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Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
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Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
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Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
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Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
Ecom01 behavior summary_2nd-edition
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  • 1. E-Commerce User ExperienceVol. 1: General User Behavior andExecutive Summary for the SeriesResearch findings based on eyetracking, user testing, and diary studies2nd EditionBy: Amy Schade and Jakob Nielsen 48105 WARM SPRINGS BLVD., FREMONT CA 94539—7498 WWW.NNGROUP.COM USA Copyright © Nielsen Norman Group, All Rights Reserved. To buy a copy, download from: http://www.NNgroup.com/reports/ecommerce/
  • 2. This page is left blank for reports that will be printed double sided2 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Executive Summary
  • 3. Table of Contents Executive Summary ....................................................................................... 6 Summary of Research Studies and the E-Commerce Report Series ............. 10 E-Commerce Report Series ........................................................................................................ 10 Research Studies ...................................................................................................................... 10 Study One............................................................................................................................ 11 Study Two ............................................................................................................................ 11 About the Second Edition .......................................................................................................... 12 Whats Most Important ............................................................................... 13 Back to Basics .......................................................................................................................... 13 Whats Improved ...................................................................................................................... 13 In this Report........................................................................................................................... 13 Pros and Cons of Online Shopping ............................................................... 14 Why Shop Online ...................................................................................................................... 14 Access and Selection ............................................................................................................. 14 Price 14 Convenience......................................................................................................................... 15 Whats Missing Online ............................................................................................................... 16 Shopping Is Social ................................................................................................................ 16 Delayed Gratification and Additional Cost ................................................................................. 17 Willingness to Shop Online .......................................................................... 18 What People Will and Wont Buy Online ....................................................................................... 18 Tactile Products .................................................................................................................... 18 Expensive Items ................................................................................................................... 20 Perishable Items ................................................................................................................... 21 Designing for Different Types of Shoppers .................................................. 24 Reasons for E-commerce Visits................................................................................................... 24 Supporting All Types of Shoppers ............................................................................................... 25 Product-focused .................................................................................................................... 26 Browsing.............................................................................................................................. 27 Researching ......................................................................................................................... 30 Bargain-Hunting ................................................................................................................... 32 One-Time Shoppers ............................................................................................................... 34 How Users Shop .......................................................................................... 36 In-Store And Online, Rather than In-Store Or Online..................................................................... 36 Shipping: Delayed Gratification and Additional Cost ...................................................................... 37 Local Differences: Patience and Priorities ..................................................................................... 38© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 3
  • 4. Building Loyalty ........................................................................................................................ 39 Deciding Where to Purchase ...................................................................................................... 40 Key Findings ................................................................................................ 45 Homepages and Category Pages ................................................................................................. 45 A Welcoming Homepage ........................................................................................................ 45 A Clear Structure .................................................................................................................. 45 Cross-Referencing ................................................................................................................. 46 Featured or Full Inventory? .................................................................................................... 46 Providing Product Information ................................................................................................ 47 Product Comparisons ............................................................................................................. 47 Sorting through Options......................................................................................................... 47 Product Pages .......................................................................................................................... 48 Full Product Details ............................................................................................................... 48 Consistency between Products ................................................................................................ 51 The Value of Reviews ............................................................................................................. 51 Adding Items to the Cart........................................................................................................ 53 Shopping Cart, Checkout and Registration ................................................................................... 54 Shopping Cart as Dressing Room ............................................................................................ 54 A Clear Path through Checkout ............................................................................................... 54 Optional Registration ............................................................................................................. 55 Money Matters ...................................................................................................................... 56 Shipping Options .................................................................................................................. 56 Search (including Faceted Search) .............................................................................................. 57 Search Behavior ................................................................................................................... 57 Search as Feedback............................................................................................................... 58 Scoped Search...................................................................................................................... 58 Narrowing the Choices: Faceted Search ................................................................................... 58 Customer Service ..................................................................................................................... 60 Easy to Find ......................................................................................................................... 60 A Good Site Experience.......................................................................................................... 60 Getting in Touch ................................................................................................................... 60 Clear, and Customer Friendly, Policies ...................................................................................... 60 Selling Strategies ..................................................................................................................... 61 Clear Pricing ......................................................................................................................... 61 When Will It Arrive ................................................................................................................ 62 Free Shipping ....................................................................................................................... 62 Welcome Back ...................................................................................................................... 62 You Might Also Like... ............................................................................................................ 62 Trust and Credibility .................................................................................................................. 63 Appearance is Everything ....................................................................................................... 63 Privacy and Security .............................................................................................................. 634 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Executive Summary
  • 5. Performance and Errors ......................................................................................................... 63 Availability ........................................................................................................................... 65 International Users ................................................................................................................... 66 Forms and Data .................................................................................................................... 66 No Local Support .................................................................................................................. 66 International Usability Testing................................................................................................. 66 Success Rates, Task Failures and Task Times .............................................. 67 Success by Type of Task ............................................................................................................ 67 Specific Product .................................................................................................................... 68 Customer Service.................................................................................................................. 69 Criteria Tasks ....................................................................................................................... 69 Purchase Tasks ..................................................................................................................... 70 Known Sites ......................................................................................................................... 71 Open-ended Tasks................................................................................................................. 72 What Went Wrong .................................................................................................................... 73 About the Authors ....................................................................................... 75 Acknowledgments ....................................................................................... 76© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 5
  • 6. Executive Summary (Yes, this is a summary of the summary. Considering that the full E-Commerce User Experience report series clocks in at 2,140 pages with 1,715 screenshots, the more summaries the merrier :-) To give away the bottom line, the number of usability guidelines for e-commerce sites has increased from 207 in the first edition of this report to 874 in the current edition. Using this rough metric, we now know 4.2 times as much about e-commerce user experience as we did during the dot-com bubble. USABILITY METRICS SHOW NICE IMPROVEMENTS In our first e-commerce studies, in 2000, we recorded a success rate of 56% across 496 task attempts on the e-commerce sites of the day. In our new research, we observed 507 e-commerce task attempts and measured a success rate of 72%. In other words, during the dot-com bubble, user failed almost half the time when they tried to shop on e-commerce sites. No wonder the bubble burst, with sites that bad. Now, users fail slightly more than a quarter of the time. Sites are still leaving plenty of money on the table, but not as much. Today, our main reason to recommend usability improvements for e-commerce sites is really the competitive pressure from other sites that keep getting better. Yes, there’s also an argument for improving design purely to reduce user failures, but this is not as critical as it was in the past. Today’s consumers are not satisfied with sites that simply make it possible to shop. The experience must also be pleasant, so we should look beyond success rates, much as the ability to complete tasks remains the first line of requirements. Search remains a sore point, even though it has improved somewhat. In our first study, users succeeded in their first search attempt on an e-commerce site 51% of the time. In the new study, users’ first within-site query was successful 64% of the time. Users’ expectations for search quality are far beyond what’s actually delivered by today’s websites. As with most other aspects of web usability, user expectations are set by their aggregated user experience 1 from around the web. In the case of search, this mainly means Google and the other major search engines. While not perfect, these sites do work pretty well. When users search an e-commerce site and don’t find what they want, they often assume that the site doesn’t have the desired product. Users have poor search skills and will leave more often than they will figure out how to reformulate their queries. 1 As Jakob’s Law of the Internet User Experience states: users spend the majority of their time on other sites than yours.6 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Executive Summary
  • 7. OLD STUDY FINDINGS STAND The first edition of this report series was based on lab-based usability testing of 20 websites across 7 product categories: clothing, department stores, entertainment, flowers, food, furniture, and toys. Testing was conducted in 2 countries: the US and Denmark. This was a relatively limited amount of research, though more than anybody else had done in 2000. Of the 207 early design guidelines, 206 were confirmed in our recent — much more elaborate — research. One guideline has been retracted: to offer a special welcome page for new shoppers. Today, it’s relatively safe to assume that by the time a user arrives at your site, that person has already shopped at several other sites. E-commerce is no longer new, and users no longer need to be told what it is. As long as the site is easy to use, people will use it. The fact that 99.5% of these very years old guidelines were confirmed is an indication of the longevity of usability findings. Our design recommendations are based on the characteristics of the human mind which change much more slowly than the technology that seems to fascinate so many people in the field. NEW USER RESEARCH Our new research encompassed 3 usability methods: traditional user testing (as was done in the original study), eyetracking, and field research in the form of a diary study. Studies were conducted in 3 countries: most sessions were in the United States (in Georgia, Indiana, and New York) with a smaller number of users in China and the UK. In total, users tested 206 sites — more than 10 times as many as were tested in our original research. As noted above, we “only” identified 4.2 times as many usability guidelines, indicating some degree of diminishing returns from enlarging the research study. The sites covered an incredibly wide range of industries: from high to low culture (Paris Museum Pass and NASCAR), from cheap to expensive (Walmart and Tiffany’s), from virtual to physical products (TicketMaster and The Container Store), and from general-interest to highly specialized products (Zappos and Lightbulbs.com). Except for the diary studies, all our studies were in the form of direct empirical observation of users’ actual behavior as they engaged in online shopping. We sat next to users on a one-on-one basis and asked them to think out loud as they performed specific tasks. This research approach provides deep insights into why users behave the way they do and results in findings that are not available from other methods. Some of the test tasks were highly directed and assessed the degree to which the design supported users who arrive at a site with a pre-determined goal in mind. For example: “Buy an air conditioner to put in the window of a room that is 10 feet by 20 feet (200 square feet). Get one that is energy-efficient and that has a remote. Buy it from www.homedepot.com.”© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 7
