According to a recent article by InternetRetailer.com, a survey of online retailers indicates most are redesigning their websites with an eye toward improving the bottom line.
I find this article and survey very interesting, for two key reasons. First, among the surveyed internet retailers there’s a clear and growing recognition of the value of usability testing, and second, the article itself touts usability testing as one of the best ways of getting better results from a web redesign project.
The article goes on to mention some surprising survey results, including:
“Improved site optimization is the top priority for 72.9% of merchants, followed by clearly organized home, category and product pages at 62.4%, better navigation at 49.4%, improved site search at 47.1% and faster checkout at 40%.”
Don’t you think it’s interesting that among the surveyed retailers, half listed optimization, organization of pages and better navigation as top priorities with their web redesign projects? I do! All of these benefit directly from usability testing and usability enhancements.
The Internet Retailer Survey:
The survey was e-mailed in October to subscribers of IRNewsLink, the Internet Retailer magazineâ€™s e-newsletter, and all responses were collected and analyzed by Knowledge Marketing, which has partnered with Internet Retailer in a series of surveys of the e-retailing industry. A total of 95 responses were received, including 45 web-only retailers, 25 chain store retailers, 14 consumer brand manufacturers and 11 catalog companies.
Usability Mentioned by 1/3 of Testers:
What fascinated me are the numbers associated with usability testing: 78% of retailers reported they test their website. Of those that test their website, 36.7% conduct one-on-one testing (presumably usability testing). Other testing choices were A/B testing at 40%, Focus groups at 20% and Multivariate testing at 3.3%.
What’s also interesting is the internet retailer’s attitudes about customer feedback. According to the survey, 91.2% consider gathering feedback on their next redesign from customers as being either somewhat or very important. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want to shop at an online store where the internet retailer considers gathering customer feedback unimportant! Whatever happened to the customer is always right! Again, usability testing would clearly benefit those retailers looking for actionable feedback from their customers.
There are other important clues into the minds of internet retailers in this study, including the fact that even though the number one item they want to add to their sites this year is video or streaming media (43.3%), a whopping 54% of those that report already using video on their websites indicate that video makes no difference in increasing the average ticket for shoppers! Worse, another 25% of retailers report the average ticket only increased by 10% or less! Clearly, adding video to an internet retail site without considering the usability of the shopping experience adds little to no value.
In terms of what’s keeping the surveyed internet retailers up at night worrying, they report that their current designs biggest drawbacks are; Limited personalization (61.2%), outdated design and graphics on home, category and product pages (49.4%), no interactive applications (45.9%) and no or limited advanced features or functions (41.2%). A whopping 34.1% listed poor navigation as the biggest drawback to their current design! All of these drawbacks are directly improved with usability testing and usability optimizations.
Usability Testing, the Best Way to Get Better Results:
I find this quote interesting, in which usability testing is featured:
“”One of the best ways retailers can get better results from their next redesign is by building in some form of usability testing,” Kurani says. “By conducting frequent tests, retailers will get a clear sense of how their customers are reacting to new design elements. They can then implement the treatments that delivered the best results.”
Usability testing can also help retailers do a better job of deploying video, rich media and customer reviews.”
Did you notice the last sentence? If you are a usability practitioner, then you better be able to know how to test and optimize rich media, including video, customer review applications and online community tools.
If you’re interested in learning more about the survey results read the full InternetRetailer.com web redesign article, I think you’ll find it full of interesting information, whether you’re an internet retailer or usability practitioner.