Increasing engagement by reducing website friction

Website owners are looking for ways to increase customer interaction, be it increasing conversions in a web shop, or “simply” encouraging people to make contact.  It is all about making it easy for people … and reducing their anxiety.

Increase engagement by looking at this visual run through of high friction web pages. 

Make life easier for people in order to help them make contact/make a purchase.  Reduce the “friction” they experience during their visit.

Here are some examples of problems and solutions on different websites.

Barred by postcode in a shop

There are a number of potential pitfalls with postcodes, and one of the worst is shown in this example from Tesco Clothing.

Tesco’s website insists on a space in the middle of the postcode, and that they are entered in capitals.  This is unnecessarily strict, and it doesn’t even advise customers of its ‘rules’ before they type in their postcode!  It is a recipe for frustration.  

Take away:-
Watch 10 people use your forms and improve your forms accordingly.  See the next observation.

Real-time form validation

Web forms are a pain for all of us, and errors during the process only serve to increase the friction and frustration. As a web user, you spend valuable time filling in details before trying to move to the next page, only to be stopped by errors and warnings. 

Rather than the errors appearing all at once after you have submitted the page, a better solution is real-time “in-line” validation which, in the below example from Twitter, shows a green tick or a red cross whilst you enter your details.
 

Take away:-
Use new technologies to feedback on form entry problems sooner.

Anxiety

Trust is all important. Before customers enter their details, they need to be sure they can trust the site. 

There are a number of ways to engender this trust. Much will be down to the overall impression they gain from the site, and this can happen before customers reach the enquiry form or the checkout process. 

Still some customers may need reassurance, which is where trustmarks come in. 

I would argue that factors such as the overall user experience, the reputation of the brand, recommendations from friends etc, have more power to engender trust than security logos, but trust messages may be valuable to some shoppers, and for lesser-known brands. 

There is always the question of which trustmarks to use. People may have heard of VeriSign or McAfee etc, but will they recognise others? 

Take Away:-
Provide reassurance at a time when people are looking for it – just as they have decided to make a purchase or an enquiry.

Show a progress indicator

At every stage during the filling of a multi-stage form or checkout, the user should know where they are and where they are going.

One way to achieve this is to have a progress bar across the top of each page, which shows the stages within the process and also highlights the current location.

A website breadcrumb trail has a similar purpose – to give a sense of location.

Take Away:-
Give people a sense of place and expectation to avoid frustration and disappointment.

Preferred next “action”

The example belows shows how it is not always clear to someone what they should do next.  By emphasising  the preferred action (e.g. click to the next page) this will help users follow your chosen path.  Note the placement and size given to the “preferred” “Add to Cart” button in the second example below.  It is clear what the user should do.

Weak buttons


Smart buttons

Also, the meaning of the term “Add to Cart” is much less of a commitment for the visitor than “Buy Now” so they will be more inclined to comply.

Take Away:-
Identify what you want to happen on each and every web page and steer people in that direction.

To Finish

Reducing friction will come about by reviewing the process and making it easier for your visitors.

If you would like any help identifying improvements to your website, such as increased enquiries or “conversions”, let me know and I will try to help.

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Nigel White
My career has given me insights into large and small businesses across many sectors. Academically, I have a MA (Strategic Marketing) and use this understanding to provide consultancy and advice to all clients I work with. Very high on my agenda: needs analysis, service, and quality.