Just like human anatomy, the anatomy of a web site is composed of different user experience parts that must all work together seamlessly. Optimizing the user experience of each part however is problematic: Where do you start? How much user experience testing and adjusting should you do on each of your page types? What’s critical, important or just a nice to have in terms of spending your limited user experience testing resources?
Over the past 13 or so years I’ve conduct user experience testing and optimization on hundreds of large and small web sites. During this time, I’ve noted a pattern to the user experience of typical web site pages. There seems to me to be what I call a “user experience page weight” and a resulting “user experience testing weight” that are fairly consistent across web sites.
In my opinion, these user experience anatomy points of a web site can be weighted, and that weighting used to help a web site owner determine what user experience importance to place on each page type. This weighting can also help determine how much user experience testing resources should be applied to each page.
Following is my overview of an average web site user experience page weight, and user experience testing needs.
Of course, no two web sites are exactly the same, thus your web site may or may not have the same weightings as I’m indicating here. But you can use my criteria and weights as a starting point, and adjust your web site user experience weighting to fit your site. This provides you the benefit of having a better comprehension of the user experience needs by page type, and how much resources to spend testing and optimizing each page type.
A Few Definitions first:
User Experience Page Weight – I define this as a percentage of your total web site experience cognitive load. Total web site experience is the average amount of cognitive load your web site visitor will typically expend on your web site during typical critical tasks.
Some pages, for example the home page and products pages, may typically experience a higher cognitive load than other pages, as your web site visitors try to determine if your site should be trusted, and if you provide the products or services the visitor is trying to find.
Many years of usability testing on large and small sites have enabled me to average a “typical” UX Page Weight, which I’ll define specifically for each page type below. However, your web site may not have the same UX Page Weight as I am providing here – your own usability testing on your own site should be your guide.
User Experience Testing – I define this as a percentage of the resources you should expend in conducting usability testing and related user experience research (clicktrack analysis, eye-tracking, etc.) when evaluating optimizations of the user experience for that page.
It’s a rare firm that has enough UX resources to continually test and optimize all web site pages at the same time, most of us have to spread limited resources around. This metric is my average for each page gained from years of usability testing observations of multiple kinds of web sites. Your web site might have different UX testing weights.