
called this out, I made a report for these guys and tried to write content in a
structured way so they could use it. Because, don’t forget, these guys are just
regular shop owners. They don’t know anything about design, they don’t
understand programming or any of that stuff they don’t really know anything
about websites. So what they needed was a structure that they could follow and
work with when they were creating their content. So my proposed fix was this: for each
page title, to start that off with the brand of the item, the name of the item
and then separate that with a hyphen and then describe the item in some way. There
could be a detail of some sort, in this instance that was the color, and then to
reference the title at the very end with the actual store name. So the neat
thing is about this it gave them a very, very simple structure to follow and they
could just roll these things out as they needed to which cut down on all this
duplication that they were seeing. Hopefully that would, they would result
in better indexing, better ranking hopefully and it should fix their
problem. And then you know my advice was to do this for a couple of sections of
your website and see how this goes and if you start
to see in an improvement in your in your indexing and ranking and
stuff like that then you know you’re doing something right and you can
continue this out through the rest of the site. Another thing that I had to
help with was this checkout experience issue that these guys had had.
So what was going on there is that um they had key call to actions just buried
in side-bar navigation so it was just like a regular old link but it was the most
important thing on a page. What we found customers were doing is that they
knew how to add items to their shopping cart but they just couldn’t get to the
checkout because this thing was just a minor link like in their peripheral
vision. And so a fix for that was a set of wireframes – I mean they don’t look
like anything special we didn’t have time or budget to do any any huge visual
design improvements. I don’t think they’d have accepted that sort of stuff even if
we did because they had their way of thinking about their website – what I
suggested was instead of turning this this little button here, which is just a
piece of text, leaving it like that and then that sort of like highlighting or
underlining in a very simple way – make that a huge great button so when something
gets added to a cart this thing then lights up and we get some sort of ribbon
strip that gets tacked to the bottom of the browser window showing that you’ve
added an item to your cart. There’s a secondary button there so if you miss
that one you’re going to be able to see that and through that you’ll be able to
navigate your way to the checkout and then pick your gateway of choice
and then follow that through to make your payment. By proposing this fix we
saw over the following month like a twenty percent increase in sales
conversions which was a massive win for those guys. So all of this work we
completed there we handed our report to the shop, we got the developer to do some
of this work in our report. What we did we prioritised the stuff that they
needed to do in order as fixes to their website. We said we know you don’t have
time and money and experience and all of this stuff, so do
what you can right? Just doing one thing off this list is going to help you. That
was one of those things I think, currently they’re still working on
improving their site. Time, money, budget, people all of that stuff so you know
over the next year hopefully though they will get their site in order. I think a
key thing for them is better indexing. What I did explain to them: the being
found is only part of the user’s journey. Once they get to your site they need to
be able to know how to use it. The content needs to make sense
and it needs to work in a way that they expect it to. They can make
purchases or do the things that they want to do, if it’s a blog they might
want to read content and then find other bits of content thats of interest to
them. So however you piece your site together it should make sense and the
best way to do that sort of thing is to ask your customers what they want,
understand the way that they think about your site, and then optimise your site
accordingly. So I think a good thing to do now I’ll hand you back to Kamil he
can give you some wrap-up there so thanks a lot. [Kamil] So I think all of us it’s
safe to say that although my job title is Experience Designer some of you are marketers, SEOs I think it’s safe to save that, deep inside, all of us
are user experience designers. Although our disciplines are slightly
different we have the same goal. The goal is to provide our customers, and
people who use our products, with the best possible experience they we can get –
with, we want to leave them with a smile on their face and we’re hoping that
they’re gonna keep coming back to our – buy our product for more and more. And all
the stuff we describe and the research, although it sounds like it’s
time-consuming and an expensive thing to do it’s not really. As I told you like you
can do stuff like information architecture, you can do almost for free.
And there’s plenty of other resources available on the web and on the
internet that can help you, other tools that can help you understand
your users better. And as long as all the decisions you guys make are based
around user behavior and their needs, you should have plenty of successes. And all
it takes is to start a conversation with your customers. And from my
experience people are normally quite happy to talk – especially if there’s a
problem – that they will tell you how to fix it. You don’t even have to think of
it because sometimes they’ve already come up with the solution. And I said as long as
all the decisions are made around their needs you should be fine. And one thing I
think both of us would like you guys to take away from today’s talk: optimise for
your audience – not the search engines. Thank you very much – thank you for listening. [applause]

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