  • 8. Other tasks were broader and assessed the degree to which the site could inspire users who don’t have a particular need in mind. For example: “You just got a promotion and a bonus and you want to treat yourself. Buy yourself something. Spend no more than £200 at Links of London.” We also tested web-wide tasks where we didn’t specify what site the user should use. For example: “The lightbulb in your desk lamp just burned out. Get a replacement for it.” (With this task, we gave users the burned out bulb.) Finally, we tested a range of customer service tasks. For example: “Can you get a refund for tickets you buy from cinema.com.hk if there is a typhoon signal?” SUPPORTING DIFFERENT TYPES OF SHOPPERS Our diary study looked at why and how people shop on their own, when we don’t give them test tasks to perform. In total, diary-writers recorded 263 visits to e- commerce sites. 2/3 of the time, users visited a site with a pre-determined goal: 35% of visits were to look for a particular type of product (without having a specific product in mind), and 27% of visits were to look for a specific product. 1/3 of the time, users visited a site to see what the site had to offer. Many of these visits were prompted by the receipt of an email newsletter or otherwise learning about sales or special offers. Sites must support all these forms of use: • Known-item purchase. • Category research, leading users to identify and buy the best match with their needs. • Bargain-hunting. • Browsing for inspiration. Finally, some users are one-time shoppers. They don’t know the site, and they don’t intend to return, but they may want to shop there once. (Maybe they received a gift card, or maybe a relative wished for a gift carried by that site.) BAD CONTENT KILL SALES The first rule of e-commerce design remains: if the customer cannot find the product, the customer cannot buy the product. But in our new studies, the main problem was not so much finding the product as it was finding out about the product. 55% of the 143 user failures we observed were caused by bad content: incomplete or unclear information, uninformative error messages, or simply users stating that they would have to call or email the site. (The latter clearly indicating that the company had neglected the opportunity to answer the user’s questions on the site.) Content can be verbal or visual — in either case it needs to provide the information users need to decide on products and to be convinced to trust the site with their money.8 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Executive Summary
  • 9. The key downside of e-commerce is that one cannot touch, feel, see, taste, or smell the offerings. Nor do customers benefit from the essential credibility boost of having the purchase in hand before paying the price. No tactile experience. Online shopping is purely an information experience. (Or user experience, as we like to say.) This again places a huge premium on good content. One many sites fail. LOYALTY = BUSINESS One of our study participant said, “If I have a good experience with something, Ill stick with it forever.” Not all users are that loyal, but our research does indicate the tremendous benefits from fostering customer loyalty in e-commerce. In the web-wide tasks, we didn’t specify what site users should visit for their purchase. No surprise, half of the users went straight to a search engine. But it was a bit of surprise that the other half of users went directly to some site they already knew. Bypassing the search engines’ tollbooth on the information highway is the first benefit of user loyalty. But the advantages reach much further. Of users who started by searching the web, only 39% completed their task on the first site they selected from the SERP (search engine results page). Almost 2/3 of search users abandoned their first love and proceeded to do business elsewhere. This outcome demonstrates that SEO and good search engine ranking are necessary but not sufficient for Internet business success. It’s actually more important to satisfy users once they arrive at your site. Search users exhibit little loyalty to the sites they happen to click on. In contrast, those users who bypassed search in order to go directly to a preferred site overwhelmingly ended up giving their money to that site: 71% did so and only 29% completed their task on another site. (Of course, this is a sufficiently big amount of lost business to point out that you can’t take e-commerce users for granted, even when they’re loyal to your site.) The benefits of loyalty might make you push aggressive registration requirements, but that would be a mistake. You must convert first-time shoppers before they can become long-time shoppers, and users strongly resent up-front registration. On the other hand, users frequently complained about the drudgingly large amount of data entry they were forced to perform to complete their purchase. So by reminding repeat users of the time savings, you can nudge them to register eventually. In general, a longer-term perspective on the full sales cycle and total user experience would benefit sites. A transmedia design strategy should reach beyond the main website to encompass a mobile site, an email newsletter strategy, and good customer service (including good confirmation messages). Yes, e-commerce user experience has come far, but it has even further to go to truly meet customers’ needs.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 9
  • 10. Summary of Research Studies and the E-Commerce Report Series E-COMMERCE REPORT SERIES This report is one of 13 reports about the E-Commerce user experience. Ten of the reports in the series were generated from the findings of two rounds of e-commerce research studies. The first editions of these reports were published as a book, with each of nine chapters also available as a downloadable report. The second edition includes an additional report, based on the same series of studies, about customer service. This series also includes three additional volumes which are a result of additional research studies, separate from the main e-commerce research. These reports are included in the series due to their direct relationship to the e-commerce user experience and cover the topics of wishlists and gift certificates, store locators, and confirmation and transactional email messages. Each of these reports includes a section about methodology, covering the details of each research project. The entire E-Commerce User Experience series is available for download at www.nngroup.com/reports/ecommerce and includes the following titles: 1. General User Behavior & Executive Summary [this report] 2. Homepages and Category Pages (including Product Listing Pages and Product Comparisons) 3. Product Pages (including Reviews) 4. Shopping Cart, Checkout & Registration 5. Search (including Faceted Search) 6. Customer Service 7. Selling Strategies 8. Wishlists, Gift Certificates and Gift Giving 9. Trust and Credibility 10. International Users 11. Store Finders and Locators 12. Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages 13. Methodology RESEARCH STUDIES The information in these reports is a result of two separate rounds of e-commerce studies conducted by Nielsen Norman Group. The studies took place in the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, and China (Hong Kong), and involved user testing, a diary-based longitudinal study and an eye tracking component. The Methodology report in the E-Commerce Report Series includes the full details of each study, the list of sites tested, and information about participants. The Wishlists and Gift Certificates, Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages and Locator Usability reports are based on additional research studies. Each of these three reports includes its own methodology section. Summary of Research Studies and the E-Commerce Report10 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Series
  • 11. Study One The first research study was conducted in 2000. They conducted usability tests of 20 business-to-consumer e-commerce websites. A total of 64 people participated: 39 from the United States and 25 from Denmark. Nineteen of the twenty sites tested were American websites, which were tested by users in both countries. Users ranged in age from twenty to sixty. All users had previously shopped online and most had made purchases; however, we screened out people who had extensive technical knowledge of the Web. Usability testing sessions lasted two hours, and users typically tested three of the 20 selected sites in that time. Each site was tested by a minimum of nine users: six from the U.S. and three from Denmark. Sites were selected in seven different industries, such as clothing and toys, so that within each industry we had two or three sites for comparison. Tasks were modeled on common goals of online shoppers. Most tasks asked users to find a specific item or were open-ended, allowing freedom to shop according to their own preferences. In most cases, we stopped users before they entered a credit card number, so they did not complete the purchase. We also included tasks involving customer service information. For each test session, a facilitator sat next to the user, providing instructions to the user and taking notes. Users were asked to think aloud as they worked, describing their decision processes and any positive or negative reactions to the sites. Study Two The second study included a diary-based longitudinal study and user testing, including an eyetracking component. Research began with the diary-based study. Ten participants from around the United States were asked to record information in a notebook about their online shopping experiences for a period of six weeks during the winter holiday shopping season. The goal was to understand how users shopped online. Users answered questions including the goal of visiting the site, why they visited that particular site, and if they achieved their goal. Users were also asked about what they liked and disliked about the site. Information from this round of research was used in part to develop tasks for the user testing portions of the study. The study also included user testing with participants in London, United Kingdom; Hong Kong, China; Munster, Indiana; Kennesaw, Georgia; and New York, New York. The New York City component, which was the largest, included eyetracking. Eyetracking allowed the facilitator to observe and record where the user was looking on the screen. Ninety-eight users participated in user testing. Participants included an almost even split between men and women who ranged in age from 18 to 64. All participants had purchased online previously, with varied amounts of online shopping experience. The least experienced user had purchased online once in the past year and 10 participants had made more than 30 online purchases in the past year. Users were recruited across a range of household income levels and general online experience.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 11
  • 12. More than 100 sites were included in the user testing component of the study. Sites selected for testing included sites big and small, from various industries with varied product offerings and different design approaches. In addition, users completed tasks on sites they had previously visited. Participants provided a list of sites during the recruiting process and were asked to visit one of them during the study. This expanded the number as well as the types of sites tested. Tasks were modeled after those in the first study, including directed tasks asking users to find specific items, open-ended tasks allowing for site exploration, and customer service related tasks. Users proceeded as far as possible through the purchase process with fake user information. Users completed three additional types of tasks in the second study. Users visited sites they had visited before, which allowed us to observe users returning to a site as a repeat visitor. Users also completed open-ended tasks where they were given a goal of something to purchase, but were not directed to any particular website to make the purchase. The New York component of the study also included a task where users completed a purchase. Users selected one of five sites on which to shop and were given a budget. They could purchase any item or items they wanted from the site within their budget, send the purchase to themselves, and be reimbursed for the purchase price. The same facilitator ran all sessions in the second study, except for the Georgia tests. In all sessions, the facilitator sat next to the user, providing instructions, observing and taking notes. Users thought aloud as they worked. ABOUT THE SECOND EDITION The second edition includes new guidelines derived from our second study, as well as revisions, clarifications and further examples of guidelines from the previous edition of this report. All screenshots in the reports show how each site appeared at the time it was tested. This includes screenshots from Study One, which are included without updates. Although any of the site designs in the report may have changed since the sites were tested, we use the screenshots as the sites appeared when our test users tried to use the sites. For instructional purposes, all examples are valuable. They reflect actual designs and real user behaviors, which in turn create best practices that stand the test of time. Lessons learned from these designs are valid, even when the specific sites where those screens were found have updated their designs. Including examples helps illustrate good and bad usability examples, which can help designers learn from previous mistakes and successes. Participants’ personal information has been blurred on screenshots. Summary of Research Studies and the E-Commerce Report12 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Series
  • 13. Whats Most Important BACK TO BASICS We ran our original ecommerce studies in 2000, when e-commerce was relatively new. We ran our second set of studies years later, when users were more accustomed to online shopping, and when it was more difficult to find inexperienced online shoppers than experienced online shoppers. However, many of the problems our users ran into were the same sorts of problems users faced years ago. The basics of buying still confused users. Though e-commerce designs have changed, the new designs don’t always fix old problems. Users had difficulty finding products, getting adequate product information, adding products to the shopping cart, and successfully navigating the checkout process. Online shopping is filled with choices. The range of options available to online shoppers is almost endless. If your site does not do its job well, there are plenty of other sites that offer similar selection. WHATS IMPROVED We did see improvement in several areas, though. More sites offered user reviews of products, which helped answer user’s questions and gave them confidence in their purchases. This can help minimize the number of users who end up returning goods purchased online. When expectations are adequately set, shoppers don’t have much chance to be disappointed. Additional product images, with close-up images of features and characteristics, as well as zooming and panning tools, also helped users on many sites, giving them a much more complete sense of the product than could be given through one static picture taken from a distance. Site recommendations of associated, related, or accessory products have also improved, helping guide users to the products that meet their needs or accompany those they’ve already expressed interest in. Users were interested in these suggestions and often used them to navigate product inventory, but were more likely to rely on them if they were highly and clearly related to the products they were viewing. IN THIS REPORT This report starts with behavioral information about why shoppers go online in the first place, and what users say they are willing to buy online. This is followed by a discussion of supporting different types of shoppers, information which could be used to develop personas for site development. We then discuss broader topics of how users shop. The Key Findings section summarizes the most important information from the entire report series. The report ends with numbers — success scores and task times from our latest research, as well as a list of the most common problems users encountered.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 13
