Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Killer Web Content: Successful Websites are Task-Focused

The vast majority of people come to your website to do something specific, and they want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Identifying the most important tasks that people come to your website to complete, and helping them do so as quickly and efficiently as possible, will be critical to the success of your website.” (Gerry McGovern, Killer Web Content)

I was so excited when the Saskatoon Public Library got new software for reserving books and managing your account. But then I started using it, and I was horribly disappointed. They have fixed some of the most glaring errors, but it is still an unfriendly website. There are two different search features that are linked so the results can look different every time you enter the system. Important buttons are located in at least three different positions so I have to hunt for them. And there’s a reason why all the books I reserve come from Regina – Saskatoon staff haven’t been able to buy books online for the last six months.

On the other hand, websites that make it easy for a customer to complete their task are a delight. In Killer Web Content, Gerry McGovern uses Amazon as an example of a website that is well designed and easy to use, and I agree. Here are some of the features that I really like.

It’s easy to use and easy to understand. Ordering a book is quick and safe, and they tell me when it will be shipped and when I can expect it to arrive.

It gives me choices. I can save money by purchasing a second hand copy. I can pre-order books that are not yet out in print. I can save a title to my Wish List if I’m not ready to buy it.

It’s informative. I love the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought feature as I discover books I wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Or I can scan the New books section. The book reviews are helpful when I can’t decide whether or not to buy a book.

It provides useful links so I can get additional information when and if I want it. I can click on an author’s name to find out what other books they have written. I can review a book’s table of contents.

McGovern says that your aim when designing a website should be to GIVE rather than GET attention. “Giving attention is about facilitating the quick and easy completion of a task. It is about having answers to the most important questions your customer has.” Amazon is successful; Saskatoon Public Library isn’t.

P.S. All the libraries in Saskatchewan moved to a new, integrated software system this past year. They spent a great deal of money on the new system, and I don’t think they got their money’s worth. Surely there are better library software systems. If not, there is a crying need for customer-focused library software.

Killer Web Content: Trains, Tickets, Toilets

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