The Power of User-Generated Content

It should come as little surprise to literally everyone that the pandemic and its continued persistence has significantly shifted the buying habits of all consumers. This has left many brands scratching their heads and scrambling to find ways to get these consumers attention, bring them to their websites and turn these visits from just a casual browse to that of buying stuff.

The big question here is have the effects of 2020, and even a big chunk of 2021, fundamentally shifted and permanently changed how people discover, shop, and engage with businesses?

 

New Research is Helping Provide an Answer

A new research report from the team at Stackla offers insight into this and reveals that not only is the increase in online shopping here to stay but also, that today’s consumers want brands to provide them with a more authentic, personalised shopping experience.

The report, Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC, surveyed more than 2,000 consumers across the US, UK and Australia. It found that consumers “increasingly seek out and value the social content that real customers are creating about brands. This means that visual social proof—like user-generated content (UGC)— is more important now than ever for brands to leverage as part of their online marketing strategy.”

We’re going to look at some key findings of the report, but we encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. It has a ton of great information that will help you develop solid strategies when thinking about how to deal with this huge consumer shift.

 

Creating the Authentic Experience Shoppers are looking for

In the report, Stackla found that 88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands, they like and support (with 50% saying it’s very important) and that 83% of consumers believe retailers need to provide more authentic shopping experiences to customers like them.

That’s great we hear you say but how do we do that? Well, the report can help with that too. Let’s start by looking at content.

We know content is incredibly powerful when it comes to marketing and advertising with some of the most successful businesses spending 40% of their entire marketing budget on it but is it being spent on the right kind.

Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

A strong majority of businesses are either already spending large amounts of budget on influencer marketing strategies these days or are looking to include it in their marketing strategy. However, as you can see from the image above, only 10% of consumers say influencer content resonates as authentic with them, and a mere 19% say that brand-created content is the most authentic.

The real authenticity winner, with 59% of consumers, is content created by other consumers or in other words user-generated content (UGC). It is by far and away the most authentic type of content — meaning people are 3.1x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content and 5.9x more likely to say it's the most authentic compared to influencer content.

 

And it Does More than just Offer Authenticity

UGC is clearly ticking the box for the consumer, but it also has a big impact on their decision to make a purchase.

In the report, it was found that UGC is 8.7x more impactful in influencing purchasing decisions than influencer content. 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, while a very small 9% said influencer content impacts their purchases.

Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

And it doesn’t stop there, UGC just keeps on giving. 72% of consumers say real customer photos and videos are the content they most want to see on eCommerce sites when making purchasing decisions and 80% of consumers say they’d be more likely to purchase a product from an online store if its website had photos and videos from real customers.

It is hard to argue with those numbers. UGC is clearly an area that if you’re not currently thinking about you might want to start, and here is the reason why. 58% of consumers have left an eCommerce store without purchasing because the site didn’t have customer reviews or photos.

 

UGC is Easier than You Might Think

Consumers are happy to engage with brands that want to share their content and they’re eager for the content they create to be seen and used by their favourite brands.


Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

As you can see, consumers would grant a brand permission to use an image or video they posted of clothing or accessories (58%), a home goods product (58%), a beauty/health/wellness product (54%), a sporting goods product (53%) or a recent trip/excursion (52%) throughout their marketing.

And there are rewards for using this content outside of the ones we’ve already talked about.

43% of consumers — and 47% of Gen Z — say they would be more likely to continue engaging with and purchasing from a brand if it shared their photos or videos throughout its marketing.

 

The Full Report has so Much More

We’ve just scratched the surface of the insights in this report and again we’d encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. You’ll find a stack of insights on the importance of personalisation within the shopping experience and why it is so important as well as key insights at the industry level.

 

Putting it Into Action

Hopefully, you’ve seen the overwhelming benefits of including UGC into your strategy and now you’re thinking about how to make it a reality.

The Experience team at Eclipse is here to help. We can work with you to define the best way to include it in the user journey and make it part of the personalisation that your site offers. All you need to do is reach out to us and we can start talking options.


CX, UX and UI. What’s the difference?

If you’re in the world of digital commerce or to be honest delivering anything via the medium of digital, you’ve no doubt heard these 3 terms before. These are often used interchangeably and can mean different things to different people.

The news here is that they aren’t but when you look at things from the perspective of someone who doesn’t work with these things every day, it’s easy to see how people get confused with terminologies that have similar meanings yet are fundamentally different.

So, were here to clear up any confusion. We’ll explain these terms individually and show up how they are related.

 

CX or Customer Experience

We’ve talked about Customer experience before in some detail, but we’ll give a quick overview here for context.

Customer experience (CX) is closely linked to user experience (UX), but there is a difference. Unlike UX which focuses solely on a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service, CX is centred on the customer's entire experience. Think of it as a large circle that wraps itself around UX.

It is fundamental to user experiences in different places and at different times. A consumer can have a bunch of different experiences with the same brand. CX is a combination of all these, across all channels where you as a brand engage with your customers.

Because customer experience covers all these different user experiences, it doesn’t just concern your online channels, but in-store ones as well. Great brands often go the extra mile to establish a good CX, aligning different channels such as social media and customer service.