  • 14. Pros and Cons of Online Shopping WHY SHOP ONLINE Users’ key reasons for shopping online were: • Access to products and selection of products • Price • Convenience These may seem like obvious reasons, but it behooves websites to have their design emphasize how they meet these basic consumer needs and wants. Access and Selection E-commerce sites allow users access to products they might not otherwise have. One shopper living in Montana in the United States wanted to shop at The Children’s Store for her daughter, but the closest store was 5 hours away. The website allowed her to shop without driving 10 hours round trip. Another user explained, “My husband buys flour online. It’s for some whole grain bread he makes, freshly ground, a certain kind. I just got 10 pounds delivered the other day.” Some shoppers looked for goods internationally. For instance, shoppers in Hong Kong mentioned buying quality goods from other countries. While many of our Hong Kong participants did not shop online frequently due to the variety and ease of shopping in Hong Kong, several mentioned using international websites to find items they could not find in Hong Kong. One user said, “I buy books there that I can’t find in Hong Kong’s bookstores.” Several female shoppers in Hong Kong mentioned buying lingerie and underwear from Victoria’s Secret because it was difficult to find attractive, fashionable items locally. A male shopper said he ordered shoes from London because he used to live there and knew the shoes fit well and were well-made. He also bought golf equipment from a US site because he preferred the brand and could save money over buying locally, even factoring in international shipping charges. Users appreciated the access to products and the selection of products available online, which widely broadened the product selection available in local stores, regardless of their location. They enjoyed the selection, whether within one site or available across several sites. Price Users were often looking for a bargain online. Some users assumed online prices would be lower than local prices. One said, “Things are generally cheaper when you buy them online.” Another said, “Most of the time, items are a lot cheaper than in the stores.” Shoppers appreciated that they could look around for the best price online more easily than they could by going store to store. Traveling between stores is much quicker online than it is in the physical world.14 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Pros and Cons of Online Shopping
  • 15. Many users’ favorable comments about online stores were about pricing. One user said of oddballshoe.com: “The prices are good and they have a clearance section with even better deals.” Our diary study participants echoed these ideas when explaining why they were visiting a particular site over another. Many responses mentioned prices, such as, “I went to this site because of their great prices on brand name products.” A good price could even trump a positive bad experience, though that was rare. One user visited a site “with reluctance” because of past problems with shipping. He purchased a TV stand, cables, and a DVD player because of the huge discounts on the product prices. He said, “The prices were exceptional on these items. I didn’t have any negative experiences this time, but we’ll see how long it takes for these items to actually be delivered and what shape theyre in when they arrive.” Convenience Convenience is a huge incentive to shop online. One convenience was delivery — users didnt have to go anywhere to get the items. One user said, “The best thing is its delivered to your door so you can stay there and do nothing.” Time savings was also a benefit. One user said, “You dont have to spend time running around to a lot of stores.” Another user said he shopped for movie tickets online so, “I dont have to queue up for movie tickets or waste time walking to the theater if its sold out.” Another user liked shopping for limited edition prints online. He said, “We couldnt go around to the shops: wed have to spend a year looking. But you go online and find it.” Further, shoppers could shop as quickly or as slowly as they wanted online. In a store, some shoppers said they felt rushed. One user said while shed never be comfortable shopping in the same store for hours, she could spend as much time as she liked online. She said, “I shop quite slowly. I spend my time. I can spend hours online at the end of the day, hours going through lingerie and clothes.” We saw this leisurely approach to shopping in our studies. Some users enjoyed browsing the full inventory on a website before making a purchase decision. In purchase tasks in the study, when users had a set amount of money to spend on a site, some leisurely perused every possible option before making a decision. Other users want to shop online to get through the shopping process as quickly as possible, and we witnessed this behavior in our studies as well. They appreciated sites that helped them locate products quickly, concisely presented product information, and led them through a fast and simple checkout process. Another benefit of online shopping for some users was the lack of salespeople and other shoppers — there was no one to bother you. One user said, “You don’t get plagued by the people in the store, who invariably know nothing about the product anyway.” Another said, “I buy clothes online. I don’t like crowded shops. And I hate going in changing rooms.” Another explained his process for researching and buying electronics. He said, “I have to spend time to compare. Its better to compare at home because I can spend more time. A shop may be busy and I dont like to spend so much time.”© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 15
  • 16. Many users preferred finding their own answers on websites, rather than having to contact the company. One of the benefits users mentioned of shopping online was not having to deal with people — whether it was pushy or uninformed salespeople, cashiers, or other customers. These users wanted to be able to find and buy products without having to interact with anyone. For example, a user who was shopping for a custom fruit basket searched and ended up on the Gift Baskets of Pleasanton site, where such baskets were offered. However, the site did not allow users to customize baskets online — a phone call or email was required. The user said, “Ah, you have to email them. I just can’t order it. Let’s go back.” Having to contact the company was a hurdle in the user’s shopping experience. One user stopped shopping on the Gift Baskets of Pleasanton site when she realized she would have to contact the company to customize a basket. She wanted to complete her order without having to contact anyone. WHATS MISSING ONLINE Shopping Is Social The solitary nature of most online shopping was also a detriment for some shoppers. Some wanted input from friends and family, and a handful even called friends or family or asked the facilitator for input while shopping during our study. One user made a phone call during a task, explaining, “Shes been looking for a flannel blanket, too. I needed to know what color she wanted.”16 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Pros and Cons of Online Shopping
  • 17. Users can always pick up the phone and call someone for input. Its also a good idea to let shoppers email products to themselves or their friends, either to remind themselves about a product or to solicit feedback from a friend. It is also important to save users shopping carts, as they may want to show the items theyre considering to others and may use the shopping cart as a holding area. Some users lamented that there was no one to help them when they were shopping online. One user shopping for a microwave on the Comet site was frustrated because he didnt understand the terminology used on the site. He said, “A situation like that makes me want to go to the old school style of shopping. Just walking around the shop.” Users missed the ability to view, hold, or try on items or to ask questions. Sites with robust product information helped alleviate some of these concerns, and we did see a handful of shoppers interact with live chat offerings to get assistance at key points in the shopping process. Delayed Gratification and Additional Cost Another concern about online shopping was the lack of instant gratification. For some, part of the fun of shopping is coming home with a new item. Delivery times, even short ones, frustrated some users. (Others thought the idea of delayed gratification — eagerly awaiting their new purchase — was a good thing.) Users also frequently complained about shipping charges, and fees if they returned items. Free shipping was a good incentive for users to make a purchase online. Eliminating the extra cost can make users more comfortable buying something online. As one user said, “The price was right, the shipping was free, so I made the purchase.” Users were also worried about returns. Simple returns with prepaid labels or in-store returns were also attractive to shoppers. One user said, “If my wife doesn’t end up liking some of the merchandise or it doesn’t fit, it can be returned to our local store.”© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 17
  • 18. Willingness to Shop Online WHAT PEOPLE WILL AND WON’T BUY ONLINE Users were most comfortable buying a known product, such as a book, DVD or CD online. They were more comfortable buying known brands, or from stores whose products they knew well. They were most comfortable when what they were buying online was in no way going to be a surprise. Of course, shopping preferences vary by shopper. Some of our participants were willing to buy almost anything online for the convenience and price. Others stuck to only what was known. One user said, “A washing machine is a washing machine. You dont need to go into a shop to see that its a washing machine.” Some liked to get items that would be awkward or difficult to get home by themselves delivered to them instead. One user said she would buy “toilet roll because its bulky. It would be handy having that delivered.” Users commonly listed three types of products as those theyd be less likely to buy online: • tactile products • expensive products • perishable products Tactile Products The tactile nature of shopping in a store versus shopping online was a big consideration for many users. Users mentioned reluctance to buy clothing, bedding, pillows, and upholstered furniture — things they would like to see, touch, wear or use before buying. For instance, while a shopper may have been comfortable buying a sweater like one he’d seen in a store, he was more hesitant to buy another one sight unseen — and even more importantly, untouched. As one user said, “Anything like a bed, mattress, sofa: you need to lie on it and get the feeling of it before you make a decision.” One main concern for shoppers was fit, for items that they would normally try on in the store. A user said of buying pants from Lands End online, “I just dont trust fits until I try them on. I know Lee fits, so I buy it. But if I went into a store and tried it on and knew it fit, then I would buy it online. Now that I know about these pants, I would go and try them on and then get them online. I think Sears carries them.” Another said, “Clothes, I never buy online. I like to try them on before I make a decision.” There is no tactile nature to the Web. Stores will always have that advantage. But consider what can be done to assuage users’ concerns about buying items without having touched or experienced them. Excellent product descriptions can answer users’ questions. High quality images, from a variety of angles and showing various features, can emphasize and clarify product details.18 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Willingness to Shop Online
  • 19. The level of zoom available on Bluefly.com let users see product details, zooming in to the level of being able to see the fabric and craftsmanship clearly. For items such as clothing, bedding or rugs, a high zoom on product images, or close up images of details, can help users assess the quality and craftsmanship of the product. A close zoom can allow the user to inspect a seam or a button. Fabric or color samples — free or low cost — can help alleviate users’ concerns. Such samples makes sense for more expensive items, such as upholstered furniture, where color and feel may make the difference to a shopper. This is particularly helpful since it is difficult to accurately judge color online.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 19
  • 20. E-Counters offered low cost samples of countertop materials. Expensive Items Some users were hesitant to buy expensive items online. Users couldnt necessarily assess the value of an item from an online description and picture. One user said, “Its hard to tell the quality of jewelry online.” Another said, “I wouldnt buy a car online — I couldnt commit to buying it without a test drive.” A third said, “I would never buy a big ticket item, like a car or quality jewelry.” In these cases, outside authentication of products was helpful, such as a gem report for high-end jewelry or an accident and maintenance report for a used vehicle. In addition, high-end sites require even better customer service, ready to answer a users question at any point of the shopping or purchase process.20 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Willingness to Shop Online
  • 21. Blue Nile offered a customer service phone number in the upper right corner of the page as well as below product information, together with information about asking an expert. Perishable Items Some users hesitated to buy perishable items because delivery time was key. One user said, “Id worry about something susceptible to temperature in the summertime.” Another said, “You cant order fresh items from a website!” Providing clear information about shipping and delivery is essential for perishable items. Users wanted to know how items would be packaged, how to dispose of packaging (such as dry ice) or how quickly they needed to open, water, or refrigerate perishable items.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 21
  • 22. Godivas website included information about climate control packaging and reassured users the items would “arrive in perfect condition, no matter how warm the climate.”22 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Willingness to Shop Online
  • 23. User Hesitations about Buying Online Product Type Solutions Tactile: Quality and variety of product images Clothing Deep zoom Bedding Fabric or color samples Upholstered furniture Expensive: Jewelry Outside authentication Cars Good customer services with friendly and knowledgeable customer support Perishable: Food Detailed information about packaging and delivery Plants© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 23
  • 24. Designing for Different Types of Shoppers REASONS FOR E-COMMERCE VISITS We started our research with a notebook study, where we asked users to write down information about all of their e-commerce related activities over a six-week period. The goal was to get a sense of what activities users were completing on e-commerce sites, their reasons for visiting, and their likes and dislikes about the experience. Respondents, all located in the United States, participated between the Thanksgiving holiday in late November until New Years Eve on December 31. This is traditionally a heavy shopping time in the United States. However, this also meant users might be more focused on gift-purchases than at other times of the year. We asked users to note, "What was your main reason for visiting the site? What did you hope to accomplish?" Ten users participated in the research, and recorded 263 site visits. We wanted to collect information about what shoppers were already doing online, in order to create realistic tasks for user testing. We categorized the respondents answers to the open-ended question. The most commonly given reason for visiting a site was to look for a particular type of product. By that, we mean users were looking for a vacuum, a book or an HDTV, but without any one vacuum, book or HDTV in mind. Thirty-five percent of site visits were inspired by looking for a product type, but not a particular product. Twenty-seven percent of visits were aimed at finding a specific product, such as an Adidas gold-foil shirt, Six Feet Under DVD set, a taillight for a car, or a Cleveland Browns football jersey. Nine percent of visits were inspired by knowledge of a sale, or hopes that there might be a sale, and six percent of the holiday-time visits were looking for gifts. (Note that the product type and specific product categories likely included gift-buying activities: we only counted shopping activities as gifts when participants explicitly stated they were looking for gifts without a particular item in mind.) Other reasons for e-commerce visits were: because they received an email (5%), to browse offerings (4%), for customer service or account-related reasons such as checking order status (3%), to check prices (3%), to spend a gift card (2%), because they had seen a catalog or a print advertisement (2%), and looking for a coupon (1%). Other reasons accounted for 4% of visits. These reasons included gift card buy-back, to see if an item was from a store, to find movie times or make dinner reservations, to enter a contest, to check on product information for a product already owned, and to sign up for an email newsletter.24 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Designing for Different Types of Shoppers
  • 25. The chart above shows the 10 diary study participants stated reasons for visiting e- commerce sites during the 6-week study. They reported 263 site visits. Looking for a product type accounted for 35% of site visits (91). Looking for a specific item added another 27% (71 visits). 9% (23) of visits were inspired by a sale or looking for a sale, and 6% were looking for gifts (15). Users visited sites because of an email message 5% of the time (14 visits), and for general browsing 4% of the time (11 visits). Customer service or account related activities caused 3% (9) of visits, and 3% of visits were to check prices (8 visits). Two percent of users were looking to spend a gift card (4) or because theyd seen a catalog or print ad (4), and 1% were looking for coupons (2). SUPPORTING ALL TYPES OF SHOPPERS There are many different types of shoppers, and varied approaches to shopping. However, there were five that arose repeatedly in our research: • Product-focused • Browsing • Researching • Bargain-hunting • One-time shoppers© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 25
