How The Amtrak App Got On Board The Good UX Train

In the UX Spotlight series, we post about UX features that impressed us online, and are great examples and inspiration for anyone looking to enhance their digital user experience.

I recently moved to New York from the other side of the country. Knowing nothing and nobody in this city, everything is exciting and new. With that, I occasionally need two things – love and fresh air. For this, I have the occasional weekend with my sister and her family in Boston, where I can get a reminder of what the world looks like outside of the wonderful mutation I have made my home.

Booking my trip up north is always a happy occasion – I love having a family weekend to look forward to, and with the easy-to-use Amtrak app, all it takes is a few clicks to reserve my tickets. (By the way, I should mention here that Amtrak is not a client of ours…)

On a rainy Monday morning, with a long gray week ahead, I open up the Amtrak app and begin planning my next trip.

WHEN BOOKING A TRIP LEADS TO A GOOD DIGITAL JOURNEY

From the moment I begin, they’ve already made me happy. I get a fleeting vision of the journey I’m about to take – I see a picturesque landscape with train tracks disappearing into the horizon. This is the image that will stay with me throughout my online experience, and for the rest of the week. (1)

I click ‘Book’ in the lower menu bar. The overall look of the app is clean and simple, and the train icon has a charming, old-school feel to it. All this makes me feel more comfortable about booking online. Even the prompt to enter my departure and arrival stations – ‘Where can we take you?’ – is engaging. (2)

Because the system remembers my main stations from previous journeys, this process takes seconds. (3)

 

The next screen is the best. It just makes me happy. It’s showing me every type of train, whether regional or express, as well as travel class. Not only does it give me only the information I care about, it also just looks good. Notice the color difference between Coach tickets and Business Class Tickets. (4)

Once I pick a train, all the additional details are displayed above the fold. Another menu of pleasing icons – all clickable – lists the amenities on the train I’ve selected. A clickable yellow triangle allows me to consult the service alerts. In a weird way, the honesty of this feature actually outweighs the inconvenience I might feel about a potential disruption. (5)

Next I must enter my details. For many, this is the least favorite part of any digital journey. But instead of making me click to reach payment, the system takes me there in one smooth transition. Right after I’ve picked my train, I am immediately directed to the personal information section, so I don’t have time for that unhappy hesitation. (6)

Each time I reach this page I am reminded that I still haven’t set up a Guest Rewards Number. I do find it slightly annoying that the system hasn’t remembered my personal info. ‘Of course,’ my inner voice says, ‘had you registered and logged into the system, then it would remember you. And now you’re complaining about the system, when you were too lazy to do it – as usual!’

I tell my inner voice that it’s right, of course, but that if I’m too lazy to register, others probably are too. A link next to the Guest Rewards Number box encouraging me to sign up for an account could do the trick.

I like the inline form validation – nothing super advanced or high-tech, but elegantly done. I also like that there are no extraneous questions. Every single thing that needs to be there is there – no optional info.

CLEARLY A LOT OF THOUGHT HAS BEEN PUT INTO WHAT TYPE OF DIGITAL EXPERIENCE A PROSPECTIVE TRAVELER EXPECTS.

Throughout this whole process I can go forward and back to any screen without losing any info. This level of continuity also adds to comfort – it’s always nicer to continue in a process when you feel you aren’t being locked in. ‘That’s why you live in New York – you’re so afraid of commitment it’s even hard for you to commit to a few screens in an app,’ inner voice says. I murder inner voice.

Aside from that opening shot of a sunset, there’s nothing glamorous about this app. It doesn’t use advanced date pickers, video, or animations. It does however make every step of the digital journey simple and painless, and clearly a lot of thought has been put into what type of digital experience a prospective traveler expects.

I also like that, as well as enabling me to complete my booking task, the app connects me to the experience of physically riding a train with the splash screen and cute little icons. I wouldn’t mind even more of that, by the way.

Compared to what’s out there today, this is great UX. Inner voice and I can get this whole booking done in about a minute, and merrily go on with our happy, schizophrenic day.

