I really needed (read: wanted) chocolate last night so I found myself at a convenience store. It struck me that many in-store experiences are directly relatable to website user experience:

Ease and familiarity of navigation matters

It was easy to find the Whittakers dark chocolate peanut slab I was craving, and not because I’d been there before. Firstly, it was located logically with all the other snack foods such as soft drink and chips. As soon as I spotted one item of junk, I knew I’d found my aisle. Also there was a sign at the top of the aisle (where I’m used to looking for directions).

If the customer can’t find the product they can’t buy it

A great user experience is inextricably tied to finding what you want, easily. When I’d secured my chocolate, I also remembered that I also really needed more tissues. Trouble is, it wasn’t in the same aisle as the shampoo and toothpaste. I wandered around. I almost gave up. Until…I accidentally stumbled upon a huge mound of neatly stacked tissue boxes crammed in the fresh food section. Of course!

Useful enticements are enticing

I had what I’d come for, and yet as I was waiting in line my eyes were drawn to the magazine display placed conveniently near the checkout. It was a longish line, so I decided to pick up a magazine and flick through it. I became absorbed by an article about making your own Christmas bon bons - because that’s something I’ve thought about doing. I decided to buy the magazine. Where you place content online matters too - it can draw people in, whether the goal is another purchase or further engagement.

Speed and service matters

I was so distracted by bon bons, I hadn’t noticed yet that the line wasn’t really moving. The kid at the checkout was having trouble with the eftpos machine. At first, it was fine. I can wait a minute. Then, he had to go get a supervisor. I started shifting my weight from foot to foot. I was tired and emotional (hence the quest for chocolate). I started to question if this was really what I needed or if I should just dump my goods and go home. It’s the same online - when using a site is slow and difficult, you think twice.

Annoying enticements are annoying

Finally it was my turn to be served. As I’m waiting for things to be scanned and paid for, the kid at the checkout tries to peddle a two-for-the-price-of-one can of coke deal. It’s easy to say no (just as it’s easy to close that website pop-up). But I’m so close to having what I want that this kind of intrusive delay is annoying. Interrupting people with requests and offers online can work, but only if the timing and message match the users’ intent.

In my case, I just wanted to get home to devour my chocolate. Which I did.

Convenience matters to people in every aspect of their lives (and people online are often on a specific quest).

Content, structure, design, usability and marketing tactics work together to give your website visitor an experience - useful, engaging and well-built websites make the experience a positive one.

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