Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Less is More - Online User Experience Design

The adage "less is more" can apply to many things. It holds true in cooking, gardening, academics and especially business. It revolves around the idea that you don’t want your customers to think more than they have to.

The fewer decisions to make during the shopping process, the better.

This becomes easier when we consider all of our customer touch points throughout the decision making process. With how connected most people are now, an important part of this is recognizing what platform they’re using and what specific information they’re looking for.

Ask yourself the following questions when approaching your customer’s user experience:

What can you take out of the online shopping experience to make it easier for your users to make purchasing decisions?

 Are you presenting them with too many options too soon in the shopping process

Can you keep your customers engaged while minimizing the decision making experience?

Amazon has perfected the one click approach to online shopping but not without a lot of trial and error. Take a look at these websites to see how they are utilizing the "less is more" principle to web design:

Apple: If there is one company who has mastered the simplified approach to web design it is Apple. Even with the vast array of products that are part of the company's catalog you'll find that their home page consists of just three things: a navigation bar, a single product featured on the page and formational links below the fold.  The focus is on finding what you want, quickly and easily. When you click over to a specific product page you'll find sidebars featuring links to related products and support but that single product still dominates the attention of the user. You're not going to find dense copy, ads or clutter.  

 Shoeguru: Shoeguru is a terrific example of combing user-centric ideas with product-centric solutions. There also exemplify the proverbial "Grandma Rule." If the site is so easy to use that your grandma can shop there then you've achieved the ultimate in minimalistic design.

Etsy: Like Amazon, Etsy is an e-commerce site which has an expansive catalog. However, that doesn't mean you should crowd your page with tons of information to get your point across. Let strong and vibrant product shots do the selling work. In other words, you need only show what you need to make the sale. Specs and reviews matter but they should be part of the clickthrough.

After identifying the platform or device your customers will be on at any given point during their shopping process, remove all unnecessary obstacles, and give them exactly what they need.

The end result will be smaller bounce rates, more sales, customers who feel like you understand their needs.

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