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Web Usability and Conversion


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Presented at the 2010 Online Marketing Summit, San Diego, CA USA, 23 February 2010

Published in: Technology, Design
  • Wow! Slide 54-59 mentions - ME! Thanks so much! I certainly try to break the mould. I'm not quite sure why people think they have to concentrate on attractiveness instead of whether something works - but they do. I think you give a pretty good outline of why mu website works. Thanks.

    Nice tutorial - some good ideas. I think you hit the nail on the head that most organisations seem to think it is everyone's, and no one's responsibility. It's hard to be brave. It doesn't always work. But, it's easier than being middle of the road.

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Web Usability and Conversion

  1. 1.   Definitions,  terms,  principles     Some  real-­‐world  examples     [n+1]  actions  you  can  start  to  take  today     Questions  and  discussion   2  
  2. 2.  …and  those  are  the  last  bullet  points  you’ll   see  from  me!    (I  hate  bullet  points  and  sentence  fragments.)   3  
  3. 3.  This  talk  is:    A  framework  for  thinking  about  usability,   conversion,  and  aligning  your  organization  on   the  user  experience.    This  talk  is  not:    A  discussion  of  specific  tools  and  metrics.   Other  presenters  and  vendors  are  covering   that.   4  
  4. 4. 5   5  
  5. 5.  What  is  usability?      Your  intended  users  can  accomplish  what   they’re  trying  to  do  on  your  site  or  with  your   product.      Usability  has  several  components.  It  can   mean  learnable,  memorable,  efficient,  and/or   error-­‐tolerant.   6  
  6. 6. Learnability   Satisfaction   Memorability   Usability   Error  Prevention   Productivity    Shneiderman,  B.  (1998).  Designing  the  User  Interface.  Reading,  MA:  Addison  Wesley  Longman  
  7. 7. How  about  this?   Usability  is…   Getting  people  to  what  they  want  or  need  as   quickly  and  efficiently  as  possible.   8  
  8. 8. …so  they  can:   Figure  out  what  to  do  next   Understand  why  they  should  do  it   See  how  to  do  it   (And  will  like  doing  it)   9  
  9. 9. 10  
  10. 10. 11  
  11. 11. 12  
  12. 12. 13  
  13. 13. 14  
  14. 14.  Go  to  and  look  for  this  tag:   “Questionable_Design”    Or  follow  this  link:     15  
  15. 15. Getting  people  to  what  they  want  or  need  as   quickly  as  possible  so  they  can:   Figure  out  what  to  do  next   Understand  why  they  should  do  it   See  how  to  do  it   (And  will  like  doing  it)   16  
  16. 16. What   Why   How     Like     17  
  17. 17. 18   18  
  18. 18. Let  me  hear  your  definitions:   19  
  19. 19.  I  like  this  definition:    The  fundamental  purpose  of  marketing  is   to  identify  what  people  want  and  need,   then  satisfy  those  customers.      John  Rhodes,  4  Jan  08.     20  
  20. 20. Sound  familiar?   Usability  and  marketing  share  the  goal  of  giving   people  what  they  want  or  need.   Marketing  is  the  what.  Usability  is  the  how.   21  
  21. 21.  Visitors  who  take  a   desired  action  are  said  to   be  converted.      This  is  “well  duh”  stuff  to   you  all…    Key  point:  usability  is  a   precondition  of  conversion.   22  
  22. 22. Marketing   +      SEO   +    Design +    Usability   Identify  what      Make  it    Give  it  to  Ensure  that    they  want    findable        them    you  gave  it                      to  them   =  Conversion!   23  
  23. 23. 24   24  
  24. 24.  When  people  talk  about  “usability”,  they’re   usually  talking  about  user-­‐centered  design.   Without  a  design,  you  have  nothing  to  usability   test!   25  
  25. 25.  Respect  design.  (And  designers.)     They  help  create  the  emotional  bond  that   you’re  trying  to  build  with  your  audience.   But…make  sure  your  designers  understand  your   business  goals!  (More  on  this  later.)   26  
