Whether you operate a blog or a business site, you should always be looking out for ways to avoid a poor user experience for visitors.
Is your website delivering what your visitors need? Or is it serving up a poor user experience that may be running people away? It’s easy to irritate your visitors in many ways. But bloggers, I’m not talking about the position you take on issues; that will irritate some no matter what you do.
I’m talking about the number of hoops you require your site visitors to jump through.
Let me give you a little example of what I’m talking about.
My bank sent me an email Friday afternoon alerting me that it sent me a “secure message.” They didn’t tell me what the message was. That, apparently, would have made too much sense. Instead, they directed me to go to their website to read the message.
Let me stop right there for a second. I know what you’re thinking: “It’s a phishing scam.”
No, it wasn’t. There was no link for me to click to get to the alleged message. The email didn’t provide a link even to the legitimate website. It didn’t ask that I send in any personal information.
It literally said that I should log in to the bank’s site or its app to read the message.
Here’s the problem: It said, once logged in, I should visit the bank’s “Secure Message Center.”
Well, that’s simple enough. I’m sure I could find it.
I opened the app first. There’s no “Secure Message Center.” On Saturday morning, I logged on to the bank’s website, thinking that maybe it was more obvious there. (That in itself would be a problem because it would indicate the bank wasn’t thinking about its mobile users.)
It wasn’t there, either.
There’s no “Secure Message Center” anywhere on their website. You can’t find it. It doesn’t exist. The email doesn’t provide specific steps to go where it’s telling you to go.
I actually had to call customer service Saturday morning.
I called their customer service and navigated my way through the irritating automated attendant that I wish Congress would ban. It connected me to a customer service representative for whom English was apparently not a first language.
I explained the problem. She immediately read me the phishing warning. I stopped her.
I explained the problem again. She told me the bank wouldn’t email me with a link to log in. I repeated that it hadn’t.
I explained the problem again. She asked if she could put me on a short hold. That was probably a wise move on her part. After two minutes, she returned with a question.
“Are you able to see a ‘Help & Support’ link on the website?” she asked.
“Let me look,” I answered. I didn’t see such a link. It was hidden under a hamburger menu. I found it, but it took a second.
“Click that link,” she said.
I told her I had.
“Now, do you see, ‘View Inbox’ as a box on the Help & Support page?”
I told her I did and she advised me to click that box.
“You should see the message there,” she said.
It wasn’t marked as “secure.” It was just a message. In an inbox. Not a “Secure Message Center.”
That’s a poor user experience if I ever saw one.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to point out my frustration. If you’re going to direct people to a specific place on your site, make sure they can find it!
It shouldn’t be rocket science. Apparently, it seems to be these days.
You wouldn’t direct someone in a grocery store to an aisle that they can’t reach. You wouldn’t direct someone ordering from a menu to a page the menu doesn’t include.
So why on earth would anyone with a website direct people to go to something that isn’t there?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that they didn’t send me that message to irritate me. I’m also going to assume that they crafted an obscure instruction just so I’d get aggravated and call their customer service line to give their operators something to do on a Saturday.
How can you avoid a poor user experience on your website?
The answer is really simple, but it’s probably not the answer we’d blurt out on our own. We bloggers and website builders like controlling things. We, therefore, want to be able to handle (and prevent) any problem on our own. After all, we know our website better than anyone, so we should be the ones to find any such problem right away.
Therein lies the problem: We know our websites better than anyone.
That’s why we don’t see this kind of problem. That magical, mythical destination isn’t so mysterious to us: We know where it is because we put it there.
You need a little help from your friends. Or at least a handful of people you can trust.
Ask them to go to your website and take it for a “test drive.” Give them a couple of specific places you want to make sure people can actually find. After they’ve explored for a few minutes, ask them what they think.
By all means, ask if they were able to find the specific destinations you wanted them to find. Do they think those locations are easy to find? Did you do everything you can to make them easy to find?
No two people will have the same opinion, of course. But those extra sets of eyes can help you avoid sending your website visitors on a wild goose chase that can only make them angry customers.
You don’t ever want a poor design or layout decision to be what causes your visitors to walk away!