How small business owners can provide excellent customer experience

By the end of this post you will know:

  • What user experience means

  • Why is it important for you as a business owner

  • What tasks you can start doing today to increase the fulfilment of your customers’ needs

How-you-can-provide-excellent-customer-experience |MNFL Design

This is a guest post by Sandra, the creator of yUXer.com. Sandra is an expert in UX design and I am sure this post will clarify a few things for you and help you create excellent user experience for your website visitors.
I have recorded an interview I did with Sandra on this topic and you can find the video below the blog post! Enjoy
xxEmilia

What is UX?

UX stands for User experience and it refers to the overall personal experience that someone has while interacting with a product or a service.  This experience can be frustrating or delightful, and that is why UX has a direct impact on what decisions we take afterwards (i.e. making a purchase, hiring a service, leaving the website).

There is an infinite amount of parameters that contribute to the UX but don’t panic, this is not rocket science.  

UX applies to every product or service regardless of whether it is physical or digital.

Given that we strongly recommend that you have a website, we will focus on the UX aspects relevant to websites.

Why is it important for your business?

You might be thinking that you are already overwhelmed working on your product marketing strategy. So, what is this UX thing now also on top? How does good UX can possibly have an impact on your business?

Ask yourself “Is Google stealing my traffic”?

Once you have managed to attract visitors to your website, your next goal is to make sure they become a customer. For that to happen you will need to do a bit of hand-holding around your website, otherwise they will run back to mommy Google and ask for help.

Navigation matters

The Internet evolves faster than we can even keep up with. Funny thing is, at the same rate, it has also shaped the way we interact with websites and digital products. The way we behave and expect websites to behave is strongly connected to what we are familiar with. This is why, in terms of website design, reinventing the wheel is not always the best approach.

Navigation has to be a no-brainer for your visitors. This means you have to make sure that the path to your key content is both obvious and convenient.

What happens when you take your little ones to the local park and let their hands go? I’m sure you’ve been there...they go wild, and you end up chasing them to bring them back to where you can see them. The same happens with your visitors, let their hands go and they will go wild and will be possibly lost forever. Keep always in mind that your visitors are in your website for a reason. They are looking for something, but they won't search for long. You will have only few seconds to make an impression and convert, or at least lead them to the right spot.  

Therefore, your navigation has to be straightforward:

  • Avoid too many levels and keep it simple, with fewer options where to go.

i.e.  The Sway makes it very simple. You can easily identify which services they offer and what you can expect of the website, simply by looking at their menu. Their menu remains consistent across the website. Wherever you are on the website you have access to the top menu. However, they could do a better job highlighting in the menu where you are within the website at all times.

How small business owners can provide excellent customer experience | MNFL Design
  • Help them to find their way using plain and unambiguous words which relates directly to their goals.

i.e. Lonely planet understands the reasons you might have to visit their website. You can find destinations or booking information almost immediately.  

How small busineness owners can provide excellent customer experience | MNFL Design

i.e. City of Boston

This is one of the most amazing websites in terms of transparency and clarity that I have ever seen. This website has a strong sense of service, they understand what citizens need and their website is made for them. Language is clean and clear because their audience is the everyday citizen of Boston. Their design is flat but the imagery and labels guide users straight to what they might be looking for.

How small business owners can provide excellent customer experience | MNFL Design
  • Make sure that your visitors can identify where they can click. Flat design or 2D design used to be in fashion not long ago, but it can often fail to provide good user experience because users may not be able to identify what can be clicked.

This is an extract of a banking website. What do you think this section is for?

How small business owners can provide excellent customer experience | MNFL Design

Surprisingly, this is some sort of navigation where each word/phrase is a link to a separate section. It took me quite a while to understand what they were trying to achieve with this section (that's the last thing I have time for). Don't make your users think too much! It should be straightforward and obvious how to move from A to B.

Ok, but I have just a small business what could I do about all that UX stuff?

I want to start by clarifying the questions that I always get by business owners:

  • Is it expensive to have good UX? - It doesn't have to be.

  • Do I need special skills to implement good UX? - Not really.

  • Do I need specialist to help me to have good UX? - Not necessarily.

  • Should I invest time and effort in good UX? - Definitely yes!

You will find that there is so much to cover in regards to providing a great user experience, but the good news is that it doesn't have to turn into another overwhelming set of tasks to add to you agenda.

