Grab a visitor’s attention and keep it!
There are many ways to “entice” a visitor to complete an online purchase. One of the commonly used methods is to display a featured product in a prominent location on the site’s homepage. This is often a very effective method of grabbing the visitor’s interest. Unfortunately you don’t just want to grab their attention; you want to maintain a level of interest that results in a purchase. That ‘letting go’ of a promotionally charged site visitor can mean the difference in purchase conversion. Here’s an example of how a site does not ‘hold on’ to the visitor:
- Visitor views the homepage (see image below) and then decides to click on a featured product.
- Visitor views the featured product’s informational page (see image below) and then decides that he/she wants to view other similar items or featured products.
- The disconnect occurs at this step because the site does not offer an easy method of viewing other similar items or featured products from this product page. The page does indicate they are viewing a Featured Product; however, the navigational choices displayed do not clearly support this categorization.
There are several solutions available to resolve this issue. First, include a breadcrumb identifying the visitor’s location on the site. This breadcrumb should have clickable links allowing the visitor to navigate freely within the hierarchy of this product’s location on the site. Second, offer smaller, clickable, thumbnail images of similar products and/or featured products. In addition, include a link near the thumbnail images that would allow the visitor to “see more”. The solution for your site could be derived from part or all of the above options, but the key focus is to ensure you do no ‘let go’ of the visitor once you have captured their attention.
Scott Gunter - WebIQ Project Manager
Is Your Search Providing Site Visitors Successful Results?
It is very interesting to compare the results of site visits between visitors that search the site and those that browse the categories. We looked at 16 different WebIQ projects with over 90,000 unique visitors. In those projects, 65% of site visitors preferred navigation browsing vs. 35% that preferred searching - almost a 2 to 1 ratio. More importantly, the browsers invariably report higher visit success rates. In these projects, browsers reported a visit success rate of 56% while searchers were only 43% successful. There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is that your search function is probably causing problems for your site. The good news is that if you take some steps to improve it you can clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Here’s what site visitors complain about with search:
- Too many search results - “Too many results. Not relevant for my requirements. Don’t have the time right now to sort through them all.”
- Too few search results - “When I searched I got too few results and none of the results really had the information I was looking for.”
- No search functionality or it was well hidden - “I wanted to use the search on the site but could never find it. I must have missed it somehow. Who doesn’t have search these days? When visiting sites I use search first and if unsuccessful just try to find what I am looking for on my own.”
Here is what we recommend to solve these problems:
- Too many search results - Make sure you are and’ing search terms together in the search logic rather than or’ing them together. If a visitor searches on “coffee pots” that’s what they expect to get back. They do not expect search results with different brands of coffee and a lot of flower pots. We have seen sites where a search on “coffee pots” might return 150 results; then the visitor searches on “electric coffee pots” and they now have 500 results because the engine picked up an additional 350 “electric items”.
- Too few search results - This is usually caused by either (1) improper meta tagging of products/information or (2) the search engine doesn’t do a good job of fuzzy searching - allowing for misspellings or typos.
For example, a search for “binoculers” on yahoo shopping yields the following results:
While the same search on Crutchfield.com yields:
Yahoo protects the shopper from their inability to spell the word correctly; Crutchfield does not.
- No search functionality or it was well hidden - Clearly, sites with a lot of products and/or information should provide keyword search capability. The location and esign of the search field is important. Our recommendation: locate it at the top of the page but not the very top - just below the main menus or tabs. The field itself should be white and empty and the word “Search” should clearly stand out.
Crutchfield does a good job:
While Vonage does not:
If you would like some ideas on how to measure the effectiveness of search on your site give us a call. We have customers that are measuring search and improving its effectiveness as an ongoing process.
