Posts in Customer Experience

UK public sector websites have room for improvement

Paying council tax can hardly ever be a pleasant experience. Are UK council websites doing their part to make this process as smooth as possible?

In order to find out, Realeyes ran a test with 54 tax-payers, asking them to pay their council tax online on 6 different council sites. All participants were eye-tracked to gain objective measures about the user experience during the tax payment process. The study identified both good and poor design elements, wide ranging performance differences between councils and 'banner blindness' on some navigational items.

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Zavvi.co.uk back from the dead

Having acquired the rights from the administrators last week, Zavvi.co.uk's new owners have wasted no time in relaunching it as a transactional website.

The rights to the brand, and its valuable database of customers' purchase histories, were acquired by The Hut Group, which hopes to hang on to at least half of the 1m Zavvi customers, though I'm not sure it has gone far enough in explaining this to customers on its website. 

Zavvi homepage

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Shoppers RSVP to invite-only ecommerce

rue la la Turns out WalMart and Amazon aren't the only retailers finding shelter from the economic storm. A small group of invitation-only retail sites are establishing growth with high-end product and shrewd marketing.

The three attracting the most attention are Gilt.com, ideeli.com, and RueLaLa.com. Gilt has a high powered executive team including DoubleClick founder Kevin Ryan and former Martha Stewart Omnimedia CEO Susan Lyne. The three share a basic business model. You get an invitation from a member, you join, you get a preview of a designer boutique event, then you buy. First come, first served. Stores magazine reports that Gilt has added membership each month since its November 2007 launch. RueLaLa claims membership in the "hundreds of thousands." Ideeli also has "hundreds of thousands of members" and doubled its business during the fourth quarter of 2008 over 2007, according to fashion industry trade JC Report.

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Twitter: the 13 types of tweet to take notice of

Twitter has many uses for our business beyond sending us traffic and spreading word about our articles, research and events.

While it is now our fourth-largest referrer, Twitter is more than simply a people hose. By tuning in to tweets we listen to user feedback, which helps keep us on our toes. It is useful in a wide number of areas, some of which I have listed below.

Some recommendations and questions are easier to deal with than others, but we certainly take note of all of them.

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Q&A: Quillp founder Alexander Braun

Alexander BraunBased in Berlin, Quillp is a social network centred around books, which launched last year. It provides users with the chance to connect with other book lovers, recommend good reads, as well as allowing new authors to upload their work and get some exposure.

I've been talking to founder Alexander Braun about Quillp, providing product recommendations, and his experiences at last year's Seedcamp, at which Quillp made the finals...

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Q&A: Leah Russell on the new Lastminute.com website

Lastminute.com recently launched a new version of its website in the UK and France, with new sites for the rest of Europe to follow.

I've been talking to Lastminute.com's head of customer experience Leah Russell about the thinking behind the new site, and the challenges of providing a usable website for different markets across Europe.

Lastminute.com homepage

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Following Skittles is a state of mind

ryan bBy now it's a fair assumption to say that the new Skittles social media drenched website has owned the week in internet marketing. According to the March 5 Google Trends index it spiked more than 100 percent in news reference volume this week, and more than 50 percent in actual searches.

Now that the buzz is fading just a little, we asked Mars PR Manager and spokesperson Ryan Bowling to put the launch in perspective.

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Site review: The Book Depository

UK online book retailer Book Depository launched a new version of its site recently, aiming to make it 'best in class, in e-commerce terms'. 

It's a pureplay e-tailer, and has certainly been performing well recently, with sales of more than £40m in the last twelve months, an impressive 160% increase on the previous year, and enough to make the Sunday Times' Fast Track 100 list.

Book Depository homepage

I've been taking a closer look at the site...

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Google introduces expandable AdSense ads

As the recession lingers on, Google has been forced to admit that it's not immune to the economy. That's a tough thing to do when your core business is still doing pretty well relatively speaking. 

So what's Google to do? For starters, it's cutting back on projects that aren't producing. But what about its core business of online advertising? In what might possibly be seen as a way of combating the effects of recession, Google has introduced expandable ads on the AdSense content network.

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Five things Carol Bartz should do at Yahoo!

New Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz had her first public appearance at the Morgan StCarol Bartzanley conference yesterday. She took the opportunity to continue her message to Wall Street that the sliding search company is considering a whole menu of options for the future. The operative quote: "Everything is up for evaluation."

The problems with Yahoo begin and end with that attitude. Here are five things Bartz could put in motion tomorrow that will get the company back on track:

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UK rail websites fail usability test

Thanks to overcomplicated and unreliable websites, two thirds of people were unable to book a rail journey from the UK to European cities.

Just 33% of users in the study managed to complete the task, compared to 98% who tried to book the equivalent flight online. Rail tickets also took nearly twice as long as flights to book. I've been looking at a couple of rail websites to see what was so difficult.

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President Obama ditches YouTube embedding

As we've discussed here at Econsultancy before, United States President Barack Obama loves social media. He used it with remarkable success during his campaign and he's using it as president.

But the popular website he used to serve his weekly video address on WhiteHouse.gov has unceremoniously been ditched.

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