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Designed to Deliver – SEO Thinking and User Experience Design, Part 6

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the migration of advertising from traditional media outlets to the digital space. Among the key benefits, analysts always identify in this trend is the ability to view metrics and more accurately assess the impact of digital advertising. A similar point of differentiation occurs between print and digital Read more

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about the migration of advertising from traditional media outlets to the digital space. Among the key benefits, analysts always identify in this trend is the ability to view metrics and more accurately assess the impact of digital advertising.

A similar point of differentiation occurs between print and digital design. Unlike print, the impact of a digital offering can be measured using simple tools. Of these, one of the most effective is bounce rate. Bounce rate refers to the number of users who click on a site but do not progress in their user experience beyond the entry page. It’s a highly significant measurement and leads directly in to the question we asked in our last post …

How many of your users are actually achieving their goals?

It’s not uncommon for web site click tracking tools that capture statistics on how many people complete a process or task to reveal that as many as 50% of people stop short of achieving their goal.

So what causes the user to abandon the task? Are there too many steps? Do they need to fill out too much personal information? Between the time they started and the time they stopped did they decide they did not really need the item after all? Did the experience take too long? These and may other factors can contribute to a user not getting the result they wanted from a site interaction.

Crossing the Rubicon

As we’ve noted in previous posts, knowing what users goals are before you design a site will allow you to more effectively help the user get what they want.  By understanding the barriers to entry and the barriers to completion, designers can minimize these impacts and the help the user “Cross the Rubicon”.

Existing models of human behavior can also assist designers in this process. In his directed activity model, Golwitzer described how people typically move through four phases in order to successfully complete an action. By designing page interaction to follow the motivation and volition phases of the Rubicon Model, a user’s satisfaction and feelings are likely to be much more positive. This in turn fosters trust and a higher degree of willingness to want to repeat the interaction again.

rubicon-model-copyWhile designers can create a “guided process” for helping customers achieve their goals it’s important to remember that the web is essentially democratic. Often users will modify their original goal seeking behavior and repurpose digital tools to achieve different results. Designers and site administrators need to monitor metrics and track changes in user behavior. As part of an ongoing performance analysis, site owners should ask …

Are customers really using your site for the purpose you intended it for?

Take the well known Craigslist.org web site as an example. Initially the founder Craig Newmark developed the site to post a lists of social events. But users wanted to add other categories for all manner of transactional and transformational communications.

If there is an opportunity for users to repurpose you site or the product or services you sell you have the possibility to take advantage of this natural behavior.
Is your site used for any purpose other than which it was intended? If so how can you take advantage of this to better achieve your own business goals?

The other thing site owners need to look for in their ongoing performance analysis is the experience of returning visitors. Good designers will have kept them in mind during the development process and asked …

What is the repeat interaction that your customer is looking for?

If a customer of site user is looking to return to you web site can they get right to what they want to access?

Good design can mean that users can get access right to their favorite places without all of the structured material that new or casual users may need. An example of this direct access can be seen in Amazons one click checkout process. This lets the user skip all of the steps in the shopping cart structure. The outcome the user is seeking here is to quickly find and buy the item and not spend additional time working the checkout process.

How might your design streamline repeat user needs and with logical interactions?

Helping the user accomplish the task he set out to complete when he visited your site is the primary goal of all good web design. The user’s success translates in to not only good will for your company but an actual measurable ROI (whether that be increased site traffic, lead generation or transactions). And that is the other main goal of good web design.

How’s your site’s bounce rate? Are your users getting what they want from you?

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