Many business websites look great, but do not provide the information customers actually need. User Vision is a UK customer experience consultancy that will soon open an office in Dubai. Chris Rourke, the firm's founder and managing director, has worked with clients such as Emirates Airline and Jumeirah Group on creating consumer-friendly websites, and talks about how other businesses in the UAE can do the same.
q Why is there a need for this type of consulting?
a I don't think I've ever met anyone who said: "Every time I've gone to a website I've found what I'm looking for." It doesn't happen. You can have the most beautiful brochures, but if people have disappointing experiences on your website that's damaging your brand.
You've demonstrated that "eye-tracking" is one way to pinpoint problems with a site's design. How does this work?
Eye-tracking is a way to actually see where people look while they're using a site. It is a very useful way to distinguish and improve the design.
Does every business in the Emirates really need a website?
Most businesses need a site. Obviously, if you want to be selling remotely you need one. Little local shops or cafes don't. But everyone can benefit from one.
What's the biggest mistake small businesses make when they do create one?
Not to think through the point of view of the customers. Most web design projects [involve] frantic conversation between the web designer and client. They kind of forget about users, who say: "This is the way I naturally shop online." So what we're doing is amplifying that voice of the user. We're being an advocate for them throughout the whole design process - and from an early stage, not just as a bolt-on at the end.
Since you're not a web design firm, how much do companies need to invest to get this insight?
The investment will depend on the size of the company, but the rule of thumb is about 10 per cent of their website development budget or maintenance budget once it's launched. Hold that 10 per cent for things such as researching what your end users want through focus groups.
Sounds like tracking users could get expensive.
It pays dividends because they'll get that higher conversion rate [where consumers will purchase more if they find what they're looking for]. We've got conversion rate calculators. If someone such as Emirates increases their conversion rate by 0.1 per cent, believe me, it more than pays our bills.
But isn't it a web designer's job to build a site properly for consumers?
You can't mark your own homework. If you create a website, you're not really in the best position to just switch hats and critically analyse this thing you've created. That independence is key.