Designing to support visitors' goals

May Marketing Madness Usability Week, Post #22

By, Deborah J. Mayhew, PhD
Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates

One important aspect of the design of your web site is how well it supports the primary tasks and goals of your target visitors. This sounds obvious, but many web sites fail to optimize this aspect of design, and this can have a significant impact on web site success.

You may well understand what your visitors' goals are, and think your web site design supports them. But you may unwittingly fall short in providing not only what your visitors need, but also how and when they need it.

For example, let's say you have designed a checkout process for your eCommerce web site that collects all the necessary information on billing and shipping that you need to process the transaction on your end.

Turning Tables

But, have you addressed what your customers' need to complete the checkout process from their perspective?

Customer goal: get it in time

Perhaps the key information your customers need before even beginning to check out is an estimated delivery date, but your site doesn't provide that information until after the transaction is complete, or not at all.

Customer goal: avoid identity theft

Maybe your site has secure checkout, but it provides that information on the About Us page, rather than right at the top of the page in which customers are asked to provide a credit card number.

Customer goal: get the right product

Perhaps your customers want to review their carts before checking out, to make sure they have the right sizes and colors of clothes they are ordering, but your site doesn't include that information in the cart.

Customer goal: add items after starting to checkout

Maybe your customers are halfway through the checkout process when they remember another item they want to add, but your site does not give them any way to do that except by canceling out of the checkout process altogether and starting all over again. is guilty of this last example, and you can see how in a free two minute course preview available on the Online User eXperience Institute (OUXI) web site. Many more examples of user experience issues can be seen in another free 30 minute course video.

Visitor Insights

One of the beauties of Clicktale's visitor recordings is that they can provide much more insight into how you may have failed to support your visitors' tasks and goals than simple traffic statistics can. For example, in the case of the checkout issue described above, traffic analytics might tell you there is a high shopping cart abandonment rate, but provide little insight into why visitors abandon carts.

Clicktale's videos would clearly show if visitors were in fact bailing out of the checkout process and then starting over to include additional products in their orders. Clicktale videos show you what customers do in sequence, and thus provide more insight into how well "or poorly" you are supporting your visitors' goals and tasks.

This post is one out of Clicktale's month long May Marketing Madness series. Each of our daily posts will highlight and explain today's best practices, useful tips and smart tools to measure and improve your online business performance. This week's theme is usability. Make sure to stay tuned in for more!

About the Author

Deborah J. Mayhew, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of The Online User eXperience Institute (OUXI), is an internationally recognized consultant, author, teacher and speaker on engineering and designing for the user experience. She has been Owner and Principal Consultant at Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates, a consulting firm offering a wide variety of services related to designing and engineering for the user experience, since 1986, when she became one of the first independent consultants in her field.

Dr. Mayhew holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Tufts University in the USA. She has authored or co-authored four books on topics in user experience engineering, and has contributed chapters to many other books in the field.

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