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In this issue
Reduce stress when web visitors arrive
Website cause stress. To visitors trying to get a task done, and to web teams and managers trying to get the most out of a key business asset. Reducing stress all around can make for a great visitor experience, as well as a more cost-effective website. It can make it easier to set strategic priorities. We have some suggestions.
Reduce stress when your visitor arrives
Task-stress-reduction tool: rate your links
A physician years ago spoke to us about managing stress. He began by asking us to make three lists, one of work tasks you “gotta” do, another with work you “oughta” do, and a third list with work you “wanna” do. We all made three lists. The M.D. asked us to make sure there weren’t items on the “oughta” list that belonged on the other lists. Then he told us to draw a big “X” through the “oughta” items, to make the “gotta” items our highest priority, and make the “wanna” items lower priority. A feeling of relief emerged. This is the kind of relief your visitors want to experience when they arrive at your website.
Prioritize “gotta” links to Top Tasks
Keep the links you “gotta” have. Those links start the site's top tasks. Successful completion of these tasks will help achieve your organization’s goals or mandate.
“Wanna” links can wait
The problem with "wanna" links is that people arriving at your website scan quickly for words related to their task, and for links to get them there. The top task links for EI or immigration are way down the page, requiring many users to scroll just to see them. Give users the “gotta” links first and foremost. Save the “wanna” links until your client gets their task done. That’s when they might appreciate it.
Get rid of “oughta” links
Here are some examples of "oughta" links. They appear on many government sites, often on the right side where users don't notice them. A very small percentage of users click on them. They look like ads, causing more people to ignore them. They are links that "oughta" be there because they lead to content the government should provide, and nobody could argue differently.The irony is that each of these button ads can be found in a Google Search, at the top of Search Results. Searchers can get directly to the content from Search, so they're unlikely to use the ads, as we've seen many times in usability tests. Thus, if a searcher does arrive at the page any of these buttons are displayed, it wasn't by searching on the text in the ad. Searchers arrive for other reasons, and these button ads could distract them away from their task.
Data is your best defense against “oughta” links, so you can confront them with evidence rather than opinion. If you have data, they are easier to refute. So test your top task links with users. Evidence is the only way to counteract opinion and keep “oughta” links, buttons, or ads from proliferating. They get there because people say they ought to be there, but they really ought to survive on their own data. Of course you should optimize content for search first. Instead of cluttering a landing page for everybody else, keep these “oughta” links off landing pages, and optimize them for search so people can get to them from search engines.
Don’t promote links past their level of competence
Top Task culture = share the vision + measure behaviour + re-organize for UX
Monitor your progress of your web visitors doing Top Tasks. Especially measure the usage of “gotta” links, monitoring areas where performance could improve. Measure time-on-task in Task Performance Indicator testing. In analytics, regularly check how well visitors can do Top Tasks in navigation or in search. Compare A/B test results, and monitor completed goals. Monitor key priorities in a Customer Centric Index. Relentlessly focus your stakeholders on visitors’ tasks and high-level goals. They do not change as quickly as tools and technologies.
Measure the outcome, not the inputs or outputs. Outcomes will put everything else in perspective. Inputs will tell you things like how many hits your web pages get. Outputs will tell you things like whether people left right away or clicked around your site. But neither inputs nor outputs will measure the success of your site or your business. Task completion is the primary measure of success - is your visitor satisfied that they did what they came to do, efficiently. Task completion is the outcome of visits and clicking, the litmus test. Manage your website on the outcomes, not the inputs and outputs.
Continuously improve task performance. If you are a senior executive, measure your success by it. Give a person the responsibility for how well users perform on a top task. Keep re-organizing for your shared vision, increasingly measuring your success by the users' success. Avoid huge redesign projects. Instead continuously improve how you support user tasks, and how well you serve the visitor’s higher level goal. For content authors, write for the task path, in bulleted lists rather than embedded in paragraphs.
For the long term, plan for the visitor's overall goals. Like finding a currency exchange rate is part of a larger goal such as buying something in another currency. Resist long-term commitments to tools and systems. Reward people who learn from risk-taking, and celebrate failures, to share the learning. Begin with the user experience in mind, and everything else will follow.
Quote of the month
"Action-oriented links and menus are the most essential content you write. The most important web content isn't even a sentence, let alone a paragraph."
If you have any comments on The Insighter, or ideas on usability topics you'd like to send us an email.
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