You want to buy a product or service. You start an online search. Hundreds of options (aka competitors) pop up. What do you do when you cannot immediately find what you want on a web page? If you are like the majority of people, you go to the next option. In an Oracle/Harris Interactive survey 89 percent of consumers said they began doing business with a company’s competitor because of a poor customer experience.

User experience is an element of the total customer experience — a very critical  element of the total customer experience — especially if your prospect is in the awareness or evaluation phase of the buyer journey. Today, consumers are buying online more than ever, and foot traffic to retailers’ storefronts is shrinking. Your virtual storefront may be the only store your visitor experiences. If the user experience is not on point, you just sent your prospect to your competitor.

Jordan Patchak, ChannelNet UX/UI Manager

Jordan Patchak

In a recent interview ChannelNet’s UX/UI manager, Jordan Patchak, highlighted the top three user experience issues he sees on a regular basis.

What do you see as the biggest user experience issue facing clients?

Patchak: Unclear paths to completion are at the top of the problem list. I know this is fairly broad, but it sums up the majority of UX/UI (user experience/user interface) issues across the web. When a user does not intuitively know what to do to achieve X on a website, this indicates an unclear path to completion. I experience it all the time in my personal searches. I click on a link, go to a page and feel lost. It is as if you turned down the wrong street. Bait and switch headlines are a pet peeve. Tell a customer what you are going to provide and provide it. It is a pretty simple proposition, but there is a tendency to stuff in a bunch of other content.”

What are some of the user experience challenges that marketers face?

Patchak: Content prioritization is a tough one. When a website’s objectives are off balance, marketers do not accomplish their goals and users end up frustrated. It is important to develop the content based on the business objectives in a way that appeals to visitors and triggers a conversion. If a company’s website focuses too much on external goals, such as pleasing the user, they may not achieve their business goals. One example we saw was when a company gave every visitor a free promotion, and no one bought any of the other products. The other extreme is a web page overly focused on the company’s internal needs. This often manifests itself when a company bombards the user with multiple calls to actions. Two examples are ‘sign up’ now forms without any lead qualification and requests for personal information that only serve to further the brand’s interests. When you ask for unnecessary information, it scares off prospects. You need to have one key objective. And your objective should not be to get all the data or sign-ups you can.

What is one user experience improvement anyone can do to increase conversion rates?

Patchak: For most marketers, the goal is to convert a visitor. A common method for converting someone is a form. Improving your form field validation will increase your conversion rates. Nothing frustrates users more than a clunky form that is not intuitive. Have you ever filled out a long form online only to hit submit and have the form cleared because you entered one thing wrong? Or perhaps the form was rejected but you do not know which field was entered incorrectly. Getting this experience right is essential to having users successfully complete your online form. If you screw up the form, you may be sending business to your competitor.

Do you have any final thoughts?

Patchak: I read an article that quantified the value of a good user experience. The research showed that for every $1 invested in UX, a company increases its profits to the tune of $2 to $100 depending on what it sells. A great UX/UI is worth every penny. A poor UX/UI only costs you.