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+++ S P E C I A L R E P O R T +++
"A Tangled Web" 
Vividence (www.vividence.com)
Submitted by: Melissa King 
Phase Two Strategies 
melissa_king(at)p2pr.com
 August 1, 2001
The most common mistakes in Web site design create serious problems for site visitors.

Vividence Corporation (www.vividence.com ) using test panels, recently conducted a study** of 69 major Web sites, including Fortune 1000, Internet 250 and B2B 40 sites.

Large numbers of Web sites share common design problems that create difficulties for site visitors. The implications of the study are important for eCommerce businesses that hope to convert Web site visitors to customers.

The most common problems with Web sites:

*53% had poorly organized search results

How these problems affect Web site visitors:
Frustration and wasted time

According to Nielsen: 50% of users are search dominant -- they heavily rely upon searching to locate information

*32% had poor Information architecture

-How these problems affect Web site visitors:
-Confusion
-Dead ends
-"back and forthing"
-Forced to search


*32% suffered from Slow Performance

-Slow performance even on DSL connections
-Home pages are a big offender
-Partly attributable to engineering
-Largely attributable to design

How these problems affect Web site visitors:

A constantly interrupted shopping experience Frustration

*27% had cluttered home pages

Affect on the consumer:
-Poor information architecture
-Failure to communicate value proposition
-No contrast: everything has equal weight
-Users don't know where to start
-Failure to engage
-No call to action
-Investor centeredness
-Failure to establish navigation
-Layout reflects company organization chart

How these problems affect Web site visitors:

-Creates disinterest
-Wastes time

*25% had problems with confusing labels

The most common problems with confusing labels: 
-"catchy" marketing terms
-Industry jargon
-Technical jargon
-Foreign language translation problems
-Misleading labels

How these problems affect Web site visitors:

-Confusion
-Errors
-"back and forthing"-
Visitors are forced to search

*15% of Web sites in study had problems with Invasive Registration

Findings:
-Registration can be required for use (registration required to shop!)
-Too much information required
-Personal information required but not necessary for the task at hand
-Registration value not understood
-Capturing email early on
-Metric-centeredness

-How these problems affect Web site visitors:
-Users are just numbers
-Visitors feel resentment
-Wasted time and effort entering data
-Deliberately incorrect information

*13% had problems with Inconsistent navigation

Findings:
-Primary navigation bar is, in fact, really secondary
-Un-scalable designs
-Poor transitions between company divisions
-"Junk Drawer" navigation bars
-Random links
-Shoe-horned functions
-Heavy need to hit the "back-button"

How these problems affect Web site visitors: 

-Inefficient way finding
-Forces users to focus on navigating, not using
-Loss of perceived stability
-Missed useful features

Other problems:

-Too much text
-Poor value proposition
-Hard to find shipping prices
-Search not where expected
-Poor process UI (user interface)
-Flashing ads and animation
-Poor ability to compare products

MOST COMMON SEARCH PROBLEMS

3% - of searches produced an error message
3% - were too difficult to use
7% - engine was too difficult to locate
7% - of searches produced too few results
7% - of searches were too limiting
8% - of searches had insufficient instructions
9% - were too slow
10% - of searches yielded inaccurate/unrelated results
12% - did not organize results well
14% - of searches were not advanced enough
41% - of searches encountered no problems
20% - had other search problems.

** about the study : 69 Web sites were evaluated by qualified teams of testers from Vividence Research who were given specific tasks to perform at each site. Some sites include more than one category. Percentages rounded. Not all eCommerce sites are eTailers. Site Descriptions:

2% Community
21% Content
70% eCommerce
31% Service

Verticals

3% Entertainment
45% eTailers
12% Financial
7% Health/Pharmaceutical
10% Hi-Tech
3% Portal
12% Travel
13% Other

About Vividence:

Vividence (www.vividence.com) is the leader in Customer Experience Management products and services, helping industry-leading businesses quickly and thoroughly understand the behavior and thoughts of Web users. Vividence offers large-scale customer experience evaluations. Based on the client's business objectives, these evaluations incorporate brand awareness and task-oriented questions and are administered to target members of their proprietary 150-member Vividence Research Panel. 

Vividence technology can be deployed on a client's beta or live site - or invisibly on a competitor's live site - all without IT involvement or software downloads.

Vividence was founded in late 1998 and is backed by venture capitalists Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, Partech International and Angel Investors, L.P. Our management team includes executives from Borland, Microsoft, Portal Software and Ziff-Davis, Inc. More than 160 leading businesses use Vividence, including: Cisco Systems, Compaq, eBay, Excite(at)Home, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, nordstrom.com, Pfizer, SAP and Wells Fargo. 

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Last modified Sunday, February 16, 2003