Live from NEMOA: Ensure That Your Website Drives Smoothly

Mar 24, 2007 1:16 AM  By

Cambridge, MA – Helen Losleben of Catalog Vision knows lists very well but is a novice when it comes to choosing a fine wine.

So New England Mail Order Association spring conference speaker Colin Hynes, the director of usability for office supplies merchant Staples, had her go to the Geerlings & Wade Website to find one for her husband’s upcoming birthday dinner party.

The Website experience started fine for Losleben, who went to the left navigation column to choose a price point, then to a page with several items ranked by points. And when she clicked on an item, she found out what foods went with the wine.

Everything went fine for Losleben until she went to check out. Then the roadblocks began.

When Hynes asked attendees what they would do if they reached those hiccups, they said they would have logged out rather than trying to make the purchase.

“A Website should be like driving a car. You don’t want to feel it shift as you’re driving,” Hynes said, adding that Geerlings & Wade is far from the only site that has this issue. “The more barriers a consumer hits, the worse the experience for the customer.”

Even as educational as the Geerlings & Wade Website is, Hynes said it doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to sales if the order process brings consumers headaches.

“Some users may have called the customer service number at the bottom of the page,” Hynes continued. “But others would have just got up from their seats and went to the corner wine shop and asked a person what they would recommend.”