I think we are not so far from the day that I’ll step into a virtual world and already be there with my sister… I’ll see the New England foliage in front of me and hear the birds sing, even if my body is in a New York high-rise. For now, letting me easily book my trip while giving me small glimpses of a train ride on a gorgeous day is all the experience this user needs.

How The Amtrak App Got On Board The Good UX Train – es

In the UX Spotlight series, we post about UX features that impressed us online, and are great examples and inspiration for anyone looking to enhance their digital user experience.

I recently moved to New York from the other side of the country. Knowing nothing and nobody in this city, everything is exciting and new. With that, I occasionally need two things – love and fresh air. For this, I have the occasional weekend with my sister and her family in Boston, where I can get a reminder of what the world looks like outside of the wonderful mutation I have made my home.

Booking my trip up north is always a happy occasion – I love having a family weekend to look forward to, and with the easy-to-use Amtrak app, all it takes is a few clicks to reserve my tickets. (By the way, I should mention here that Amtrak is not a client of ours…)

On a rainy Monday morning, with a long gray week ahead, I open up the Amtrak app and begin planning my next trip.

WHEN BOOKING A TRIP LEADS TO A GOOD DIGITAL JOURNEY

From the moment I begin, they’ve already made me happy. I get a fleeting vision of the journey I’m about to take – I see a picturesque landscape with train tracks disappearing into the horizon. This is the image that will stay with me throughout my online experience, and for the rest of the week. (1)

I click ‘Book’ in the lower menu bar. The overall look of the app is clean and simple, and the train icon has a charming, old-school feel to it. All this makes me feel more comfortable about booking online. Even the prompt to enter my departure and arrival stations – ‘Where can we take you?’ – is engaging. (2)

Because the system remembers my main stations from previous journeys, this process takes seconds. (3)

 

The next screen is the best. It just makes me happy. It’s showing me every type of train, whether regional or express, as well as travel class. Not only does it give me only the information I care about, it also just looks good. Notice the color difference between Coach tickets and Business Class Tickets. (4)

Once I pick a train, all the additional details are displayed above the fold. Another menu of pleasing icons – all clickable – lists the amenities on the train I’ve selected. A clickable yellow triangle allows me to consult the service alerts. In a weird way, the honesty of this feature actually outweighs the inconvenience I might feel about a potential disruption. (5)

Next I must enter my details. For many, this is the least favorite part of any digital journey. But instead of making me click to reach payment, the system takes me there in one smooth transition. Right after I’ve picked my train, I am immediately directed to the personal information section, so I don’t have time for that unhappy hesitation. (6)

Each time I reach this page I am reminded that I still haven’t set up a Guest Rewards Number. I do find it slightly annoying that the system hasn’t remembered my personal info. ‘Of course,’ my inner voice says, ‘had you registered and logged into the system, then it would remember you. And now you’re complaining about the system, when you were too lazy to do it – as usual!’

I tell my inner voice that it’s right, of course, but that if I’m too lazy to register, others probably are too. A link next to the Guest Rewards Number box encouraging me to sign up for an account could do the trick.

I like the inline form validation – nothing super advanced or high-tech, but elegantly done. I also like that there are no extraneous questions. Every single thing that needs to be there is there – no optional info.

CLEARLY A LOT OF THOUGHT HAS BEEN PUT INTO WHAT TYPE OF DIGITAL EXPERIENCE A PROSPECTIVE TRAVELER EXPECTS.

Throughout this whole process I can go forward and back to any screen without losing any info. This level of continuity also adds to comfort – it’s always nicer to continue in a process when you feel you aren’t being locked in. ‘That’s why you live in New York – you’re so afraid of commitment it’s even hard for you to commit to a few screens in an app,’ inner voice says. I murder inner voice.

Aside from that opening shot of a sunset, there’s nothing glamorous about this app. It doesn’t use advanced date pickers, video, or animations. It does however make every step of the digital journey simple and painless, and clearly a lot of thought has been put into what type of digital experience a prospective traveler expects.

