Buying usability


Buying online should be convenient and simple. Rather than having to traipse around town centres or retail parks in the pouring rain, customers should be able to buy from the comfort and convenience of a broadband-connected computer.

Time and again, however, many users are left frustrated by a poor quality customer experience. In an attempt to boost customer satisfaction, how can businesses balance design, security and usability to ensure a high quality experience?

Your first port of call should be the town centre. Think of your favourite shops and think about how they draw customers in, while keeping practices safe and secure. And the most successful shops are not always bright and flashy; sometimes calm and sedate is best.

Not every customer will have a high-speed connection, offering fast download speeds and an enjoyable experience. Load you site with power-sapping graphics or video and you will soon leave clients dismayed and disappointed.

Instead, keep things simple and enjoyable. Signposting should be clear, advertising unobtrusive and inconspicuous. Security, meanwhile, should not act as a significant barrier to purchasing.

Research shows that one in 10 consumers have defected to another company after feeling frustrated at the security procedures on a site, while 31% would use a site less frequently if they encountered login problems (see further reading, below).

The answer, as ever, is finding the right balance. Wherever possible, security features should be hidden to ensure that layers of passwords that can cause frustration do not complicate online purchasing.

When you look to refresh your security measures, aim for techniques that subtly ensure the customer is the right customer. Find ways to monitor behaviour discretely, such as checking IP addresses are consistent.

And when it comes to refreshing the look and feel of the web site, remember that usability is king. Adding more buttons to an interface is not necessarily a good thing; simplicity and standardisation will keep clients happy.

Find strong customer advocates that know your business and its potential weak points. Ask them what they believe needs to be refined and tuned. As in the case of a high street shop front, your customers need to like what they see.

If they do, they’re more likely to have an enjoyable experience – and to make that all-important purchase.


Further reading

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