Five steps to a fantastic user experience
Why do the web pages of your company exist? The question may seem stupid at first glance, because these days it must already be clear that a company doesn’t exist if it can’t be found online. Consumers are there in any case, and carrying out transactions online increases constantly. But have you thought about how well your website serves your customers in reality? Is it there for your customers or for your company?
The majority of companies say that they provide a good customer experience to their customers. However, the reality is more bleak because surprisingly many companies still don’t think in a customer-oriented way online, even now.
If you want your site to be something more than just your company’s nondescript business card with its basic info, advertising speeches and contact details, it has to create value for your customers. And so that you can create value, you have to understand what your target groups appreciate and need. Find out who they are, what they want, why they visit your site and how they find their way there. You’ll make a good start by studying the analytics of the site, and this information should absolutely be used in the designing of web services.
From a company’s point of view, a good web service is recognized from the fact that it reaches those people who the company wants to reach, visitors find the things on the site that they want to find and as a result act in the way that the company wants them to act. Visitors become customers: they buy, order, book, sign up or get in touch – after having traveled along the customer path towards the goal set by the company.
The visitor’s point of view, on the other hand, is more emotionally charged: a good web service not only has to create value, but also feel pleasant and effortless to use. If this is not the case, the customer is lost easily.
So how is a good user experience created online? These five steps will already take you a long way towards that.
1. Involve the users in the designing work. All too often, the needs of the users are forgotten about when constructing web services. In the design process, it’s absolutely worthwhile to make use of user tests and surveys. In this way, you can ensure that information is provided to the users in the form that they expect to get it. For example, you can still see a lot of sites which are constructed on the basis of the products, even though often the user is interested more in the benefit offered by a product or a solution to their need.
2. Ensure good usability. Online services should be fast and effortless to use. At its best, the service is intuitive, i.e. so easy to use that navigation can be done instinctively, regardless of the device used. The functionalities of the service are clarified with visual elements and users are guided subtly but clearly along the path towards the desired action. A web service that works too slowly is the easiest way to lose a customer. For example, Amazon has calculated that it loses 1% of its turnover per every 100 ms of latency and Google estimates that it has lost 20% of its turnover with an increase of half a second to the loading time. According to studies, as many as 50% of users make a negative purchase decision if they don't find the content they're looking for quickly enough. Designing a good user interface takes time and expertise, and the growing number of terminal devices also plays its part in complicating the work. Often the first ideas in the designing of user interfaces aren’t the best ones, which is why validating the user interface is important.
3. Offer genuinely useful content. It’s important to take the whole customer path into account instead of just one individual purchase transaction. How can the visitor be helped at the stage where they’re still looking for a solution to their problem? And how to serve the customer after the purchase transaction? How to get the customer to come back? Forget your product and concentrate on solving the problems that the users encounter at the different stages of their path. Significant contents that the customer enjoys spending time with are an asset in this, regardless of whether the case in question is a thought-provoking blog article, a guide, a video, a discussion forum or a bank of recipes, for example.
4. Influence with visuality. When designing the look of the site, it’s most important to think about the message that the company wants to give to its customers. On the basis of this, it is easy for specialists to create a visual look that is appropriate. It has been found that 94% of the first impression is created purely on the basis of the design of the site. The visual look is one of the most important tools with which a company can convince the customer and create trust in them.
5. Invest in scalability. As the business operations grow, online services have a tendency to expand. For this reason, when constructing web services, it’s worth taking the scalability of the user experience into account. It’s important to the user that the service works in a uniform way and that they don’t have to learn new things as the system expands. Investing in scalability is also useful for the company because it ensures the cost-effectiveness of development in the future.
A good user experience is a significant competitive edge, whose importance to the success of the company is growing continuously. It is serving the customers and it creates customer satisfaction. However, a good user experience can’t be created without knowing the customers. When you understand your customers and users, you can meet their needs and even exceed their expectations. The user experience also naturally affects the overall customer experience, which is created from all the impressions, feelings, information and encounters with the company, both physically and virtually too.
The web service should be seen as a tool for building up and taking care of customer relationships. At its best, your service not only supports the business operations of the company but is a productive form of business activity in itself, which makes the customer happy – so much that they come back to it again and again and recommend it to others too.
Did you have any questions about the user experience or purpose of your website? Is your company being left trailing on the net behind the competitors? Get in touch and tell us about your thoughts, and we can see together how we can help you.
Lauri Eskola contributed to this blog post. Thank you Lauri!