All I wanted was some sushi.
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to find out if the any of the three sushi restaurants within walking distance of my hotel were actually open.
Their websites were full of text, explaining the ambiance, the chef’s background, even the history of the restaurant (and in one case the historic building that it was located in). The pictures of neatly arranged and presented sushi rolls and specialties looked pretty and further whetted my appetite.
But they still didn't answer my question, nor did they help me navigate the website to provide the answer to my question — is this restaurant currently open?
FAQs Don't Make Up for a Poor Site
I eventually found the information I wanted in the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Which got me thinking: If you still have an FAQ page then it means you implicitly acknowledge that you are presenting your customers with a digital experience full of answers and information that no one wants. You are ignoring the one question that will help you optimize your customer journey.
Why do your customers come to your website, or use your mobile app, in the first place? What are they trying to achieve?
I would think for a restaurant the three main reasons that people engage online are to find out location, opening hours and menu options.
So Many Pages, So Little Useful Information
I once worked on a project for a large company whose website was a perfect reflection of its corporate and business unit structure. It had a lot of FAQ pages — each business unit had its own.
Even the employees had a hard time figuring out where to find information.
But analysis showed that 80 percent of the traffic went to the website to look up product specifications, pricing, to buy spare parts or get support. Once we rebuilt the website around making those tasks as easy as possible, traffic, leads and online parts sales revenue increased.
Structure your digital experience around supplying the critical information your customer needs in the easiest way possible, then start to optimize the details through testing.
Your Goal: A Frictionless Digital Experience
Use testing to develop a frictionless experience. Test if the text and graphics you are using help drive the experience. It doesn’t matter if picture A gets more hits than picture B if neither help drive the experience. Look at click-through rates and subsequent customer actions.
If you are using graphics to drive the experience, check to make sure that the graphics are composed and positioned to help the customer on their journey. For instance, shots which guide people’s eyes in the direction of the next call to action generate far more click-throughs than thoughtfully posed shots of smiling models looking straight out of the page.
Test to make sure that the page layouts, paths and text and graphics are market and culturally appropriate. Does the experience change based on the level of the customer engagement and where they are in their journey? Do you have your customer journey mapped out and know which parts of the digital experience map to which steps in that journey?
Remember optimizing through testing is not about A versus B — it’s about removing the friction from the experience. I don’t care if the Dragon Roll looks prettier than the California Roll if I can’t find out when you’re open for business.
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