Predictive web

Chris%20AverillUser-centric interface design should really be driven by compelling content, adaptive technology and direct customer insight. By Chris Averill

In a recent pitch, I was lucky enough toput together all the learnings on usability that we have experienced over the past few years.

Central to the design strategy is that all those who visit a website homepage are, in principle, the same – they just want to get what they have come for, as quickly as possible.

As obvious as it sounds, and it is obvious, there are not that many people who really get it and, more importantly, are imple-menting it.

Here at CAD interactive, our team has been combining a little Myers Briggs personality-trait mapping with a dash of predictive web and basing it all on a framework built around the customer.

The end result is an experience that meets the needs of the customer, while ensuring increased conversion rates, up-sell and repeat visits.

The answer is out there, somewhere
As with all great ideas, none of the components we’ve based our design on are new, just the way they are being applied.

Why are so many potential customers finding it so hard to buy online and go for a call-centre route to complete their purchase? Most of us have done it, and it cuts right across e-customers, experienced or not.

There is an intrinsic fear of buying certain things online, but there does not seem to be any clear pattern as to which products, services, brands or experiences drive customers through offline channels.

But what is obvious is the companies that provide information to customers in a format that meets their needs, in a timely way, are much more likely to see successful online transactions.

Call centres work – sometimes
Proof of this approach can been seen or heard every day. The next time you want to buy something, go online, find it and try to buy it answering all the questions you have in mind; cost, availability, colour, weight, size, accessories, delivery, returns, upgrades, subscription, alteration, installation and so on.

Then phone the call centre and go through the process again. Very often the process will be quicker and easier, even if you have to wait to get through.

This is usually because you are speaking to a real person who understands you, is able to change their questions based on your knowledge and provide the sales information at a level of detail you can grasp.

So the more complex the proposition is, the harder it is to get it right online, or so it seems, and this dilemma covers everything from train tickets to satellite TV.

National%20ExpressSeeing everything obviously (SEO 3.0)
Please excuse the pun, but it’s the reality of the way we all look at information and how we want it served up.

As with a call centre, having information put to you in a clear and obvious way works much better than many scatter-gun web-sites where you find yourself drowning in information.

Firstly, why segregate your customers at the start of their journey? When you search for a train ticket on National Express East Coast you are presented with the best value and most convenient ticket options on one screen, providing two very different customer groups, business and leisure travellers, with a single, shared experience.

Next, provide returning visitors with useful information, especially if you have a large or complex website. Amazon do this well, showing what I have looked at before and what others are looking at in relationship to my interests.

Testing times
At the beginning of this piece, I stated that, along with compelling content, one alsoneeds direct customer insight to make a website work.

To make the predictive web happen, you need to ensure that the site being improved already works well. You can then use this as a starting point for successful variant testing.

The key to testing this way is not to be afraid to try it, as one of my more forward-thinking clients puts it/ “We should always be asking, ‘Why not?’, not ‘Why?'”
We will often use a combination of pre and post-launch testing tools, including:

• Rapid prototype, remote testing
• Functional lab testing
• A/B testing
• Multivariate testing

Once a site is live, there are loads of tools out there to run predictive content implementation, from Maxymiser to Vignette, that allow you to both change content displayed based on previous history and tune your site based on quantitative data.

Ultimately, successfully using predictive, dynamic content and personality-trait profiling is about knowing your customers needs before they do, through good insight and proven research.

Ensuring you partner with an agency that has a good track record in user centred design will guarantee you the best possible results and, as we have here at CADinteractive, demonstrate these through improved Key Performance Indicators, sales and happy customers.

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