12 Critical Conversion Science Tools You Should Use to Improve your Website Testing and Optimization
Conversion Science and Data
Conversion science is all about using actual behavioral and task-flow data from your website or applications to make informed decisions about what to test and optimize. But where do you get the data needed? This listing of the 12 conversion science tools will provide you with many of the top tools the experts use to obtain behavioral and usability data. It is this data that is needed, and used, to create informed prioritization of conversion optimization tests. Here then in random order are the 12 critical conversion science tools…
Google Analytics (or GA as it is commonly referred to among frequent users) is a free data capture and analysis tool from Google that enables tracking of user behavior across websites. Having and analyzing behavioral data is critical to conversion science. Google Analytics enables conversion data tracking that is essential for making informed decisions about optimizations. Google Analytics or paid versions of similar tools such as Adobe Analytics, CoreMetrics, WebTrends and the like are essential tools for data-based conversion optimization.
Google Analytics also provides a tool to conduct simple A/B testing (call Experiments) which operates well enough for the price (free), although there are more sophisticated paid A/B testing tools available like Optimizely or Maxymiser.
2. Crazy Egg
CrazyEgg provides click tracking and scroll maps of your website, extremely important information for conducting conversion science testing and optimization. Knowing where your visitors are clicking, or just as important where they are NOT clicking, is essential for evaluating behavior on and among pages. Additional tools like the Confetti report enable tracking of keyword data based on clicks, to help you define which audiences are interested in what topics and where in your site they go. Other tools similar to CrazyEgg are available such as Mouseflow, ClickTale and more.
Price: $9 per month and up depending on the plan, first 30 days free
The Five Second Test tool offered by UsabilityHub is a great way to test your home page, or any page of your website, to learn if it is communicating effectively with your visitors. Studies have shown that most visitors make up their minds about a website well within 5 seconds. So this tool enables testers to see an image of your website page for 5 seconds, and then answer questions about it. What questions? Who you are, what you provide and why they should care are three important questions I like to test. Use this tool to learn if your website is communicating your value proposition effectively. The data captured is extremely helpful for optimization and related conversion science purposes.
Price: $20 per month and up depending on the plan, free if you earn Karma points by participating in 5 second tests other users have set up.
UserTesting.com provides a powerful way to quickly capture unmoderated usability testing data. Nothing beats observing real users interacting with your website while they try to complete tasks. Seeing your actual users stumble over certain tasks will quickly help you define areas on your site that need optimization. This kind of conversion science data is often overlooked by many firms that conduct A/B testing, but in fact is extremely helpful for optimized A/B testing success. Rather than guess what to A/B test, use UserTesting.com data and analysis to find and prioritize task flow failure points. Use this information to then set up A/B tests. UserTesting enables testing of any website or mobile experience, including testing your competitors! Other tools akin to UserTesting include Usabilla and UserZoom.
Price: $49 per tester with discounts available for pre-paying larger numbers of tests.
DeviceAnywhere is a very helpful tool for evaluating websites on real mobile devices. More and more websites and applications are viewed and interacted with using mobile devices. Evaluating the user interface using this mobile tool will provide extremely helpful data for optimizing the mobile experience. This is not an emulator. Unlike other free services, these are real mobile devices, so you can quickly see how your mobile website will render across a variety of popular smartphones.
Price: The Spot-checking tool is free, paid versions for developers and Enterprise-level usage are available starting at $260 per month and up, depending on the plan.
The iPhoneTester is an emulator that enables quick checks of your website content on an iPhone interface (3G and 4G) as well as on the iPod Touch. It is quick, easy and best of all free. Just enter your URL into the emulator and what you will see is a close approximation of what your iPhone visitors will see. It is a great way to quickly validate what your mobile user experience will be like. And considering the plethora of iPhones currently being used to access website content it is a very good idea to check your site from an iPhone usage perspective. I fully expect this year to be the transition year from mobile testing being a nice to have to mobile testing being a requirement of any optimization plan.