I also like that, as well as enabling me to complete my booking task, the app connects me to the experience of physically riding a train with the splash screen and cute little icons. I wouldn’t mind even more of that, by the way.

Compared to what’s out there today, this is great UX. Inner voice and I can get this whole booking done in about a minute, and merrily go on with our happy, schizophrenic day.

I think we are not so far from the day that I’ll step into a virtual world and already be there with my sister… I’ll see the New England foliage in front of me and hear the birds sing, even if my body is in a New York high-rise. For now, letting me easily book my trip while giving me small glimpses of a train ride on a gorgeous day is all the experience this user needs.

Users Blame Cart Abandonment on Price, Choices and Bad UX

Convincing shoppers to add to cart is just one of the daily challenges of digital marketing teams everywhere – the real concern is making sure digital journeys end in conversion.

A ContentSquare survey of US consumers aged 18 to 65 found that 81% of shoppers had abandoned their cart at least once in their lifetime.

The 25-34 age group has the biggest tendency for cart abandonment (21%), followed by the 35-44 (20%) and 45 to 54 age groups (13%). The three most frequently abandoned item categories are clothing (40%), tech products (18%) and home ware (16%).

But what exactly causes someone to spend time filling their basket, only to get cold feet at the very last minute?

Not surprisingly, ‘money’ tops the list of reasons, with 74% of surveyed consumers citing price as the biggest obstacle to conversion. Others fill up their cart but simply can’t make their mind up once they get to checkout – with 8.9% of consumers quoting ‘too many options’ as their main reason for not following through on a purchase. For 7.95% of consumer, it’s ‘time’ (or presumably, running out of it) that hinders conversion.

THE THREE MOST FREQUENTLY ABANDONED ITEM CATEGORIES ARE CLOTHING (40%), TECH PRODUCTS (18%) AND HOME WARE (16%).

In fourth place is ‘a poor online experience,’ with 7.30% of shoppers blaming an underwhelming User Experience (UX) for their desertion.

There are many levels of engagement to any digital journey, and the challenge for brands is to meet prospects’ needs every step of the way. Disruptors like Amazon have mastered the art of competitive pricing, but there is still much brands can do to incentivize consumers, including offering free shipping, promotions and exclusive member deals.

Behavioral insights that can identify friction points along the customer journey and tell you why users are frustrated will help your teams roll out the optimizations that will keep visitors engaged until the moment of purchase.

Equipping Businesses for the Age of Digital Shopping – es

The decline of brick-and-mortar stores in favor of digital shopping platforms is inspiring businesses everywhere to improve their customers’ online experience.

Credit Suisse estimates that there could be more than 8,640 store closures this year, breaking the 2008 record of approximately 6,200 store closures. Meanwhile, the US Census Bureau has recorded a 0.8% increase in consumer spending in November 2017 (a 5.8% hike from the previous year), showing that spending is not the factor.

According to McKinsey & Company, “digital’s share of total retail sales in the United States has been growing by about 15% annually over the past 5-years.” For mobile channels, the growth is +25% in 2017 alone. Today, 60% of Americans have smartphones, and 80% of them shop with their device.

Companies that want to capitalize on this shift need to consider the following 4 trends as they prepare for the future:

1: Changing Face of the Consumer

Meet Generation Z, the first generation of digital natives. Born into a world of smartphones and streaming, they have very different needs than their forebears.

2: New Patterns of Personal Consumption

Customer expectations are changing fast and often. Today’s shoppers are looking to fit shopping around their busy lives – not the other way round.

3: Technological Advancements

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and increasingly sophisticated analytics solutions are revolutionizing the landscape of online business.

4: Structural Industry Shifts

The recent Amazon takeover of Whole Foods is just one example of how businesses are embracing the digital revolution, and shifting their focus to online.

DIGITAL USER EXPERIENCE (UX) PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN THE ONGOING CHANGES TO THE CULTURE OF HOW PEOPLE SHOP.

All pointing to the same conclusion: that digital User Experience (UX) plays a key role in the ongoing changes to the culture of how people shop.

