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Corrections To Usability Brings Profit

Friday, March 6, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Every business dreams of making millions. For one company in particular, hitting the jackpot didn’t come from selecting winning numbers in the Super 7 Lotto. Instead, all it took was changing a simple icon.

In the article “The $300 Million Dollar Button,” a online vendor increased their customer sales by 45% when they added a graphic to alert patrons that registering was optional:

… they put a Continue button with a simple message: You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.

Essentially, the company discovered that potential customers were turned off by the request to register; deterring them from following through with their purchase. To make matters worse, the button that was meant to benefit current customers was doing quite the opposite. Instead of streamlining the purchasing process, many were left frustrated because they couldn’t remember their login or password. Ironically enough, the acts of logging in and registering were not required for purchasing on the website—an extreme misconception that hindered company revenue and customer patronage.

The moral of the story: no matter how “user-friendly” some system may appear, success cannot be fully achieved until after a full review of stakeholder productivity and satisfaction. An important component that helps to bring positive and rewarding change is software interface design is the concept of “usability”. Defined as the endeavor to make an interface easier for customers to use, usability centers around how an interface design enables or hinders an individual to make use of a system. As seen in the example above, the website’s usability was shortsighted in the eyes of the general public, who clearly did not have a full understanding of how the process was meant to work, but only of how it appeared to work.

When it comes to faulty processes, Slaughter Development utilizes methodology engineering, an analogous concept. Whereas usability focuses directly on the user, methodology engineering focuses on the process. When paired together, these two techniques can foster tremendous positive change in productivity and stakeholder satisfaction.  Many companies will find that a lack of understanding by an employee, customer or potential contributor can lead to frustration, stress and often times countercompetence; all of which inevitably slow down progress  and lead to prolonged, company-wide setbacks.  By having conscientious concern in regards to how a process works and how it affects every individual involved, ideal outcomes, financial and stakeholder alike, will be achieved effectively and efficiently. Contact us today if processes in your company are hindering business, lacking proper instruction or creating frustration amongst stakeholders.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Fixing it Yourself - After his roommate moved out, Douglas Mezzer continued to receive and pay the monthly DSL bill from iiNet. Then, Mezzer foolishly decided to officially transfer the account to his own name. Read on »
Untangling Technology - The New York Times recently reported on the rise of usability professionals; individuals dedicated to making technology easier to use. Curiously, these experts are nicknamed “untanglers.” Read on »
Profit Improvement Event - Simons Bitzer & Associates is hosting an interactive workshop on profit improvement planning where the overall message is clear. Even small changes in key variables can have a profound impact on your bottom line. Read on »
Want to learn more? Register now for the 2011 Productivity Series

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