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Don’t get desperate, turn to metrics

Suhail Doshi

Perhaps people feel that their site is going to take off and shoot up with a
lot of traffic on launch day and when they simply just “jump the
shark
” it can be a little disheartening. Further
unsuccessful tweaking begins to lead to a certain desperation where websites
start offering the whole subset of their feature list and cram every possible
tid-bit of information they can offer like “last 20 posters”, “most popular x,
y, z” on their front-page. Eventually you come across largely cluttered pages
that are relevant to the service but are just really poor UI choices that
nearly yell: “I don’t know what to do, help!” The solution is to iterate your
front-pages with the least amount of clutter possible and figure out how to
increase the conversions of whatever event you want to occur. Once you’ve
done this it’s important to iterate the flow right afterward into sub-events.
If you want your user to register for your site, share something, read
something, or anything else the best way to convert these users into doing it
is to simply make it the only thing possible to do on your site. If you
clutter your interface with 10 other options, then you’ve split their
attention and can lose their engagement with something you didn’t really want
them to do. By simplifying you practically make the user do what you want.
Let’s take a few examples:

1. Google‘s interface defaults into essentially one
interaction: the search box. It’s by far the most emphasized part of their
page and they give little to do anything but search, so certainly, even if
Google was not popular you can still expect high usage of people searching
compared to anything else people do on Google.

2. hi5 emphasizes the user to sign up for their service.
Their sign-up box is large and it’s the only real action available to the
user, they don’t attempt to clutter the interface with user information or
“last x, y, z .” Keep is simple.

3. Ning, very similar to hi5.com, nearly the only action
available to the user upon entry to Ning on their front-page is a “Create your
own social network” form. It’s clear, they will receive the highest conversion
possible of users creating social networks on this front-page. They keep it
simple, provide little to distract the user from what they want.

4. Amazon, most of the UI choices are largely based on
selling a specific product that may convert high at the moment or might be
making them money during that day and they choose to show large images right
in the middle of the page. Amazon also makes the default focus its search box
so you can start typing right away upon entry and it’s large. They only
emphasize two events: either click on this new and hot product or search. Any
distracting content, is way below the fold of the page.

If you provide a few options, you’ll definitely start invoking your desirable
response: the only one on the page. It’s possible that your bounce rate could
be high and users never do the action.For something like that you will need to
re-think if the user is understanding what you’re presenting them or if it
simply has little to no value for them.

The goal here is to attain the largest conversion for whatever event you by
using metrics to track them and watch how they grow day after day, week after
week. You can use mixpanel’s API to track any event you wish and even figure
out visitor retention and how many unique users are doing it quickly.
Mixpanel’s dashboard will tell you how you’re doing day over day and week over
week letting you compare Monday this week to Monday last week.

It’s important to use metrics to track things like button color/size to
increase conversions and quite possibly the right choice of text. Sometimes
it’s interesting to see if the height/width/size of whatever call to action
you are presenting the user could perhaps increase conversions 10-20%.

Start small, iterate, watch how the numbers look on
Mixpanel and continue to iterate till you think you
have a conversion rate that satisfies you.

Once you’ve figured out the best formula for conversion, iterate the flow
right after they convert. When a user signs up, think about the thing you show
them right after. Do you want them to upload a picture, invite their friends,
generate content? Your site will not be immensely engaging from the start so
you need to think about a user flow right after registration, for example,
that attains your goal such as virality. Make the next flow just as simple as
the front-page, don’t provide too many options upfront initially because you
still want to convert on more actions that can help you achieve your goal. If
your next flow is not doing well, refine it, iterate it with metrics until it
starts working. Consider A/B testing two different flows to see which one
achieves the best conversion rate which is possible with the Mixpanel
API
.

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