A thing to note here, as we mentioned in a previous blog, customer experience is not customer service. Customer service is a user experience that falls into the customer experience circle.

 

UX or User Experience

The term user experience has an interesting history.

It first appeared when Donald Norman, the acclaimed UX design expert wrote about it in his book, The Design of Everyday Things. It was first published in 1988 and marked a shift from the previous term “user-centred system design” where instead of focusing on the system itself and the aesthetics of the interface, Norman concentrated on the needs of the user.

It wasn’t until the early 90s when Norman joined Apple Computer first as a fellow, and then as a “user experience architect” that the term made its way into a job title.

According to Donald Norman “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

Looking at that definition it doesn’t make mention of tech or the internet. It’s not surprising really because the world wasn’t so digitised back when it was defined. While in the original sense of the definition UX could include any engagement of prospects and customers with a brand, its definition has become strictly digital. It is pretty clear to now see how the confusion between UX and CX can come about.

If we take it to the brass tacks, user experience (UX) at its core has the purpose of optimising a product or service to the total satisfaction of the customer. It achieves this goal by enhancing the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment of whatever is being offered.

UX should create a smooth journey for customers. This journey will encompass your customers visiting your website, browsing around, selecting a product, and navigating to the checkout. But it doesn’t end there. It also covers the confirmation of the order, delivery, and customer services. Again, when you look at this you can see how the confusion with CX can happen.

Fundamentally, UX is what helps users accomplish their goals and solve a particular problem they might have.

 

UI or User Interface but also User Interaction

We’re going to need you to stay with us a little here as we’re about to go down a bit of a rabbit hole.

When you look up UI, you may be faced with either user interface or user interaction as the answer. They are not the same thing, but they’re very very closely related. Essentially you can’t have one without the other, but you can alter one without having to touch the other.

User interface design focuses on the design of the visual interface, user interaction design focuses on the design of the global interaction behaviour of the system.

To add in a further complication some people have started to refer to user interaction as interaction design or IxD. Either way, we will explain what they both are and how they link right now, and we’ll attempt to simplify it as much as possible.

 

Let’s start with User Interaction

As the name suggests, it is concerned with how a user interacts with something. As an example, if you look at a website or an app the user interaction would be things like deciding if the user should swipe, tap, press, or maybe even hold to achieve an outcome.

Think Tinder with the interaction of swiping left, right or up. The user interaction or interaction design here was about being able to achieve a result, quickly and easily without the need to find the button on the screen. At this point, it is not about what it looks like but how the person is going to do what needs to be done to achieve a goal.

 

Now Let’s talk User Interface

This is where the visual aspect comes into play. You may have designed a great interaction but if the design of information on screen does not lend itself to the interaction that has been designed, you’re going to be delivering a poor user experience.

The UI should be putting the relevant information in a place that makes sense and is easy to read and understand. It should be making sure it is accessible and that colours and fonts are not creating issues for users making it unusable.

It’s about layout, imagery and animations coming together in a coherent design formula that when supported with intuitive user interaction make for an exceptional user experience.

If we go back to Tinder as the example, the user interface of having the large image front and centre with the information you need to make a quick decision on the front page make the interaction of swiping left, right or up easy.

The addition of tab indicators across the top of the picture let people know there are more pictures to see and that tapping on the left or right of the image moves the user onto the next.

Without that piece of user interface design, the interaction is dead. There would be nothing to tell a user that the tap is the key to more information. And at the same time, they have added a small icon to indicated that there is other information hidden within the profile.

Giving it a tap opens it up but if the icon was not there and you were a first-time user, you may completely miss that interaction or possibly stumble upon it by accident.

 

Bringing it all together

Hopefully, we’ve managed to offer a clear explanation of each of the elements and how they link together. It is easy to see how they can be confused but when you understand that they all need to coexist in harmony and that they all hold an equal weight of importance you’re able to harness them and create truly special things for your customers.

Just remember that UI is a part of UX, which is a part of CX. All of these are dependent on one another, and you can create an engaging experience when they’re in sync.

Exceptional customer experience needs exceptional user experiences, which requires an exceptional user interface and interactions.

And at Eclipse, this is exactly what we do. We make good things happen by putting data and your customers at the heart of every strategy, design, and experience decision to create more personalised experiences that make a genuine difference.

If you need a hand with any of these elements, we’re here to help. Just reach out to our Experience team and we can get to creating exceptional experiences together.


Tactics to Consider as you Prepare for Christmas 2021

You may be asking why we’re talking about Christmas in September but for a lot of businesses this may be a make or break moment for them and so far, the news has been packed with potential supply issues and price increases as a result.

What we’ve got for you in this post are some things you can do to get customers coming to the site, keep them there and make it as easy as possible for them to find the perfect gift, drop it in their cart and checkout without any worries.

 

Convenience is King

We’ve talked about this a lot, but it is super important. Customers are putting this so high on their list of reasons why they choose to shop with the stores they do, you can’t ignore it.

And when you think about Christmas it is even more important. People have several gifts that they need to buy and if the process is made too difficult for them, they go and look for an easier way somewhere else.

