Everything is marketing. Let me say that again in a different way. Everything your company does needs to be considered and executed from a marketing perspective — a user friendly POV.
I recently wrote in a marketing article that the cleanliness of bathrooms in brick-and-mortar stores is an important part of marketing. I was later delighted to read the following from the February 23, 2018, Wall Street Journal article “A Plan to Lure Moviegoers off the Couch” by Allysia Finley in which she interviewed MoviePass’s CEO Mitch Lowe:
Mr. Lowe left Netflix in early 2003 to help McDonald’s launch video-rental kiosks in its stores to increase foot traffic and sales. For McDonald’s this was a false start: ‘It turned out it was just dirty bathrooms that had been driving the decline in sales,’ Mr. Lowe says with a laugh.
You may think, even after reading the above, that clean bathrooms are not part of marketing. You would be wrong. And you would be wrong if you consider other parts of your company business as not required to be user-friendly.
Okay, let’s stop for a moment to agree that what is user-friendly to you, the business owner, may not be user-friendly to me, the prospective business customer. Therefore, as you are in the business of selling goods and services to prospective customers, you need to switch your focus from your perspective to my perspective.
Now that we are on the same user-friendly page, let’s look at some important points for online businesses:
Number one is user testing. I don’t mean paying a fortune to do this — I mean taking the time to ask a few people who don’t work at your company to stop by for free pizza and a brief user testing process. There are several good books that explain how to do this, including Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.”
User testing is especially important for tech products designed for non-techies. Do not brag, as one tech company marketing head did to me, that your company has never done user testing. If this is true, shame on you.
Second, remember that you are likely changing your website and buying process on a frequent basis. Thus, even if you have done user testing once, you need to do it on a routine basis to fix any issues that have developed over time.
Third, remember that consumers are not as enamored of your website as you are. They don’t have time to read long, dense paragraphs about how your product has all these bells and whistles that you love. Instead, explain what’s in it for the consumer. How does your product or service solve a problem? Once consumers are invested in knowing more, perhaps they’ll read more. Yet you have to get the attention of consumers first.
Fourth, let consumers know instantly what business you are in. Your products and services really aren’t for everyone. Make sure that your website clarifies immediately what your products or services do and for whom.
Accessiblity is an important user-friendly element:
As Wikipedia explains:
Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities.
Environments include both the layout of your brick-and-mortar store (do you have clear signs for where the bathrooms are?) as well as your e-commerce site (do you have clear instructions as to what format a telephone number should be entered?).
Yes, both these things are very important. Remember the last time you were shopping with a crying child and needed to find a bathroom immediately? And don’t you hate getting an error message when trying to buy something online because you entered a piece of information incorrectly in a form field only because the form didn’t indicate what format was required
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can utilize the internet to get information on how to make your business’s online and offline environments accessible and user-friendly for as many people as possible.
Of course, it may not be possible to win the award for the most user-friendly business in the world. You need to look at things through the lens of making things as easy as possible for your target audiences to say yes to, which translates into more sales of your products and services. After all, that’s why you’re in business, isn’t it?