Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Working Smarter: A Tale of Two Sites

I've noticed lately that when I've been trying to use an Internet site to make a purchase or process a lengthy application form, some just aren't up to the mark. I know from reading One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com which is Jeff Bezos' biography by Richard Brandt (a good read I might add) that Bezos wanted people to purchase from Amazon with just one click. I'm not sure that he achieved that goal, but I do know from experience that Amazon makes it easy to purchase. I've spent thousands with them.

Yesterday I tried to transfer money using Western Union and it reminded me of just how poor some site design is. I also used the Greyhound buses site and that was a nightmare too. It seems that people who design commerce sites have no real idea how people buy. My business with Western Union couldn't be completed so I moved on. My business with Greyhound was completed, but I found no way to book four people at the same time using one credit card. I had to book each person individually and process my credit card four times.

Now, in fairness to Greyhound, it could be that there is a multiple purchasing option available, but I couldn't find it. I have a Master's Degree in Internet technology with a strong emphasis in commerce and about 30 years' experience, so if I couldn't find it I'm sure there are plenty of others less experienced with computers and the Internet who couldn't find it either.

The point is, a person with fundamental knowledge of computers and the Internet should be able to use these sites. If they can't the site owners must be losing sales ... and income.

It's always a sound idea to develop a process chart that shows all the possible routes a person using a site can take. Then design the site to reduce data redundancy (doing the same thing more than once) and get a fist full of computer illiterates to test it.

Use of advance organisers is also a great benefit. For example, provide a diagram, chart or breadcrumb trail that shows users what to expect or tell them what documents and information they will need to complete a process.

Have you found any really good sites to navigate that are easy to use and buy from? Tell us about them.

Robin

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com

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