Some of the things we’ll talk about below will have long term benefits that will continue to pay back well after the Holiday period is over.

 

Offer Inspiration

We all know that one person who has everything and when it comes to finding them a gift, we’re left with no place to start.

Helping those customers is easy. Take the time to create curated lists of gifts that filter into different categories. It’s super easy to do and removes a step that the customer must take when looking around what you have to offer.

Think prices. Having options to see gifts under different pricing takes people right to a selection that meets budget restrictions. Create an option for Him and for Her. You could even break it down by activity. Gifts for those who love to cook or love to garden. The options are endless and will differ depending on what it is you sell but customers love it.

By creating these filter options you’re taking people straight to the stuff they’re looking for, removing things that aren’t relevant and offering a level of personalization. It removes frustration and reduces the chances of people bouncing off the website from a perception that you just don’t have what they’re looking for.

I can tell you I am one of these shoppers. There are websites that I will always go back to specifically because they have gift finders. If I don’t know where to start, they become the start. And I do this year-round, not just at Christmas. Birthdays, Easter, you name it. If I must buy a gift and I need a little help, these sites will get a visit and almost always a purchase from me.

 

Create Bundles and Make Related Buys Super Relevant

As a retailer, we’re always looking for ways to increase the average order value. Creating gifting bundles is a great way to do this.

Fashion retailers do some of this by highlighting ‘complete the look’ on a single product where the model is wearing other items. If you can do the same for your product range, do it. Make it easier by giving them the option to click a single button and add it all to the cart without the need for going to multiple pages.

This also works well with gift foods or interior décor. If you’ve gone through the hassle of creating beautiful images that create a lifestyle for people, make it easy to get everything they see in the picture.

And when it comes to related products as add-ons things like batteries, cables, and things that make the first product work are a must. Everybody hates buying something and then not being able to use it because they need to buy something else for that to happen.

Make it clear that they will need this extra item for it to function. However, be smart about this. Make sure that the original item does not have it included.

I was subject to this just after buying my new house. I had to do some renovation work in the cloakroom that required a toilet and taps. When I picked what I wanted I was given a ‘you’ll need this’ list, so I clicked them all and added them to the basket, but something got me to pause, and I went back and looked at the individual items like the taps and the basin.

I had been told you needed to buy the flex pipes for the tap and the waste for the basin, I assume because 99% of them don’t come with these extras, but the ones I had picked did include them so I would have ended up with two of everything if I had just gone with it and then I would have been left with the need to return things and a feeling of having been cheated.

You can’t always shortcut these things with a one size fits all in the back of your website. Triple check and make sure that what you’re telling people they need, they actually need.

 

Remove Doubt as Early as Possible

One of the biggest barriers to a person buying, especially over Christmas, is uncertainty around delivery and returns.

Customers want to make sure that what they’re buying is going to arrive on time and should there be an issue it can be returned or exchanged easily.

By putting this information front and centre on the website, so that it can be found easily, you’re removing this doubt. And if you keep the delivery information updated so that they are aware of the last time that they can order to guarantee delivery before a particular date, you will pick up last-minute shoppers and get those who might be on the fence to a decision point faster.

Put the messages in multiple places and if there are products that have special delivery restrictions or returns guidelines, put that info on the product pages. This kind of information can’t be over-communicated.

And if you’re offering extended return times, tell people. It might just get them to buy from you rather than another retailer.

Another thing that is important here is information about delays, should they arise. Being totally transparent about these kinds of things builds trust and should reduce the amount of inbound contact about these issues.

 

Make it Easy for People to Checkout

This is another frustration for people that are shopping across different sites whilst Christmas shopping. Having to go through a 400 step sign up process sends people in the other direction.

Having a guest checkout with the ability to turn it into an account after the purchase is a much easier way to get people through. The hook to create the account is to keep up to date with the delivery of the items but having to create an account before you can do things like see delivery costs will kill a sale.

As important as the guest checkout is the payment options you offer. Offering options such as Apple or Google Pay and PayPal Express essentially gives people a ‘one click’ checkout. It pulls all the information around delivery and billing details and sticks them right into the checkout.

I use this all the time. I never have to find my wallet to triple check numbers on cards and during the hunt for the wallet rethink my purchase.

If you don’t offer these yet, think about getting them on before Christmas shopping really kicks off. Those who shop via mobile will love you for it.

 

Create a Gifting Experience

If people are buying gifts and sending them directly to the people getting them, having the option to have something gift wrapped is brilliant. Also including the option to include a gift receipt and keep invoices out of the delivery is great too.

Gift wrapping creates a great impression not only for you as the retailer but for the person getting the parcel and for the person that bought it.

A few years back when I was still in New Zealand, I bought some gifts from Harvey Nichols and had them gifted wrapped and sent as Christmas gifts to my sisters. I was blown away by how easy it was and when I got a chance to see what had been delivered, I was amazed. My sisters loved it and whenever I need to send a gift to someone and want them to have an incredible opening experience, they’re my go-to.

Having this as an option can help you stand out in the crowd, and it is also a great upsell opportunity.

 

Together they Create an Exceptional Experience

Having all or some of these will help give your customers a great shopping experience. The easier it is for them to do what it is they want, the more likely they are to do it.

