To many companies, putting up an online ecommerce website is a straightforward affair: buy a domain, secure hosting, hire Sunshine Coast web design services to put up a few pages, slap on a shopping cart, and then market the site using every SEO trick in the book.
However, as Larry Marine, principal user experience architect for Intuitive Design, notes in his March 27, 2014, article on Search Engine Watch, there is a far better strategy for dominating a particular market niche: task analysis.
Task analysis is a process designed to create a concrete picture of what the user’s task is on your website. Unlike use cases, task analysis goes beyond describing how actors interact with a system and delves more deeply into forming a useful understanding of what the user expects to do. In fact, Marine asserts, “It’s vital to remain solution agnostic and avoid documenting the process of using the current technology. Otherwise you’ll end up merely automating current frustrations.”
As an example, Marine recalls his work with Proflowers, which, as its name suggests, sells flowers online. He describes how task analysis led him and his team to visit a brick-and-mortar florist to watch people buy flowers in order to develop a website design that outperformed its competition.
Through observations, they learned that most buyers don’t buy more than one bouquet at a time. This led to the decision to forego installing a shopping cart feature, which only really works when buyers want to purchase several items at the same time.
They also learned that the majority of flower buyers are men, who buy flowers for women yet know nothing about putting together a bouquet. They had this addressed on the Proflowers website by grouping bouquets by occasion, thus automating the right process for the website’s most important demographic.
At no point were available solutions or current technology discussed until they identified the desired outcome: a quick and effortless way to allow men to shop for flowers for women. By sticking to this ideal, Proflowers outpaced its competition, pulling the most profitable segment of the market out from under them.
The approach Marine shares in his article has important implications that apply to the process of contracting services for web design in Sunshine Coast. It reminds companies to focus on understanding customers’ needs first when having a website designed, rather than chasing after features that they don’t really need.
As Marine so bluntly puts it, “Your design is done not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove. This is the objective of task optimization, to reduce user steps and decisions.”
(Source: How does Google evaluate algorithmic changes?, Google Webmasters on YouTube, March 31, 2014)