  • 26. While a good site experience is crucial to all types of shoppers, different elements of the shopping experience take on more significance depending on the users’ goal and approach. Designing with these user types in mind will help the overall user experience on the site. Product-focused Many shoppers go online knowing exactly what they want. They may need a replacement for something they already have. They may have already researched an item and know exactly what they want. They may have been to a store and seen the product they want, but waited to buy it online. Regardless of the reason, these shoppers are goal-oriented. They know what they need, and they want the site to give it to them quickly. In our study, our goal-oriented shoppers needed a James Bond DVD set, a replacement laptop battery, a Cleveland Browns jersey, a taillight for a car, and printer ink, among other things. These users weren’t looking to spend time leisurely browsing a site, to analyze product information, or to carefully consider a purchase. They wanted to find what they needed, get in and get out. These shoppers may know where to get the item in question — they may go to an online store they know that carries it, or the online presence of a store where they saw the product. They may have purchased the item in the past, or bought something similar. They may use search engines to find the product, typing in the exact product they want and picking a search result. They may even use meta-shopping engines or review sites, such as CNET, Froogle, or Kelkoo to determine who has the product for the best price. Once at the site, all these users need to do is locate the right product, confirm that it’s the right one, and buy it. Some won’t look at product descriptions at all. A quick look at the name and product picture confirms the product is correct, and they’ll buy it. The goal here is speed. Get the user to the right product, let them know it’s the right product, and let them checkout. The user may not be in a hurry, but he isn’t in the mindset to linger and spend quality time with the site. He may notice an upsell opportunity, but he’s more likely to continue on with his intended purchase without distraction. One user in our study had a product in mind when she visited FYE.com to spend a gift card. She immediately searched for the name of the movie — Heartburn — and was thrilled to see results. She’d had trouble locating the product previously and was excited to see it was offered and available. She even ended up buying two copies — one for herself and one for a friend.26 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Designing for Different Types of Shoppers
  • 27. A user was happy when FYE.com carried an item she had trouble finding elsewhere. The site allowed her to quickly search for, locate, and buy the movie she wanted. Keys for success for product-focused shoppers are: • Clearly identifying each product offering • Offering an effective search that makes it easy to locate items of interest • Letting return users easily see items previously purchased for reorders or accessory purchases • Streamlining the checkout process to get users in and out as quickly as possible Browsing Browsers have a much more leisurely approach to shopping online. They may look to their favorite sites or new sites, for inspiration or to kill time. One user said, “When I don’t have time to go shopping, I go online to check out what’s new or on sale.” Another said of a visit to iTunes, “I didn’t buy any music, but I enjoyed looking for potential songs to download.” Several users in Hong Kong said they looked at websites that they knew did not ship to Hong Kong, but browsed the sites anyway. They checked the fashions on the sites and then looked locally for items that were comparable.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 27
  • 28. It may seem counter-intuitive, but having browsers on your site is a good thing. These are people who are choosing to spend time on your site, with your company, with your brand. They are using the site as entertainment and inspiration, and there’s a great opportunity there to turn these browsers into buyers. If users have a consistently good experience on your site finding things they like and seeing the latest products, they’ll be more likely to think of your site or even your physical stores when they are ready to buy. Browsers are not necessarily looking to make a purchase, but if they see something they really like, they may turn into buyers. Browsers may also be looking at the site because they are planning a trip to a store. One user explained she looked at Banana Republics site: “When I dont have time to go shopping, I check out whats new or on sale. I check it before I go to the store.” Another said of CostCos site: “I did not buy a gift. They had a bunch of good stuff, but I know Ill go in person in a few days and see the items up close.” Make it easy for your customers to see what’s new, what’s popular and what’s on sale. When shoppers come to the site on a regular basis, it’s not to see the same information they saw the week before, it’s to see what’s changed. Browsers are interested in the latest items, the latest deals, what other people are buying. Related items and suggested products can help them navigate through the site, leading them to new areas and new products. Top-selling products, most popular products, and top-ranked products can all do well for browsers.28 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Designing for Different Types of Shoppers
  • 29. Sasa.com highlighted new products and bestsellers on the homepage. Another opportunity here is word-of-mouth marketing. Let users share information or “finds” on the site with their friends, and gain more site visitors and customers.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 29
  • 30. Keys for success for browsers are: • Highlighting new or popular products, or items on sale • Leading shoppers to new inventory through relevant related links and recommended products • Letting users share information about products they like Researching Researchers are goal-driven browsers. They plan to purchase, but the purchase may happen today, tomorrow, next week or in six months. They’re looking online to collect information about products and prices, and may be in any stage of research. Researchers may be educating themselves about unknown product types, either for a first time purchase or to purchase a gift. Or they may be well-educated about the products they’re looking for, and trying to find the best price for the best combination of features. Shoppers may have a product category in mind and be looking for the best deal or best product to meet their needs. Research may take place in several in-depth visits or be a one-time quick decision between options on one site. Researchers may visit multiple sites to gather information before committing to a purchase. (And keep in mind that purchase may occur online or in a store.) Users may also visit your site or others multiple times before making a purchase decision. They may use one site for researching and another for the eventual purchase. The goal is to turn these researchers into buyers. Trust is important in online transactions. If users have seen that your site offers detailed product information, excellent support, and clear navigation as they’ve been researching, they’re more likely to buy from your site. If your site offers limited or unclear product information, they won’t spend much time researching on it, nor will they think of it when it is time to buy. The opportunity is to convert researchers to buyers, to become a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of information and products. The biggest key to a successful experience for researchers is to allow easy product comparison. This does not mean creating large, elaborate comparison engines (though some comparison engines work quite nicely). Facilitating comparisons can be as simple as providing consistent information about products, so users can easily determine what the differences are among them. When sites do not offer comparison tools, users sometimes create their own. A user on BuyDig.com opened two browser windows to compare product specifications side by side. He said, “When you get close, you want to compare side by side. Id also open a new window to go to CNET.com to get reviews. That will tell me even more.” Researchers are looking for a high degree of detail in product descriptions and images. This means these additional sources of information should be available, but don’t offer so much information up front that you scare your product-focused or browsing shoppers away. Layer the information, but provide sufficient details to answer the questions researchers have.30 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Designing for Different Types of Shoppers
  • 31. Circuit Citys site provided well-structured layers of product information. The page started with key features, then had a summary of highlights, followed by tabs for customer reviews, specifications and accessories. Provide assistance for unfamiliar terms, or explanatory text to describe what different features or characteristics are. User reviews are also incredibly helpful to researchers, who can gather even more information by reading what others think of the product. Reviews can offer more practical details than any product description, as they are descriptions written by people who have used the product. Researchers also needed a way to flag items they were considering, so they could narrow options and return to compare them. Many used the shopping cart for this purpose, using it to collect items they were considering. Users were more comfortable doing this when they saw it was easy to remove an item from the shopping cart. They also appreciated sites that remembered the items theyd put in the cart on previous visits. Researchers may leave a site to visit another, or think about a purchase for a few days, and like to be able to pick up where they left off.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 31
  • 32. Keys for success for researchers are: • Providing clear and detailed product descriptions • Offering assistance around unfamiliar terminology or product features • Listing user reviews • Allowing easy comparison between products • Saving users shopping carts to allow shopping to continue on a subsequent visit Bargain-Hunting A key reason that users shop on the Web is that they think they can get a better deal online. Some shopping behavior is motivated by this intention — to find the best deal possible. Bargain-hunters may or may not have a particular item in mind when they start shopping. And bargain-hunting behavior may impact any type of online shopper — the product-focused shopper, browser or researcher. One user admitted she tended to buy things solely because they were a bargain. When hunting for other items, if she came across a good deal, she found it hard to pass up. The most important thing for a bargain hunter is to be able to locate deals. Prices must be clearly listed. Sale items must not be hidden on the site, but listed alongside full-price items, with savings highlighted. Available discounts must be easy to use, such as coupon codes for money off or free shipping. Some users immediately looked for deals and discounts on sites, checking Sale sections first. We saw much of this behavior in purchase tasks, where users were looking to get the most for the amount of money we gave them to spend. The opportunity with bargain hunters is to turn them into repeat customers. Several users in our notebook study referred to returning to a site specifically because of knowledge of a sale, information they learned through catalogs, advertising, or email messages. Sites should take advantage of bargain hunting behavior by sending coupons, offering discounts for more expensive purchases, and offering free shipping with minimum purchases. Many shoppers may offer their email address if they know they will receive special discounts or offers in return. One participant in our study who was spending a gift card on a site signed up for the email newsletter 2 in order to receive a discount, and used the discount for her purchase. A diary participant advised his nephew to sign up for an email newsletter because, “The site is usually expensive and they dont offer good discounts unless one has a coupon.” 2 For much more about the design and usability of email newsletters, please see our separate report on this topic, available at http://www.nngroup.com/reports/newsletters32 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Designing for Different Types of Shoppers
  • 33. One user said, “They often offer $10 coupons that make the prices even better.” Another said, “I just went back because they sent me a coupon.” When discounts are available, make them easy to use. One user went through a saga on the BabyStyle.com site, trying to get free shipping. The site informed users of free shipping with $50 purchase in the shopping cart, telling them how much more they needed to spend to quality for free shipping. However, when users reached the qualifying total, the message, including the coupon code necessary to take advantage of the offer, disappeared. One user hunted for more than 10 minutes for an item that was just expensive enough to push his total over the free shipping threshold. When the free shipping information disappeared, he assumed it would be automatically applied to his order. This was not the case. When he reached the order summary page in the checkout process, he was so outraged at the shipping charge that he canceled the order. Users wanted discounts that required no coupon code. While BabyStyle.com nicely showed users an available discount and associated code in the shopping cart, that information disappeared once users reached the $50 minimum order.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 33
  • 34. Many shoppers tried to take advantage of free shipping offers. One of users complaints about shopping online is paying an additional shipping charge. When sites offered free shipping, even when a minimum purchase was involved, users often tried to take advantage of such deals. A handful of users in our study looked for coupon codes when making purchases, leaving the site to do a quick search for any available discounts they could find on the Web. Many others mentioned doing so when they were shopping on their own at home or at work. Keys for success for bargain-hunters are: • Listing sale items alongside full priced inventory and providing an obvious section for discounted products • Clearly listing product prices and associated discounts and savings • Allowing easy coupon redemption or applying discounts automatically when criteria are met One-Time Shoppers One-time shoppers may be product-focused, browsing, bargain-hunting or researching. They are often gift card recipients, gift card buyers, or gift buyers. They may come with a goal in mind, such as a list of products the gift recipient is interested in. They may simply be browsing to find the best product. Or they may be researching and comparing across the sites inventory to buy the best item. They may be looking to spend a gift card or aiming for a certain budget, so may want to get the most for their money. These shoppers are not familiar with the site or, possibly, the products it carries. They have no interest in engaging with the site or learning more about it. They need clear site navigation to get to products of interest and get a sense of site inventory and selection. Clear product descriptions help them determine which items best fit their needs. Company information can help them feel more confident giving an unknown site their personal and financial information. A main complaint of one-time shoppers was site registration. When users were doubtful they would ever return to a site, they did not want to create a site registration or have the site remember their personal data. They appreciated sites that allowed them to make a purchase without requiring them to create an account.34 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Designing for Different Types of Shoppers
  • 35. One-time shoppers didnt want to have to register for sites in order to checkout. Office Depots site allowed users to checkout as guests. Keys to success for one-time shoppers are: • Having clear site navigation • Offering complete product descriptions • Providing clear - and trustworthy - company information • Allowing checkout without requiring registration© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 35
  • 36. How Users Shop IN-STORE AND ONLINE, RATHER THAN IN-STORE OR ONLINE Shoppers didnt distinguish between online shopping and in-store shopping. To them, it was all shopping. Their shopping experiences might be fully online, fully in-store, or a combination of the two. They expected consistency between online storefronts and physical storefronts. Users are already combining the in-store and online shopping experiences, so companies that are doing this well can reap the benefits. Shoppers looked to websites to direct them to local stores. Users “pre-shopped,” collecting information to make their in-store experience go more smoothly. One user said, “My water softener overflowed in the middle of the night and flooded my basement. I wanted to look up dehumidifiers online so Id know where to purchase locally.” Another said, “Im looking for a vacuum. We have a local Hoover retailer. I just wanted to pre-shop without running all over.” Another user looking for saw blades checked prices online to decide where to go to make the purchase. Another looked at a website to browse their selection and said, “They had a bunch of good stuff, but I know I’ll go in person in a few days from now and see the items up close.” Users were confused when inventory online and off differed. One user said of Sears.com, “It doesnt seem like they show everything [they have in stores] online. There was not a big selection of items to choose from.” Another said, “I only found two results. There werent enough choices. I wanted to look at several. It was not a very good range or selection or price.” Limited online inventory made some users reluctant to pursue the purchase at their local store. Stores could act as a back-up to online shopping and vice versa. If users couldnt find what they needed in one location, they tried the other. One shopper explained, “I was looking for a specific item — jeans my daughter likes from Arizona, a brand found at Penneys. Ive purchased these items before in a store. I did not find what I wanted online, but we did go to a store and find the jeans.” Others started in a store, but completed purchases online. Sometimes this was for convenience or for better inventory selection. (This can be a good reason to have a terminal in-store, to allow users to order right then and there, when theyre ready to spend their money.) The website can show users more options and combinations than any showroom or shop. For instance, one user was shopping for furniture at a local store, and went to the showroom to sit in the various chairs and decide which one she wanted. However, after making the decision, she returned home to look online at the various color and style options available for the chair. The showroom only had one or two examples, and had color and fabric swatches, but she couldn’t see what the chair would look like. Online, there were images to show her what the different options looked like. She said, “I wanted to see different style and fabric options for the furniture all in one place.” Another looked to VictoriasSecret.com because “they have a lot more available online than in stores.”36 INFO@NNGROUP.COM How Users Shop
