Posts in Customer Experience

Site comparison: Number10 v Whitehouse.gov

As soon as President Obama was inaugurated this week, a shiny new version of the whitehouse.gov website was launched, replete with blog and RSS feeds, an indication of the new administration's intent to make full use of the internet.

I've been taking a look at the new White House site, and comparing it with Number10.gov, the Prime Minister's website which is still in beta since it was relaunched in August last year.

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5 reasons Britannica.com is losing out online

With Encyclopedia Britannica gearing up to launch a new version of Britannica.com that will incorporate more community features, I decided it was a good time to take a look at Britannica.com.

Is it in a good position to compete with Wikipedia, the user-generated online 'encyclopedia' that eclipses Britannica.com in popularity, or will it have to do more? Here are 5 criticisms of Britannica.com that I believe it needs to address to be successful.

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Jakob Nielsen on press area usability

Nielsen's latest Alertbox post this week looks at the issue of press area usability for journalists, finding that plenty of the websites studied fail to adequately provide information for such visitors.

Poor usability and lack of information in press areas will result in journalists deciding not to include a company in the article they are writing, or else force them to get their information from third party sources, and can represent a lost PR opportunity.

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Mobile app review: Truveo video search for iPhone

Video search engine Truveo has released an updated version of its iPhone app with new features and 'Intelligent Query Completion' to improve the search functionality.

Since iPhones are sold with YouTube pre-installed, the app already has some strong competition to overcome, though users have viewed some 3m videos through the app since it launched in July last year. I've been trying out the updated version of Truveo's app and seeing how it compares to YouTube.

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100,000 Google Knols published, plenty of work to do

Google announced last week that it had recently reached the milestone of 100,000 articles published on Knol, the company's answer to Wikipedia.

Knol was launched in July last year, and attracting so many contributors in such a short space of time is no mean feat, but it is flawed so far, and there are plenty of issues to be resolved on the site before it can begin to worry Jimmy Wales.

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New mobile phone features confuse users

When you're a techie, it's hard not to gawk at the evolution of the smart phone and to think about the implications of a growing mobile internet.

Yet for average mobile phone users, the increasing number of features is leaving many 'baffled'.

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Will inauguration be a "Wireless Woodstock?"

Tomorrow's inauguration activities will stretch Washington's mobile networks, very possibly to the breaking point, according to The New York Times.

Crowds in D.C. are expected to number two million (or more) for Barack Obama's big day. It's a pretty safe assumption that the number of mobile devices on will number only slighty less. 

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Site review: Toys R Us

Retailer Toys R Us has just launched a revamped version of its website, with the stated aim of making the site more intuitive and easy to navigate for users.

The company, which also claims to have been the first national retailer to launch an e-commerce site back in 1996, has announced the fourth version of the site using the hybris e-commerce platform. So has it improved the user experience for shoppers?

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Personalized search helps online grocery shoppers

Online grocer FreshDirect offers its customers many options to make shopping from a large selection of inventory simple, ranging from search functionality, breadcrumb navigation (literal and figurative - they do sell breadcrumbs!), and shopping from previous grocery lists. Grocery buying is, after all, largely predicated on repeat purchasing of favorite or staple products.

FreshDirect recently made browsing and buying even easier for returning registered customers by personalizing its site search functionality.

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Why you shouldn't make users register before checkout

Making customers register before reaching the checkout is something that a lot of e-commerce websites are still doing,  though some are beginning to remove this obstacle to purchase now.

In a blog post this week, Jared Spool has a great example of why this usability mistake should be avoided; a 'major e-commerce site' that added $300m to its annual revenues simply by removing the register button.

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Site review: lastminute.com

Travel comparison company lastminute.com has opted for a low key launch of its revamped website, giving users the chance to use the new version and give feedback.

The redesigned version of lastminute devotes more space to providing holiday ideas and showing the latest deals on offer, so the search box is less prominent than before. The old version is still running alongside the new one, which gives me a chance to compare the two.

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Overcomplicating the checkout process

Checkout processes are supposed to be made as easy as possible for customers to complete. Of course, a certain amount of detail is required to complete a transaction, but this should be made relatively painless for the user.

The checkout and purchase process should be smooth and easy to understand, distractions should be removed, while the amount of information required and the number of steps should be kept to a minimum to make it as quick as possible. This is not the case on VistaPrint though, which has one of the most complicated checkouts I have seen.

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