Face the facts. The only measure of success for a website is how user friendly it is.
If the public does not find the site to be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate or helpful in satisfying their needs, they will show disinterest very quickly, shift their focus away from the site, and ultimately affect the viability of the company of brand.
For this badge, I decided to explore The Famous Cookies (4th Street Cookies) website.
Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Famous Cookies uniquely sells baked-to-order hand-delivered treats, just as Hallmark sells greeting cards. Individuals may purchase a box of the “award winning” cookies, coming in many different flavors, and send them to friends or family as gesture of appreciation or celebration.
Although the website is well designed, I wanted to see if it adhered to a general rule of usability and whether guage users attitudes towards certain features of the website, such as color scheme, hoover effects, etc.
The following Trinity University students were chosen to participate in this usability “guerilla” testing study:
Allie Nancarrow, senior
Ben Jasney, senior
Ashley Harris, senior
Alexa Hong, junior
Eilise Evans, junior
Jakob Coker, freshman
For definition purposes, “guerilla testing” is explained by the UK Government as
“… a low cost method of user testing. The term ‘guerilla’ refers to its ‘out in the wild’ style, in the fact that it can be conducted anywhere eg cafe, library, train station etc, essentially anywhere where there is significant footfall.
Guerilla testing works well to quickly validate how effective a design is on its intended audience, whether certain functionality works in the way it is supposed to, or even establishing whether a brand or proposition is clear.
This approach is quick and relatively easy to set up. Participants are not recruited but are ‘approached’ by those persons conducting the sessions. The sessions themselves are short, typically between 15-30 minutes and are loosely structured around specific key research objectives. The output is typically ‘qualitative’ so insight is often rich and detailed.”
Upon arrival to the testing location, the Herndon Room in the Bell Center, participants were given a brief explanation of their task: browse the website for a few minutes, look around and just make a few mental notes about what it is that you are viewing.
As I watched each participant browse, I noticed that everyone had a tendency to visit the “contact us page” and some participants even searched through the “press release” section as an additional resource to find out more about the company. It seemed as though their searching also became repetitive since the website only has so much content to publish. Several mentioned how obscene the prizes were for the packages, simply because the product is something that does not have a high associated cost.
At the conclusion of the observational period of about 5-7 minutes, participants were asked to completed a questionnaire about their experience on the website.
Results were as followed…
It seemed that overall, the Fourth Street Cookies website was very responsive. The only drawbacks to this finding this site “user friendly” was (1) the occasional site load time since the main content div is a flash animation, (2) two participants were unable to immediately located the company’s logo, (3) two participants also found the homepage difficult to digest within the first few seconds, and an outstanding response to (4) the fact that no search feature on the website was present.
Several of these issues could be explained by the fact that internet connection on campus was slow during the periods in which Eilise and Jakob were browsing the site or that the participants did not understand or overlooked the fact that Fourth Street was the company’s name. They also may have been distracted by the cookies and the flash animation, a creative way to display the content, but hard on the eye of whom could be visiting this site for the first time. As far as the search option, I was unable to find even a site map on the website, but assume it could be because ease of navigation and limited options – no need to search for a “chocolate chip cookie” when all you need to do is hover over a link.
For the third and final part of the guerilla testing, participants were asked a series of questions that were adapted from Econsultancy online, regarding usability functions.
Allie agreed that users typically only look at the first couple of pages of the website for what they are trying to find. Eventually, if what they are looking for isn’t immediately available, they turn to the search bar as source of information. With the search function missing on this website, it makes users a little hesitant to proceed even though there is no outstanding need for it.
Overall, participants also believed that photos are incredibly important in encouraging the purchase process. However, without, they are less likely to consider the product if they are unable to view the quality.
Participants also responded that they would only phone customer services or sales if they wanted to order the product and find out more information if it was unavailable. In this case, because the search option was missing, they also mentioned how inconvenient it was and how it negatively affected the search process as it is an important feature to have on any site.
Eilise specifically mentioned that for this particular company, it would be great to increase product information detail to include the ingredients in each cookie so that customers have a better understanding of what they are buying and in case they have any dietary restrictions. This would also aid in product comparison between the different cookies.
Although users are hesitant to create accounts, Fourth Street does a good job at eliminating any anxiety when purchasing cookies with a very simple sign-up and ordering page.
Both Ben and Allie believed that security was most important and that people would not use a website they believed could put them at risk. It was suggested that the website overtly advertises the level of security on their website to ensure potential customers that their information will be kept safe and out of harms way. And when it comes to terms and conditions, nearly everyone stated that they will never actually read the document, but will instead just click “agree” unless they are prompted by an error message.
Jakob believed it to take about 11 seconds before a user gets bored frustrated or ends up leaving the website while Ashley believed the website to have approximately 5 minutes to entire the consumer.
In the end, Fourth Street Cookies seemed to have a pretty easily navigable website that participants enjoyed viewing. They found it to be nicely designed, trustworthy, and a good way to position themselves in the cookie business. However, in order to increase the positive reception, the company must figure out how to add a search function else could lose potential customers who are unable to find what it is they are specifically looking for.
“Guerilla Testing – Getting Input into Products and Services.” Government Service Design Manual. Web. 14 May 2013. <https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/users/user-research/guerilla-testing.html>.
Meyers, Peter J. “25-point Website Usability Checklist.” User Effect – Strategic Web Usability. User Effect, Inc, 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.usereffect.com/topic/25-point-website-usability-checklist>.
Morris, Terry. “Web Design Best Practices Checklist.” Terry Morris – Web Design & Instructional Technology. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://terrymorris.net/bestpractices/>.
Rouke, Paul. “67 Questions Usability Testing Can Answer.” Econsultancy. E-consultancy.com Limited, 7 Sept. 2011. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7972-67-questions-usability-testing-can-answer>.