by Charles Florman
The importance of a user friendly interface is unquestionable today and few people can deny this. I personally think that we have the touch interface (and Apple) to thank for that. Developers have realized that a well-developed interface together with touch can feel very natural if it’s executed well. Even my 20 month old niece is swiping and tapping the iPad like she was born for it, and that is something extraordinary.
It is an exciting time we are living in, but it is also challenging. Over the years, user behavior has changed dramatically. If an app doesn’t look good and/or isn’t user friendly, then the user will delete it and move on to another app and you will never see that user again. The same phenomenon is true for Web sites today. If the site doesn’t make an immediately good impression, then the user will switch to another site quicker than the time he took to enter. And there, you get a bounce.
The vast array of options we have today has made users picky, and they ought to be. Today, there is no reason for them to settle for something that isn’t focused on creating that all-rounded experience. It’s not only about delivering content, it’s about delivering the right content in the best possible, most user-friendly way—that is the key to convincing your user stay on your site longer and to come back again.
It’s very cheap to discover mistakes early in the process and its very expensive to discover them late.
These are two important things that you can (should) do to improve the user experience and get your users to stay on your site:
- Understand the user when developing. Do research about your customers and the market! You need to know what your customers are looking for so you can give them the information that is relevant to them. Ask yourself: Is the content relevant and of quality to your users? This is especially so when the users come in to a site based on a search keyword—the user needs to find what he’s looking for immediately or he’ll leave as quickly as he entered.
- Never assume anything. You will truly realize how different users interpret the logic of the interface when you conduct user testing. In fact we did user testing on different airline sites last week. One of several things that we found was that some sites assume that the user will search for the city that they want to travel to and that is a dangerous and costly assumption. The test showed that users searched for the country and expected to see the available destinations for that country. Seeing no results, these users assumed the airline doesn’t fly to that specific country and ended up leaving the site. You can see in the screenshots below how easy it is to lose a customer just because you haven’t done user testing to find out how they actually interact with your site.
Poor search functionality on this airline’s site leads users to believe that the airline doesn’t fly to Thailand, which it does. Learn more about the capabilities of our Consumer Experience Lab at our Web site.
You should always do testing and you should start early in the development process. It’s very cheap to discover mistakes early in the process and its very expensive to discover them late. Do testing on simple prototypes and you will always find problems. Check out popapp to see how easy it can be to test an interface in an early stage.
There will always be issues that need to be solved. Finding the same problem in a late stage when the site is almost finished will cost you a fortune in both time and money. Do user testing right—and early—and you shouldn’t have to do anything more than refining small details in the late stages. Your users and clients will thank you for it.
How high is your bounce rate? Are you delivering a user friendly interface and experience to your customers today? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, please do get in touch. We have to tools, expertise and passion to help.