The danger in over-reaching

Playing to your strengths

‘Web 3.0.’ ‘Content aggregation.’ ‘Mashups.’ Another day of technology news, another chance to jump on the latest website bandwagon. But for many companies, a more successful strategy lies much closer to home. Improve the usability of your website’s core offerings and you can dramatically increase website traffic, and ultimately revenue.

Whether you are at the stage of thinking about creating a new website, or have an existing website that has been in operation for many years, usability is crucial to providing your users with an engaging and enjoyable user experience.

Let’s assume that you have a website that’s now been running for many years. The website’s services are performing adequately, visitor numbers are stable or edging up, and the site’s slowly being accepted internally as a valuable channel. You’re now under pressure to strategise, to advance the site even further, to keep ‘one step ahead’. You’re understandably thinking: what next for our website?

The Next Big Thing?

Enter the temptation to implement the “Next Big Thing”. New web concepts dominate the news, seemingly creating billions for the Facebooks and Googles of the world. Those in your company who previously didn’t mention the site at all are suddenly recommending you add ‘tag clouds’ and ‘social bookmarking’. A random website is highlighted as one using these new technologies, and it looks great, so pressure comes to ‘be like that’. Slick presentations then sell in the expensive web technology, and before you know it you’ve spent tens, maybe hundreds of thousands and you’ve got your fingers crossed.

The problem is, even when companies implement these new concepts correctly – and they often don’t – the return on investment is usually small. This is because for most companies, it’s like putting a Formula 1 car’s £50,000 steering wheel (yes, they cost that much) on your old car. It will look great and have lots of cool buttons, but ultimately you still want to drive somewhere, and it will still be your old, underperforming car underneath.

But there is good news…

The good news: you can usually generate great return on investment a much simpler way. By focusing on improving the usability of your website’s key user journeys, there is a wealth of opportunity to be realised. Nomensa see this time and time again: clients come to us having already spent millions on their website, but the real potential was always in lifting their site’s core competencies from ‘adequate’ to ‘excellent’.

Consider the key user journeys on your website, such as buying a product or downloading a report. You may have done some usability testing and dealt with the most important usability issues on these journeys. (If not, start there!) However, things then often stagnate: someone says “Is 3% a good conversion rate? Is 20,000 downloads good?” Everyone shrugs their shoulders, looks at a few analytics reports, and the conversation moves on.

Instead, move things forward. For example, companies often don’t properly understand what the website’s users need and expect. This means that website changes are often made without any concrete knowledge of whether that change is what users want – incredible but true. An online survey is one of the best ways to capture the feedback of actual users who come to the site. Who is visiting your website, and who is returning? What have they come to do? Have they been able to do what they came for? Also, survey respondents’ ideas for improving the site are usually insightful, with some great suggestions for improving your existing journeys. For example, they may suggest how to use your existing website content in a far more valuable way.

Next, be aware that the biggest site advances come when you can take a step back from pages, links and other concepts, and focus on what users are trying to do. Scenario modelling lets you develop prose descriptions of representative users, helping you think about their needs and situations when considering new website ideas, or ways to improve what you currently have. User interviews and task-analysis techniques can also help understand how people think about the key journeys without being limited by current websites’ approaches: such studies can help deliver great leaps forward in user experience.

Finally, get right up to speed with the competition – they may have unique solutions to your key journeys that you could implement quickly and easily. A competitor review service delivers an incredible tome of knowledge on a number of competitor sites. You can then always have to hand a detailed report of how everyone has approached issue A, journey B and opportunity C.

Be results-driven

Of course, whatever approach you choose – and there are many tailored approaches – it’s important you’re convinced it will deliver results. Nomensa’s usability services guarantee return on investment, our experience and expertise provide us with the confidence to do that. Whatever investment your company makes to usability it is important that you understand how it is going to reward your company.
Put simply, investing in usability will allow you to discover what your customers want, and how they want it, and with Nomensa, you will be guaranteed a return on your investment – just ask us how, contact us on info@nomensa.com or 0117 929 7333.