  26. 26.  Like  “security”  and  “accessibility”  (and   “beauty”),  usability  is  experiential  –  it’s   experienced  by  the  perceiver.     Usability  cannot  be  claimed,  it  can  only  be   established  through  demonstration.     27  
  27. 27.  Determine  whether  your   intended  users  can:      Figure  out  what  to  do  next    Understand  why  they   should  do  it    See  how  to  do  it    (And  will  like  doing  it)   28  
  28. 28. 29  
  29. 29.  Too  product-­‐focused:    Thinking  about  the  product  in   terms  of  the  features  it  supports.   30  
  30. 30.  Leads  to  feature   matrix  thinking…    And  a  “presence-­‐ absence”  mindset…    Which  doesn’t  lead   to  designing  to   satisfy  users’  goals   and  workflow.   31  
  31. 31.  Too  market-­‐focused:    Thinking  about  customers  at  the   market  level,  not  in  terms  of   individuals,  their  goals,  and  their   workflow.   32  
  32. 32.  Knowing  your  segment  and  competitors   doesn’t  tell  you  how  to  design  your  site,   service  or  product!   33  
  33. 33.  Know  the  product/ service      Know  the  market    Know  the  people   who  use  the   product/service!   34  
  34. 34. 35   35  
  35. 35.  User-­‐centered  design  is  a  process  in  which   the  needs,  wants,  and  limitations  of  users  are   given  extensive  attention  at  each  stage  of  the   ideation,  define,  and  design  phases  of   product/service  realization.     36  
  36. 36. Two  parallel  work  streams:   Design   Information  architecture   Interaction  design   Content   Visual  design   Research   Persona  definition   Site  visits   Workflow  analysis   User  role  identification   Usability   37  
  37. 37. Info  architecture   Interaction  design   Design   Content   End  results:   Visual  design   Validated   design   Iterate  design     Iterate  design     and  personas   and  personas   Validated   user  models   Research   “Default”   Customer     Synthesis   personas   site  visits   of  customer  roles  and  workflow.   Usability  evaluation.   Time   38  
  38. 38. Model  your  users!   Start  from  demographic  data,  if  you  have  it.     Then  interview  and  observe  some  real  users.   Identify  their  typical  goals,  experiences,  needs.     39  
  39. 39.  It’s  easy  to  become  trapped  into  a  product-­‐   or  market-­‐  centered  perspective…  and  lose   site  of  what  the  customer  needs.    User-­‐centered  design  gives  you  tools  to  put   and  keep  focus  on  the  customer,  release   after  release.   40  
  40. 40. It’s  easy,  actually…   Go  visit  the  customers   Profile  them   Build  personas  from  the  profiles     Tell  the  customers’  stories  (“agile”-­‐ly)   Illustrate  the  stories   41  
  41. 41. That  is…know  your  customers’…     Capabilities  and  constraints     Goals     Workflow     Context  of  use   Note:  you  can’t  get  this  from  a  survey  or  a  focus  group  session.   42  
  42. 42.  Design  interactions  to  meet  your   personas’  needs…     Does  your  persona  need  lots  of  support  and   reassurance?  Hold  their  hand!     Do  they  want  to  go  fast?  Let  ‘em  tab   through  fields.  And  don’t  ask  them  for   information  you  don’t  absolutely  need.     43  
  43. 43.  Also,  test  your  designs  with  actual  users.    And  optimize  with  A/B/multivariate  testing.   44  
  44. 44. OK,  I  lied  about  “no  more  bullets.”   45  
  45. 45. 46  
  46. 46. 47  
  47. 47.  It’s  not  “rocket  surgery.”     You  can  do  this!   48  
  48. 48. An  e-­‐commerce  web  site  I’ve  worked  on…   First,  the  quick  usability  fix.     49  
  49. 49. 50  
  50. 50. 51  
  51. 51. That  button  increased  the  percentage  of  clicks   to  the  configure  and  purchase  path  by  (low)   double  digits.   Who  knew  that  one  button  could  make  such  a   big  difference?   Well,  I  did  actually…     52  
  52. 52.  Conversion  ≠  pretty  design!   What  do  I  mean?   Heheh…you’ll  know  in  a  second…   53  
  53. 53. 54  
  54. 54. Pretty  scary,  huh?   Here’s  the  thing:  IT  WORKS.   55  
  55. 55. [Live  view  of  Ling’s  Cars]   56  
