Before the Christmas break, I came across an article on Forbes.com discussing Jared Spool's recent talk at the design conference Warm Gun, held in San Francisco last month. (For those not familiar with him, Jared is a well-known user experience specialist and founder of respected research and consulting practice User Interface Engineering.)
Spool began by talking about how design and UX professionals now have "a seat at the table"when it comes to the decision making processes of more forward thinking companies, as businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the direct impact that design has on their bottom line.
Spool highlighted that there are five key strategic business priorities:
Increase new business
Increase existing business
Increasing shareholder value
He went on to state that all design and UX decisions, whether creative or a straightforward content element, should always relate back and positively impact at least one of these five priorities -- adding that, if the solution your proposing fails to impact any of these priorities, then maybe we shouldn't be putting it out there.
Given that this was a talk by Jared Spool, I was wondering where and when he would link this thinking back to the end user -- and the example he went on to cite did exactly that.
He referenced what looks like a fairly underwhelming content page of online retailer Zappos.com: the Self Service Return Instructions page. This page is offering a helpful, straightforward service, therefore increasing positive emotion and provoking trust in users -- those two massive pillars that prop up everything we do in UX. In doing so, the page content leads to increased engagement and ultimately increased revenue through sales. So that's point one on the list covered.
He then explained how this particular content also impacted the remaining four business priorities. The clarity of the instructions cuts down on customer service calls (thereby decreasing costs); knowing that returns are easy and clear encourages new customers (thereby increasing new business); the return policy boosts the sales to current customers (thereby increasing existing business); and all of these contribute to the value of the company (thereby increasing shareholder value).
Spool's talk served as a reminder that instilling the right emotion and trust on every last page of your website is key, as even straightforward (and typically bland) content such as returns instructions can in fact have a significant impact on your business' success.