And if you’re not sure where to start with these things, reach out to us. We’re here to help and our Experience team have a bag full of tricks to give you the edge.


What is Aspire? (and why you need it)

Making the best-uary, of your estuary

“I have a dream…and that dream evolves based on new data and learnings”

Just to clarify in case my attempt at creating a clever headline has confused anyone. Much like rivers flowing into a single point, I’m referring to aligning multiple workstreams and projects into a single vision.

As businesses increasingly compete and challenge each other to reach the top of their respective markets, one of the challenges faced is throwing things at the fan and seeing what sticks. This type of action can have great results but ultimately results in a completely disjointed experience on their website.

These are some of the reasons why, at Eclipse, we offer a programme we call Aspire.

 

What is Aspire?

We all love to dream. We all have our own interpretations of what ‘great’ or ‘next-level’ looks like. This ultimately creates extensive discussions and debates on who is right and who is wrong (hint: neither answer is correct until proven).

The cause of debate is generally around where time, effort and budget should be spent. But let’s wait a moment…let’s take a step back – what is the objective? Is this aimed at a short-term gain or long-term sustainability of the business? Whatever the answer may be, projects often head off in different directions and create a disjointed experience.

Think about it. I’m sure you can remember multiple times when you’ve been on a website and one part of the site feels significantly better/different than the other. “Meh” you may be thinking…as long as it works. This view, I can absolutely tell you, is short-term thinking and can seriously damage your long-term objectives.

This can lead to a stage when you feel you really need to invest heavily in an unplanned redesign of the whole website, or you turn users away as the journey no longer makes sense. You may not even realise it till late on as visitor numbers have gradually (or sharply) declined and you’re not sure why.

Our Aspire programme is about going beyond the short-term. Aspire is about removing all the barriers of today, be that technology, process, budget or limitations to create the best experience you can envisage for your customers.

Aspire is about making you stand out in the market as being the “best of the best”…the “Top Gun!” (apologies Tony Scott). Most importantly, Aspire is about aligning all experiments, changes or parallel workstreams within teams or organisations to ensure everything and everyone is driving towards achieving the same vision.

Whether you’re a single team running multiple channels of experimentation, or multiple teams operating individually, Aspire is here to help you align your workstreams to create consistency from both a UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface) and CX (Customer Experience) perspective.

 

How often should you run Aspire programme?

This is a really important question to ask. Aspire creates this long-term vision, but this is a constantly evolving thing.

As you learn more about how your customers are interacting with your website, and you as a business, this vision will evolve. This can be due to new technology hitting the market, change of circumstance or even changes in the political and public landscape (particularly relevant over the last year).

We monitor this through behavioural analysis using data and predictive patterns. “X has just been announced – how can we mitigate the impact now, so it doesn’t affect us going forward” is just one example of how that may emerge.

 

Cheesy analogy time…

A post like this wouldn’t be the same without a cheesy analogy, so here we go. Think carefully about how you align business objectives. I’ll compare Aspire to rockets and fireworks.

The short-term way of thinking can be seen as a firework. All these channels shooting off in all directions. All are exciting, all are great and can end up providing a beautiful array of colour and success, however, ultimately fade away and come floating down to earth as ash.

Aspire on the other hand is comparable to a rocket. Aspire is your launchpad, that looks beyond the initial excitement of colour and wonderment, to a longer-term future that shoots you into orbit and allows you to stay there.

The Aspire approach can be run as an individual programme, but we aim to use this thinking in everything we do. We consider the pros and cons based on your individual business objectives and goals.

So, if you’d like to have a chat about how this can work for you, give us a call and we’d be more than happy to see how we can help.


Here’s What Customers Want From Direct To Consumer UX

If you hadn’t noticed eCommerce is on the rise and has been for a while now but alongside traditional retailers finding a way to get their store online, there has been another shift taking place. It is gaining momentum and there are more and more examples of it becoming a defining point of success for businesses.

What we’re talking about here is Direct to Consumer. More and more manufacturing brands are taking advantage of the benefits of taking total control of a sales channel and selling directly to the people that are using their products.

However, along with all the benefits and just like everything in life, there are a few challenges. One of which is the expectations of your customers. You might expect that they would be the same as what they would be for multi-brand and traditional retailers. And to be fair, that is not a bad assumption to make but new research from Baymard is letting us know that this isn’t the case.

The Baymard research team spent 1,440 hours usability testing and researching Small Catalog, Direct to Consumer website features, layouts, content, and designs leading to their latest research study on Direct to Consumer UX.

The research is based on more than 217 qualitative user/site usability test sessions following the “Think Aloud” protocol (1:1 remote moderated testing).

The test sites covered smaller Direct to Consumer brands with smaller product catalogues including beauty, apparel and accessories, cookware and fitness. Some of the brands included Allbirds, MVMT & Daniel Wellington.

What they found even with testing a broad variety of smaller Direct to Consumer sites, was that users would repeatedly abandon Direct to Consumer sites due to issues with the layout, content types, or features. In fact, the users encountered 1,370+ medium-to-severe usability issues on the smaller Direct to Consumer sites.

