“Findability” on a Mobile Site: UserTesting.com Study

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“I like your shirt. Where did you get it?”

To a retailer, that conversation is “viral” marketing at it’s finest and should in many cases result in a new customer. And if that would be customer walks through the brick and mortar doors, they’ll likely get what they’re seeking either on their own or with the help of a sales associate.

But what about on a mobile site? Can a shopper with a specific idea of the item they want to buy find it on that retailer’s mobile site? In other words, what’s the “findability” of the mobile site? Given the increasing mobile traffic and the revenue impact of mobile and mobile influenced sales, “findability” is critical.

It’s with that concept in mind that we worked with UserTesting.com to run a “findability” study of 5 retailer’s websites. UserTesting.com gave each panelist an image of a product carried by the retailer and the retailer’s mobile site. Here are the images and sites they were given:

Chico’s

chicos

JCrew

jcrew

JCPenney

jcpenney

The Gap

the gap

Bed Bath & Beyond

bed bath beyond

Each product was selected because it seemed fairly simple for a person to describe. Their experiences were actually frustrating and discouraging. In fact, I encourage you to try it yourself and spend 1 minute on each of these five mobile sites trying to find the products above.

The Chico’s “highlight reel” provides a good example of common mobile site experiences:

UserTesting.com’s research team summed up the problems users faced on this site as:

  1. “Too many places to sort/filter products leads to users failing to find the tools they want.”
  2. “Even after properly filtering the products, the results are do not include the product that the users are shopping for – presumably due to poor metadata.”
  3. “Likewise, search results from the search bar do not produce the product that users are shopping for.”

Clearly, there’s a problem with “findability” on this site for what seemed like a simple item – a pair of red pants. And while the other four retailers in this study fared better, “findability” and overall satisfaction with the mobile experience is a somewhat subjective, personal thing. After all, only you know how you would describe a product and then use search, navigation, filters or other discovery tools to find it.

Our goal in discussing “findability” is to raise retailer awareness of the issue within their own mobile experiences. Is it effortless for customers to search, navigate and discover products on their mobile site? To self assess mobile sites, we created a Mobile Site Experience Audit that walks through a methodology for analyzing the mobile site from a customer’s perspective. I encourage you to download the audit and see how your site stacks up.

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