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Author: Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke

Paul started PRWD - a specialist Conversion Optimisation agency - over 10 years ago, after spending seven years working in usability and customer experience at the UK's largest home shopping business, Shop Direct Group.

Paul is regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts on conversion optimisation, regularly writing and contributing to a number of digital marketing publications including Econsultancy, as well as keynoting at a range of conferences worldwide.

His passion for delivering significant growth improvements for businesses means he still maintains a hands-on role in delivering client projects with recent clients including Moss Bros, Games Workshop, Lovehoney, Schuh, Harveys, Moneysupermarket & MBS.

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WTF does usability best practice actually mean?

What constitutes usability best practice for e-commerce? In fact, what makes something/anything 'best practice'?

I’m the first one to say that I regularly refer to ‘usability best practice’ and best practice is certainly a phrase used often enough by Econsultancy. I thought it would be worth starting a discussion on what you think when they hear this term, and what you feel justifies having the label ‘best practice’.

Or perhaps you feel it should just be banished from our industry!

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Nine women x nine hours = nine usability insights

No matter how many times I am involved in user testing sessions, I never stop learning about people's browsing habits and the different aspects of a company’s proposition that affect how people respond to a given website.

Recently we have carried out two days of user testing for a high street retailer, and although these aren’t groundbreaking, what follows are nine key online shopping insights that all nine women (there should have been 10 but we had a late no-show) who took part provided during the test sessions.

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Shopping basket best practice from ASOS

Shopping baskets (or shopping carts) are a key part of the customer journey when shopping online. They are a gateway for visitors into your checkout process.

Retailers can choose to provide visitors with a wide range of information, links and other potential distractions, or alternatively they can keep their shopping basket minimal to focus purely on checking out.

Based upon my experience of working with a range of blue chip retailers over the last 10 years, there are a variety of best practice techniques and types of information to display in order to encourage visitors to proceed from the shopping basket to the checkout process.

In addition, retailers should look at answering as many customer questions as possible before they enter the checkout process, paving the way for a simple checkout that is a formality for most visitors.

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How to reduce checkout abandonment and increase customer registrations

In an ideal world most, if not all, retailers would like their new customers to register when they place their first order, thus opening up the potential of a building a more meaningful long-term relationship with the customer.

Unfortunately most new customers want to avoid registering and just checkout as quickly as possible, so how can retailers encourage more registrations without deterring customers? 

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Take five seconds to test your call to action and USP

Horse behind a fenceYou may be focused on improving the conversion rate for your website, or simply wanting to ensure that your visitors can quickly get an idea of what you do and offer.

Whatever your goals, having a clear proposition and call to action are two areas that can have a positive impact on your business performance.

In this post I will be talking about a web application that you can use to help you and your business gain invaluable insights from end users. 

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Traffic segmentation: humble or sliced, which pie are you having?

pieOK so the idea of segmenting your customers and prospects isn't breaking news. What would make for some interesting headlines would be the percentage of businesses using segmentation effectively.

With this in mind, and with the continued increase in knowledge based content around social media and the importance to businesses being published online, I've taken a step back.

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Pureplay and high street fashion retailers - who values usability more?

Fashion retailer logosWith the continued growth of online shopping, and with new pureplay retailers entering the market looking for new opportunities, I would expect that the biggest players would be leading the way in terms of customer experience.

With the upcoming Online Fashion 100 event in London that I'll be attending, I have taken a look at some of the biggest players in the fashion industry, both pureplay retailers and high street retailers.

I was particularly interested to look at key areas of their online customer experience to find out:

1) how well some of these brands are are delivering intelligent and meaningful cross-sell and up-sells to drive higher average order values, and...

2) which retailers are potentially losing sales due to a lack of focus on the full customer experience, right through to the end of the checkout process.

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Amazon relying on brand credibility instead of good usability

Amazon and The Book Depository logosIf ever a retailer could get away with having exceptional cross-selling and up-selling functionality, yet provide a new visitor checkout process and web forms that break many usability rules, Amazon is certainly one of them. On the other hand one of Amazon's competitors, The Book Depository, certainly appears to focus more on providing better usability throughout the buying journey, especially for new customers.

Following the recent e-commerce training course I delivered for Econsultancy, the usability benchmarking that is part of the course threw up some really interesting market insights. Although many retailers are featured in the course, providing examples of good and bad e-tail usability and best practice, I purposely refrained from including Amazon.

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Are retailers following best practice to improve conversion rates?

Retailer logos for John Lewis, Play.com, Toyrus and PC WorldNow with our economy firmly in a recession, most retailers no longer have the types of budgets available to replatform. Instead, 2009 will be a year for improving their existing platforms, trying to increase conversion rates, average order values and returning visitor numbers.

So with this primary drive to improve performance, are retailers doing all that they can? Are retailers following best practice to help more visitors complete the buying process, and are retailers removing usability barriers to ensure that in such competitive times visitors aren’t encouraged to find reasons why they shouldn’t complete their purchase?

19 comments

Usable internal software systems – just a pipedream?

Usability as a criteria for judging internal software solutions is not only overlooked but often undervalued when compared to one of its big sisters, so called ‘cost reducing features’.

With the penetration of enterprise software throughout businesses all over the world, will we as end users ever experience user friendly internal software, to the levels to which we are accustomed with the latest ‘user centered’ web applications?

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