  • 37. Other users blurred the lines between online and in-store shopping with in-store pickup of items ordered online or shipping to a local store for free. These options helped address the online shopping problem of delayed gratification, as well as the in-store problem of pushy salespeople or crowds. Buying online let the user avoid the store experience, while picking up at a store avoided delivery concerns or delays. This also allowed users to save on delivery costs and to get the item at their convenience. Another intersection of online and offline commerce is through returns or exchanges. Users are starting to expect that they will be able to return or exchange at a store if they buy online. Allowing users to do so eliminates another concern some users have about online shopping: that they will have to pay return shipping if the item isnt to their liking. SHIPPING: DELAYED GRATIFICATION AND ADDITIONAL COST Even standard shipping charges which were relatively low drew complaints from users, depending on what they were buying. For instance, one user said on LaneBryant.com, “Their shipping would have been high [$4.95] for an inexpensive item.” Another user said on Campmor.com, “Shipping is OK at $6.95, but I wish they had it at a slightly better price. It is good that any order is that price for standard shipping.” His discomfort with the shipping charges caused him to reconsider his purchase. Though he found the sunglasses he wanted for “a third of the price of retail,” he said, “I still want to look around.” Another user said she found “great prices” on EyesLipsFace.com, but “I found what I wanted, but did not buy. Shipping was very high, despite low prices on items. I would have liked to know that before I filled my cart.” Users looked for other ways to get around shipping charges. One user on Symantec.com said, “I could download the product directly instead of getting it shipped.” Another said of Buemo.com, “They offer the option to ship or pick up. If you choose pickup, you can select one of about 30 stores and they have it ready in one hour.” Another said of BestBuy.com: “You can order on the Internet and then pick it up at the store closest to you.” Users were motivated by offers to get free shipping if they spent a certain total on the site. If the total was close to the amount the user otherwise intended to spend, they often spent additional time on the site looking for items that would qualify them for the offer. For instance, one user on PetSmart.com spent 11 minutes and 23 seconds looking for a product to add to his cart to qualify for free shipping. High international shipping charges were a deterrent for some shoppers. A user in Hong Kong explained, “I introduced the Victorias Secret site to my friends and we all order in one lot and share the delivery cost.”© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 37
  • 38. LOCAL DIFFERENCES: PATIENCE AND PRIORITIES While our study was not large enough to declare regional or international differences in e-commerce shopping behavior, we did note differences across our participants in New York, Indiana and Georgia in the United States and in Hong Kong and London. Our user base was small in both London and Hong Kong, but we noted some differences between our participants. One key difference was in patience. Our users in London were the most patient, waiting for what seemed to be interminable lengths for pages or content to load, without complaint. Our participants in the United States were somewhat less patient, waiting for pages to load while complaining about the delay, or sometimes refreshing pages in an attempt to speed up the process. Our users in Hong Kong were the least patient, immediately refreshing pages, opening new browser windows or tabs, or even visiting other sites to fill the time while slow pages opened. Users also had regional concerns about shopping, depending on their location. In Hong Kong, shoppers were concerned that delivery had to be more convenient than shopping locally. They were particularly concerned that packages would not be left at their homes if they were not present, and they would have to retrieve the package at a local post office or from a local carrier. One said, “Its quite idiotic: You pay for delivery cost, but in the end you are the one going to the post office to pick up the large parcel.” Considering how convenient it was for many of our participants to shop locally, with the wealth of shopping opportunities available in Hong Kong, they had to have a good reason to want to buy online. In London, our users voiced concern about convenience — would waiting for a delivery be more convenient or less than driving to a local store. A user said, "This is still quicker than getting in your car and driving to the shop." Another compared shipping costs to “train fare or the cost of petrol.” Another said, “Things can be quite traumatic with congestion charges. Better to site at home and do it on your own time.” Another user complained, however, when she was on a site for an extended period of time, “I could have driven down to the store quicker.” Similarly, users in Georgia and Indiana in the United States sometimes contemplated the cost, in terms of gas and time, to drive to a mall or a store versus buying an item online and paying shipping charges. One said, “With gas prices high, I dont mind paying for shipping.” Users in New York, though surrounded with shopping opportunities like shoppers in Hong Kong, were still likely to want to shop online for the convenience of not having to carry items home. Many had methods for receiving packages, even when not at home, through doormen, neighbors, or local stores who would accept deliveries for them. However, we found our New Yorkers to be much more concerned with who would be delivering the item — which carrier or delivery service. Several of our New York participants had preferred carriers and would select specific delivery options to ensure those carriers were used. Many wanted to know which carrier would deliver a package, and not just when the package would arrive. A handful went so far as to refuse to shop at sites that didnt use particular carriers or that only offered a despised carrier. The only other local difference we noted was specific to New York. We found many of our New York participants entered NY or NYC as their city name, rather than typing, “New York.” Very few sites accepted this as a valid entry.38 INFO@NNGROUP.COM How Users Shop
  • 39. These differences led to some guidelines in the report series, as well as some detailed examples within the guidelines. While we didnt see huge regional or international differences in behavior, we did note these smaller differences. This emphasizes the importance of testing with users in your own key markets, allowing you to identify smaller issues as well as larger ones. BUILDING LOYALTY A big part of your business should be building loyalty with customers. A great user experience is the best way to keep people coming back. When we asked users in our studies about sites they had good experiences with, they often remembered times when sites exceeded their expectations. As one user said, “I went to Beumo because their prices are unbeatable, selection tremendously vast, and they often offer $10 coupons that make prices even better. When I lived in California, I shopped there in person, which has helped to build me into a loyal customer.” Another user said, “If I have a good experience with something, Ill stick with it forever. My in-laws probably get sick of 1800Flowers, Sheryl and Company, Caribou Coffee. But I stick to the known. I like 1800FLowers because I get points. I joined their club, so I get points added and get discounts.” Some users even noted instances where the resolution of a problem was so good that they remembered the good response rather than the initial problem. One user complained of difficultly using a coupon code on Kohls.com. She had to ask a customer service representative how to use it, but in the end said, “Great store! I still shop the site!” Many of our diary study participants reported going to sites because of past purchases or past experiences with the site. Many of these repeat interactions revolved around discounts, coupons, deals or promotions. Users visited sites because of email messages about specials, or because they had loyalty points or discounts due to a credit card associated with the site. For instance, a user said she went to LLBean because, “I received an email that they had new sale items and I wanted to check it out. I went because of the sale and I have coupons and free shipping for the site because I have a rewards credit card.” A user on DisneyStore.com said, “They send me sale updates and special discount codes. I usually buy something when I get the discount and then I save what I bought to give as gifts later.” Good prices and promotions drove users to sites. One user mentioned visiting BassPro.com because “a friend sent me a link for 5 fishing lures for $5 from the site. I got a great deal on the lures — 5 for $5 and free shipping!” A user on Ulta.com said, “They sent me a coupon code for $5 off any $10 order, so I went to check out what they had. I received $5 off my order and also had free shipping, so I really got a bargain!”© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 39
  • 40. DECIDING WHERE TO PURCHASE Our study focused mainly on tasks where we asked users to visit specified e- commerce sites. We also included 52 tasks where we gave users a goal, but did not specify what site to visit to make the purchase. We wanted to see what users did to pick a site, how or if they shopped around on several sites, how they evaluated unknown sites, and how they made a purchase decision. Though we encouraged users to act as though they were truly making a purchase, we saw several users who said they would make purchases on sites that they also expressed skepticism about, whether about the trustworthiness or the company, quality of the product, pricing, or security of the site. Others seemed happy to purchase on the first site they found, trying to complete our task quickly. On average, users visited 4.8 sites per task to accomplish their goals. This number includes repeat visits to the same site and visits to search engines. For instance, if a user visited AcmeProducts.com, checked another site, did a Web search, and returned to AcmeProducts.com, that was counted as visiting 4 sites. The median number of visits per task was 2. In the 52 tasks attempted, users visited only one site 29% of the time (15), and 2 sites 27% of the time (14). The highest number of sites viewed during a task was 27. The chart above shows the number of sites users visited during open-ended tasks. In 52 tasks, users visited only one site 29% of the time, and visited two sites 27% of the time. The maximum number of sites visited in one task was 27.40 INFO@NNGROUP.COM How Users Shop
  • 41. Users visted an average of 3.2 unique sites while completing open-ended tasks. The lowest number of sites was 1 and the highest was 12, with a median of 2 sites visited. Twenty nine percent of users visited only one site (15), and an additional 29% of users visited just 2 sites (14) to complete their tasks, accounting for 58% of users. Fifty-eight percent of users visited only 1 or 2 sites to complete an open-ended task where a site was not specified (52 tasks total). Fifteen users visited one site, and 14 visited two. Four users visited three unique sites, and 7 visited 4 unique sites. 4 users visited 5, and 2 visited 6. Two more visited seven unique sites, and one user visited 8, 9, 10 and 12 unique sites. Users were approximately evenly split between those who went directly to a known site to begin the task and those who started the task with a Web search. Users started with search 24 times, or 48% of the time, and started by typing in the URL of a known site 28 times, or 52% of the time.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 41
  • 42. Users started open ended tasks by typing the URL of a known site 54% of the time (28), and with a search engine 46% of the time (24). Of those users who went directly to a known site by typing in a URL (28 users), 15 bought from the first site without visiting any other sites. Five additional users bought from the first site after visiting other sites as well — in other words, they returned to the first site they visited to complete the task. Eight users, or 29% of users who went to a site first, ended up completing the task at a site other than their first choice. Seventy-one percent of users who started at a known site ended up completing the task on that site.42 INFO@NNGROUP.COM How Users Shop
  • 43. Of the 28 users who went directly to a site when completing open-ended tasks (rather than to a search engine first), 53% (15) of users completed the task on that site, without ever leaving it. Another 18% (5) returned to the first site to complete the task, and 8 users (29%) completed the task on another site. This is interesting to contrast with users who started with a Web search. Twenty- four users started with search, with 15 of them going directly to Google, 3 going to Yahoo, 1 going to MSN, three typing inquiries into the browser address bar (resulting in Live Search results), and 2 using the browser’s Search option, which was set to AOL Search. Of the 24, eight users bought from the first search result followed without visiting any other sites. Only one user bought from the first site after visiting another site. Fourteen ended up completing the task at a site other than the first result visited. One user did not complete a purchase.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 43
  • 44. Of the 24 users who started the open-ended task by going to a search engine, 35% (8) completed the task on the first search result they visited. Another 4% (1 user) returned to the first result visited to make a purchase. All other users, 61%, completed the task on a site other than the first search result visited. When they started with a search, rather than a known site, it indicated less familiarity with the product in many cases, so it is not surprising that it took more research to make a decision. 71% of users who navigated directly to a site stuck with that site, ultimately purchasing from it. But when users started with a search, they bought from the first search result visited only 39% of the time. Of those users who searched first, half clicked on a natural search result first, and half clicked on a paid search result first.44 INFO@NNGROUP.COM How Users Shop
  • 45. Key Findings The full E-Commerce Report Series includes more than 500 guidelines about making your e-commerce site easier to use. Here, we summarize the most important key findings, guidelines and concepts from the report series. HOMEPAGES AND CATEGORY PAGES Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Homepage and Category Pages report in the E-Commerce Report Series. A Welcoming Homepage The homepage is a crucial page on the site, as it acts as a users introduction to the company, its products, and the site itself. The page needs to look trustworthy, make clear what type of products are sold on the site, and invite users to make a purchase. A Clear Structure A clear site structure is important for the obvious reason of letting users navigate to products of interest. But it is also essential for shoppers who arrive at your site via a link to an interior page, such as through a search engine, blog, email from a friend, or other source. Remember that many shoppers will enter the site without seeing the homepage. For these users, the site structure and navigational options become the way they are introduced to the site and all it has to offer. When users dont know what navigational categories mean, or the differences between them, they are unable to navigate to the right products on the site. Users cant buy what they cant find.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 45