For the report, they analysed and distilled the results into 413 guidelines found within their research study. These cover most aspects of the Direct to Consumer experience, at both a high level of general user behaviour as well as at a more granular level of specific issues users are likely to encounter.

What you'll find here is some key highlights that’ll help when you’re working toward getting a Direct to Consumer offer into the market.

 

Things To Consider When Making Direct To Consumer A Success

 

• Customers Want to Get to Know You First

One of the things that Baymard discovered during the research is that where customers of traditional B2C businesses are likely to be looking at the product price, variations and returns policy, for example, when making buying decisions, consumers are rarely making buying decisions based solely on what they think of the brand itself.

In stark contrast, users on Direct to Consumer sites typically want to “get to know” the brand and products at a deeper level before they make a purchase decision. In fact, many users want to feel like the site shares their tastes, values, and goals.

And this is supported by research from Diffusion. They found that perception is driving purchasing with 44% of consumers believing Direct to Consumer brands produce a higher quality product at a lower price point than traditional competitors and nearly a quarter (23%) perceive Direct to Consumer brands to be an authority of what’s cool and on-trend.

All this dictates the type of information you need to provide on your Direct to Consumer site beyond just “the basics”. That being what is expected by users on almost all e-commerce sites. Things like product titles & images of the products. But it also changes where and how the information is presented.

 

• The Homepage is More Important Than You Might Think

What Baymard found during the research is that when consumers are visiting Direct to Consumer sites, a first step for them was to spend more time exploring the homepage than what’s typically observed or expected of users during general B2C testing.

As an example, consumers on more traditional B2C sites like John Lewis or ASOS, will often start by going directly to the search bar or the main navigation, to quickly drill down into the site to begin finding products of interest.

But, during their Direct to Consumer testing, consumers tended to first scroll through the homepage, considering the highlighted content, to determine if they should spend any more time on the site.

 

• They’ll Dig Deeper to Find Information Before Buying

Another thing that came out during the research was that consumers spent more time digging deeper for particular pieces of information. This included heading to About Us pages and for lists of faqs so that they could answer not only basic questions but also more specific ones.

Our tip here is to 1, make sure the information is on the site and 2, it’s easily accessible. This should help entice consumers to stay around longer. If they’re able to answer a question with a piece of information either about your brand or products it could pique their interest and engage a buying motivation.

 

• How the Site Looks is Just as Important as What is on it

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder and the devil may be in the detail but there is one thing that the research found that, for me, has always been a suspicion.

When it comes to big retailer websites, the ‘industry experts’ can point out the differences all day but to the standard end-user, they’re much the same. While some aspects of design differ, for most users the design aesthetics of larger e-commerce sites rarely have much impact on their decision whether or not to purchase from the site. For them, usability is much more of a driver.

However, when it comes to the smaller Direct to Consumer sites, users tend to want to feel like a site is representative of their own individual taste, or at the very least that the site’s design aesthetics aren’t offensive to them.

And take note of this little insight. The research found that some users during testing were observed to abandon sites solely due to their dislike of the design aesthetics — not even venturing off the homepage to support their decision.

Now, what nobody would ever advocate is trying to cater to every individual user’s personal design-aesthetic preference because frankly, that is an impossible task. But pulling in some of the more eccentric design decisions and going for a simpler but still, bespoke approach was observed to perform well for most users.

 

Final Thoughts

Direct to Consumer sites have many challenging tasks facing them when it comes to perfecting the user experience.

There is no one size fits all approach, and each brand is going to face a slightly different set of challenges, but the good news is that the research is out there to help and even more importantly, there are experts out there that have made this their business and passion.

One of those businesses is us. At Eclipse we’ve got a team of experts in the Customer Experience team that can design, implement, test, optimise and further develop the customer experience for your business and drive continued growth through conversion rate optimisation and a long-term optimisation strategy.

Through user testing and experience testing, directly with the types of people that buy your products, the research and data help remove emotion and gets to the core of creating a great customer experience.

All you need to do is reach out to us and have a chat. We’re here to help you build, test, develop and optimise your Direct to Consumer channel.

And if you’d like a copy of the research, you can get access to all 413 DTC UX guidelines, available today via Baymard Premium access.


Things Customers Hate About Websites (So You Might Want to Avoid Them)

Websites have been around for what feels like forever at this point and people spend a lot of time online. The amount of time people spend online has only increased massively since the covid-19 pandemic changed the way we live our lives.

As a result, we’ve all been exposed to more websites than ever before and there are things that some of them do that really annoys us. So much so that people will turn around and get the heck out of dodge, not sticking around to take a look.

We’ve done a little research and found the things that annoy people the most. Hopefully, your site isn’t guilty of anything of these things but if you are, now you’ll know and you’ll be able to fix it.

As always, if you need a little help the team at Eclipse are here for you. So, let’s take a look at what we found. And so you’re aware, there is no particular order to these, you’re going to want to fix them all.

 

Multiple Pop Ups That Come Out of Nowhere

Don’t get us wrong, if used well it is a great example of a feature that can help drive positive visitor engagement and can often be a good User Experience. A strategic pop-up – such as an exit notice or notification of an event or specific piece of content that relates to the page they are on – can be effective.