In fact, it has widely been reported that UX is the new salesperson. In the past, the consumer would enter a store, and be greeted and advised by a sales assistant. Based on this interaction, the salesperson would assess the customer’s needs and goals, and adapt the experience accordingly. Today’s online customer expects that same level of experience, hence the development of AI and bots to achieve personalized, more human customer journeys.

But personalizing journeys implies knowing your customer inside out. Enter digital experience analytics. These allow you to measure and compare traffic and engagement from one country to another, one device to another, taking into account factors like time of day, mood, reason for visiting your site, and source of origin (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), to name a few. With behavioral data in their arsenal, digital teams are now able to understand why and how prospects use their platforms, and can optimize their sites accordingly.

And with data-driven insights into the real behavior of their digital customers, companies can identify pain points on their platforms, prioritize optimization efforts, and in turn achieve real conversion growth.

Marcus Magarian is a Business Developer in ContentSquare. Reach out to talk about how behavioral data can help your business prepare for the future of digital commerce: [email protected]

4 UX KPIs You Should be Tracking (But Most Likely Aren’t)

When marketers want to measure their website performance, they often rely on indicators like conversion rates, bounce rates, session duration, or number of page views.

Just like a doctor conducting a routine check-up on his patient, the use of basic KPIs is an excellent way of monitoring your website’s “health” and a good way to find symptoms of bad user experience. Yet, when it comes to understanding the exact cause of these symptoms, and coming up with the right optimization decisions, traditional analytics are simply not enough.

Here’s 4 KPIs you might not have heard of, but that could become crucial to your online business success.

1. Click repetition

What is it ? The number of clicks in a row on the same page element. If this indicator gets past 2, it’s a clear sign that your users are getting frustrated. There could be several reasons for this: design misconceptions, bugs, unclear CTAs…

img 1Let’s look at an example. The screenshot opposite is taken from a fashion retailer’s website. We can see that the image is clicked over and over more than 5 times on average… The reason behind it is that the eye-shaped icon, suggesting you can zoom-in or enlarge the image, doesn’t trigger any action at all. That’s typically the type of frustrating experience you want to avoid on a retail website.
Click repetition also often brings to light a very common and underestimated problem for e-commerce websites : the lack of feedback at important stages of the browsing experience. Think of when you put a product in your basket: you’re expecting a confirmation, but what if this confirmation isn’t clear or takes too long to be delivered ? Chances are you click again, and again.
You need to ensure that you prevent this kind of negative experience by tracking this KPI.

On a sidenote, be careful not to misunderstand click repetition for “click addiction” as, for instance, users compulsively clicking on a slideshow could trigger the same KPI.

2. Activity rate

When a page fails to meet the needs of the visitors, they usually leave, thus generating a high bounce rate. But how do we know whether this bounce is due to inadequate content or to an interaction problem within the page ?

The “time spent” by users on a particular page could give us a hint, but it could be tricky. Indeed, what we really want to know is if people interact with the page.

“Activity rate” measures the time spent interacting within the page. In the case of a page with a high bounce rate, a low activity rate would point out a problem in acquisition strategy. To the contrary, a high activity rate would lead us to understand that users leave because the page isn’t responding properly to their interactions.
Thanks to understanding the activity rate, you know what to investigate.

On the following image, we see that “bouncing users” leave the homepage without doing anything (4%), whereas on the product page, they interact before leaving (25%).

img 2.1

3. Engagement rate

We can all agree that creating efficient “call-to-action” buttons is crucial to conversion, but it is also an art. A slight change of words can have huge effect on clicks-through. When you need to figure out which CTAs are more appealing to your users, and which ones are less appealing, engagement rate comes in handy.

In the menu below, we clearly see that “Exclusive offers” is by far the most affording category of the menu, with 12. 6% engagement rate.

img 3

A low engagement rate would reveal that the wording is unclear, or maybe that two categories seem to describe the same thing.
By monitoring this KPI, optimizing and reorganizing your menus and CTAs for better performance becomes significantly easier.

4. Time before first click

Have you ever wanted to know if your checkout page could perform better ? Assessing the time before click would uncover significant insight into being able to address this.

