Your website is more than the numbers it creates

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Your website is more than the numbers it creates

Hi everyone, so I’m Alex Edwards. I’m a lead UX designer here at RocketMill, and today I’m going to be talking about why your website is more than the numbers it creates.

How often are we using numbers?

So let’s face it, every day we’re always chasing numbers. We’re chasing transactions, revenue, users, sessions, conversion rates, bounce rates, CTR, CPA, CPC, and AOVs. And let’s face it, we’re always using those to try and drive improvements. That’s what we need. We’re always looking to improve the number of transactions we get, always get more users. And we’re doing it in this kind of set-up. We’re always looking at a dashboard on a screen using various data sources, being pulled in to really crunch the numbers. But I’m just going to leave that there for a minute. and we’re going to take a step back, and we’re going to look at other people who do this as well.

Why do we need numbers in UX?

Who else uses information supplied to them to drive improvements and to tinker to the nth degree to reach that absolute perfection? Well, chefs, chefs do this. So they use their instinct as well as feedback from customers and their peers to work out whether to keep a dish on the menu, whether to use a variant of it next season. They build relationships with suppliers to get the best deals. They work out the cost of every single portion that goes out the door to try and get the most revenue out of what they can, and they put a lot of time and effort in. They put in hours, days of effort to really create the best. They try and make sure they’re meeting both business and customer requirements and they compose their dishes, moving tiny elements around the dish to try and deliver the best meal they can.

Then it’s out the kitchen, it’s suddenly out of their hands, out of their control. And trust is put in the supporting restaurant environment that the dish will arrive in one piece exactly as they intended, but what happens? That dish becomes part of a wider experience. It’s suddenly a tiny part. There’s the décor, there’s the atmosphere. There’s the conversation around these people that suddenly influence how this dish is perceived. These customers who are here, thanks to getting a babysitter for that evening, for having an alarm set 20 minutes before they need to leave. All these different factors that have made sure that that dish is a fabulous experience.

So food is just part of the journey and what we believe on the surface is actually the crux of it. And actually, it’s a supporting element which is actually held on a pedestal thanks to all these separate things that are around it. So taking this back to numbers, how does this relate to what we do?

Well, if a chef only looks at the number of dishes that go out the door, they don’t know how many came back. They don’t know how many customers complained, so they need to make sure that they don’t just focus on the numbers. While the numbers are important, we need to look outside of them. What are the supporting elements to us? What are the supporting elements on our websites? The décor, the atmosphere, the surrounding conversation so that our customers can achieve their goals.

How do we use numbers to better a user journey?

I propose we look through the dashboard, and we look at the other side. And we need to consider how and when our users are interacting. How are they being affected externally? What’s affecting their experience and how can we make that better? So if we take this user as an example, they may be in bed at night, that’s quite safe to assume, or maybe they do shift work, and they’ve got blackout blinds and it’s actually two in the afternoon.

So what’s affecting their experience? Maybe your office hours aren’t open. They can’t help it that they’re up at 2:00 a.m. That’s what their shifts dictate. So maybe we need to shift our office hours slightly, maybe not quite 2:00 a.m. but we need to shift them slightly so that we can tailor it to this audience, an audience that may be the crux of our business. And if we do that, then suddenly we’ve reached a whole new audience, and we’re able to capture a whole range of customers who our competitors might not be able to reach. So let’s look at some other aspects that we can consider for our audiences.

So what about this user? What is this user seeing while they’re interacting? Well, this user is clearly in a city centre. They’re interacting with a site, but you know what a message just come through on their phone from a loved one. Suddenly their website experience is completely interrupted. So what we need to do to amend for that? We need to make sure that when they come back to our site, they can continue their journey. Everyone gets text messages. It’s part of life. We need to make sure that our sites don’t fall down when you just go offsite and come back.

These two. Well, if we consider this person on the right who’s on their phone, while these two may be mid-conversation, they’re having lunch in a busy town centre. There’s lots of noise around them and there are other conversations going around for other lunches. There are cars driving past. So you’ve now got this feeling for how these people are interacting. Speedy interactions are important to this person. They need concise content ideally which is not dependent on sound to be able to achieve their goals for the environment they’re in.

What about this guy, what’s this guy thinking? So this guy, he may have just been at a friend’s birthday party and you know what? It’s getting a bit much. He’s taken five minutes outside. And now he’s actually catching up with a loved one about another friend’s birthday that’s happening in a few weeks and they’re trying to coordinate getting a gift together, so they need to be able to share information. That situation is just so relatable. How many people have had to leave an event a little bit early because they need to do something else? So how can we help users do that? How can we help users save and share relevant snippets of conversation?

What’s this user doing? It looks like they’re exploring the museum or maybe they’re browsing a store. Maybe they’re trying to share their location or even trying to do a price match. Image search is an upcoming area the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM are all looking into. Maybe this user’s already ahead of the curve.

And what are their motivations? This is the most UX photo I could possibly find. It is both cats and a user and a device, just throwing it out there. So this user’s motivation? They could have looked at their work holiday today and just seen they’ve got the opportunity to take a break away actually in a few weeks. There’s availability to take a couple of days. They can go off, have a lovely weekend. Now they’re doing some late night research with their furry friend trying to work out what’s available. Being able to filter the content, some strict conditions such as price, as well as some Flexible conditions such as location, can really help this user find what they want and eventually convert.


So what now? Well, we’ve considered our users and their environments, as well as what may be happening in their lives, but what outcomes does that give us? What can we take away to action and help these experiences that we create on a day-to-day basis? Well, if we look at our users, we’ve identified six ways that we can help. We can have flexible business hours. We can remember a user’s progress. We can have concise content on our site. We can have saved and share functionality. We can really look into image search and is that actually something we should be using. And we can consider our filtering functionality, not just the ones that are easy for us to do, but the ones that are most useful to our user base.

All of these are actionable, some may be business level, some require technical development, but some are actually doable straightaway. Would we have seen these opportunities if we only looked at a dashboard? We’re now considering the whole experience and how to make it better. All of a sudden, we’re considering not only the transaction, the revenue, the sessions this user contributes to, but also how we’re contributing to them by considering how we can make a user’s experience better and easier, that can only contribute to greater business profits. It can only get better. So let’s get rid of the numbers and let’s become the best, the best experience, the best people and the best marketers for the users that we have coming.

Thank you very much.