Success online despite the gloom – How about 5% more?

Date: 1st October 2008
Author: Deri Jones

A colleague and I have been talking to a number of our online Retail clients just now, trying to better understand how they each use our UX centred web performance services. Doom and gloom from the UK high street sales situation came up a few times, not surprisingly; credit crunch and all are in the newspapers every day it seems. But the online teams are seeing a better time, and there’s still lots of opportunities for sites to add more and improve their business.

It’s not always easy to improve some portals – legacy and back-end issues can slow-down some organisations’ efforts to benefit from better improvements It was great to hear some success stories – one that stands out was a whopping 5% increase in successful Add-to-Basket journeys, for a London client. We’d set up 24/7 website monitoring of a range of the ‘money making’ routes through the site: using Dynamic User Journeys, and covering the usual retail website bases:

  • Add to Basket: navigate
  • Add to Basket : search
  • Checkout
  • MyAccount

Each a multi-page route: we measure the user experience in terms of how the speed of the journey varies during the day, and week to week. Immediately we spotted a problem – a 5% failure rate on the Search journey. There was no error page as such, it was just that the search would wrongly respond ‘Nothing matches your query’ – for products that were available! Not all the time, just randomly, for 5% of samples. It turned out to be quick fix by the database coding team – and left our contact with a smile on the face: now the ‘king of UX’ at the company!  “..at last we really know what’s happening on not just a URL here and there, but on meaningful journeys across our site  … confidence from our senior managers has grown, and they are less inclined to micro-manage what we do online!’ Not all user experience problems are so quick: but we see problems of this size all the time, invisible until proper user journey based web performance measurements are brought in. Though the credit crunch bites, there’s still a growing online cake to go for: and it’ll be the online stores that keep on finding and fixing the (currently invisible) 1% or 2% or 5% of failed journeys due to subtle, unlogged problems, that will leave their competition standing.

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