As the devices we use to access the internet have evolved, the importance of the usability of the websites across multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems has exponentially increased. Sometimes an older process that worked well 10 years ago isn’t as effective on modern devices (mobile, tablets, etc.), and hurts a business’s bottom line. But how do we know where to start? Is the process we decided to improve a symptom of a larger problem? To get a better understanding of how usability and process improvement is impacting the modern business world, I sat down with Jeremy McMillan, President, and Chief Marketing Technologist at the digital marketing agency FunnelGrowth.
When people click onto your site from a simple Google search or a Bing search and they see that the site is not mobile compatible, they’re going to click the back button and go right back to Google and then go to the next search result.
In October of 2016, mobile and tablet internet browsing overtook desktop internet browsing as the most popular way for people to perform searches (1). This has impacted the way businesses market themselves on the internet immensely, as tech giant Google will display the top mobile-friendly websites on a search performed on a tablet or mobile device (2). Businesses that have better usability on mobile devices have a big advantage over competitors that do not.
Jeremy McMillan: Whenever people are searching for these local service businesses, whether it be a plumber or a restaurant or an accounting firm or a real estate broker, or whatever it is, people are going to their phones first. Usually, your most successful internet device is your phone. You’ve got that on you all the time. So once you show them the numbers of, okay, Mr. Smith, you live here in Atlanta and here are the number of people who did searches for plumbers in the Atlanta metro area in the last month and here’s the number of those searches that actually came from mobile devices. As you can see your site is not mobile compatible at this moment so even if someone were interested in getting in contact with you they have to pinch the screen just to see the contact phone number.
A lot of times when people click onto your site just from a Google search or a Bing search and they see that the site is not mobile compatible, they’re going to click the back button and go right back to Google and then go to the next search result. So the amount of business that you can lose over the course of a month or even over the course of a year can be astounding. It’d be way more than what you would pay to revamp your website.
Most of us have phones that were built within the last three years. So if you’ve got a six-year-old website it might be mobile compatible but the way that the icons appear or the menus appear is not user-friendly.
Often times a company website is the first interaction that a consumer is having with a business. According to Mark Brinker, “75% of consumers admit that they judge a business’ credibility based on their website design ” (3). In order to keep making a good first impression, it is imperative that business websites are updated every few years to ensure proper usability, and iconography across multiple devices.
Jeremy McMillan: We also get a lot of situations where someone updated a site maybe a few years ago, and that’s when mobile compatible sites were just coming out, but the solution they have is not compatible with the mobile technologies we have now. Most of us have phones that were built within the last three years. So if you’ve got a six-year-old website it might be mobile compatible but the way that the icons appear or the menus appear is not user-friendly. So people are still having to do that kind of pinching and squinting with their eyes to try to pull up certain information on their phone, which is again, a big turn off. People are going to hit the back button on their browser and they’re going to go to the next search result more often than not.
The customer journey is the backbone of what we do
As eCommerce has evolved, there has been a greater focus on the customer journey and mapping that journey. Products and companies used to be found on the internet primarily through web searches, but more recently can be discovered through direct links that can be discovered on Social Media. Customer journey mapping helps keep the customer at the center of everything that is associated with the business and allows businesses the opportunity to refine the processes a customer interacts with at each stage of a marketing funnel (4).
Jeremy McMillan: The customer journey is the backbone of what we do. So everything that we’re doing from creating ads to creating websites and putting a copy on those websites is really meant to catch the customer journey or catch the customer where they are in their journey. Are they aware of their issues? Which is top of the funnel so to speak. They know they have a problem now. Are they considering different solutions, different companies, and different vendors? Or are they toward the bottom of the funnel where they are ready to make a decision? They’ve got their credit cards out or they’ve got the phone in their hand ready to call that one company and either get an estimate or get somebody out to the house.
Business websites are comprised of a bunch of interacting process systems that help lead the customer through the marketing funnel to a purchase. When a problem with a process is uncovered, there are a few steps an organization should take before coming up with a solution.
A business is run only as well as its systems.
Maintaining new processes and implementing new procedures is critical after a new process is implemented. A top-down approach is necessary to make sure every level employee is buying into the new system and procedures.
Jeremy McMillan: A lot of people will get a project finished and then they think that oh. Okay. Great. We just had to do it that one time, but there’s ongoing maintenance to make sure that it functions correctly and you get the best use out of it. Business owners have a lot of other things going on, so that’s one of the things that’ll fall through the cracks, especially when they don’t have anyone managing it internally.
On our team, we do these checklists when we’re doing work for clients. Once we finish the engagement we’ll also hand the checklist off to a client so that they can go through it. So for instance when we complete the website build for someone we do a set of instructional videos on how to navigate the content management system that they use. Usually, it’s WordPress. Most people just want to know, okay, if we have new blog content, if we have some new images how do we put this stuff on the site and how do we make sure it appears correctly.
I know not everybody does because usually I’ll go back to the customer three months later and say, “Hey, how’s everything going? I noticed that you put up some new content and it’s a little bit different than what we had put on that checklist. Do you need any help with that?” Or something like that. A business is run only as well as its systems.
As the devices we use continue to evolve faster than ever before, it is imperative that companies are continually improving their usability and processes. Websites need to be designed and updated with the customer journey at the forefront of the developer’s mind. As problems with a process are uncovered, it is essential to unearth the root cause of the problem, so that the problem doesn’t continue after being improved. A top-down approach is crucial to making sure an entire entity buys into the improved process and continues to maintain it. There are other strategies to improving user experience and processes. What strategies have you employed to improve user experiences and processes where you work? Are there any best practices that you stick to when facing a user experience or process improvement problem?
Featured Image: Hsu, James. “Citrusbits.com.” Citrusbits.com, 26 June 2018, citrusbits.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-photo-v5-copy-1024×621.png.
(1,2) Gibbs, Samuel. “Mobile Web Browsing Overtakes Desktop for the First Time.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 2 Nov. 2016, www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/02/mobile-web-browsing-desktop-smartphones-tablets.
(3) Brinker, Mark, et al. “Research Shows Having A Bad Website Can Hurt Your Business – Mark Brinker.” MarkBrinkercom, 7 June 2019, www.markbrinker.com/a-bad-website-can-hurt-your-business.
(4) Steuer, Andy. “What Is Customer Journey Mapping And Why Is It Important?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Nov. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/11/26/what-is-customer-journey-mapping-and-why-is-it-important/#47a068855a76.
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