By , Consultant
At our recent #UsabilityFail seminar Mark Russell and I spoke about why you should stop wasting your marketing budgets on bad usability, covering the functional and organisation barriers that inhibit organisations from providing good online customer experience.
According to a recent report by e-Marketer by 2015 an estimated $51b will be being spent on online marketing each year.
So much money is spent and so much hard work is involved in getting people to your site which is fundamentally wasted if the experiences customers have on your site are poor. You should also be concerned that bad user experiences hurt your brand.
It’s easy to look at sales figures (or whatever success means for you) to quantify how well you are doing. With pride these figures get marched (well, sent) off to the senior management team where everyone pats themselves on the back for a job well done and left with the impression everything is going to plan.
But while this tells a usability story of sorts does this really indicate anything about the usability of the site and how satisfied your customers are with their experience on it?
For many years I worked for a website that failed to address the usability flaws in one of the most popular areas of the site because it provided the “least profit”. Investment was instead piled into those areas that were on paper the “most profitable” even though they were less visited.
This lack of investment where a larger percentage of visitors were most engaged ultimately turned people away from the profitable areas of the site. Why? Does a bad experience resonate with users much more than a good one? You can be certain of it!
We as website users take good usability and experiences for granted and so we should if you want your business to succeed online. Poor usability resonates with us and makes us more likely therefore to leave, complain and never return.
In this, the third of a six part column contributed by Precedent to PSMG magazine, considers why content is indeed king.
As a content specialist, I often meet communications teams who are really scratching their heads about their content strategy. Why is it so hard to get new content up on our website in a timely fashion? Why do we struggle to agree on what we should publish in the first place? Essentially, it’s because we’re all more than a little bit self-centred when it comes to our websites.
I spent one (particularly painful) writing for the web training session banging my head against the desk as my client insisted that every page must begin within a brand positioning statement. I’m all for being distinctive, but if your customer is looking to find out about your services or simply looking for contact information, they really don’t care that you’re a ‘friendly group of professionals with a flexible approach and a reputation for results’. Your customers are driven online to seek out information or to complete a task and while messaging should guide and be reassuring, your content must put their needs first.
This is the first in a series of profiles we’re pulling together from across the company covering all disciplines, to give you an idea of what Precedent’s about, how we work as a company and the opportunities that come from joining our team.
Amy Sansom, junior developer, Precedent Edinburgh
Having spent several years playing with web design as a hobby, I decided to go on and do a conversion course in multimedia and web authoring. I was lucky enough to land a junior developer job with Precedent almost straight afterwards.
Since starting with Precedent I have learnt a great deal: we use a variety of CMSs and develop in a mixture of languages. I’ve had a chance to develop with new and emerging technologies while working so closely with the other departments has increased my understanding of the whole process from start to finish.
By Ryan Sackett, Consultant
Despite your best intentions, things will go wrong for users when they visit your website. But a little defensive design can make a massive difference.
So, what is being defensive? Well, it’s about two things:
Firstly, go looking for trouble – identify the places where you think your users will run into difficulty. Once you’re there, think about how you can improve the experience. Could the text be clearer? Do you really need the information you are asking for in that form? Anything that clarifies or simplifies will help you provide a better experience to your users.
Secondly, improve error recovery. As soon as you accept that things do go wrong for users you are halfway to improving their experience next time round. What is the user told when that form is incomplete? What are they presented with when the page they were looking for can’t be found?
By Rob van Tol, Senior Consultant
Do you spend more on marketing your website than you do on ensuring that it is a high quality, engaging experience that lets your audience do what they want to do easily? I’m guessing yes. Most organisations do. To me, that’s a bit baffling.
Say you wanted to increase the number of conversions on your site, whatever that was: more bookings, more enquiries, or more downloads, etc. You could increase your marketing spend to throw more people at your site – double the number of people who come and you can expect to double the number of conversions. Job done. But there’s a cost here beyond the pay per click cost, a reputational cost.
Double the number of people coming to your site and you double the number of people NOT converting as well. Why aren’t they converting? Maybe they just have a different agenda – say maybe they are just “window shopping” or doing some background research and not ready to convert.
Or maybe the usability of your site let you down? Does it not only waste the leads that your marketing effort has brought to the site, but actually give them a bad, off putting user experience? Worse, will they complain about it. Follow tags like #usabilityfail and #customerservicefail on Twitter and you’ll quickly get a sense of how very annoyed people can get.
By Emily Cootes and Tony Perry, Precedent Cardiff
Welcome to our quick-fire guide to creative success!
Do you watch The Apprentice? If you’re anything like us lot, you probably sit in front of your TV every week thinking: ‘I could do this so much better’. Well at Precedent’s recent annual forum, it was time to put our skills to the test and prove it!
As avid Apprentice fans and inspired by some of this series’ digital tasks, our commercial director, Mark Sherwin, challenged us to create a web app in just 24 hours: 24 long hours, 2 pitches and many beers later, we had the results.
Our chairman Paul Hoskins and board advisor Phil Jones picked the winners which ranged from an Olympic torch ‘bumping’ app, the crowd-sourcing ‘Social Eyes’ student safety app through to ‘NatNav’, a social wildlife navigator tool (keep your eyes peeled – it could be coming to a woodland near you!).
Now unlike the ‘real’ apprentices, our expert development team weren’t primed to work through the night building each of the 8 app concepts we’d prepared, so we focussed on creating full blueprints for each app; everything from user journey flows and paper prototypes, through to full designs, costing models and business cases for investment.