Sharon Johnson - WebIQ Project Manager
Let’s Get Personal: Online Shoppers Seek Feedback
It’s interesting that as we move to an online marketplace, viewed by some as being “less personal,” that we should come to depend more on the opinions and regard of other people. Although while shopping in a physical store location, you may never find yourself turning to the stranger next to you and asking their opinion of a product, your experience with an online shopping site may be completely different. This means that that the “feedback” or “reviews” section of any website has become increasingly important as individuals seek to gain affirmation for their purchases and decisions.
In usability tests, users have indicated that the Feedback portion of a site is extremely important in influencing their purchase of a product. With this in mind, providing customer feedback on a product in an easy-to-sort manner, with the ability to narrow and filter reviews, enables site visitors to make informed decisions regarding their purchases. In considering how users may prefer to sort through feedback, think of what aspects of a review would be helpful in affecting their decisions: recency of data, helpfulness of review, ratings, and the most important, positive and negative comments. Allowing users to easily filter and sort through reviews can have a tremendous impact on their perception of not only the product in question, but also your website in general.
In the example below, the site gives information on how much positive and negative feedback has been given, but does not provide an easy way to get directly to the negative comments. Instead you have to sort through 26,249 comments on 1050 pages to see if any of the negative comments are something you should be concerned about. While the icons may look clickable since they are in another text color, they are actually not.
Another item missing from the above example, in addition to not being able to sort by positive or negative opinions, is the ability to see what other feedback the reviewer may have given. (In the case above, clicking on the buyer’s name will only bring back reviews given regarding the buyer). Seeing what other items a reviewer has assessed is useful for a number of reasons. For one, depending on the type of product the user is reviewing, it helps the potential buyer get an understanding of the similarity of the person’s tastes and judgments compared to theirs.
Consider the following example:
The user who reads such a positive review on this item may be curious to see what other items the reviewer has evaluated to see if their interests are aligned (in this case, recipes). This may then influence the buyer’s predisposition towards the review’s favorability. Another reason for having a ‘More reviews by???’ functionality is that it aids in directing users to other items that someone with their tastes have purchased or recommended. This is a good way to indirectly suggest other products and encourage more purchases. Another useful functionality included in the above example, and also in the one below, is the ability to sort by and view which reviews have been most helpful to users.
This is important for the serious buyer, who may not want to have to manually filter through superfluous reviews that don’t give a lot of insight into the product (such as, “this product is great!”) when seeking more detailed feedback.
Of course having a ‘Most Helpful’ sort feature requires that visitors are able to indicate whether a particular review was helpful. In the example above, visitors click either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and assist in determining the usefulness of this review. Users can sort by ‘Most Helpful’ to gather more detailed accounts of the product they are considering. Additionally, having the ‘thumbs-up’ symbol serves a similar purpose as the 4 or 5 star rating system and allows users to ascertain at a glance whether the review will be positive or negative.
In the following example, an online book-selling site has not only provided several ways for the user to sort and narrow customer reviews, but has also allowed the user to directly enter in a word or phrase to search with. In this case, entering in the words “boring” or “scary” might return a review on a children’s book that gives the exact information that the user was attempting to learn.
Another useful feature offered by this site is that users can narrow the results to just see certain ratings, such as ‘5-Star Reviews Only’ or ‘1-Star Reviews Only.’ This allows users to expediently find out opinions of the best and the worst of the product. Implementing an effective ‘Sort-by’ feature simplifies the ability for users to review products, thus making the browsing/shopping experience more enjoyable and enabling users to explore other products on their own terms. The importance of including others’ feedback in an increasingly online market helps to ensure that customers make informed and satisfying purchases.
Ircka West - Usability Analyst
Double-byte Language Support In All Our WebIQ-based Services
As an item of interest we want to make sure that our subscribers realize that Usability Sciences supports all languages, including those of the Far East that require Unicode, in all our survey services. A number of our customers want to run consistent worldwide online research in the US, Europe, and Asia. We support these efforts by providing survey development, localization, deployment, analysis, and reporting. If you have a need for these kinds of services please give us a call to discuss. Contact Us to learn more.