October 2016’s Digital Gaggle Conference went down like a storm. It was all about UX, which was fitting really, seeing as we gave the Gaggle goers a brilliant experience themselves. My favourite talk of the day was from Pat Wood; founder and MD of TruffleShuffle.
For those of you who aren’t familiar - TruffleShuffle is an online store that sells many a gift adorned with favourite childhood memories. And the name? Well Chunk can help me out with that one…
Once Upon A Time, Drunk at the Disco
Pat opened his talk by setting the scene – 2004, Kickers nightclub (a Bristol institution!), a Goonies t-shirt as the chosen attire and a pint of beer in hand. Thanks to the slurred compliments of fellow disco goers, Pat got the crazy idea to set up his own t-shirt company. Luckily, he had a bit of a background in web dev (his high school geography department website, no big deal), so a few taps on the keyboard and a couple of days later he was away.
For the 12 years that followed, Pat (and his growing team) tried and tested a whole bunch of things that aimed to improve the design and UX of the evolving website, until they started running out of ideas in 2012. Throughout, they were single minded in their pursuit of pushing that conversion rate just a little bit higher. A lofty goal, since as we all know conversion rate is king, right?
Bad UX = Bad Conversion Rate
As Pat said in his talk “I was fooled into thinking conversion rate was the only part of the customer journey which matters”. With his singular mind-set, Pat was starting to fail in generating enough revenue to make his development spend worthwhile. While his stock still sold on Amazon and eBay, TruffleShuffle’s own website sales were declining month on month, year on year. It was time to start asking questions as to why this was happening. So what were the answers?
Their idea of best practice was 5 years old (ohh dear)
They assumed users used the website in the same way they did (uh ohhh)
They didn’t take mobile seriously (ohmyGAD!)
It was at this point which Pat and the team realised they were too close to the problem, and despite a healthy mistrust of agencies, decided to seek a fresh perspective – cue Noisy Little Monkey!
We came in fresh eyed and loud mouthed; offering them a different perspective and some suggestions to help get them back on the right path. This meant a LOT of work between us with the site undergoing a major revamp (both front end web dev and back end database) and relaunching in July this year, but it had to be done. And anyway, the rebuild wasn’t as painful as the food poisoning we inflicted on Claire (TruffleShuffle’s other director) during one of our meetings.
Nevertheless, TruffleShuffle now have an AWESOME site which has seen a massive increase in conversions over the last 6 weeks (and that’s with no help from vague SEO nonsense or an increase in spending on PPC).
So what is Pat’s advice to anyone who has an eCommerce site with performance problems?
Analyse per visit value and, from there, any poor value pages. These have the most room for improvement.
Analyse poorly converting products - if they ain’t selling, get rid!
Know your customers and what they want from your website (kinda crucial).
What Pat Didn’t Exactly Say; But I Heard
First off, if you ever have a lightbulb moment – RUN WITH IT! You never know where it might get you.
Secondly, never assume you know everything when it comes to your business and website. Listen to your customers and don’t be afraid to get the experts in to lend a helping hand.
Thirdly, the world of online is forever changing - we all know that. Don’t get stuck in the past, or even the present for that matter. Always look ahead and think to ways you can be one step ahead of the game.
Mobile, mobile, mobile - it should always be at the forefront of your mind. Unlike Pat who, way back when, thought that because only a small minority of traffic was coming in via mobile it didn’t matter. Back then the amount of traffic wasn’t enough to care about, but weeks turned into months, and 5 years later he’s now seeing a whopping 62.4% of traffic visit his site through this device. Numbers talk people!
Lastly, sales aren’t everything. I mean, sure, they’re pretty important as far as earning a living goes – but without great user experience, you aren’t going to get those sales in the first place! The customer journey is made up of several parts, not just one. So it’s really important to consider every aspect when thinking about how to make your eCommerce business succeed.