GoToMeeting is a very helpful tool for conducting remote moderated usability testing of websites to capture essential task flow data. It is actually part of the tool set, the other tool being a screen video capturing utility like my favorite, Camtasia Studio (explained below). By using GoToMeeting with a usability test participant, you can enable the tester to screen share his or her screen while they go through the exercises of trying to accomplish critical tasks on your website. Recording the tester screen interaction and voice as they go through the test will provide data on where tasks are failing (much like UserTesting). However, being present during testing enables you to go one better in that you can stop the tester or ask follow-up questions as you go through the testing exercise. Data from this type of testing is extremely helpful in finding and prioritizing task flow errors, which ultimately can be optimized through A/B testing of improved interfaces.
Price: $19 per month or more depending on the plan, free 30 day trial
Camtasia Studio by TechSmith is the second half of the remote moderated usability testing toolkit. Coupled with GoToMeeting, it enables real-time video screen capturing of the tester as he or she conducts usability testing on your website. All screen interactions (and voice) can be captured to gather usability data on critical tasks. And in addition, Camtasia Studio provides powerful but easy to use video editing tools that help create professional videos quickly and efficiently. Use Camtasia Studio to record on-screen activity, customize and edit content, add interactive elements or import media, and share your videos with anyone, on nearly any device. Conversion science is all about using data, and Camtasia enables capturing of interaction data in real time. If a picture is worth a thousand words then video of actual users on your site is worth a million.
Price: $299 per license or less if multiple copies are purchased.
Ethnio is a website intercept tool that enables you to invite your actual website visitors to participate in a survey or website usability test. It is an excellent way to get data from those all important actual users on your website. The tool includes screeners and the ability to manage your website intercept by a number of parameters including time of day and more. Conversion science is all about real data from real users, and this tool enables finding those users. The tool is simple to use, easy to set up, and makes finding testers easy and quick.
Price: $49 per month or more depending on the plan.
SnagIt is another very helpful tool in the conversion science toolkit. By capturing screen shots of an interface and editing them with the built-in SnagIt photo editing tools you can quickly highlight areas of interest, move elements around on the page to create B version mock-ups, and add helpful callouts that specify where on the page the issue is. By demonstrating issues and opportunities using actual screen shots of your website, you will be able to communicate very effectively with your teams as you create new B versions of web pages or elements on a page to test. Visualizations of optimizations are a conversion science best practice.
Price: $49.95 per license or cheaper for multi-license purchases.
SurveyMonkey provides the ability to capture qualitative and quantitative data quickly and easily. The science part of conversion science is based on having actionable and valid data. The best way to capture large amounts of statistically significant data is with surveys of prospects and or customers. This data is extremely useful when evaluating qualitative aspects of your web user experience, and can help guide your prioritization of conversion optimizations. SurveyMonkey enables almost anyone to be able to quickly and easily set up surveys for capturing that all important data. A note of caution about surveys, asking non-biased questions that provide actionable data is harder than it seems. It is a good idea to get second opinions from researchers or other expert survey developers on your questions, answers and scales prior to launching a survey live.
Last but certainly not least is Feng-GUI, an automated eye tracking tool that simulates based on algorithms where a typical human might fixate as they view a page. Eye tracking provides data on what objects on the page are capturing the attention of your website visitors. Fixations on an object are noted and the data is provided in multiple useful ways including heatmaps, gaze plots, opacity maps and more. For more precise (but more costly) actual human-based eye tracking data consider paid tools such as the Tobii eye tracker.
Price: $25 and up depending on the plan.
Conclusion: 12 Critical Conversion Science Tools You Should Use
Conversion science is all about the data. And the above 12 critical conversion science tools will enable you to capture the data you need to make more informed and more productive analysis of what elements to test and optimize on your site. Using several or all of these tools is almost guaranteed to provide you with a rich assortment of behavioral data that will help you test and optimize your site on a continual basis. A word of caution, you may enjoy using these tools so much that you become a conversion science junky! Enjoy!
For more information on how to conduct conversion optimization using some or all of the above tools, read the Top 10 Conversion Optimization Tips the Experts Use.
Note: Companies mentioned in this article may or may not be advertisers on this site. However, in no way does their sponsorship or lack thereof impact the results of this or any other editorial content on the site. In all cases, the same rubric for evaluation is used to compare tools or services and all results reflect the outcome of the comparison without regard to whether a company is advertising on the site or not.