The problem comes in when pop-ups are everywhere, repeat way too frequently or are just plain nonsensical. It causes distractions and visitors to the site don’t want to have to be dealing with having to keep shutting down intrusive mini windows. You can be assured that their next click is likely to be away!

You did all the hard work getting them there, why put up barriers and click tests all over the place that distracts from the reason they arrived in the first place.

Ensure the marketing team is thinking about what is there already before adding a new one and always ask the question, do we really need it?

 

Slow Loading Pages

This feels like one we shouldn’t have to talk about anymore. Surely everyone understands that slow-loading pages are annoying. Having said that, it is still a problem for a lot of websites out there.

Visitors to your site expect swift loading times, and responsive website designs that function brilliantly on all browsers and devices. If you’re offering a slow experience, the visitor is going to bounce.

Amazon found that just a one-second delay could cost Amazon $1.6 Billion in sales – head here to find out why.

You can always check your load speed performance and you should do it regularly. Just head to Google’s page speed tool and enter your URL.

 

Little or No Contact Information on the Website

Having contact forms across the website and on your contact us page is great, and it is definitely something you should be using, but it can’t be the only way to allow people to get in touch with you.

It should not be a quest for fire when anyone goes looking for an email address or phone number. If your visitor or customer needs help, they want it now. They don't want to fill out a form and wait to see when, if ever, they get a response.

Let people get in touch with you via email, phone, and social media, and make that information available on your website. And if you’re able to man it well, live chat can be a great way to deal with quick questions people may have.

 

Asking for Too Much Information, Too Soon

So, your customer has added some stuff to the cart and is ready to check out but now you’re asking them to give you their life story before they can hand over the money. This is the fastest way to drive up cart abandonment and drive your conversion rate into the ground.

Requiring registration or even an entire account set up, before any transaction is a terrible idea. Users will be at best reluctant and at worse highly suspicious. It’s far better to let them check out as guests and offer them the ability to create an account post-purchase, should they choose to create one. And why would they be likely to do it post-purchase? Shipment tracking.

A usability test run by Jared.M.Spool allowed customers to continue and purchase on e-commerce websites without the need to register and the results were phenomenal. “The number of customers purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000.” – Read the full article over here.

 

Spelling Mistakes and Out of Date Information

This is a pretty simple one, just don’t do it. There is little to no reason to have spelling mistakes all over the place.

There are countless tools, such as Grammarly and Hemmingway that take the basic spell check and kick it up a gear. Spelling mistakes really are in the category of unacceptable and drive down trust with potential buyers. It is also just plain unprofessional. If attention to detail on the website is missed, just think about what impression you’re making regarding customer service. It does little to create ‘good faith’.

Out of date information falls much into the same category. You’re doing nothing to help build trust with both new and existing customer relationships by having it all over your website.

It talks about the attention to detail and duty of care. Personally speaking, I am not about to drop any money on a purchase with a website that gives me a moment to pause and think about its legitimacy.

 

You’ve Got Broken Links All Over the Place

It’s hardly a shocker that users want websites that work. Clicking on links that lead to a 404 – page not found is more than annoying. It doesn’t matter how cool or quirky you’ve made the page, visitors just don’t want to see it and in all honestly, there should be little reason to have broken links all over the place. It also creates other problems. Did you know broken links can also hurt your SEO?

When Google's search engine crawlers discover broken links on your page, it decreases your site's search rankings putting those sites with working links right in front of you.

It is common for links to break from a site migration, page update, change in site architecture, or even just a typo but before you make any changes make sure that you add link checking or re-direction to the task list. Don’t let it become an afterthought.

Broken links interrupt the user experience and ultimately translate to lost revenue for your business. A good web developer can do wonders in helping you fix your site’s broken links. You can also make sure your links are all working by crawling your site with a program like Screaming Frog or SEMrush.

 

This is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

The problems mentioned so far are undeniably annoying, but it just scratches at the surface of what drives people crazy and pushes them away from your site.

Things like difficult or broken navigation, out of date look and feel, bad cheesy stock images everywhere, not working on all browsers and devices and having forms with way too many fields that need to be filled in before they can be sent kills the user experience.

Getting a website audit done and starting a continuous programme of conversion rate optimisation that builds on driving iterative change and improvement to your site is the best way to tackle the problems, improve on the experience you offer and make sure that you’re making the most out of the customers that visit your site.


Conversion Rate Optimisation Statistics You Need To Know | Infographic

We spend a huge amount of time, effort and money getting people to our websites. This might seems like a pretty hard task at times but in all honesty, it is the easy part. The challenge comes in when you try to get those visitors to convert.

This is by far the most important part.  The smallest difference in your conversion rate can make a big difference on your bottom line. If you can increase your conversion rate a single percentage point from 1% to 2%, you could double your revenue.

We came across an awesome blog by Startup Bonsai where they pulled together a list of CRO Statistics and we took a few of the key ones and put it into this infographic. They're the stats you need when it comes to winning over the key stakeholders in your business on the subject of CRO and the benefits of an investment into a long term CRO strategy made up of continuous testing and improvement.

