What is the value of enhancing your user's experience?

If your user can't use it, it doesn't work!

Nowadays, people expect things to simply work - no prior reading and certainly no training. Either they can gain immediate value, or they will move on. So it's win or lose, based on the initial user experience. For many organizations, this user experience is directly mapped to business success.

Users have increasing choice, and can easily evaluate alternatives to satisfy their expectations. They can use the Web to get information, make comparisons and obtain the best offering. At every stage they are influenced by their experience and with a click of the mouse.

It's all about getting the task done with minimum effort and maximum satisfaction, i.e. engineering the solution to exceed the user's expectations.

Ease-of-use is a key differentiator

Success is likely if you create a product that delights its intended audience. Price and other factors are important, but satisfaction is becoming a dominant consideration.

The only way to achieve delighted users is to create what they want and in a form that they find intuitive. They have to be intimately involved with the design and thus an integral partner in the development process.

Studies and the press continue to confirm that ease-of-use and a resulting positive user experience are among the most sought after attributes:

Forrester data shows that 42% of US Web buying consumers made their most recent online purchase because of a previous good experience with the retailer.

B2B users insist on a site being easy-to-use, concluded PC Magazine, based on the results of a Forrester study of 35 companies that buy commodities online. These e-marketplace commodities buyers ranked usability and neutrality equally, and the two most important criteria.

A Gartner study concluded that usability methods increased user satisfaction for a system by 40%.

A Business Week article stated that PC manufacturers had to make their hardware and software as easy-to-use as toasters in order to differentiate their product from competition.

Business success is founded upon solid customer relationships. Either you directly involve them in creating what they want, or you will fail to gain their full commitment.

Industry experience shows that it is often not practiced:

Research across all sites shows that visitors couldn't find what they are looking for as often as 60% of the time (Forrester and Jupiter, 2001).

Of 150 manufacturers' Web sites, only 45% offered relevant and complete information about their products (Forrester, 2001)

42% of subjects were unable to complete job applications on the Web sites of 6 major corporations (Jakob Nielsen, 2000)

A failed "Internet appliance, designed for use on a kitchen counter, was so heavy that the owners manual recommended that customers use their legs, not their backs, to pick it up.

An automobile dashboard contained so many functions (between 700-800) that not even the automaker knew how many there were. Users were confused.

A failed combination TV and Internet service included a keyboard, remote control, and box resembling a TV set, and was supposed to allow users to watch TV and surf the net at the same time. It cost $100 for the hardware and $25/month for the service, but failed in the marketplace since its TV function was so poorly designed that channel surfing was nearly impossible.

Even though consumers, business customers, and site executives underscore the need for a great user experience, most Web efforts don't deliver it (Forrester, 2001).

For more information see: Cost Benefit Evidence and Case Studies.

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