|08 November, 2018

How to improve your start-up's user experience

Customer satisfaction can mean the difference between a few sales, or hundreds, per month. So ensuring users are happy navigating your website is vital

When interacting with your brand – whether in a virtual environment or a brick-and-mortar setting – customers should have a positive experience. Ultimately, happy customers translate to a healthy bottom line for any business.

In the digital age, finding success as a small and medium enterprise (SME) involves ensuring optimized user experience (UX), which means aesthetics is not the only thing to consider when designing and developing your company website or mobile app.

Your website or mobile app essentially serves as the digital shop front of your business. As a result, a good UX and an efficient user interface (UI) design will help build customer trust and encourage repeat purchase, according to Soumajit Bhowmik, director of e-commerce and performance marketing at Capillary Technologies, which develops customized and cloud-based customer analytics marketing platforms for retailers and consumer businesses.

“Considering that your competitors are also spending effort on improving UI and UX, and customers usually browse through multiple websites or apps before making a purchase decision, it is important that your brand stands out as the more trustworthy and easier-to-use online portal,” Bhowmik said.

“A positive UX would help you convert customers to brand bearers who would spread positive review on social media and within their network, thus giving more referral traffic and sales.”

Halima Jumani, director at Kibsons International, a UAE-based online fresh food and home delivery retailer, adds that it is important for businesses to maintain a positive UX so as to meet customers’ most basic need, which is convenience.

“It is imperative that the online shopping experience is a user-friendly, enjoyable, convenient experience that adds value to the customers’ time with no added stress,” she said. “The website or app must be easy to navigate whether it’s looking for favorites, managing the shopping cart or redeeming coupons at checkout. The goal is to retain customers and make them want to come back for more.”

Creating a positive user experience

To ensure a positive online experience for their customers, Jumani said start-ups must prioritize their website or mobile app’s navigation and search features.

“Users must be able to view the cart and checkout at any time, so the checkout option should be made available or fixed on header for all pages,” she said. In addition, “search option adds to convenience and should also be made available on all pages similar to the checkout option.”

The Kibsons director also underscored the importance of testing website pages for good visibility and responsiveness across multiple devices and technologies for the convenience of a diverse set of users.

Bhowmik of Capillary Technologies agrees, adding that a unified browsing experience across web, mobile web and app is a must.

“No matter what channel they use to browse through your site, customers should get a similar experience and feel. Brands that are app only or web only have a relatively easier job at hand, as developing a website or mobile website is different from developing an app,” he said.

“An alternative to that is to develop Mobile first PWA (progressive web apps) and then use that to have a responsive desktop version. Top ecommerce brands see almost 30% traffic from app and 70% on website. Even with a higher conversion rate of app, we cannot ignore the impact of the website on sales.”

Bhowmik also emphasized the importance of a “fast checkout funnel”, which means ensuring a minimum number of steps for a user to checkout or buy products. This can be done through a single page checkout, persistent login of users, saved payment gateway preference, and listing of applicable coupons.

Brands can also personalize the user experience, and as a result increase overall upsell or cross-sell by including on their website or app a recommendation engine driving section, such as most viewed products, recently browsed items, or suggested products.

Mistakes to avoid

To ensure total user satisfaction, here are the most common mistakes that you should avoid when designing your website or mobile app:

  1. Slow download speed – Both Bhowmik and Jumani caution about having websites with poor page load time. “Brands have to understand that sites with lavish graphics, images and videos, [but] load very slowly give a negative browsing experience,” said Bhowmik. “Aim for a less than five-second load time and work towards it. Use stylesheets and HTML components to improve design rather than use images.” Jumani, meanwhile, advises website developers to avoid downloading large images to improve speed.
  1. Poor layout and too much information – In addition, businesses can plan the layout strategically to keep important categories easily accessible, without overwhelming users with too many images and information on one page, according to Jumani. Bhowmik said overpopulating every page with content, menu or navigation could put off customers.
  1. Over-categorization and subcategorization – This, said Bhowmik, leads to confusion among users, difficulty in browsing and selecting products, and error in handling product category or tagging at the back end. Instead, have options for viewing all products with filters so as to shortlist the right categories.
  1. Not offering competitive pricing – Jumani sees this as vital in providing excellent online shopping experience. “Consumers shop online in search for competitively prices products, hence, this should be made top priority without compromising quality to achieve total consumer satisfaction.”

© Accelerate SME 2018

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