  • 46. A user wasnt sure where to go to find blenders on Cooking.com. She wanted to see a category called Blenders, but only saw Bar Blenders. She never clicked the category, and thought her only choices were the featured items, "a $500 bar blender or a hand blender. I just want a $50 regular blender." Cross-Referencing Products should be cross-referenced as appropriate, so shoppers can find items in multiple related categories. When users dont find what they want in one category, they dont necessarily look to another related category. They assume if no item is shown, no item exists. Featured or Full Inventory? We saw users erroneously think site inventory was limited because of the presentation of category pages and product listing pages. When such pages showed featured items rather than full inventory, users sometimes misinterpreted the pages. They thought the items shown represented the sites full collection, rather than a limited view of featured items.46 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 47. Providing Product Information Product listing pages should offer enough information that shoppers can get a sense of the product before clicking through to a full product page. Such pages are often users first interaction with product information on a site. If shoppers dont see what they want on a product listing page, they wont look to product detail pages for more information. Clear images, cropped and scaled so as to give a sense of the product, are essential as well as price information and product name. When users recognized a product on the product listing page, they sometimes added the item to the cart without even viewing the full product detail page. An unexpected problem we witnessed was users failing to understand they could click on an item on a listing page to see more product information. Only a small number of users had this problem, but we expected shoppers would know they could click an item to see more information. An explicit link to see details or get more information was helpful to these users. This seemed to happen more commonly if a Buy button was presented on the page. A small number of users seemed to assume if they could buy from that page, there was nothing more to be seen about the product. Product Comparisons Users had their own ways of comparing products. Some took notes on paper. Others opened multiple windows or tabs. And some used the comparison tools provided by sites. The most important thing sites can do to allow product comparison is to provide comparable product information and equivalent levels of detail about similar items on the site. If offering a full comparison tool, users must be able to quickly identify the tool, easily select items to compare, make comparisons of helpful information across products, and quickly remove items, add items to the cart, or view product detail pages. Comparison tables should highlight differences. Unclear or incomplete comparison tables leave users wondering if features exist in a product or not. Sorting through Options Getting users to the products that best fit their needs includes a combination of navigation, search, and filtering. Faceted search, or narrowing options according to attributes, is discussed on page 58 of this report and in the Search report. Sorting is also crucial to move users to the right set of products. Users in the study expected to be able to sort products by price, at a minimum, and by popularity, brand, customer rating or length of time on the site when appropriate. Sorting by price was particularly popular with users. We saw this featured used frequently when shoppers were trying to find an item on the site that would add just enough to their purchase total to qualify them for a discount or free shipping. Looking for a low-cost item to add was simpler when sites allowed sorting by price.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 47
  • 48. PRODUCT PAGES Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Product Pages report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Full Product Details The most important element of a product page is, of course, providing product details. The product page is the only way a user can gather information about the product he is considering. Descriptions need to be complete and comprehensive, anticipating and answering users questions. A user didnt find the product information he wanted on Flight001.com, so went to Google to search for more product information. This is a sure way to lose a sale. He said, "What I would do is look up that item on Google or something to find out more about it." He searched for the product name, following the result that led to a manufacturers site and found more details there. In the course of searching for more information, he also saw other sites that sold the same item for $11 less. In our study, he returned to the original site to make the purchase, as that is what we had asked him to do. In reality, leaving the site to search for product information may well result in a lost sale as users find another site with better information or a better price. When a shopper couldnt find the product information he wanted on Flight 001s site, he looked to Google to find the answers he needed.48 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 49. Search results steered the user to other sites offering the product at a lower price. Users can easily become overwhelmed with too much product information at once. Layer product information so those who want minimal details or distinguishing features can find them easily, but so those wanting specifics have access to them as well. Product images are incredibly important. Users cant see, touch or hold the item they are purchasing online. Pictures have to show users as much as possible about a product. Images from different angles or showing items in context help users understand more about a product.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 49
  • 50. The picture of a toaster with a bagel in it reassured a user on HSN.com that the slots were big enough to toast bagels. Product prices and product availability are also crucial. Some sites hid product prices due to manufacturer restrictions. This was incredibly frustrating to users. Some understood the practice, but it bothered them. Others didnt understand why they needed to take another step just to see a price. Others didnt realize a discounted price was available; they just skipped items without a clearly listed price. One user said, “A lot of products need to be put in the cart to see the discounted price. This drives me nuts, because this is a needless extra step.”50 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 51. Hidden prices, such as this one on Amazon.com, frustrated users. They did not want to have to add an item to the cart to see the price. Consistency between Products Users expected, and appreciated, when product descriptions about related items offered equivalent information. It was extremely difficult for users to compare product information when one item had a 3 sentence description and another had 3 paragraphs. Both the presentation of information and the information itself needs to be consistent between related products. Users looked to product descriptions to answer their questions and explain why one item was better or different than another. Simply providing equivalent information about comparable products goes a long way to help users make purchase decisions. The Value of Reviews Product reviews were incredibly helpful to users when making purchase decisions. Providing customer reviews gave shoppers additional insight into products, often answering questions shoppers had. Product reviews give information about the use of a product, not just its features. As one user said of reviews on Macys site, “It had reviews and I needed that. There was no opportunity to experience the product, other than other peoples experience.” Reviews have the potential to provide more detail than any product description, increase trust of the site and the products for sale, and help cut down on returns by setting more accurate expectations. Some users looked only at summary review information, seeing what the overall rating for a product was. Others had specific questions left unanswered by the product description that they looked to the reviews to answer. Others checked the reviews to see if the product description was accurate according to customers.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 51
  • 52. Reviews had to be presented well to be helpful. Users wanted to be able to get a quick sense of the number of reviews, and how many reviews were favorable or unfavorable. They wanted quick access to the best and the worst reviews. They also sometimes found it useful to know a little about the person posting the review, such as age, gender or other pertinent details. Information in reviews seemed reliable to users, even though the information was from strangers. Users did evaluate the quality of reviews, dismissing those they felt were too positive or too negative, such as one negative review among six positive reviews. However, if an outlying review, which was overly positive or negative or which focused on one product detail, matched the users questions or concerns about that product, it could be highly influential. Users were quick to doubt the credibility of reviews if they were hand-picked by the site. They were also less trusting of reviews on a manufacturers own site versus a site that sold products by many different manufacturers. For instance, a user questioned the reviews of elliptical trainers offered on NordicTrack.com. She said, “I read reviews all the time for things, but I dont necessarily trust them when theyre on the website of the manufacturer who is selling the product. Id probably to go Consumer Reports or something like that to get another opinion. The manufacturer who is selling the product, theyre not going to put bad reviews of their own product on the site.” A user was skeptical of favorable reviews on the Nordic Track website because she doubted manufacturers would publish poor reviews of their own products.52 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 53. They also sometimes doubted the trustworthiness of the site itself if the site offered reviews, but only some products actually had them. If too many items had no reviews, users sometimes worried that meant the products were not good. Adding Items to the Cart Users ran into a surprising amount of trouble adding items to shopping carts. Many sites provided inadequate feedback when an item was added to the cart, showing a momentary animation, adding a single line of text to a product page, or changing a minor design element on the page. Subtle page changes, such as the line of text next to the Add to Bag button on Anthropologies product page, shown above, were often overlooked by shoppers. When sites didnt provide adequate feedback, some users thought they had added an item to the cart when they had not, and others added items multiple times. While subtle page changes may be designed to keep the shopper in the shopping environment, they actually often resulted in the user leaving the product page to investigate the shopping cart and try to determine what, if anything, had been added to the cart. Shoppers didnt necessarily need to see the entire cart on each page of the site. But including an indication of the number of items in the cart or a subtotal for the items in the cart was helpful to users. This prevented them from having to check the cart, particularly if they were shopping within a budget.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 53
  • 54. SHOPPING CART, CHECKOUT AND REGISTRATION Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Shopping Cart, Checkout and Registration report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Shopping Cart as Dressing Room Many of our users saw the shopping cart as an area to hold items they were considering purchasing. An item in the cart did not necessarily mean the user wanted to purchase the item; it meant users were considering an item or wanted to remember it. Many sites offer wishlists or favorite lists for this purpose, intending users to create a list of items they are interested in. However, our users did not want to go through the trouble of setting up a list. They simply wanted a quick and easy way to access items they were interested in. They wanted to bookmark items, essentially, for quick access. Users wanted to be able to see product images, product names, product details like size and color, and price in the shopping cart. This helped them remember each product as well as compare between products. They also expected products in the cart to have links back to full product pages, so they could check or review product details when deciding what to ultimately purchase. Because shoppers were often adding items to the cart, only to remove them later, it was essential that the site made it easy to remove items from the cart. A Clear Path through Checkout Each site designed the checkout flow in a slightly different way. There was no one path that was more successful than others. So long as users understood where they were in the process and what the next step would be, they were successful proceeding through checkout. Shopping carts began the process. Users wanted to see full product details, as mentioned above, as well as price information. They appreciated an indication of shipping, tax or other additional costs early in the process. The most important element for many users was the option to indicate that the users billing and shipping address was the same. Our users complained often and loudly about the amount of data entry necessary to make an online purchase. Any shortcut that allowed them to skip a step was welcome. Along the same lines, they wanted to provide only that information which was essential for purchase or delivery. They complained about extra questions during the checkout process or when asked for information that wasnt directly related to the purchase.54 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 55. Optional Registration Shoppers dont want to register. They are tired of usernames and passwords. They dont want to “join” sites they dont intend to visit frequently. They worry registration will cause unwanted email or physical mail. They often see registration as a benefit to the site (keeping their personal information) rather than for them (making future purchases or package tracking easier.) One user said, “I dont like having to register on every single website for every single purchase that I make. Id rather do it as a guest and then Im not subject to their constant emails. I just prefer to get my item and go.” Users appreciated optional registration that was part of the checkout flow. Registration can be as simple as adding optional password fields to the existing purchase process. Listing the benefits of registration from the shoppers point of view, rather than the sites point of view, helped. Users liked to know they could save time or track orders. Registration was optional on Cooking.com. Users could checkout as a guest, with the option to register for the site in the checkout process.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 55
  • 56. Shoppers could enter a password during the checkout process. Emphasizing the ability to save information for quicker future purchases is important. In our first study, users often complained about providing personal information because of security concerns. In our second study, shoppers were tired of entering the same information repeatedly on each site they visited. Remind users that registration means quicker checkout and less data entry. Money Matters Users didnt want to be surprised with additional charges or fees at the end of a checkout process. They appreciated knowing the full price early. They also wanted easy ways to save money. They wanted specials that were advertised on the site to be automatically applied to an order, rather than having to remember a coupon code. They wanted to see how discounts or savings were applied before entering payment information. And they wanted to see the full breakdown of their costs before entering that payment information. Shipping Options One of the changes in recent years has been the ability to go to a store to pick up an item purchased online. Such options bypassed many of users complaints about shopping online: shipping charges, waiting for delivery, and being home to accept a package. Regardless what the shipping options were, users wanted to know associated costs, estimated delivery timeframe, and, in some cases, which carrier would deliver the items. Some users, particularly in our New York City research, had a strong preference for certain carriers over others. Shipping costs needed to be easy to find. Some users comparison shopped for the best deals on shipping, to get the most for their money. Others looked for free shipping offers. Users complained about shipping charges as one of the big downsides of online shopping, so free shipping offers were enticing and appreciated. One user assumed her $150 purchase on Cooking.com would qualify for free shipping (though the site did not mention any such special.)56 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 57. When she saw a shipping charge of $21, she said, “If its $150, it should be free shipping. That would be a plus. When Im shopping online, I particularly look for free shipping. And because theres a shipping cost, I probably wont buy it. What I would do is take the name and the maker and check Amazon and Overstock prices. And different sites, like Target and Walmart, and do a price comparison to see if I could get free shipping. I would not purchase it if shipping is not free. I do my best to find free shipping. I can go out my door and drive to Target. The purpose of shopping online is convenience or cost. If the price point is cheaper with shipping, I might purchase it, but with a shipping charge, I definitely have to shop around.” When a shopper saw a $21 shipping charge on Cooking.com, she decided to shop around. SEARCH (INCLUDING FACETED SEARCH) Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Search report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Search Behavior Eighty-three percent of users in the eyetracking portion of our second study searched on at least one site. Users searched to see the variety of products on a site, to locate a product category quickly, after site navigation failed, to locate a specific product, to locate products with a specific attribute, or when product descriptions didnt answer their questions. Users searched if guided navigation failed, or to narrow product options on sites with expansive inventory. Some searched to return to an item they had seen previously, and others to find a piece of information on the site, such as a return policy.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 57