You can decide to do as little as you can and still have a huge return.

UX is not about implementing a whole process from A to Z. Independent tasks can give you enough information to start (re) designing your website.

For example, you can choose to focus on a different aspect each month. Within 3 months you will already have enough information to decide what you really need to do on your website to provide better user experience and therefore increase your chances of conversion.

Month 1: know your audience

You could start right now by confirming to yourself who your current or potential audience is. This can be done through what is called Personas, which are representation of your audience groups i.e. a young female fashion fan, a fashion influencer, a bride-to-be planning her big day, a new mom wanting to make time to get fit, a dad looking for Christmas gifts, a new business owner figuring out the whole tax situation or a lovely pet owner looking for holiday options. Your business can target one or multiple Personas.

How can you find out who is (not yet) visiting your website and what are they looking for?

The simplest way is to launch a public survey. You will need to collect enough data that you can use to recognize patterns between users. At this stage the more data the better.

It is important that you promote the survey on your website, social media accounts and newsletter (if you have one and probably you should) so you can get data from real or potential customers.

You need to talk to your users. Once you have a decent amount of answers on your survey you can start looking at patterns that help you define who you attract and what is their biggest goal.

Month 2: spy your customers

The next step would be to know more about their behavior. To know more about what users really need from your website, you need to test with your real users. User testing is about that, not about testing your audience but testing your website with your real audience.

Now that you know who your audience is and have opened a channel of communication with them, get them to use your website while you watch.

You can set up sessions with few of your users and prepare a set of tasks or questions based on your most important features i.e. can you show me where would you go to find the information about our catalogue of products? Can you show me how would you pay for your order? Where would you go to download my e-book? Can you find my latest article?

I can guarantee you this is a very valuable exercise that will give you great insights about how your audience uses your website. The process doesn't have to be painful and is totally worthy.

You can follow very basic steps to prepare and perform these tests yourself.

I have a created a one-page UX guide that can help you to prepare to collect feedback from your customers or website visitors. The tools that you will need to make it happen are neither expensive nor complicated, something simple as Skype would be enough if you can't meet with your customers in person.

Month 3 Transform feedback into action points

Now that you have had the time to get to know your customers, potential buyers, visitors, etc. you should have sufficient data to process and transform it into features or content that you need to address when improving your website.

The idea of collecting sufficient data is that you don't have to make assumptions that could cost you a sale (or many sales).

Pay special attention to behavior patterns and frequent questions. These will give you an idea of what are the most crucial issues that you need to be addressing now.

For example, if during the interviews with your audience you notice that most participants ask “Where are the prices?”, “Why I can’t see the prices?” that is telling you that your audience is expecting to see pricing information on your website. If you don't have it, you probably should. If you have it, then that means the location is hidden or not accessible. You will need to revise the journey that you expected users to follow to find the prices, and definitely shorten that path.

Another common issue that you may find is that your visitors do not relate to the language you are using. In this case, you will need to have a closer look at the taxonomy that you are using and start matching your audience language or coaching them into the terms that you want them to become familiar with.

Every pattern that you find in your feedback represents either a strength or a weakness on your website. In order to have a plan of action to address weaknesses, you will need to identify those who affect the most your conversion rates and prioritize them.

DIY UX design

UX design is a science that combines common sense, human behavior, psychology, aesthetics, etc.

But the good thing about it is that you don't have to start big in order to have an impact on your website. You may have already thought about some of these aspects without knowing that you were addressing UX.

UX is not a process that you have to follow at a particular point in time, obviously the sooner the better, but that doesn't mean that you are too late to do something if your website is already live. On the contrary, if your website is already up and running that will make collecting feedback much easier.

On the UX cheat-sheet you can also find a list of free tools that you can use to start incorporating UX research tasks to find out what would be your next website update.

What do you think? Will you give UX a chance and have an eye-opening experience about what you could be doing better for your customers? Leave us a comment and let's talk UX!


Bio image for Sandra.png

Sandra is the creator of www.yUXer.com.

She is very passionate about websites designed to fulfill the objectives of the audience. After many years working in many projects for the web in different fields, countries and industries, she wants to help those who need some guidance on how to provide an excellent user experience.


Watch my Interview with Sandra about this blog post here:


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