Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Praise for a Sign-up Process and Experience: ShopIttoMe.com

It's not everyday that I encounter a site with a sign-up process that is easy to use, branded, and all around fun. In fact, one of my service offerings, the site review, includes testing such processes and finding room for improvement to increase lead generation and sales for small business clients. (You can also check out my handy recommended steps for reviewing your site yourself here.)

So . . . I am happy to post today about a site that does it right--ShopIttoMe.com. Here are some of the highlights (which can be adopted and adapted by your webmasters as well):

1. Users are motivated by a sense of accomplishment from the first step. On the sign-up page, the major heading (see below) reads "Your profile is 25% complete," although the user has done nothing but navigated to that screen. Pretty smart, huh?

2. Users know what they can expect in terms of process from the first step. The call-out box (above) reads: "It's as easy as (1) choose brands, (2) choose sizes, (3) enroll." Preparation and managing expectations are key in the user engagement process.

3. Users are told why certain fields are being required. The savvy addition of pop-ups (see below) that answer the question "Why?" builds trust and confidence for any skeptics and guards against the second-guessing that can lead to increased abandonment and bounce rates.

4. Users are educated about what's next in a simple, branded completion screen. Because a confirmation email is sent, users are directed to check their email (as well as their spam folder) and provided with instructions in case they don't receive an email within--get this!--a specified timeframe of 5 minutes. This language helps ensure complete follow-through at a stage where many can abandon. (No screen shot on this one.)

All in all, ShopIttoMe has a stellar user experience design for the sign-up process. If your processes need a boost,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Are Your Online Customers Shopping or Dropping Off?

If you have an efficient e-commerce function on your site, you'll see it in the sales. If you don't, you'll see it in stats or read about it in an online review. As bloggers become citizen-journalists and attempt to inform and care for the communities they serve, they're openly praising and critiquing websites that make consumers' lives easier (or not).

For instance, The Budget Fashionista has a post that provides the pros and cons of major players' sites called The 15 Best Price Comparison Sites. It's worth a look . . . and then some introspection. Ask yourself how your site features and functionalities compare. If you have trouble with this analysis, don't despair. Here is a short article--Focus on . . . Website Improvement--to assist you. Oftentimes, a fresh perspective and a dedicated site review is what you need for a performing website.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"The Economy"

I am finally breaking down and talking about it. I have held out this long, believe it or not, without a single post about IT. But last night, I heard on NPR's Marketplace an interesting interview with Dan Ariely from Duke University (thanks Kai Ryssdal) about responses to the retirement savings plunge. My summary attempt is as follows:

Consumers may figure, with inability to earn money via stocks and bank earnings "not very helpful," they might as well spend vs. save . . and perhaps not be as concerned with cutting back on spending. In the larger picture, this is the best thing for the general economy and so we should all feel good about making spending decisions.

Before I go on, it should be noted that the only Econ class I took was in high school where I learned 2 things: (1) There's no such thing as a free lunch and (2) I could not maintain anywhere near the lifestyle I was used to on my assigned $27,900/year salary (in 1989) for our budget project.

Lack of formal economics education aside and from a marketing perspective, I think it's a hard sell. I think for many of us, spending that would match our savings is a far cry and would be too painful. However, with a catchy tune and a hot new vocalist behind it, we might be able to convince others to spend for their country, if not for themselves, this holiday season.

What are your thoughts? Are you ready to open your wallet for shopping and forego the 401(k) or any savings method altogether?

(P.S. Dan, I want to re-do your MIT website. It's cool but is it really helping your brand? I do love your Predictably/Irrational site, however, and enjoy your perspective. I plan to apply the results of your pricing research in client education methods; thanks for sharing it.)