With the amount of time people spend on the internet, the design and functionality of a website is becoming increasingly more important. Walking through a mall, visitors look for shops that catch the eye with elegant window displays, merchandise that is well organized and easy to find, and knowledgeable representatives who can quickly address a customer’s concerns. The retail store analogy is great for identifying weaknesses in website design for any company that wants to deliver a better user experience, e-commerce or not.
Having an attractive homepage is important for getting visitors through the door, but it’s not everything. Once on the site, it is vital visitors stay long enough to learn about the services the company offers. This is where website design and user experience come in. A user-friendly website creates a positive experience, helping visitors along the way.
Making Your Website More User Friendly
The best way to provide a good user experience is with the help of a support channel – features like call center, chat support, ticket management, etc. Yes, this is one of those situations where the solution is easier said than done. Or, at least at first glance.
Most websites lack a support channel because hiring a customer representative is an unnecessary expense. Even for larger news sites, blogs, and personal pages that have money to invest in web development, a customer support channel will rarely provide a significant return on investment. Website administrators will consider it a nice addition to the user experience rather than a necessary feature.
But, if the cost barrier is removed, the advantage of having a customer support channel becomes much more appealing. After all, a better user experience makes a website more successful. A visitor who finds what they were looking for will have a more satisfactory experience. This, in turn will reflect positively on the company. Internally, a support channel can also simplify the job of the site administrator. For a news site or a blog, the ability to quickly update posts, moderate discussion, and index content can be a life saver.
Implementing Support Features on a Budget
One way to get around the budget limitation is to implement a self-help application that will allow visitors to research answers independently, eliminating the need for a customer representative. A widely used self-help solution is knowledge base software. Knowledge base applications encompass a broad range of tools and features for organizing and managing support content, including: wiki’s, FAQ’s, troubleshooting guides, help articles, community forums and more.
While every website differs in the kind of service it provides, and in turn the kind of support its visitors might require, most sites can greatly improve their user experience by integrating some basic self-service features.
Consider creating a simple FAQ page to address some common user concerns. There are many free FAQ software applications that can quickly improve the user experience of a website. Likewise, a knowledge base application will make it easy to search for a specific piece of information, saving visitors the hassle of navigating through a myriad of drop down menus.
Customer service is just as important online as it is in real life. In trying to improve a website, consider integrating some self-help functionality to create a better user experience. Most basic tools can be found for free and will make a world of difference for the visitors and for the website administrator.
Dmitry Minyaylov is developer who focuses on making user friendly and customer oriented websites. Make your website customer friendly with a knowledge base portal.