What is user behaviour?

Carrying out ongoing user research using multiple sources of insight is essential in understanding your website users and their behaviour.

What is user behaviour

A website user is a person who is accessing, browsing or interacting with a website, and user behaviour refers to how people use a website. Behaviours include everything from the journey they take through the site to interactions such as clicks.

Optimisers can learn a lot from visitors’ behaviour and use the insight to improve user experience and conversion rates.

Why is it necessary to understand user behaviour?

When it comes to optimising a website, simply monitoring behaviour can only get you so far. The real value comes from analysing users’ actions to get to the bottom of what makes them behave as they do.

It’s easy to get carried away when looking at numbers and spend too much time focusing on top metrics. But without drilling into the details, you won’t have enough information to gain actionable insight. Although averages provide an overview, they tell us little about how users behave or what needs to be improved.

For example, your website’s conversion rate might seem high, which is great. However, once you segment by device you could spot that mobile conversion rate is very low or a certain channel or landing page converts poorly. This shows the importance of researching your specific audience and using segments to examine the finer details rather than relying on top level figures.

In fact, unsegmented data can completely mislead you. Trends that appear in two different groups of data can disappear or reverse when the two groups are combined, which is known as the Simpson’s paradox.

Why should you continually research your users?

Behaviour is complex and varies across different websites depending on the target audience. This means you need to learn specifically about your users. Who are they? What are their needs? Which browsers and devices do they prefer? How often do they purchase? Answering these questions is crucial if you want to have a competitive edge, meet consumer needs and retain your customers.

Also, bear in mind that users’ needs evolve and their behaviours will inevitably change in line with these needs. Continual user research and analysis will help you keep up with customer buying behaviour so you can accommodate these demands.

By researching online behaviours, you can get an idea of what users are trying to achieve, the factors driving certain behaviours, where they experience friction and areas where user experience can be better.

Ultimately, learning how visitors behave on your website allows you to provide an enhanced experience that’s in line with user needs, which in turn will ensure your business continues to grow.

How can we assess user behaviour?

Now you know all about the importance of analysing behaviour. So how can you go about researching this? Our award-winning conversion research methodology includes a range of qualitative and qualitative data sources.

One of the main tools we use to carry out research is Google Analytics. This is free and fairly easy to set up. Once installed, you’ll have access to valuable data about how users behave on your site, including where they land and go next, where they drop off and what they interact with. You can also use it to discover overall trends and patterns and source opportunities for growth.

Another beneficial research tool is Hotjar, which shows how visitors interact with webpages, where they click, how far they scroll and what features they see. This insight into behaviour can help you prioritise important information and decide where to place CTA’s.

Moreover, investing in usability testing and session recording tools such as What Users Do is invaluable for conversion research. These give you a true indication of how people use your website and why they behave in a certain way. Plus, seeing website visitors using your site in real time will draw attention to issues preventing them from completing their desired action.

Of course, it’s not enough to rely on just one of these resources. Combining all these methods will give you a better understanding of user behaviour. You can then use the insight to identify areas to focus on and improve the experiences users have on your site.

How can we influence user behaviour?

Knowing some of the fundamentals of human behaviour and consumer psychology helps to discern what influences the behaviour of website visitors.

Once we know the factors that lead to particular behaviours, we can optimise a website accordingly to influence visitors’ actions and achieve business goals.

One useful resource is BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Model (FBM). This outlines that for behaviour to occur there must be 3 elements present at one time: motivation, ability and a trigger.

The individual must be driven to act, it should be sufficiently easy for them to do so and an appropriate trigger is vital.

How can you use this model to maximise website conversions?

  • Ensure users’ needs and motivations are reflected in website copy
  • Make it easy for users to complete their desired tasks by improving usability and simplifying processes
  • Ensure relevant triggers are in place, for example clear CTA’s, email discounts and messages about free delivery over a certain threshold

Carrying out ongoing research and using multiple sources of insight is essential for understanding your website users and their behaviours. The insights you gather will enable you to iteratively improve the website and delight your customers.

If you’d like some help understanding user behaviour on your website, please call 0161 713 2434 or email [email protected] and get a free website audit from our award-winning team.

Nina Mack

6th November 2017

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