How does your On-site Search influence your visitor’s experience?
As more and more of the online population rely on the main search engines to navigate the Web, they instinctively look to On-site search to help them navigate within a site. Recent data from Jupiter Research and from Double-click confirm this trend: On-site search usage is growing rapidly. Typically, however, On-site search does little to enhance the user experience. A standard aspect of our Attitudinal Analytics??? site analysis measures the degree to which the various aspects of a site contribute to the visit success (based on the user???s intent). Rare is the instance when On-site search consistently ranks anywhere but at the bottom. The pattern holds true even at the world???s most successful software company.
This company needed a survey instrument that could capture real usage data about their On-site search function. Their key requirement was that survey responses and specific click data are collected as an integrated record, without need for any form of download on the part of the user, and without using either pop-up windows or i-frames to ask questions. Usability Sciences developed a solution called Search Companion. It allows our clients to capture huge volumes of On-site search usage data of great contextual relevance in a very short period, including:
- The result of the search
- The keyword (search string) used
- User satisfaction with the speed, relevance, and usability of the search function
- The user???s next step
- The actual intent of their search (open text response)
- The link within the Search Results page they clicked on (if any)
- The position within the results of that click (first result, second, etc.)
Actionable findings leap out of this data. For example, our analysis software can tell a client in a couple of seconds, for example, which keywords produced failed searches where the user saw nothing of relevance on the first page of results page, along with the users’ contextual explanation of the actual search intent. This data fuels continuous improvement of the search function. Because we capture the keyword, the link the user followed, and the outcome of that decision, we also create specific Search personas to assist site designers. The true value of Search Companion is that it can be quickly and inexpensively deployed to gather contextual data for any aspect of online operations or processes. We have deployed it to gather design preference feedback on newsletters, and it is ideal for targeted projects such as checkout, loan application, or registration. (On-site search, however, seems to be the market???s most acute pain point.)
Pictures are Increasing in Importance
Back in February 2004 we wrote about the need to provide large images of products so people can get a close up view. In recent months we have run WebIQ on a number of sites and the findings not only reinforced the importance of pictures but has also raised the bar. Consumers seem to want to reach out and touch the products they are considering. Here are some examples of what the consumers are asking for:
- Pictures of the inside of furniture and appliances “I want to see pictures of the refrigerators interior and exterior, both the freezer and the cold foods parts”
- Pictures from different angles “I need 3-D views of the product; I cannot buy because I cannot see the details that I need to make the purchase decision”
- Larger and close up views “Make enlarged pictures even bigger so I can really check the product out!”
Another increasingly popular feature that is the ability to view products in different colors. The best way to implement this is to have the various color swatches available adjacent to the product and provide “click on a swatch to view a different color” instructions. When the swatch is clicked, the product should change color but not its position within the image. If views from other angles are available, those images should maintain the last color selected until the visitor changes it. Example:
The message is clear:
Pictures are very important for the site whether you are true e-commerce, sales support, or promoting a brand. Consumers are expecting and demanding more functionality in this area. Upgrade your capabilities in this area and you will gain competitive advantage.
Sometimes there is nothing harder to see than regular ol??? text.
One of the biggest ironies of usability testing is hearing test participants say, “Well, I wish the site would tell me that information!”, only to find out that the information was in a paragraph right there in front of them. Users do not read is a common mantra among all usability analysts. Read this article
On April 19th, Usability Sciences sponsored a Jupiter Webinar. If you didn’t have a chance to catch the actual Webinar, the link below will take you to the Jupiter archive:
Emerging Trends and Changes in Managing the Customer Experience
Participant in the webinar were:
- Eric T. Peterson Analyst, JupiterResearch
- Jennifer O’dea, Web Site Design & Usability, GE Consumer & Industrial
- Devashish Saxena, Manager, SC Internet Marketing Services, Texas Instruments