Tag Archives: User experience

Not As Pretty As A Picture

I used to have an occasional disagreement with a few of our sports TV producers back in the day. They were often reluctant to include certain sponsor things in the program, whether it was signage, a sponsored feature or adjusting the graphics to be sure the sponsor’s name and logo were a bit more prominent. Their complaint had to do with the aesthetics of the program and I certainly respected their point of view. That didn’t, however, prevent from reminding them that we were a commercial television entity and our jobs were to make commerce, not art.

I was reminded of that as I read some data on the importance of user experience. Clutch and Brave UX conducted a study of heavy Internet users – defined as those who use the Web for 4+ hours per day – to get a glimpse into how these Internet users interpret the user experience  of popular websites. They asked about why people use the sites and how user-friendly the sites were. What they found is interesting although not particularly surprising.

In response to a question about how important certain factors are in the decision to keep using the site, the top factor was the site’s content. 94% said that they kept using the site because they found the content valuable. Right behind it, however, was the site’s ease of use. 93% of users cited that as important. Far fewer – 66% – cited how the site looked (the website is beautiful or attractive). It’s a good reminder that we’re making commerce and not art. A pretty website that’s unusable is a waste of money. Moreover, in my mind, a site that’s not designed with a great analytics implementation behind the world-class user experience is also a waste.

I’ve had clients who have spent hundred of thousands of dollars on a great looking site that’s fairly useless from a business perspective. Purchase funnels that can’t be tracked properly, no site search and the use of multiple subdomains were all wrapped in a gorgeous – but useless – package. We don’t need everything to be pretty as a picture. We need it to be valuable content presented in a highly usable manner, one that can be measured and improved upon. Make sense?

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Feeding The Spiders

As happens from time to time in this space, today’s post might seem a little geeky. Please bear with me – there is a broader business point that emerges from the somewhat technical premise! 

I was discussing Search Engine Optimization with a prospective client the other day. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you can think of it as the process through which web pages are optimized to rank highly in search for particular terms. As you know from your own use of a search engine, ranking on the first page of results tends to get you more clicks than being on page 3. It used to be a highly technical process, and while there are still some fairly technical pieces to it, the best practice I follow when working on it with clients is pretty simple: create a great user experience.

Oddly, it helps to think of the search engine spiders (the robots that comb the web for pages and organize them) as people. If you create a great user experience for a person, odds are that the spider will find it attractive too and ingest the information properly. What do I mean? Great content is a great user experience. So is a site that’s easy to navigate with clear buttons and no broken links. Content that has been proofread and is error free makes a great user experience. While there are some technical things – title tags and back links to name two – that require attention, it’s the user experience that it driving SEO these days.

We can say that about any aspect of business, I think. A great user experience – a pleasant, functioning environment married to great customer service – is the most basic requirement. Solving a customer’s problem and providing great value while doing so (notice I didn’t say at a low-cost!) is the recipe for success.  Thinking about how best to feed the search spiders can help create a better business experience overall. Does that make sense?

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Hurry Up!

I know you all want to hear another rant on ad blocking about as much as you’d like to hear an endless loop of Tiny Tim singing Tiptoe Thru The Tulips.  I’ll keep it brief, therefore.  A company called Soasta did some research with the Harris folks about what website users were looking for as they surf around.  Not surprisingly, they found the following (as reported by eMarketer):Most Important Attributes of Website Performance According to US Internet Users, Sep 2015 (% of respondents)

When it comes to website performance, internet users say personalized content is less important than a website’s ease of navigation and speed, according to a September 2015 survey. More than three-quarters of US internet users said that a leading attribute of website performance was that it was easy to navigate. Another top attribute was speed; 73% of respondents indicated so.

Here is a truism (at least one I’ve found) about digital interactions: people hate impediments.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a landing page from an ad that doesn’t go directly to the reason someone clicked on the ad or if it’s just a plain old web page.  People are pressed for time.  Any impediment we put in their way has a high likelihood of derailing the interaction.  Web pages that are slow to load because of external calls get closed.  For you non-technical people, that means when the page calls out for an ad (especially if it needs to fill the ad via a programmatic auction), or some behavioral tracker, or anything else like analytics.  Popups are an impediment as well – it’s something in between the user and what they are trying to do. The research bears this out.  Personalization, on the other hand, can help speed up the interaction since it’s based on the user’s likes and preferences.

Ad blockers generally speed up page loads.  That is one of the main reasons people use them besides avoiding tracking.  If we help people hurry up, maybe they will, in return, be more responsive to the marketing information we present instead of doing all they can to avoid it.

Make sense?  What are your thoughts?

 

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Posts of the Year – 3

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

This post was written after the one of the many recent updates done by Facebook.  It was called “Failbook” and I was not happy about what they’d done. I’m not any happier now with the timeline, the news stream on the right, etc.  Are you?  Anyway, read on for a rant and a business lesson.

Unless you’re in a cave someplace or have abandoned it for Google+, you’ve probably noticed that Facebook did an overhaul last night.  I logged in this morning and while I’ll admit I’m not the brightest guy in the world, I was thoroughly confused.  Many of the new features are clearly designed to compete with things found on Google+ and Twitter, such as circles.  For those of you struggling to make sense of the new layout, Gizmodo did a nice job color-coding everything in a cheat sheet.

I’m a believer in continuous improvement.  I’m not a believer in keeping up with the Joneses.  Here’s why. Continue reading

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A Focus On What

Circle-question

The title of today’s screed isn’t a question – it’s a recommendation. It’s been my experience that we spend an awful lot of time paying attention to and arguing about the “how” and in the process we often lose sight of the “what.”  Let me explain what I mean and then you guys can straighten me out. Continue reading

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