  • 58. Sometimes search was an alternate way to get to products when navigation failed. One user said on Targets site, “Some sites dont list an item, but you can search for it and find it. So sometimes its helpful to search, even if it looks like the site doesnt have the item youre looking for.” Within a website, the most common type of query at 34% was a combination of a product category and at least one product criterion, such as “women ski pant.” Twenty-two percent of queries were for criteria alone (such as “peanut”) and 20% were for categories (such as “shredders”). Within a website, the average search query was 14.5 characters long, with 2.3 words. Two-word queries were most popular, accounting for 41% of searches. Searches need to accommodate all sorts of queries, including category names, product names, and product attributes as well as customer service related information. Search as Feedback All sites can benefit from regularly reviewing search logs. The search box is the easiest way for users to talk to the site. Searches can reveal problem areas in the navigation, gaps in selection and, most importantly, the language visitors use to describe your products and their needs. Scoped Search It is generally better to let users narrow results rather than ask them to scope the search, or set the scope yourself, when they submit the query. When users accidentally or unknowingly run searches with a category, rather than across the site, they often think selection on the site is limited. Narrowing the Choices: Faceted Search Sites can help users find the right products by helping them narrow their choices. Many e-commerce sites offer faceted search or guided navigation. Users are presented with products and then given a list of product characteristics by which to narrow their choices. Rather than displaying 200 digital cameras and only allowing users to sort by price and popularity, more sites are allowing users to pick the criteria most relevant to them.58 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 59. When done well, faceted search helped guide users to the most relevant product choices. Such options can be great — when they work. But there are many instances that are poorly implemented. A key problem is categories that dont match shoppers interests or needs for that particular product. Sites also suffered when they incorrectly categorized items, so users searches didnt return all products that met their requirements or returned items that didnt match users needs. Users needed to be able to easily notice and use options, combining criteria when relevant and easily removing criteria.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 59
  • 60. CUSTOMER SERVICE Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Customer Service report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Easy to Find The most important aspect of providing customer service information is making the information easy to find. Users often looked to the top or bottom of the page when looking for information. They looked for links to a customer service section, or directly to the policy of interest. Common information requests, such as shipping or returns, can be separate links to lead users directly to the information of interest. Users expected support information to be included throughout the site, in relevant areas. They expected to see information about shipping or returns as they were shopping and adding items to the shopping cart. Users also looked at and responded to mentions of customer-friendly policies on sites. Information about free shipping, free returns, and satisfaction or price guarantees were worth advertising throughout the site. A Good Site Experience The best customer service is providing the information users want, when they want it. This extends throughout the site, to providing full and complete product information, clear product images, a detailed shopping cart and a logical checkout process. Getting in Touch When shoppers needed an answer to their question, some wanted to help themselves through the website and others wanted a way to contact the company directly. Even users who did not need to contact the company appreciated seeing an easily- located toll-free phone number. This indicated to users that the company was easy to contact if they encountered a problem. Some shoppers preferred calling for service, because they would have an immediate response rather than having to wait for a follow-up email. Others preferred email, so they wouldnt have to wait on hold. Live help, via chat, was also used by a handful of users in the study. Users had high expectations for these interactions, expecting the representatives to provide more details or insight than they could find on the site on their own. However, many users found live chat to be a hindrance because popup windows promoted assistance at inappropriate times or too frequently, disrupting their shopping. Clear, and Customer Friendly, Policies Once users found policies, their job was not finished. They had to read and understand the policies, and any exceptions to them. This was difficult on several sites, where policies and exclusions were not clear. Unclear policies did not help users.60 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 61. The policies themselves had to be customer-friendly, as well. Users were bothered by return policies with short timeframes, complex exceptions or which offered only store credit. Incomplete information about returns or price guarantees left users wondering how to make a return or get a refund. Consider the customer when creating policies and their associated procedures. Help users whenever possible, in ways like providing return mailing labels or allowing local returns. Users appreciated clear policies with customer-friendly options. SELLING STRATEGIES Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Selling Strategies report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Clear Pricing Online shoppers are often price-conscious. The value of items must be clearly communicated, so users know what they are getting for their money. Product prices need to be clear, and savings and discounts need to be reflected. All additional charges should be listed and explained as early as possible in the process.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 61
  • 62. Shoppers also wanted easy ways to see sale items. A Sale section was helpful, but shoppers frequently also wanted to see sale items interwoven with the main site inventory, seeing full-price and sale items side by side. When Will It Arrive Shoppers wanted to know how quickly an item would arrive. This was often a combination of availability, packaging and shipping. Users appreciated sites with clear timeframes, even if it was a window of a few days. This set user expectations for delivery. Free Shipping As mentioned previously, free shipping was a good incentive for many shoppers. Shoppers often complained about paying for shipping, especially when many users shopped online in order to get a better price on a product. They often compared the online price to the cost and effort involved in buying the same item from a local store. Whether offers were constant on the site, or available for a limited time or with a minimum purchase, many shoppers found such offers enticing. We watched many users change their orders or find additional items on a site so they could reach the minimum total to receive free shipping. They wanted to spend their money on products, not on shipping. Welcome Back Sites need to accommodate both new and returning customers. Sites can support returning shoppers not just through personal information saved via registration. The site can highlight new or discounted products, letting shoppers know whats changed since a previous visit. Information from previous visits can be used to promote products, and shopping carts can be remembered. One user said of United.com: “I like United because I have used it before and when I log in, they remember the airports I use most often.” You Might Also Like... When we first studied e-commerce sites, users werent thrilled with the idea of the upsell. They didnt appreciate when sites offered them something related or directed them to other products they might like. In our latest research, users counted on, expected, and used these recommendations, in some cases using related products as a primary method of navigating through a sites inventory. Users appreciated product listings that explained why a product was recommended. Labels explaining that items were related, recommended accessories, or products other customers purchased helped shoppers know why an item was being shown. One user said as he viewed a list of popular products, “Im sure other people buy good things. Ill look at these.” They were open to such offers on product pages, but did not appreciate offers that interfered with the shopping or checkout process.62 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 63. TRUST AND CREDIBILITY Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the Trust and Credibility report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Appearance is Everything Users tended to put more trust into sites that looked clean or professional, rather than sites that looked haphazard or dated. Adequate white space, consistent fonts, professional quality images and clearly designed logos all contributed to creating a good first impression. Shoppers also occasionally checked information about a company when assessing whether to purchase from a site. A reliable About Us section, with information about the companys history and physical location, as well as contact information, helped reassure shoppers that sites were legitimate. Privacy and Security Users in our second study were less overtly concerned about the security of their personal information and credit card numbers online. They complained about having to register for sites and worried about what sites might do with their personal information, but were less concerned than in the previous study about the security of the transaction itself. One user explained, “Im uncomfortable putting my information on the Web. Theres information everywhere now. Why add to it and put it on a stores site?” Performance and Errors Any technical issues on a site hurt users trust of that site. Slow-loading pages, broken site features, and lost data all left users with unfavorable impressions of sites. Users often navigate via the Back button, yet several users ran into problems on sites due to their use of that button. Users expected to be able to visit a previously viewed page without trouble, but instead sometimes encountered lost data, broken pages or unexpected results. One user spent 10 minutes on FineStationery.com customizing an invitation to a housewarming party. She wanted to add a monogram, and remembered seeing that option on a previous page. She clicked Back to try to add it. When she did so, she received a message that the page had expired. She said, “Uh oh! I can’t go back! OK, I don’t like this site. I lost my stationery because I went back? Should I start over? That sucks! I lost all my work. I’m done. That pissed me off. That was terrible!”© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 63
  • 64. Added features can enhance the users experience, but they have to work perfectly. Users expected features to work instantly and as promised. In-page changes could help users when they worked well, but in other instances, they caused long delays or errors that disrupted, rather than streamlined, users experiences. If an in-page change takes as long to load as taking the user to another page, it is not an enhancement to the user experience. On some sites, such interactions slowed performance and impeded users progress. In other instances, such as when moving the mouse over a product image resulted in a zoomed view or made buttons appear, users moved the mouse carefully to avoid such unintended actions. The implementation of such features matters as well. A user on Flight001.com said, “I think that zoom thing was a waste of time. Why would I want to see one little corner of a thing? I didnt care for it. It surprised me when it came up and blocked the description on the right hand side of the page with what looked like a piece of fur.” A zoomed view of a product on Flight001.com covered the product description when it appeared. The image above shows the animation in progress as it covers the description. Even when users quickly realized what the site was doing and what action was causing it, they frequently retriggered the action unintentionally.64 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 65. Availability Users were frustrated when sites did not make it clear if items were backordered or out of stock. They spent time picking the exact products they wanted, only to discover an item could not be purchased. Availability needed to be indicated as early as possible in the process, on product listing as well as product pages, and not only as users added items to the cart. Similarly, if limited inventory is available, warn users of the potential for items to be gone. One user said, “I didnt know about the item being out of stock until I added it to my cart. Which made me frustrated. It should have come up right away and said This item is backordered but can be purchased and delivered in 8 to 9 weeks right on the page where theyre selling stuff. Thats a frustrating thing when you want to buy something and now you cant, and you have to start all over.” There was no indication of availability information on the product page on Cabelas.com.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 65
  • 66. Only when an item was added to the users cart did the site indicate the item was backordered for 8 to 9 weeks. INTERNATIONAL USERS Further information about each of the following topics and additional topics can be found in the International Users report in the E-Commerce Report Series. Forms and Data Some forms simply did not accommodate international shoppers. The most commonly problematic fields were state for users without a state, and zip or postal code fields for users with one or the other. Phone number fields that didnt support the length of international phone numbers and name fields that didnt accommodate long names or international variations on names were also problems for some users. No Local Support Some sites would ship items internationally, but provided little support for international shoppers. The lack of free methods of contact deterred some shoppers, and others worried about the hassle of dealing with international returns or exchanges, particularly on sites with strict policies. Other users complained when they did not qualify for discounts or special offers based on their location. International Usability Testing We recommend testing in international markets that are key to the business. Run testing locally in target countries, preferably in the local language.66 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Key Findings
  • 67. Success Rates, Task Failures and Task Times SUCCESS BY TYPE OF TASK In both studies, we noted whether users were successful in completing tasks. Across 496 tasks in our first study, users were fully successful 56% of the time. Evaluating success in the same way, without giving credit for partial success, users in our second study were 72% successful across 507 tasks. While this is a notable improvement, it still means in 28% of cases users could not complete a purchase or find a customer service-related answer. Total Success Rate (Across all tasks, no partial successes credited) Number of tasks Success Rate Study One 496 56% Study Two 507 72% For each task we gave users in the second study, we measured success, task time, and users’ subjective satisfaction. For this study, we gauged success on a 0 to 4 scale, with partial credit given for partial success in completing a task. Zero meant the user didnt achieve any part of the task and 4 indicated complete success. One, two or three indicated part of the task was completed, such as finding an appropriate item and adding it to the cart, but being unable to complete the checkout process. Subjective satisfaction scores for confidence in completing the task, satisfaction completing the task, and frustration completing the task were judged on a 1 to 7 Likert scale, with 7 always being the most positive response. 3 Users filled out their subjective satisfaction ratings on a paper questionnaire following each task. A complete description of the tasks used in the study, as well as the tasks themselves, are included in the E-Commerce User Experience Methodology report. The table below shows a comparison of task times, success rates, and subjective satisfaction ratings by task type. Each task type is discussed further in the following pages. 3 That is, a user rating of 7 would indicate the highest level of satisfaction or confidence, but the lowest level of frustration.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 67
  • 68. Comparison Across Task Types (Study 2, 507 tasks) Specific Customer Criteria Purchase Known Open- Product Service Site Ended Task Time 9:27 3:23 11:36 23:08 9:28 10:13 Success 78% 85% 88% 98% 94% 87% Confidence 5.6 5.9 5.9 6.8 6.7 6.1 Satisfaction 4.7 5.4 5.1 6.1 6.4 5.4 Frustration 4.8 5.3 5.0 5.7 6.2 5.3 Average 5.0 5.5 5.3 6.2 6.4 5.6 Subjective Score (Confidence, Satisfaction and Frustration) Specific Product We asked users to find a specific item on a particular website. The intent was to see if users could find the item we described, or an item meeting particular criteria. For this task, there was a correct answer (or a small set of correct answers). Find a Specific Product Task Averages 122 tasks on 36 sites Task Time 9:27 Success 78% Confidence 5.6 Satisfaction 4.7 Frustration 4.868 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Success Rates, Task Failures and Task Times
  • 69. Though shoppers were fairly fast when they needed to find a specific product, completing their tasks in 9:27, they were successful only 78% of the time. This was the lowest success rate in the study. That left 22% of users without the desired product, when they went to a specific site looking for a particular item. Subjective scores were the lowest for this task type, as users were annoyed on sites where they knew an item was available, but either could not locate or could not purchase it. When we looked at what went wrong for this task type, most problems were caused by users purchasing the wrong product. Users had trouble with incomplete product information, and some never found the product. Unclear or easy-to-overlook error messages accounted for additional problems, and four users ran into problems with the item they wanted was out of stock. Customer Service We asked users to find customer-service related information on sites. We also observed their use of customer service information in other tasks, but the numbers below are specific to tasks where the end goal was finding the answer to a customer- service related question. Find Customer Service Information Task Averages 122 tasks on 37 sites Task Time 3:23 Success 85% Confidence 5.9 Satisfaction 5.4 Frustration 5.3 Customer service tasks were quick, taking users only 3:23 on average. However, users were only 85% successful finding the answers they needed. In 20 instances, or 16% of the time, users said they would call or email the company because they couldnt find or understand the information available online. Nine users didnt understand policy information and six more guessed about policies based on related information. Three users read the wrong information and three didnt find policy information at all and left the site. Criteria Tasks We gave users tasks looking for items that met particular criteria on a specific site. In most cases, we provided users with general product characteristics to consider without steering them toward any one product. The goal was to see how users make purchase decisions between products, giving us insight into product descriptions and product comparisons.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 69
