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Web performance data can help us identify bottlenecks or issues within user flows. We can use this data to take action to improve a user flow to meet project success criteria or other key performance indicators (KPIs).

In a previous post How to Write Tests to Monitor User Flows, we covered:

  • A checklist of items to consider before building a test, including defining success criteria
  • How to technically create a user flow test in a web performance platform
  • What settings you should enable when running a user flow test

In this post we’ll cover the steps for making the most of the data you’re collecting with your user flow tests. Again, we’ll stay relatively high-level so that you can apply these concepts using your preferred tools for testing performance.

Make a Plan

After you’ve determined the success criteria for your user flow test, create a plan for how you can leverage the data you collect. A good outline for a plan might look like:

  1. First, run a user flow test to collect data and identify a performance benchmark.
  2. Make a change in your staging environment with a goal to improve performance.
  3. Compare performance before/after changes (Read about how to do this in Rigor here.)
  4. If change represents an improvement then deploy to live site.
  5. Correlate performance improvements with changes reflected in UX KPIs.

You can repeat this plan as often as neede so that you’re continuously iterating until you reach your goal and then working to maintain that level of success.

Note: we recommend running user flow tests in staging environments so that your team can verify a change will improve performance before releasing this change into a live environment with real users. If you do not have access to a staging environment, you may alter these steps to report on how changes affect performance on a live site.

Examples of Plans in Action

Depending on your users, the context of your requirements, and the user flow test that you’ve designed to test those requirements, you may need different levels of reporting to identify benchmarks for relevant metrics. Here are some examples of common user flow tests, success criteria, and related web performance data to track:

  • Improve page render time to reduce bounce rate of users from a page
    • Build a simple user flow test from common entry page to target page
    • Measure render time trends over time
    • Make changes to improve render time, such as eliminate render-blocking content
    • Compare render time results
    • If render time is lower, push changes live
    • Correlate with bounce rate
  • Improve search results time to reduce bounce rate of users on search page
    • Build a user flow test to enter search term > wait for first result present > click first result
    • Alert if unable to interact with first result in less than 5 seconds
    • Make changes to improve results time
    • Compare number of alerts before / after changes
    • If less alerts, then push changes live
    • Correlate # of alerts with bounce rate
  • Eliminate bottleneck in checkout transaction to reduce cart abandonment
    • Build a user flow test to add product to cart > view cart > checkout > enter details > verify complete
    • Measure the total response time for the user flow and the page load times for individual pages hit throughout the checkout process
    • Use the page performance report to identify the slowest page in the user flow
    • Make changes to improve performance or reduce steps on that page
    • (If needed) Update your user flow test to match new steps
    • Compare total response time after change
    • If total response time is lower, push changes live
    • Correlate faster response time with change in total value of purchases

Takeaways

Just like you’d A/B test the impact of a design changes like a change of color on a button or implementing less fields on a form, you should test and measure how web performance improvements impact UX. Make sure you build a plan and identify the right performance metrics. Always close the loop by correlating web performance improvements to your goals.

Ready to measure how improvements to web performance help you reach your UX goals? Then you’ll love Rigor! Rigor monitors your user flows for opportunities to optimize performance and helps you track the impact of improvements over time. Book a call today to start your free Rigor trial.


This post belongs to a series. Previous posts: Web Performance Monitoring for UX and How to Write Tests to Monitor User Flows.

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  • John Negoita

    Hi Melanie, I totally agree that the performance of a website is a key component of a good UX. For me as a web developer however, the most challenging thing is to get into the mindset of the user. A lot of times I find that users are doing things on the website I would have never thought of. I’ve written a few points about how to improve UX on a website from slightly different angle than your post, and I’m curious to see what you think

    http://www.coding-dude.com/wp/seo/how-to-improve-user-experience-and-reduce-bounce-rate-on-a-website/