  56. 56.  “People  choose  a  new  car  approx.  once  every  3  or  4  years.  That's  a   LONG  product  cycle.  So  99.9%  of  people  don't  want  one  today.  So  I   need  them  to  remember  me  and  come  back.  It's  a  MASSIVE  purchase   for  a  100%  online  sale…    Name  one  other  car  leasing  company  you  remember  or  even  choose  to   discuss.  You  can't.  See?  My  site  does  polarise,  it  does  annoy,  and  it  does   work.  Yes,  yes,  yes.  Some  like  it,  some  hate  it.  At  least  you  have  an   opinion  :)      In  a  very  difficult  mature  market,  with  massive  branded   competition  all  selling  the  same  basic  product,  it  differentiates.  No   one  else  ever  manages  that.  Plus  have  you  tried  really  USING  any   car  dealer's  website?  Pass  the  razor  blades.    I  am  looking  at  my  7373rd  visitor  online  today,  with  71  concurrent  on   my  site  (today  was/is  busy).  No  one  else  manages  that  in  my  industry   apart  from  Autotrader  and  eBay  motors.  Certainly  no  independents   manage  it.”   57  
  57. 57.  “Read  how  Web  Design  Magazine  (  had  to  eat   humble  pie  IN  PRINT  after  I  won  the  BT  Business/NatWest  IT  and   Communications  award  ( for  whole  of  UK)  in  December.”    -­‐  Ling  Valentine,  Ling’s  Cars   58  
  58. 58.  Ling’s  approach  is  high  risk,  yes.    But…she  knows  her  customers,  she   understands  them,  and  she  delivers  what  they   want  and  need.    The  site  is  ugly,  but  it’s  usable.  And  it  converts!   59  
  59. 59. 60   60  
  60. 60. Have  you  defined  your  users  well?   If  not,  your  site  might  not  be  as  usable  as  you   think!   61  
  61. 61. Are  you  clear  on  what  you  want  your  site  to   accomplish?     Believe  it  or  not,  sometimes  organizations   aren’t.   62  
  62. 62. Have  you  tested  your…   Home  page?  Landing  pages?  Account  creation   flow?  Product  pages?  Main  conversion  flows?   63  
  63. 63. Have  you  begun  to  A/B/multivariate  optimize?   Make  it  a  Darwinian  struggle…survival  of  the   fittest  (pages).   64  
  64. 64.  If  you  do  even  some  of  these  things,  you’ll  be   on  your  way  to  a  better  designed  and  more   usable  site.     And  you’ll  convert  more  visitors  (to  users,   community  members,  buyers,  reviewers,   whatever  your  goal  is).     65  
  65. 65. Often,  doing  these  things  require  that  you   change  your  organization.  And  changing   organizations  is  hard!   You  need  a  strategy  and  an  implementation   plan.     And  you’re  going  to  have  to  sell  the  plan.   66  
  66. 66.  “[Strategy  is]  A  long  term  plan  of  action   designed  to  achieve  a  particular  goal.”    “Strategy  is  differentiated  from  tactics  or   immediate  actions  by  its  orientation  on   affecting  future,  not  immediate  conditions.”   67  
  67. 67. Driving  from  the  airport  to  the  hotel   68  
  68. 68.  Strategic  plan:   Go  from  airport   to  hotel    Tactics:      Make  some  turns   69  
  69. 69. How  do  you  “do”  strategic  user  experience?     It  sometimes  means    big  changes.     It  often  drives  process  and  organizational   structure  changes.   70  
  70. 70.  Remember,  in  many  organizations,   departments  and  teams  are  incented  to   create  bad  user  experiences.    Changing  organization  structures  and   incentives  to  refocus  on  the  customer  is  hard   work.   71  
  71. 71.  Offline:      Nordstrom’s.  Virgin  Air.    Online:    Zappos.  Amazon.  Land’s  End.  (Offline  too.)      Who  else?   72  
  72. 72. The  sad  truth:  most   organizations  don’t  align  on  the   user  experience.   73  
  73. 73.  Everybody’s.  And  nobody’s.      That’s  the  problem.     74  
  74. 74. How  do  you  take  a  strategic   approach  to  creating  a  great     user  experience?      A  few  very  hard  easy  steps…   75  
  75. 75.  The  first  step  is  to   become  aware  of   the  problems!    How?      Walk  through  the   entire  customer   experience.     76  
