A new company offering advanced website analysis to improve the returns companies get from their investment in the Internet is being launched by a leading UK expert in human-computer interaction (HCI), Dr Andy Smith.
Smith believes many websites could increase their performance by up to 50 per cent by applying advanced usability research techniques to increase sales, improve communication or enhance visitor experience.
“Our objective is to improve website effectiveness significantly by enhancing usability. This will either shrink the 66 per cent of customers who abandon their shopping trolleys before they reach a checkout or cut the 50 per cent of visitors to corporate sites who cannot find the information they want.”
His company, Optimum.web, will use a mixture of expert and user-based methods to achieve these improvements, with a strong emphasis on “intense contextual enquiry”. Analysis of cultural and international issues will be offered to aid the overseas expansion of UK companies.
Following a series of frustrating visits to top e-commerce sites, Smith realised that “if the latest HCI techniques had been applied, their performance would have improved significantly”.
He has teamed up with Keith Simpson, former managing director of PR company Shandwick Communications, and now a consultant in reputation management.
“The Boo.com and Clickmango disasters are classic examples of style over substance, with investors paying the price,” says Smith. “While creativity is essential to make one site different from the next and enhance aesthetic appeal, it is functionality, and ease of access to functionality, that pays the bills.”