So you've just launched (or relaunched) a new website or blog. Your friends and family say it looks great and congratulate you on all of your hard work. There's only one problem: outside of your immediate circle, no one is visiting your site.
What gives? You could have a usability problem on your hands.
What makes sense to you may not resonate with someone else. Or it might be that because of the way you've designed and coded your site, search engines aren't able to find you. Either way, it's good to do a thorough checkup on your site. Below are a handful of free tools to try.
ChalkmarkChalkmark lets you quickly run a test on your user interface to answer any questions about usability. After you upload a screenshot of your site (or wireframes of a site you're planning to launch), Chalkmark issues a URL that you can send out to testers via an email. Testers are given certain tasks -- where do you sign up, where do you register for newsletters, etc. -- and then must click on the image. After the testing period closes, you can generate a PDF report to see where everyone clicked...and whether or not your interface is going to work as you think it should.
CrazyEgg and ClickHeat are tools that track where users click. You can literally see where someone pointed their mouse to click. ClickHeat is free and CrazyEgg has a number of payment options, and you can observe how your visitors are interacting with your site in real-time. Both of these tools are particularly useful if you have big multimedia projects or Flash presentations on your site.
FiveSecondTest is an interesting tool that allows testers only five seconds to view your image and then answer any questions you have. Why five seconds? Because that's the amount of time the average new visitor stays on a website before deciding whether to stay or to go somewhere else.
Amy Webb is a digital media consultant and the CEO of Webbmedia Group, LLC. She has also launched Knowledgewebb, a new website for multimedia training. You can follow Amy on Twitter. Webbmedia Group is a vendor-neutral company. Any opinions expressed about products or services are formed after testing, research and interviews.Neither Amy Webb nor Webbmedia Group or its employees receives any financial or other benefits from vendors.