What is U/X and should your user experience online vary greatly from the user experience you would get in a brick & mortar store? After attending a U/X class at General Assembly last month (www.generalassemb.ly ), I was able to look at U/X in new light that allowed me to draw significant parallels from both online shopping and shopping at an actual store and how the two encompass a lot of the same processes, but present them to the customer in much different ways.
Below are my top tips for making your users feel like VIPs, not like another email address with access to a credit card.
- Email (required): Question for you: How would you feel if upon entering a store at the mall and in order to enter the store, you had to provide your email? Would that annoy you? Yes. Of course it would! So, why do you think that adding ‘provide your email’ upon landing to your site sounds like a good U/X idea? It would be a good idea, if you were getting something out of it. Perhaps a coupon? Or entered into a raffle? But only as a way to capture your email for marketing and email spam? Let’s face it, while in a store in the mall or in a store online, the only way you won’t annoy your users by asking for an email, would be if you are able to give them an incentive for giving it out.
- Requiring too much information: Nowadays there are things such as one page checkouts, and saved credit cards, but if you’re planning to travel and you’re checking out on expedia.com, do you really need to enter your company name? Would you like someone to ask that of you when you’re checking out at Banana Republic? Sure you’re total will be $109.72, but before you pay can you tell me which company you work at? And, while you’re at it, how much do you make? This would be unacceptable at a store, but yet online, it can be the norm. Furthermore, it’s really important to go through the checkout form and ask yourself, “is this really necessary?” If the answer is ‘no’, then clear out that form field. In the end your customer will be very thankful and they will be able to check out faster. Can you say, Cha-Ching!? FYI: After much negative feedback, expedia.com did get rid of ‘company name’ on their checkout.
- Search: If I asked you to go get milk at your local grocery store, would you know where to go as soon as you entered the store? You probably know it’s somewhere in the perimeter of the store (as majority of grocery stores do this). Or how about if you were in Macy’s looking for shoes, you could ask a clerk or look at the directory. But how about navigating your favorite store online. Is it just as easy to find what you are looking for? How about if you type black shoes in the search bar, how is it that black furniture is also showing up? Many websites need to make sure that their search pulls exactly what the user is looking for, otherwise, even if it’s there, the user will more than likely get frustrated and search elsewhere. Same thing goes when shopping in the mall, if you can’t find what you’re looking for and no help is around, most people get angry and just go on to the next store. You know you’ve done it!
- Checkout Error: Have you ever waited in line at a store with $100s in merchandise, only in order to find out that your card is being declined (and you know for a fact that you DO have money/credit available and your card was just used at the previous store)? Were you extremely frustrated and abandoned the sale and the store and moved on to the next store? Well, this same action can be taken online. When you add to your cart, get through the filling out the forms, such as shipping and billing, then you add your card, and you keep getting an error, then eventually you just say, ‘screw this!” and move on and put your card back in your wallet. Or go elsewhere where you know where your card won’t incur any error messages? So, in the world of e-commerce, it’s imperative to always be testing your checkout process and making sure there are no errors. Otherwise, your customers will leave, and more than likely, won’t be returning.
- Bait and Switch: Have you ever ordered something online and been completed disappointed when you received it in the mail? Let’s face it, the best thing about physical stores is that you can feel, touch and try before you buy. Whereas online you are solely going off a photo and some (descriptive) text. Therefore, in order to avoid returns or customers that will not come back, it’s necessary to put your products ‘best face forward,’ so to speak. U/X experts and Magento e-commerce developers suggest implementing videos on your site as the best way for users to preview the product (which also turns into conversions) and therefore allowing for customers to less likely feel like they’ve fallen victim to the good ole ‘bait and switch.’ No customer ever wants to feel duped or taken advantage of. So, make sure to invest in videos (what made Zappos a huge ecommerce success) and/or invest in product zoom so users are able to see more of a detailed view of the product.
In summary, even though the World Wide Web is constantly changing and trends in e-commerce are ever emerging, you should always remember to apply the same positive customer service principles that you would get at your favorite brick and mortar shop to your online store(s).
What are your thoughts on U/X and how it affects the eCommerce shopping experience? We’d love to hear from you, so leave us a comment or tweet us @Pixafy!