Everyone has had a frustrating experience online. Having a website that is easy to use is more important than ever. Consumers are demanding an intuitive and rewarding online experience and voting with their feet when it’s poor. Offline Brands that have taken decades to build loyalty and trust can be dismissed online in an instant by a failing to provide an in increasingly improving standard of user experience.
Price and availability may still be high on the consumer agenda must as the gap between pureplay and clicks and mortar business closes the battle for customers is switching to the science of usability and consumer behaviour.
In fact it's fair to say many sites have been successful in spite of poor usability by instead relying on first time users pouring online year after year, buying market share through search engines or by simply being the best of a bad bunch.
So what next?
How do you maximise the number of online purchases, and maximise your online return on investment?
Putting User Centred Design at the heart of your website development strategy will give some unexpected and highly lucrative results.
Following a process that involves gathering information on what’s important to both your existing and prospective customers provides the initial foundation.
Watching how consumers really interact with your site provides the insight for re-development of existing features and development of brand new ones.
Conducting pre-launch testing throughout the design phase provides the reassurance to launch a design with the confidence that your site will meet expectation.
The usability foundation
Usability – a measure of the ease of use of your website, and its fitness for purpose – is the foundation of your online presence.
Journeys through the pages of your website must match users’ expectations so find out what they are….guess work or personal preference can be a dangerous option online when attention spans are shorter, patience thresholds are lower, and feedback limited.
Many organisations fall in to the trap of organising content in a way which reflects their own priorities or internal structure this may lead to a confusing experience for consumers.
Remember your website forms a digital conversation between you and your customers so learn the language of your consumers, not try to teach them yours.
Who do I need
There are many of usability services are available in the market, but their use should be driven by commercial needs. Careful understanding of your situation, commercial needs, and strategic goals should lead to a tailored suite of usability services – anything from user research (online surveys, stakeholder interviews, usability testing) through to an ongoing quality assurance programme (quarterly accessibility checks, usable content training).
Your user experience agency should be advising on all aspects of this online presence, including content suitability, product positioning and the depth of information provided. Your offline strengths and established sales processes should be translated and tailored to take maximum advantage of the online world. A user-centred, research-based approach to this process is essential.
Your website should be fully integrated into your marketing and communications strategy. For most or many of your customers your the website is the embodiment of your company and often the first point of contact so it can be an incredibly valuable or damaging channel.
A good user experience company should be working closely with your marketing team and technology teams to bridge the gap during design and development projects.
The re-launch of your website is only another a step in a continuous process. Improvement and enhancement is needed, especially since the days of ‘scrapping it all and starting again’ are fading away. Monitor the site’s use, assess customer feedback, refine the homepage messaging – treat it as an ongoing exercise. The benefits far outweigh the effort required to capture this valuable information.
Overall, maximising online purchases will likely be the cornerstone of your online success. Put in place a strong user experience programme that balances web design, usability, technology and accessibility, and integrates the website into the commercial strategies set by the business. Nomensa’s experience is that the results of this holistic approach are simply breathtaking, and you’ll be celebrating dramatic improvements to your bottom line.
Are you thinking about conducting usability studies on your website? We'd love to hear from you, contact us to find out how we could help.