Google defines intuitive as “using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.”
We talk a lot here at Crux Collaborative about making websites and applications work intuitively for users. That’s because the work we do is focused on enabling people to complete the critical tasks of their lives — like managing their finances and healthcare. These are sites that are successful when users can login and quickly and confidently find what they are looking for — we develop user experiences that enable users to easily manage complex tasks online.
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Not all websites are created equal.
Despite the fact that more and more people expect to be able to manage these types of tasks using the internet, business often fail to offer their customers tools that are straight forward and easy-to-use. This gap results in customer frustration and calls to the support center — both of which are notorious drains on the bottom line. We’ve compiled a list of three simple things you can do to determine if your task-driven site is working the way it should for your users (and what you can do if it’s not).
1. Look at the data.
Do a thorough review of your website analytics and gather information on why your customers are calling the support center. Use this data to help prioritize the design and structure of your site. Ensure that those content and functional elements that get the most traffic receive the most prominence on your homepage or post-login dashboard. Determine why people are calling into your call centers and schedule a usability study so that we can find out why they are struggling. Be wary of using the most valuable space on your site for things the organization wants to promote — when users are looking to get something done (like transfer money, find a doctor, or check on a claim) they probably don’t care about a new program or initiative that your marketing department wants them to notice.
2. Count the number of links on your homepage.
For various reasons, organizations often have difficulty prioritizing what appears on their homepage or post-login dashboard. As a result, the first thing a user sees is a multitude of links into every piece of functionality and content on the site. A user landing on a page like this is completely overwhelmed because all that information is impossible to scan. So while the number of clicks needed to reach the desired content is technically reduced, in practice, users end up clicking in and out of multiple links before they find what they are looking for. Instead, clean up your homepage and group your content into meaningful categories that your customers understand. This will help your users feel confident that the path they are taking will lead them to the content they want.
3. Confirm that you are talking your users’ language, not yours.
Sometimes the way organizations talk about their products or services is different than the way their users do. Your website needs to talk clearly and directly to your users. Ensure that you are using language that they understand, not internal jargon or industry vernacular. Structure your site in a way that reflects the way they would search for a piece of content. Hint: this is likely different than the way your organization is structured. There are numerous forms of research methods — from card sort studies to usability — we can use to determine whether you are talking to your users or yourselves.
The usability of your site hinges on how easily a user can predict what they will find if they pursue a certain path. When customers can confidently navigate to the content they want, they don’t need to resort to alternate (more expensive) support channels.
At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of usability nerds committed to making life easier for people who use the internet. If you’re concerned that your site is providing a less than optimal experience for your customers, contact us—we’ll figure it out together.
By Gregg Harrison
Gregg’s passion for all things digital started two decades ago as a project manager and has expanded over the years to include a focus on user experience consulting, client management, and operations.View Gregg's Bio