Give it a read, share it around and when you're ready to create a strategy and put it into action, come talk to us.

 

 

Keep an eye out for our upcoming infographic on CRO tips and tricks and our next eBook, the first in our 'How To' series, How to Take a Business Online.


Laptop in coders view

You're Not Thinking About Accessibility Enough

Broadly speaking, making a site accessible means accommodating the range of ways that users can interact with your product, regardless of experience, capability or disability. Often people think of accessibility in terms of extremes; how would a blind person interact with a site? 

While it makes sense to prioritise things that are going to take more effort to integrate and test, the truth is, your potential user base is almost infinite its combination of characteristics and capabilities, and a truly accessible site should be able to accommodate them all.

It can sound like an unachievable goal, and for product owners trying to apply accessibility standards to an already existing site, knowing where and how to start can be difficult. However, the key and most important things are to start. 

Legally required levels of accessibility are no longer things reserved for government organisations. Legal requirements mean predetermined standards and probably the most widely adopted standard are those laid out in WCAG. These are a set of standards created in cooperation with individuals and organisations around the world, to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organisations, and governments internationally.

It’s all too easy to decide “this site will be AA accessible”, by which it meets the mid-range level of conformity, and work backwards and forward from there. Making a site accessible can simply become working through a checklist; do images have alt tags, are the contrast ratios high enough on the buttons? While this in itself can be a valuable process to go through, but it isn’t the whole story. At the end of the day, it’s crucial to remember the whole reason for undertaking accessibility improvements; your users. 

User experience is the ultimate test of success on your site. Better user experience often means a better conversion rate. Your user base can vary widely, and while you can follow best practices and accommodate the 95th percentile, at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for user testing. 

It can be achieved many different ways, at Eclipse we often use A/B tests to decide the best approach to design. However you do your testing, you can be sure of two things; one, that it will give you a better insight into how people interact with the site, and two, there will be results that you were not expecting.

In a recent example, we were looking at the design of a CTA button. By adhering to the brand’s guidelines, the button was bright orange and the label text in the button was white. 

Following AA standards, the contrast ratio wasn’t high enough to be considered accessible. On paper, the label text should be dark. But that’s not the whole story. A sample group of test users actually found the dark label less easy to read than the white version.

 

 

 

It’s not uncommon; there are numerous examples of similar tests producing the same result. The contrast ratio guide is supposed to ensure that the label is legible for people with visual impairments like colour blindness. But even when all the users questioned where colour blind, they favoured the white label over the “accessible” dark label. 

There could be numerous explanations for this, but it’s important to consider the human factor in everything we design. The way we see things is inherently imperfect and everything needs to be considered in context. 

In the case of the button label, the preference for the white label could be explained by the irradiation effect. In essence, when there is a border between something light and something dark, our retinas actually shift the divide towards the dark, so that the white seems to bleed over slightly.

In the case of the button label, the white text feels bigger or thicker to our eyes. Again, context is important; our eyes perceive colours differently depending on the colour around them. For this button, it was also being used on a light page. All the white space around the button increases the irradiation effect on the white button label.    

Obviously, standards and guidelines serve a purpose. Even in the button label tests, nearly 40% of the users favoured the recommended accessible colours. The fact of the matter is, users who struggle are often a minority.

 

 

Guidelines help factor the needs of a minority into our design choices. Design can be subjective and we need to agree on some ground rules. Particularly when it comes to factors or impairments that might not impact us directly. It’s almost impossible to preempt all your users' needs, but it’s important to try. 

However, it’s also important to know when to be flexible enough to break those rules, to accommodate your users. The only way to know that definitively is to be having regular interaction with your users. Guidelines help you start that conversation, but ultimately it’s user testing that will let you know if you got it right.


Conversion Optimisation Is The #1 eCommerce Challenge For Most Businesses.

Anyone who makes their living selling things understands the difficulty that the covid-19 pandemic has created. It shut down traditional selling channels and forced businesses to innovate, which has changed the face of retail for good.

eCommerce has become the shining light and the only real way to keep business moving but for those who thought it was as easy as just chucking up a website and waiting for the money to roll in has been the subject of a reality check.

eCommerce is absolutely the future of retail and it is going nowhere so truly understanding what it takes to make it work is vital.

 

A Website is Never Finished

The consumer is a fickle entity, and they shift and morph constantly. What you launch with as a shopping experience can very quickly become outdated and clunky. And more than that, for many when the rubber hits the road the potholes that appear ready to take you out are everywhere.

Understanding the challenges and preparing for them or making sure you have someone to reach out to when you hit them is fundamental to staying ahead of your competition and here at Eclipse, we do what we can to make sure we keep our clients, past, present and future, as well equipped and educated about eCommerce.

 

Challenges For Those in The World of eCommerce

This week Mollie, one of the fastest-growing payment service providers in Europe, published research unveiling the state of payments in retail today as well as the challenges and opportunities in the retail market following a turbulent year.

Some key highlights from the research when asked what the biggest challenges in online retail were, 65% of those retailers asked cited converting shoppers to purchase, 43% rated high costs for shipping or payment providers and 41% selected low margins. And for a third of online retailers (34%), cart abandonment is the biggest challenge with 30% reporting that 6-10% of carts were abandoned.