  • 70. Find Products Meeting Criteria Task Averages 109 tasks on 30 sites Task Time 11:36 Success 88% Confidence 5.9 Satisfaction 5.1 Frustration 5.0 Criteria tasks took users about 2 minutes longer than specific product tasks, as they needed additional time to review several products and make the best selection. They succeeded 88% of the time. Subjective satisfaction scores were the second-lowest of the bunch, as users were frustrated trying to compare and select items. Twelve users were stymied by unclear or hard to notice error messages. Four didnt like their product choices. Three ran into issues with site registration and two stopped their purchase when a special offer was not applied. Purchase Tasks Only users in the New York eyetracking portion of the study completed purchase tasks. For these tasks, we gave the user a list of five sites with brief descriptions of the type of items the sites sold. Users selected one site and made a purchase for themselves on the site within a specified budget. Users shopped with their own credit cards and were reimbursed immediately after the purchase. We asked users during the screening process if they were willing to use their own information. If not, they used a gift card for the purchase instead. Users had increased motivation to pay attention to product details because they were buying items for themselves.70 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Success Rates, Task Failures and Task Times
  • 71. Make a Purchase Task Averages 63 tasks on 22 sites Task Time 23:08 Success 98% Confidence 6.8 Satisfaction 6.1 Frustration 5.7 The purchase task was the longest and most successful of the tasks. It is important to note that task times may not mean much on e-commerce related tasks. Long task times can indicate problems with the site, or engagement with the site. The purchase task was by far the longest task in the study, as users pored over site inventory trying to find items they really wanted. Seven users spent more than 40 minutes on the task, with three of those spending more than 50 minutes. When evaluating task time in your own studies, it is important to note how much time is spent finding products and how much is spent in the checkout process. A long checkout time is not indicative of engagement — it is indicative of a problematic checkout process. Users were 98% successful on the task, as they had a good incentive to keep trying to use sites, even if those sites were difficult to use. They wanted to complete the purchase and be reimbursed. We wanted them to succeed as well — for the 2% of users who did not receive complete success for the task, we watched them as far as they could go and noted the failure, and then assisted to help them complete the purchase and receive their selected item or items. Users rated this task second highest in terms of subjective satisfaction, second only to known sites. Of the 2% of users who werent successful on the task, two users ran into errors they didnt know how to fix in the checkout process, and one had a site error where the site unexpectedly emptied the shopping cart. Known Sites During the recruiting process, we asked users about sites where they regularly shopped or had previously shopped. During the study, we asked users to complete tasks on those sites, looking for items that fit particular criteria or needs. The purpose was to see user behavior on sites they were already familiar with. It also expanded the types, number and variety of site used in the study. For instance, a task about coin collecting or knitting might have been too difficult for users unfamiliar with or uninterested in those activities, but we could include these types of specific-interest sites when users were already familiar with the topic. Not all users completed this task.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 71
  • 72. Use a Known Site Task Averages 39 tasks on 36 sites Task Time 9:28 Success 94% Confidence 6.7 Satisfaction 6.4 Frustration 6.2 On known sites, users shopped as quickly as they did for specific products, taking an average of 9:28. They were 94% successful on sites they were already familiar with. Two users ran into unclear error messages, one bought the wrong quantity of items, one ran into registration problems, and one wouldnt move past an Internet Explorer security alert. Users were most satisfied on this task. This is not surprising — the relatively quick task time, high success rates and high subjective scores all make sense. Users told us these sites were some of their favorites or most frequently visited. They were familiar with the inventory and design, and many had information saved in user accounts on the sites making checkout processes more streamlined. Open-ended Tasks Some users completed an open-ended task, where we gave them a goal or a need and let them approach the task however they wanted. We told them a product or type of product to buy, but let them go to any site to purchase or research it. This helped us see how users decided where to go when they had a product in mind, as well as how they evaluated sites they reached via search engines.72 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Success Rates, Task Failures and Task Times
  • 73. Open-Ended Tasks Task Averages 52 tasks Task Time 10:13 Success 87% Confidence 6.1 Satisfaction 5.4 Frustration 5.3 Open-ended tasks took users an average of 10:13 to complete. This was not very long, considering users had to decide on both a site on which to complete the purchase as well as find the desired product. Users were 87% successful on these tasks, locating the wrong product or in some cases, being unable to locate it. Two users didnt understand the shipping charge on sites, and others shipped to the wrong address, had the wrong product quantity in the cart, or saw an unclear error message. In this task, 56% of users completed the task on the first or second site visited. In some cases this was because they knew and trusted a site that sold the product, but in other cases it was because they wanted to finish the task quickly in a study setting, rather than take the time they would on their own to truly evaluate site and product quality. (See more about their decision making processes on page 40 of this report.) WHAT WENT WRONG For all tasks where users did not receive a score of 100% success in our second study, we looked at what went wrong. There were 143 tasks where a problem prevented a purchase from being made or an answer from being found (for customer service tasks.) The most common problem was incomplete or unclear information, accounting for 20% of unsuccessful tasks. Unclear or difficult to locate error messages caused 18% of errors. In 16% of the task failures, participants said they would call or email the company because they could not find the information they needed or had another issue with the site. This accounted for 23 task failures, 20 of which were users looking for customer service related information on sites. In 13% of failures, shoppers found the wrong product. This was the case if they found a product other than the one specified in our specific product tasks, or found one that did not meet the task criteria. In 10% of cases, users could not find the products or information they were looking for.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 73
  • 74. Six percent of issues were related to selection — in half the cases, users didnt like the site selection and the other half could not make purchases because products were out of stock. In 5% of failures, shoppers had problems adding the product to the cart. Of those seven instances, four had the wrong quantity in the cart, two could not determine how to add items to the cart, and one added to the wishlist, not the cart, and then abandoned the purchase. Site registration accounted for 4% of problems, with four users running into registration errors, one user forgetting a password, and one refusing to register when registration was required. Technical problems caused 2% of failures, and two users abandoned purchases when browser security alerts appeared (1%). Other problems run into by two users each were shipping the item to the wrong address, special offers that werent applied to the order, and international issues. For the international issues, one users country was not supported and another abandoned a purchase when he realized prices were in a foreign currency. Number of Problem Instances Percentage Incomplete or unclear information 29 20% Error message 26 18% Would email or call 23 16% Wrong product 18 13% Could not find products or information 15 10% Selection 8 6% Adding to cart 7 5% Registration 6 4% Technical problem 3 2% Browser security alert 2 1% Shipped to wrong address 2 1% Special offer not applied 2 1% International issues 2 1%74 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Success Rates, Task Failures and Task Times
  • 75. About the Authors Amy Schade is a Director at Nielsen Norman Group. She has led research and co- authored NN/g reports on the usability of intranets, email newsletters, and site maps as well as the e-commerce report series. She also co-authored NN/gs Intranet Design Annuals from 2010 and 2011 as well as a report on Intranet Information Architecture. She conducted many of the user sessions with people with low vision for the NN/g accessibility report and with older Web users for NN/gs report on usability for senior citizens. Schade works with clients large and small in industries including e-commerce, music, publishing, banking, government, telecommunications, non-profit and education, including extensive work on corporate intranets. She has conducted worldwide user research, including longitudinal studies, remote studies and eyetracking research, running studies in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. She regularly presents tutorials on user testing, intranet usability, mobile user experience, writing for the Web and email newsletters. Before joining NN/g, Schade worked as an information architect at arc e- Consultancy. She previously held a variety of positions in advertising and Web production. She holds a Masters degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University and a BA in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Jakob Nielsen (www.useit.com) is a principal of Nielsen Norman Group. He is the founder of the “discount usability engineering” movement, which emphasizes fast and efficient methods for improving the quality of user interfaces. Nielsen, noted as “the world’s leading expert on Web usability” by U.S. News and World Report and “the next best thing to a true time machine” by USA Today, is the author of the best- selling book Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity (1999), which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies in 22 languages. His other books include Hypertext and Hypermedia (1990), Usability Engineering (1993), Usability Inspection Methods (1994), International User Interfaces (1996), Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (2001), Prioritizing Web Usability (2006), and Eyetracking Web Usability (2009). Nielsen’s Alertbox column on Web usability has been published on the Internet since 1995 and currently has about 200,000 readers. From 1994 to 1998, Nielsen was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. His previous affiliations include Bell Communications Research, the Technical University of Denmark, and the IBM User Interface Institute. He holds 79 US patents, mainly on ways of making the Internet easier to use.© NIELSEN NORMAN GROUP WWW.NNGROUP.COM 75
  • 76. Acknowledgments The first edition of this report was researched and written by Jakob Nielsen, Rolf Molich, Carolyn Snyder and Susan Farrell. We would like to thank all the individuals who participated in each round of user testing for their time and feedback. Also, thank you to Celeste Buckhalter for her assistance with the Georgia studies, to Susan Pernice for her help with recruiting for and coordinating the studies, and to Luice Hwang for her work coordinating the international studies.76 INFO@NNGROUP.COM Acknowledgments
  • 77. About Nielsen Norman GroupNielsen Norman Group (NN/g) is a consulting and research company that is solelyfocused on user experience. We are not a Web design shop—we will tell you whatyour customers want and how to vastly increase the business value of your site orintranet, but we won’t build the new site for you. We are independent of technologyvendors and design agencies, so we can report the unvarnished truth about whatworks and what doesn’t.Here are some of our most popular services. For the full list (and for current prices),please see our website at www.nngroup.com/servicesCONSULTING • Independent expert review of the user experience of your website or intranet: $38,000. (Lower prices for small focused reviews, like a mobile app.) • User testing: typically $25,000 to test a website or intranet; $45,000 for a competitive study. Less for a mobile app or other small UI.CONFERENCEWe produce an annual conference where world-class experts teach the latest findingsabout the usability of websites, intranets, and email newsletters. We also teachcorrect methodology so that you can hone your skills and conduct your own usabilityprojects with more success than if you use weaker methods.NN/g is the only company that presents high-end usability conferences bringing thesame seminars to the United States, Europe, and Australia. For the currentconference program, see http://www.nngroup.com/eventsTRAININGMost of our conference seminars are available for in-house presentation at yourlocation. We also have special training events that are optimized for having one of ourseasoned usability experts come to your team and teach it usability by leveragingyour own design questions: • 3-day Learning-by-Doing Usability Testing ($23,000). We take you through a user test of your own design, teaching usability principles with your own project as the case study. • Intranet Usability ($23,000). Combines a full-day tutorial with the lessons from our testing of 27 intranets and a full-day workshop about your own intranet’s usability, based on our review of your design. • Application Usability ($16,000). Two days intensive course on everything from screen design (buttons, field labels, widgets) to feature and workflow design. • Writing for the Web ($9,000). A writing workshop using your own sample content for the rewrite exercises. • Fundamental Guidelines for Web Usability ($9,000). The basics everybody should know about users’ online behavior and how to design better sites.PRICESPrices are stated in U.S. dollars and were valid when this report was published. Travelexpenses are extra for all training seminars and for many other services; prices arehigher outside the United States. Prices are subject to change without notice: forcurrent prices, please see http://www.nngroup.com/servicesNEWSLETTERFree e-mail newsletter published every two weeks with summaries of our newestresearch and thinking. To subscribe: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/subscribe.htmlTWITTERFollow us at @NNgroup (highly abbreviated feed; missing much newsletter info).
  • 78. Reports by Nielsen Norman GroupFor a full list and to download reports, please see http://www.nngroup.com/reportsWEB USABILITY • E-commerce user experience: series of 13 reports • Corporate Image: presenting company information in a site’s “About Us” area • PR section of corporate sites: supporting journalists • Investor Relations area of corporate website: supporting investors • Site map usability • B2B: guidelines for converting business users into leads and customersINTRANET USABILITY • Intranet usability guidelines: 10 reports based on user testing of 27 intranets • Intranet information architecture (IA) • Intranet design annual: published every year about that year’s 10 best intranets • Sector-specific intranets: financial services, manufacturing, technology, retail, knowledge-intensive, and government agencies • Intranet portals: report from the trenches • Social networking and collaboration features on intranetsMOBILE DEVICES • Mobile websites and apps • iPad usability • WAP phones — field study findingsE-MAIL USABILITY • Email newsletters • Transactional email and confirmation messagesAPPLICATION USABILITY • Application design showcase: case studies of 10 award-winning app UIs • Customization usability • iPad apps usability • Flash and Rich Internet Applications (RIA)SPECIAL USER SEGMENTS • Usability of websites for children (age 3–12) • Teenagers on the Web (age 13–17) • College students (age 18–24) • Web usability for senior citizens (age 65+) • Beyond ALT text: improving usability for users with disabilitiesUSER-CENTERED DESIGN METHODOLOGY • Agile usability: Best practices for user experience on Agile development projects • Return on investment (ROI) for usability • Paper prototyping: a how-to video (32 minute DVD) • 230 tips to improve the way you run user tests • Recruiting test participants for user testing • Testing users with disabilities • How to conduct eyetracking studiesOTHER • Social media postings • Non-profit and charity websites: attracting donations and volunteers

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