  76. 76.  From  sign-­‐up  to  initial   use…free  to  pay   conversion…calling  and   emailing  help,  tech   support,  billing…  even   closing  the  account.    Find  the  sticky  points,   the  little  trapdoors.   77  
  77. 77.  Remember,  one  bad   touchpoint  affects  the   whole  brand.   78  
  78. 78.  If  you  don’t  know  about  this  concept,  talk  to   your  product  managers.  They  do.   A  typical  product  manager-­‐y  image…     79  
  79. 79.  Leverage  user  experience  design    Yes,  fix  the  obvious  user  experience   trapdoors  and  holes.      But  eventually,  you’ll  want  to  assess  and   redesign  the  customer  touchpoints…  all  of   them.    You  won’t  get  to  do  them  all  today.  So   prioritize  and  get  ready  for  a  long  haul.     80  
  80. 80. Yeah,  but…  how  do  I  get  my   organization  to  do  this?     “Initiative”   81  
  81. 81. Give  yourself  a  new  job:     “User  experience  change  agent”   UX Easy  to  say…  harder  to  put  into  practice.   82  
  82. 82. A  person  who  leads  a  business  initiative  by:     Defining  and  researching  the  problem     Planning  the  intervention     Building  business  support  for  the  intervention     Enlisting  others  to  help  drive  change  –  “The  User  Experience  Practitioner  As  Change  Agent”   83  
  83. 83. “Change  agents  must  have  the   conviction  to  state  the  facts   based  on  data,  even  if  the   consequences  are  associated   with  unpleasantness.”  –  “The  User  Experience  Practitioner  As  Change  Agent”   84  
  84. 84. Successful  strategic  user   experience  is  not  just  about   delivering  a  design  or  testing   the  site.   85  
  85. 85. It’s  about  aligning  the   organization  to  measure  and   improve  the  user  experience…   Using  the  tools  and  techniques  of  user  research   and  usability  assessment.   86  
  86. 86. If  you’re  doing  your  job  right,   you’re  changing  your   organization.   “Initiative”   87  
  87. 87. 88   88  
  88. 88. Watch  your  customers  in  their  natural  habitats.     You’ll  learn  more  in  three  field  visits  than  you   will  in  thirty  focus  groups…or  three  hundred   surveys.   89  
  89. 89. Figure  out  what  your  customers  value.     And  why  they  value  it.   Build  models  of  your  customers.   And  keep  ‘em  updated.   90  
  90. 90. Don’t  go  to  the  field  with  a  complex  script.     Why?      Because  you’ll  miss  the  real  stuff  –  what  they   believe,  what  they’re  trying  to  accomplish,   and  where  their  pain  points  are.     91  
  91. 91. Once  you’ve  done  your  qualitative,  up-­‐close   research,  it’s  time  to  execute.  For  this,  you   need  need  interaction  designers,  information   architects,  content  producers,  and  usability   experts.   But  share  your  key  performance  metrics  with   them!   92  
  92. 92. Designers  will  design  better  if  they  know  what   outcomes  and  numbers  you’re  responsible   for.   Share  your  KPM’s  with  them.     Make  them  live  the  KPM’s  as  much  as  you  do!   93  
  93. 93. When  your  design  team  has  created  a  first  pass,   it’s  time  to  validate  and  iterate!   You  *can*  just  throw  it  out  there  if  you’re   willing  to  live  with  the  consequences.  The   world  makes  a  great  usability  lab.     But  the  risk  of  an  unpleasant  and  very  public   surprise  is  much  higher.   94  
  94. 94.  Be  bold.      But  don’t  be  reckless.    Exhibit  “data-­‐driven   boldness.”    (I  just  made  that  up.)     95  
  95. 95. 96  
  96. 96. This  deck  is  posted  to  Slideshare     97  
  97. 97.  Connecting  Cultures,  Changing  Organizations:  The  User  Experience   Practitioner  As  Change  Agent.  Published  in  UXMatters  Magazine,   January  2007.    Usability  For  Strategic  User  Experience.­‐for-­‐strategic-­‐user-­‐ experience      A  Kit  For  Building  User  Experience  Teams  In  R&D  and  Product   Management  Organizations.­‐experience-­‐kit     98  
  98. 98.  Paul  Sherman    Sherman  Group  User  Experience    Twitter:  @pjsherman   99