Your Web Site - Usable or Snooze-able?
By Gabrielle Mosquera
Logical question: How do I know if my customers can properly navigate my Web site as it stands?
Logical answer: Ask them!
No doubt you've heard a similar pitch in conference sessions. But in his recent sessions at The DMA's net.marketing and Annual Catalog Conference shows, Phil Terry, CEO of e-consultancy Creative Good, took this advice one step further by including parts of his company's Customer Experience Methodology (CEM). According to Terry, CEM is less task-focused than many existing user experience research methods, and relies heavily on observations culled from what he terms "listening labs." The following notes summarize each of CEM's five phases, and highlight some principles that marketers may want to remember.
1. Business and service review—determines the value of the Web site as a part of the marketer's general business goals by evaluating its sales numbers, Web traffic logs, annual reports and more.
2. Listening labs—combine elements of focus groups and task-based usability testing. The one-on-one sessions usually last about 45 minutes each, and emphasize the behavior (not the opinions) of customers. This allows for customers to interact with the site as naturally as possible.
3. Customer experience strategy—not to be confused with corporate strategy, this is a brief summary of the changes needed to improve customer experience based on feedback from the listening labs. The presentation of one strategy will likely be more acceptable to senior management than the presentation of ten site changes, making it easier to implement numerous changes later on.
4. Prototypes—these are simple diagrams, created in Visio, PowerPoint, AppleWorks or any other drawing program, that exemplify the changes the site needs to better the customer experience. They show location, size and wording of a Web page's major components. It's important that the prototypes embody the customer experience strategy.
5. Ongoing advisory work—the critical component that helps determine whether the customer experience strategy has been faithfully carried out, by advising the company's implementation team. This work continues even after launch.
Phil Terry can be reached at (212) 736-2075, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.