You might have heard a story recently about a young gentleman who, having already paid for a round-the-world trip for himself and his girlfriend, found himself lacking a travel companion after a break-up.
After unsuccessfully trying to transfer the tickets into another person's name he amusingly took to social media to try and find another Canadian, with a passport named “Elizabeth Gallagher” who might enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime, no-strings-attached gift, literally with their name on it. His offer quickly went viral.
It's an interesting an unique story to be sure, but at the heart of it lies this commentary on the reasoning behind the offer:
“Anyone familiar with the archaic system that is modern air travel will know that a name change on a ticket is damn near impossible,”
This promoted some to suggest that anyone could claim the trip, simply by changing their legal name to Elizabeth Gallagher and applying for a new passport; all for only a couple hundred bucks.
Let that sink in for a second.
In this day and age, it's easier (and more cost effective) to change your legal name than it is to change the name on a boarding pass for a flight that doesn't lift-off for another two months.
What does that say about the airline industry? Obviously, nothing good, but we all accept it as “the way it is”. It's not as though the airline companies “don't care”, but it's more so that they don't really “have to” care, since, when it comes to airlines, it's not like we have many alternatives.
That's all well and good for airlines, but when it comes to choosing a company to do business with online, there are almost alwaysalternatives. The speed at which a customer can (and will) decide to take their business some where else can make your head spin.
Identifying poorly functioning processes that are losing you business is a vitally important reason for you to periodically spend time reviewing the metaphorical hoops that you ask your site visitors to jump through. Not only will this lead to happier customers, but it will also lead to increased revenue for high conversion rates. Happy customers that can easily buy what they want have a tendency to spend more money.
If you've never watched a user who is unfamiliar with your business try to use your website for the first time, you might be surprised by what you see. Features that get taken for granted during design and development will stump a user that has never seem them before. Tasks that seem perfectly logical and intuitive will fall to pieces when encountered by a multi-tasking user that has more going on in their lives than trying to figure out how to use your site.
There are steps that you can take to help ensure that your site is doing it's job as the online sales person (and often first point of contact) for your business.
How to Improve the Usability of your website
First, start by scheduling quarterly or annual usability reviews of your site. The frequency can depend on the volume of traffic that your site gets and the amount of business that it generates. Obviously, the more people that are using it, the more often you could benefit from a review.
Next, decide which tools you want to use to help you generate your feedback. There are a plethora of tools available, and they range in price from free to, well, the cost of a trip around the world. Which ones you use will depend on your budget.
Here are some of my favourite, budget conscious options:
After deciding on a tool to use, you'll need to come up with a testing methodology. Your methodology will change depending on the tool that you use, but essentially you'll want to think back to your high-school science class and develop a hypothesis about your site, and then use the data gleaned from your testing tool to either prove or disprove your hypothesis.
You might start with an idea like:
We think that our shopping cart checkout process could be improved, so we are collecting data to help determine where people get stuck.
Not many people are leaving reviews and ratings on our products, so we want to watch people interact with our product pages to determine why that might be.
With a testing tool and testing methodology in hand, you're ready to run your tests and start collecting data. Data is great, but it's only a means to an end. Once you have the data, it's vitally important that you review it to identify areas for improvement in your processes and then implement those improvements.
Equally as important as making improvements, is that you continue to test to ensure that your changes are having the positive impact that you intended.
If you'd like some help navigating the terrain of usability reviews, user testing and conversion optimizing, we'd love the opportunity to chat with you about how we can help.