The following two CTAs are checkout validation buttons, taken from two different websites.

img4

img5

On the first website, users take 43.8 seconds to review their checkout list before clicking on “validate”.
On the second website, it takes them 66.6 seconds to accomplish the same action. That’s 23 seconds longer, and yet the checkout page is way simpler in that case. It’s obvious that something isn’t clear and takes time for users to understand.

Conclusion

Advanced UX Analytics are empowering marketers with a new generation of KPIs that offer to show how users really behave while browsing, leaving intuition aside and allowing data-driven optimization.
Click repetition, activity rate, engagement rate, time before click are some of the new indicators that help leading retailers minimise errors and hesitation times, equipping leading e-commerce brands with the ability to provide a seamless user experience.

What’s your opinion about KPIs ? Tweet us what you think @ContentSquare

To discover how UX Analytics can help you with your business, visit contentsquare.com

Couture Heavyweight Kenzo Sees 150% Increase In Online Conversion Rate

For many brands today, keeping up with the fast-moving trajectory of digital retail comes with its fair share of trials and tribulations. Consumers are increasingly aware of what they want, and what they are prepared to put up with to acquire it. And while the ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ maxim holds truer than ever, some risks can also lead to losses. 

French luxury fashion house Kenzo experienced this firsthand when it recently launched a new checkout page for its online store. The brand, which is the brainchild of Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, came onto the scene in 1970. Over the past five decades, it has asserted itself as a visionary leader in the world of couture, and has earned its place in the canon of fashion history.

Unfortunately, the recent revamp of the site’s checkout page did not translate into improved sales, and in fact, digital teams observed a decrease in the site’s conversion rate. What was it about the new design that was putting customers off? And if the remodel had failed, then what exactly needed to be done to optimize the checkout page?

WITHIN SEVEN DAYS, KENZO SAW A 150% INCREASE TO ITS ONLINE CONVERSION RATE – A FULL 25% UP FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

Understanding customer intent, and tailoring content accordingly is central to providing a satisfactory online user experience. But classic analytics often give only partial insights into user behavior, leaving an awful lot up to guesswork.

Following the drop in online sales, Kenzo was left facing two choices: either return to the original checkout page design, or identify what elements of the new interface were hindering navigation.

Site-path-analysis-ContentSquare.png

The brand decided to adopt the ContentSquare digital experience insights solution to review the purchase funnel, and effectively identify any friction points in the navigation path. The zoning analysis (that shows attribution for every asset on the page) flagged several areas of weakness, including misplaced delivery fields, a convoluted login process, and unclear calls to action — obstacles that were leaving users frustrated, and causing them to drop off.

Thanks to a data-driven assessment of the interface, ecommerce teams were able to focus on fixing proven design flaws with confidence. And this time, the effort paid off. Within seven days, Kenzo saw a 150% increase to its online conversion rate — a full 25% up from the previous year. 

To read the full Kenzo case study, click here.

4 CX Mistakes During Checkout International Retailers Should Avoid

Selling your products to customers around the world has never been so easy and e-commerce allows customers to buy your products at all hours of the day.

However, with so much competition online, are you paying attention to the little details or applying a one-size-fits-all approach to international e-commerce? We outlined the four missteps that international retailers should avoid below.

1. Thinking the only difference is language

Creating international adaptations go beyond translating your website into different languages.

When we conducted an analysis for Promod, we noticed the differences between French and German users when it came to the general terms and conditions. One compelling finding was that German users were more likely to read the Terms and Conditions (Kauf Auf Rechnung) than the French users.

CX promod

This allowed the retailer to accommodate their German users by making the terms and conditions more accessible by adding it to the reassurance bar.

Tip: Do you customers care more about gifts and samples or promo codes? Are they clicking on text that does not link to anything? Retailers use behavioral analytics, such as heatmaps and clickthrough rates, to see which content piques the user’s interest.

2. All forms are created equal

Addresses, phone numbers, even titles and honorifics all vary across different borders.

