Friday, February 04, 2005

On Shooting Oneself in the Foot

In Usability: Subliminal U-Turns, Michael Nutely reports on a strange idea: Making sites less usable.
The argument runs that some sites, particularly online banking sites, have become so easy to use that customers simply zip through them on auto-pilot, conducting their transactions with the minimum involvement possible before logging out. While this is ideal for busy consumers, its bad for the banks, which are losing the chance to sell more products to exactly those people who should be their hottest prospects their existing customers.
To get around the disturbing fact of customers actually completing their tasks with ease, some are proposing that businesses occasionally redesign their sites to force customers to pay more attention to those "must-see" ads. This is an old retail trick; move products around and people stay longer in your store.

Annoying people and making it more difficult to achieve their goals—now that's a surefire ticket to success. This shoot-yourself-in-the-foot strategy fails to realize that in cyberspace anywhere is just a click away. Leaving is instantaneous; rejection is gloriously easy; competitors are a digit away. Hasn't anyone connected this to the Web's anemic conversion rates?

I have a better idea for those financial institutions who want to put roadblocks in front of their customers: Stop thinking like banks and start thinking about people. Find out what your online customers really want and provide it in abundance. Give them content, services and resources that are compelling—that make their lives easier, not harder. They'll beat a path to your virtual doors.

Via UI Designer.


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