(From guest poster, Greg Carter)
Last night, I purchased tickets online for a theatrical event. Yeah, I know, very exciting, but why I’m bringing this up is because of the checkout process.
Thanks to the email from the theater troupe, I found the show listing with relative ease. But after selecting two tickets and clicking checkout, I was asked to create an account (or login if I already had one, which I didn’t), click the link to create an account, and an exasperating five separate pages later, I was finally able to order the tickets.
Lucky for the troupe, I really wanted to see this particular show, or else I would have given up the process long ago.
It’s a glaring design flaw such as this that authors Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus hope to combat with their book Web Design for ROI. (ROI stands for “return on investment”, or this according to Investopedia.)
True, the theater probably does need all that information to process the ticket order, but a simpler process, something that takes into account the user and his/her reactions, would probably decrease frustration and increase online ticket sales.
Your company may have hundreds of fantastic products for which the public is hungering, but if the home page is too cluttered with information and images, or searching for a specific item turns into a hunt for Dr. Livingstone, or the potential buyer can’t tell the “Add to Cart” button from the “Exit” button, then your site may not be doing its job. However, instead of spending thousands of dollars to re-design your entire site, Loveday and Niehaus suggest perhaps a little tweaking to the design, how pages are laid out, will show a quicker and better response.
Take into account your users. Most people quickly skim a homepage, looking for information important to them. Long paragraphs probably won’t hold their interest, so why not try headlines in a bolder type, stronger color and have the headline link to another page with that information or story. People also tend to read from left to right, top to bottom, so creating your pages with that flow in mind will make the experience a more pleasant one. Or, as a rebuttal to my ticket purchase example, give the user the option of creating an account or not.
REI’s checkout process does exactly that, and I can say from my own experience, I liked not having to create a password and enter account information just to by a one-time gift (for my brother since I’m the farthest thing from outdoorsy you could imagine). Design a good user experience, and the user is likely to return or to even recommend your site to their friends.
Web Design for ROI offers other simple, common sense techniques to re-work the design of a site to make it more productive and effective. For anyone who designs sites or has a say in their creation, this book would be an incredibly useful tool.