The Crunch: Since 1998, Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) has been helping online retailers create seamless user experiences that work to increase conversion rates. Thanks to years of research and experience in consulting on how users react to website structure, design and content, NNG offers data-driven advice that returns measurable results. The company’s wealth of educational resources teach how to optimize customer interactions with online touchpoints. As consultants, NNG works closely with businesses to look critically at their online interfaces with the goal of boosting revenue and preventing customer drop off.
User experience has become top-of-mind for contemporary retailers — and for good reason. According to a recent study by CCScan, as many as 88% of customers who have an unsatisfactory experience with a brand immediately look to a competitor.
Developing systems that support frictionless customer journeys is critical to convert sales and maintain brand loyalty. Since its founding in 1998, Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) has been helping businesses do just that. A leading expert on user experience, NNG aims to streamline customer interactions with a company’s online touch points.
The Group’s educational resources, data-based reports, and consulting services have helped improve user experience for industry giants, such as Microsoft and Sam’s Club, but can optimize web usability for businesses of any size. Through empirical research based on practical experience, NNG has tested and improved usability on thousands of e-commerce sites.
Educational Resources Teach Customer-Centered Best Practices
NNG shows retailers how to look critically at their digital touchpoints and ask if they are set up to provide an optimal experience for users. The first step in such a challenge is to learn about how user experience works, and NNG trainings are perfect venues to do so.
At its hosted conferences, NNG brings together experienced researchers and world-renowned experts to offer one of the most effective ways to get up to speed in user experience improvement. With a full-day (sometimes several days) of immersive exposure to best practices in user experience, retailers can get up to speed quickly and begin resolving the issues on their sites right away. Conference courses are packed with examples and guidelines that retailers can apply immediately.
NNG also offers more personalized training in many of the same areas offered by the conference courses. These workshops can be customized to fit specific company needs, methods, and resources. In-house training is ideal for teams seeking to expand the user experience perspective throughout an organization. They can also help teams working on large projects get on the same page and move together in the most effective direction.
“The NNG training was both instructional for inexperienced individuals and stimulating for more experienced people,” Dave Scheirer, Interactive Marketing Strategy Manager at Esri. “I’m confident that the training will improve the user experience of our website.”
For those who cannot travel to a conference or hold in-house sessions, online seminars provide an opportunity to learn best practices that improve the user experience. Offered through the Go To Training app, NNG’s online seminars can be accessed from any type of device.
The seminars cover a wide variety of topics addressing the points where user experience tends to be flawed and how to bring them up to standard. The seminar “Optimizing Your Site in a Constantly Changing SEO World,” provides a good example of this, as it explains strategies retailers can employ to improve search engine rankings.
For retailers seeking to expand knowledge on how to best manage user experience, NNG has created its own certification program. Businesses that take advantage of NNG’s credentialing are ensured a deeper level of understanding what is at stake when customers interact with brands and how to best optimize those interactions. To earn a certificate, students take five separate courses and sit for an exam.
“NNG brought a vast amount of best practice advice and examples and taught our various campus representatives skills to write and lay out usable content,” Scott Wade, Director of Information Technology Services (ITS) at the University of Montana Western. “This allowed us to implement an effective small group to design and manage the academy web strategy, yet leverage the entire campus to create excellent, tested, and usable content.”
On-Site Consulting Optimizes Brand-Consumer Interaction
In addition to trainings, businesses can employ NNG’s expertise to develop or improve consumer interaction strategies. NNG’s on-site consulting provides a comprehensive review of retailer sites and practices.
One of the surest ways to judge sites for optimal interactivity is by actually watching customers navigate through them. Usability experts from NNG create and implement sessions with users that bring to light any issues with design, performance, or content. The result is illuminating insight into how the website functions and concrete recommendations for improvement.
NNG recognizes site design is an important aspect of usability. With NNG’s help, businesses can determine if design is negatively impacting user experience and, if so, how to improve it. Their research and recommendations are data-driven and provide a comprehensive analysis of retailer interface design.
The structure of website content is also a key determinant of successful user experience. NNG uses information architecture analysis to evaluate how content is organized, structured, and labeled. Data is systematically collected, which provides a solid basis for NNG’s recommendations.
NNG suggests that company leadership should view user experience development as relating directly to how a company is organized, how it functions, and to product development. Workshops dedicated to a high-level view of user experience offer a valuable chance for key executives to gain control of the process.
NNG’s benchmarking and review services enable retailers to understand their position in the marketplace through comparative studies with competitors. Applying a global approach to market research, NNG outlines an industry as a whole, shows businesses where they stand, and how to more effectively compete.
Research-Driven Reports Guide Businesses to Improve Conversions
For retailers seeking detailed information on topics related to user experience, NNG reports provide specific, actionable recommendations based on best practices. These reports go directly to issues that regularly arise in retailer websites, providing direct and hands-on solutions.
The reports are extensive and cover a wide array of subjects focusing on usability in e-commerce, including:
- Application Design
- B2B Websites
- Content Strategy
- Corporate Websites
- Design Process
- Information Architecture
- Interaction Design
- International Users
As an example of just how in-depth these reports go, the 119-page report Agile Development that Incorporates User Experience Practices gives readers a comprehensive overview of how 16 organizations used the Agile Rapid Application Development to improve usability. NNG surveyed hundreds of professionals for this study to provide a host of best practices that set businesses up for positive change.
Proven Recommendations Pave the Way Forward for E-Commerce
Statistics from independent researchers tell the story that there is no surer path to improve conversions than to provide a positive experience for customers. The fact that 88% of consumers look to competitors with better web interfaces cannot be ignored.
Because it’s all about usability these days, businesses are increasingly looking to develop systems to improve customer journeys through touchpoints. Online merchants need to look critically at their interfaces and learn if breakdowns exist that lead to drop offs.
For nearly 20 years, NNG has been leading the charge in getting businesses up-to-speed to do just that. The organization offers key insights into consumer behavior and how to drive it toward desired results. Through education and research-based consulting, NNG provides a model for the future of e-commerce — one that focuses on providing seamless user experiences that work to increase conversions and boost revenue streams.