The fish are the last to discover the sea, so says the Chinese proverb. This analogy may stretch to Godiva, whose staffers had been working so closely with its site they weren’t sure what was needed to make it even better.
According to Beth Brown, Godiva’s senior manager of interactive, prior to an October 2001 makeover the company’s interactive group tweaked its site based only on competitive benchmarking and intuition.
“Before, I literally had mock-ups [of page designs] and would ask [my staff] what they thought,” she says.
This time, Brown sought advice directly from customers with usability testing.
Brown and executives from e-commerce consultancy Fry Multimedia recruited eight people for a day of off-site, in-depth testing at a facility in New York City. The users ranged in age from 29 to 49, fit Godiva.com’s user profile and had different levels of Internet experience.
Godiva employees watched through a mirrored window as one user at a time performed eight assigned tasks on the chocolate merchant’s Web site. The tasks were divided between ease of navigation, ease of shopping bag and checkout, and comparisons to competitors’ sites such as RedEnvelope and Harry and David.
The tests uncovered several user needs, including:
• more clickable navigation graphics at the top of each page, and simplified navigation systems on the left and bottom;
• more easily identifiable home page links;
• more easily recognizable error messages; and
• better organized shipping information on the checkout page.
Brown also discovered, contrary to her own preconception, that users didn’t mind scrolling down a Web page to read relevant information. This prompted an overall compression of more information into less pages, and more specifically, the reduction of checkout clicks from roughly eight to five.
Other Godiva.com improvements include:
• tabs that show users where they are on the site;