A Customer Experience Agency

The user is wrong. 5 steps to make it right.

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That’s right, sometimes the user is utterly mistaken. And it’s mostly our industry’s fault. Users expect complicated, unintuitive online experiences because e-commerce platforms are often built around technology, instead of the customer. If your users expect complex digital experiences, then they’re wrong. And so are you.

Sometimes people like a product so much that they force themselves through a painful online shopping experience. They might love your widget but as a result of their experience they don’t love the brand as a whole. I’d bet customers are more likely to Tweet, Facebook or Yelp about their bad online experience more then they’ll rave about your great product.

The companies that have risen above are the ones that know user experience design can equal business success—companies like Apple, Google and—a personal favorite of mine—AirBnB.

These companies have taught all of us that we deserve intuitive, anticipated experiences that make navigating websites enjoyable and natural, and get us from point A to B so effortlessly that we want to do it again and again. From the website to the store and all waypoints in between—we have to put the user first.

I recently saw someone offering user testing while drunk. It’s brilliantly horrific and yet rings true. If a user could navigate your site in an altered state, then you’re probably doing something right. If not, here are some steps to consider:

1. Simplify the complex

Ironically, this is the hardest one. And for those of you who have not bought into the idea of UX experts, please dare me to find the unnecessary animation on your site or the four calls-to-action on your mast. (Seriously, just pick one.)

2. Stop the surprises

That’s right—if your user is surprised when they go through the flow then you’ve failed. Embrace the expected by following the “principle of least astonishment.”

3. Speed things up

If your website doesn’t load on the device of my choosing in less than five seconds, I’m taking my money elsewhere. Simple steps like optimizing images, minifying JavaScript and moving JavaScript calls to the bottom of the page make a big difference.

4. Simplify the buy

A common misstep on e-commerce sites is to force users to log in before they’ve even checked out. Users abandon carts all the time for this very reason. Spending money with you shouldn’t be hard work—and if it is, the user is likely to spend it elsewhere.

5. Junk the jargon

Users don’t care about your feature-rich copy full of tired buzzwords. They want information that is clear, simple and actionable. If they want to read a novel, they’ve probably got one sitting on their nightstand.

The good news? Even though as an industry we’ve trained users to expect all the wrong things, it’s nothing a dose of brilliant UX can’t fix. Engage an expert partner if you need help and hold them accountable for producing measurable business results.

What steps have you taken to simplify your customers’ experience? Let us know in the comments below.