With the rest of the world still buzzing about the advancements of Hummingbird and other Google antics, it’s hard to imagine that many websites still haven’t conquered the basics of managing a strategically conceived website. To help ensure your website is serving your customers as thoroughly as possible, follow this principle: K-I-S-S. Keep It Simple Stupid. A shameful throwback, I know, but allow me to present two scenarios:
Scenario 1: A few weeks ago while preparing to check out with an online retailer, I experienced a level of frustration that I will liken to that of a weight-loss plateau. I was working way harder than I should ever have to, yet getting absolutely nowhere. After finally being able to complete this large order a few days later (yeah, it was that bad), I decided to send a suggestion. I typed up a friendly email, clicked send, and received a rather generic response 24 hours later that included what I assume is their customary %10 discount coupon code. Did I accept this attempt at pacification? It was redeemed within the week. But, to this day, the dilemma surrounding their checkout process remains an issue, and has kept me from returning up to this point.
Scenario 2: Because I’m one of the few people on the planet who does not have a Facebook account, it seems that my new favorite music-sharing site assumes that I couldn’t possibly have friends. While attempting to find and follow other users by their username, I was repeatedly derailed. The only apparent way to find and follow other users is if you’re already connected to them via Facebook. After some vexing searches through the Help section of their “community,” I found that several people had the same issue. It was only after muddling through all of those threads that I finally found a user who’d provided a solution. Ultimately, I’m forced to search for my friends using a very specific formula which (get this) isn’t clearly specified anywhere.
I have one simple question: Why make things so difficult!? If the purpose of your site is to make money, my most frustrating experience on your site should not be trying to give you my money. If the purpose of your site is to promote socializing and sharing, it shouldn’t be so difficult for me to find people (who really are my friends, thank you!) with whom I can socialize and share. Navigating your site shouldn’t be a chore. I want to encourage you to seek, simplify, and share.
Take the time to give your site a thorough audit. Go through it with the intent to seek out potential problem areas. Challenge yourself to come up with at least three opportunities to make it better. I’d suggest starting with your customer service team or customer emails. You’re likely to come across legitimate complaints or suggestions that have been overlooked.
After considering suggestions from past users or coming up with your own ideas, simplify some of your functions. Instead of forcing shoppers to move things from their “Saved Items” to their “Shopping Bag” individually, look into some good old-fashioned radio buttons and make it happen in one swift click. Allow your users to search using the usernames you assigned rather than requiring a mystery modus operandi.
You sought out ways to be better and implemented some significant changes. Now, share it! Announce the recent changes on your site. Broadcast the changes on all social media channels and invite the world to check you out. You could even take some time to respond specifically to customers who had submitted suggestions that fell under those particular categories! Let them know you listened.
Keep in mind that this information applies to your mobile site as well. Don’t make the mistake of treating mobile like an outcast. It’s every bit as important, if not more so, than your standard website. You need to make sure its interface is clean, the navigation is for dummies, and all links and buttons are functional. And as always, content is king! Content remains one of the most important aspects of your online identity. Don’t believe me? Find out more in the previous post, Secure Search, Not Provided and Hummingbird.
Tori Chambers – Message Board Specialist