Experience should always be a top priority…

Ian HancockStuff

With the central role that the internet plays in the lives of many people today, user experience (UX) counts for everything. Gone are the days with just putting up with a website, in today’s cut-throat world if a user doesn’t like your online output they will switch off, simple.

Customers purchasing online think nothing of taking their business elsewhere. With the internet, brand loyalty doesn’t exist like it used to, even the slightest imperfection in your user experience can drive customers away from your website.

As a marketer, online user experience should be amongst your top priorities. People have come to expect a seamless experience when visiting your website, and now not just on their computer, but also on their smartphone, their tablet and all of their other devices. Cross-channel consistency is key.

To ensure a positive user experience and in turn increase your conversion rate and your sales, your website should be designed for the best possible experience regardless of the channel your customers are using. Customers now expect companies to provide a useable experience across all channels, while you may think of your channels as separate, your customers do not. There are three key elements to consider when it comes to developing a cross-channel user experience, these are:

Consistency – Your customers should be able to move from channel to channel, e.g. from their computer to their mobile, without having to relearn how to use your website. Customers want convenience; they don’t want to be having to constantly learn new systems. Consistency across visual design, interactions and content will help your customers move between channels easily.

Availability – Your customers should be able to complete all actions regardless of the channel they are using to access your website.  Whilst your mobile site should be optimised for the device and therefore somewhat cut down, the site shouldn’t be restrictive and offer less functionality.

Seamless ability – Ideally your website should present the ability to complete an action across multiple channels. For example, if a customer places an item in the basket whilst logged into your site on a smartphone, that same item should still be in the cart if they then go on to login to your site on a laptop.

Online user experience should also take into account checkout time, the checkout process and crucially, measurement of your customers’ experience online. Your brand not only needs to have a presence across a variety of digital channels, you also need to be able to measure your customers’ reaction to your online output. Using analytics, you will be able to analyse how long people are spending on your site, how they are navigating your site and what the level of conversion there then is.

Repeat buying and browsing should of course be analysed too, which according to Barclays’ Online Business Outlook Survey 2013 is something that many companies overlook – the survey shown that 40% percent of online businesses in the UK currently cannot track this. Neglecting to analyse these figures will have an impact on loyalty as you will find yourself placing too much emphasis on attracting new customers and not enough emphasis on retaining the customers you already have.

User experience is all about careful measurement and management; you must be aware of your customers’ high expectations and cater for these in order to win new customers and retain those that have previously purchased.