The order in which users input their information (whether in the identification or the billing section) has a high probability of drop off due to the time and effort it requires from the users.

cx asos

Retailers can keep a close eye on these crucial steps of the checkout process by tracking erroneous entries and time spent filling out each field.

ASOS lets me know that by opting to give information about myself will result in a personalized experience through recommendations.

Tip: Guide the user and validate their responses. Give examples beneath the form typically in grey or italicized font to help elicit the right response. Users are more likely to fill out the fields as long as they know how it’s being used and how they will benefit from it.

3. Shipping and delivery

When it comes to shipping options, retailers need to hit that Goldilocks sweet spot. Too many options and your customers will be overwhelmed. Too little options, and you fail to anticipate customer needs.

When we conducted an audit of skincare retailer, we noticed that users in Russia were hesitating longer on the shipping page. A long list of shipping options made it confusing to buyers and they were more likely to leave the page.

CX ru

They resolved this by reducing duplicate options and adding logos to facilitate the selection.

Tip: User hesitation and hovering over a field suggests ambiguity and cause users to leave the page. Make sure when you offer options to users that it is clear and easy to read.

4. Payment preferences

This step of the checkout process is often where customers drop out the most.

From a UX standpoint, maybe this phase of your checkout operates flawlessly–an enclosed checkout free from distractions, auto-fill form fields, and delightful copy to guide them to completing the order.

 

via Expert Market via Expert Market

 

It is important to know if your customers are comfortable paying with credit cards, bank transfer, cash-on-delivery, or if they need other alternatives.

Recently, Airbnb updated their payment structure in Brazil for the upcoming Rio Olympics to allow national credit cards and increase accessibility for Brazilian hosts.

Tip: Conducting a thorough, behavioral analysis can give you another look into cultural norms. Be open to adapting your policies (à la Uber) to reduce friction during the payment process.

Conclusion

Retailers need more than translations and currency converters to accommodate their international users.

Understanding customer expectations and delivering an effortless customer experience starts with the right data matched with actionable insights.

To read more about international e-commerce, check out our infographic.

 

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

Move Over Millennials, There’s a New Kid in Town: Generation Z

Born between 1996 and 2010, some are calling the new wave of consumers the Last Generation, others the Homeland Generation, but we at ContentSquare call them something else: Born to shop. And we’ve created a new eBook to teach you step by step how to connect with them.

This is the first generation of digital natives, raised on technology and understanding intuitively concepts and processes the rest of us had to learn through trial and error. 40% of Generation Z already self-identify as digital addicts. Furthermore, this new wave of internet citizens already commands 44 billion annually in the US alone— just from their allowance!

While this new era is just at the tip of the iceberg of their buying power, they’re already savvier and more discerning on the web than their predecessors. User experience is the language of Generation Z, with mobile and web interfaces their natural habitats.

Download our free eBook on how to attract and engage the new generation of consumers

On the one hand, they’re unforgiving when it comes to clunky or error-filled platforms, with 60% saying they won’t use an app or website that is too slow to load, and 62% saying they won’t use an app if it’s difficult to navigate.

On the other hand, they’re hungry for original, engaging digital experiences, and visit 62% more pages in a session than the rest of the population. Generation Z wants you to woo them, they want you to create a personal, immersive digital world for them to play— and shop— in.

This generation has been largely underestimated or dismissed by the media, but that is a mistake— and a costly one! This choosy, demanding new era already converts twice as much online as the rest of us.

gen z data strip for blog

To help you speak the language of Generation Z and capitalize on their buying power by offering a superior online shopping experience, we’ve created an eBook, Generation Z: The Coming of (Shopping Age), your A to Z guide on courting the new generation of consumers. The data is based on an analysis of  over 8 million user sessions from ContentSquare data in 2017 across 7 countries: The US, Belgium, Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France and Spain, across a number of industries.

We offer, in this report, all the steps you need to take to attract and engage Generation Z, with checklists of concrete actions you can implement right now. Forbes already praised our emphasis on telling your brand’s story through user experience— are you ready to roll out the red carpet for your new era of shoppers? They are more than ready for you.

gen z for blog end CTA