15 November 2012John Godwin
All online retailers have a common goal: to sell more products. To help them do this, they often look to technology. For example, the quantitative data they are able to see about where their users come from, where they go and what they buy is really insightful. The problem is this only tells us one story. For just one minute, try forgetting about how your site looks, how it works, or even how it performs. Instead, try and understand how those visits are converted into sales. Try and focus on the people behind the data — your customers.
To help you do this, there are three questions you need to ask:
1. What is common to all your customers?
What do all humans have in common? You guessed it – we all have a brain (granted, some are bigger than others, but we all have one!). Knowing how the human brain works and what makes people tick is the key to understanding how your site should work. For example, recognising how the eyes scan and what makes a screen easy to read will tell you how your site should function. We know that people react well to small, bite-sized tasks, so sequencing helps to improve interaction.
Also, humans rarely like to leave a task incomplete, especially when offered a simple way to complete it. And being rewarded for the tasks they carry out makes it more likely that people will share their experience. You should keep this in mind when you review your site to check how easy it is for your customers to purchase your product.
2. What’s unique about your customers?
Your customers visit your site for a specific reason. By understanding why they are using your site, how they use it and what they say about it, you will be able to focus on what is important and unique about your business. We often lose sight of this and look for generic answers like ‘everyone is a customer’ or ‘my customers are 18-to-24-year-old men who snowboard’. These types of answers are common among a lot of retailers, regardless of the product they sell. By neglecting to understand what is unique about your customers, you will only succeed in developing a site for everybody – and one that nobody wants to use.
3. Do you REALLY know your customers?
By having empathy with your customers and seeing the site through their eyes you will be guided to make the right decisions. Treat your customers like they are your friends, get to know what they like, and what they don’t like. You should continually invest in time with them, watch them use your site, study their behaviour and ask them questions. This will help you react to their needs and provide them with a site they want to use and share. It will also be a site that makes it easier for your customers to buy your products too.
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As Head of User Experience (UX) at Summit, John has produced work for many well known retail brands and is passionate about accessible, performance led design and the relationship between technology and users.