Other key findings included:

  • EU and UK merchants rely on a multitude of channels to sell: As bricks and mortar shops closed their doors, online has become far more important. Specifically, 46% of all revenue now comes from an online webshop. And on average, 37% of sales occur via third-party marketplaces such as Amazon. Finally, as much as 16% of annual revenue now comes through social media platforms like Instagram.
  • Two-thirds of retailers had revenues impacted by the pandemic: The pandemic has had both a positive and negative effect on retail sales. 23% of merchants saw sales increase last year. Conversely, 29% either saw no change or had sales decrease somewhat. And 17% saw sales decrease significantly. Of those who reported an increase, revenues went up on average by 29%. The average decrease in revenues was 27%.
  • Issues with the payments process can hurt sales and growth: 31% said that an issue with the payment service offered or the range of payment service options provided was the reason for abandoned carts. 41% cited a lack of innovation in payment systems as hindering growth.
  • ‘Buy now, pay later’ now offered by more than a fifth of retailers: With many consumers looking for more flexible ways to pay during the pandemic, 22% of retailers now offer ‘buy now, pay later’ or Apple Pay payment methods. And 20% offer Google Pay. This is set to increase with 31% looking to improve payment systems to help grow online revenue within the next 12 months.

You can get access to all the results, based on responses from 2,500 European retailers, in their report: ‘How a growth mindset leads to higher profits’.

“The retail sector has had a difficult year and this is reflected in the findings which expose a multitude of challenges and areas for development,” said Josh Guthrie, UK Country Manager at Mollie. “As the market also comes to terms with the Brexit deal, the ability to adapt and grow under pressure is paramount.”

 

Facing the Challenges Head-On

The first step is to identify if you’re facing these challenges and if you are, reach out for help. At Eclipse we’ve got eCommerce experts in all areas including conversion rate optimisation, design, user experience and the day to day running of eCommerce operations.

They know the industry inside and out and are here to help navigate you through these challenges and onto continued success.

Creating a conversion optimisation strategy that builds into a programme of continuous testing and improvements, for now, and into the future, ensures that challenges are highlighted early and fixed.

Our team of business consultants can work alongside the strategy and guide and advise you on ways to make improvements around returns, shipping and operations that can lift margins.

So, whether you’ve identified these challenges in your business or you suspect they might be lingering in the data, your next step should be to speak to us.


Poor Product Discovery is Losing You Business. A Lot of Business.

We all know how frustrating it can be when we can’t find what we’re looking for. It doesn’t matter whether it is something you’ve lost at home or something you want to buy in-store or from an online retailer it doesn’t take long before you’re at the end of your tether, and ready to give up. And the research tells us this is exactly what people are doing.

And as much as you’re able to send in support for in-store visitors, it is much harder to do online and once they’re gone, they’re gone. The key is to make it easy for people to find what it is they’re looking for.

New research from AI-powered discovery technology, Klevu, found that a majority of eCommerce websites fail to deliver results when processing complex search queries, which account for 17% of all searches, causing £8m of lost revenue.

 

Complex Search Queries or Just How People Shop?

The research by Klevu into product discovery methods on retailers’ websites reveals that there are usability and accessibility issues with the search experience on 80% of UK eCommerce websites. And yes, you read that right. 80%!

The main issues are around the ability for these sites to process complex or natural language phrases such as those involving price range or product attributes, or even to handle misspellings.

In the most critical cases, 26% of eCommerce websites couldn’t process simple misspellings and were unable to return relevant results and 30% showed zero results when faced with a query such as ‘mens jacket under £100’. This signifies that a vast majority of retailers are unprepared for the future of product discovery, including voice search, bots, and other zero interface interactions.

The eCommerce Discovery Report by Klevu also showed that 17% of all searches are considered complex, using three or more words costing retailers with poor UX £8m per year.

The data is based on an average number of sessions per month, average order value online in the UK, typical search-led sessions are around 20% of all web traffic, and conversion rate from search is often 5%, bringing potential lost revenue per month to £671k and £8m annually.

It highlights a lack of understanding of how people are looking for products and information. Long-tail search or ‘complex queries’ have become the standard way people use Google. And in most cases, Google is presenting related search results to users in the long tail format and as a result, people expect all websites to be able to do the same.

 

The eCommerce Discovery Report

These results are from the Klevu Ecommerce Discovery Index which includes a comprehensive review of 50 major UK retailers over 40 criteria including mobile search, voice search and natural language processing, personalisation, product recommendations and more.

Retailers covered in the research include a selection across sectors and using a variety of enterprise eCommerce technologies including Oracle, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, IBM, SAP Hybris and more.

You can head over to here and download a copy of the report if you want to dig a little deeper into the results.

 

Next steps

The first thing to do is to identify if the issue exists for you. It isn’t hard to perform a couple of searches on your site to discover if it is leading people straight to the exit.

If you think there might be a problem, come talk to us. We have experts in UX who can help you assess the extent of the challenge and if we think it needs some fixing, we can help you connect to Klevu and enhance the search experience for your customers.