Empathizing with your customers is the first step in creating a successful e-commerce user experience (UX). You acknowledge that you do not know everything about your target market and commit to understanding their wants and needs.
Empathy is about more than research though. Building empathy means putting yourself in the customers’ shoes and understanding your audiences’ frustrations, motivation and opinions.
Use one or more the 4 strategies below to begin formulating a UX strategy for your business…
Most companies are familiar with customer surveys. They allow businesses to create a questionnaire and send it to a large sample set of respondents (usually online). Customer surveys can offer a significant amount of data at a low cost, but they can also be misleading.
Surveys provide great quantitative data, but can be lacking in terms of qualitative results. Participants are much more likely to choose a response on a survey that they mostly agree with than type an answer in their own words. This means that you lose a lot of depth in your results. Also, you rely heavily on the quality of the questions when conducting customer surveys. Questions that confuse or mislead respondents may skew your results because there was no outside assistance.
Customer interviews are also well-known to many businesses. This is a common technique used to sit down with consumers to learn more about their thoughts and feelings towards a specific topic. It is relatively low cost and gives companies an opportunity to delve into topics that could not be addressed in a customer survey.
One thing to keep in mind during customer interviews is the importance of building rapport. If you jump straight into interview questions, respondents may not trust you and could be unwilling to share personal details. Take the time to get to know your users, on a personal level, before asking them about their experiences. Also, make sure to have questions prepared beforehand, so that the interview maintains a consistent flow.
This strategy is more involved than some of the previous options, but yields some of the richest results. Contextual inquiry involves watching members of your target market perform specific tasks within their natural environment. For example, if you are creating an application for hospital administrators, you would go to various hospitals and observe how workers currently interact with their administration application.
This strategy is important because it allows you to see, first-hand, the daily experience of your audience. You can document things that respondents may forget, like the session time-out length being too short, and discover opportunities for improvement.
Diary studies involve giving consumers a diary, either physical or electronic, and asking them to write about their experiences relating to a specific topic. This strategy can be conducted in a variety of ways. Strict diary studies may ask respondents to write at a predefined time every day and to answer a specific set of questions. More relaxed diary studies may just ask users to write about a topic sometime during their day.
The benefit of diary studies is its ability to capture deep emotions. Based on the social norms surrounding diaries, respondents tend to get fairly personal in their entries. You will learn about users’ frustrations on a much deeper level than with other strategies. This method is also ideal for tracking responses over a longer period of time.