Frictionless flow - in the context of electronics websites - refers to how easily and seamlessly engineers and other buyers are able to achieve their goals. Friction is anything that prevents users from achieving these goals, anything that makes them have to stop and think, and stop their flow. Ideally, you want your users to not have to think about what they’re doing on your site; every action they take should be intuitive. But how to ensure user actions are smooth and natural? How to deliver the simplicity of use Electrical Engineers crave, without sacrificing substance? Below are eight tips for achieving frictionless flow:
- Do your homework—and keep doing it. Immerse yourself in the electronics buyer journey to completely understand the behavior of electronics buyers, and how they flow and interact with your website. Committing to this type of customer intelligence on an ongoing basis ensures that your website is meeting buyers needs, and that you’re making the right investments. Examples of this customer intelligence include personas, buyer journey assessments, and competitive analyses.
- Aim your focus outward. Many websites are internally focused, that is they are structured on the internal processes of a supplier and distributor. Alternatively, websites that produce frictionless flow are externally focused; that is, the guiding principle at every step is optimal customer experience, achieved by understanding the goals users want to accomplish while interacting with your site and tailoring your site accordingly.
- Get out the knife. Digital experience has marched inexorably toward ease of use. The sweet spot to hit is a robust, all-encompassing site that a user who is not an expert on your subject matter can easily navigate. Scout your existing site, and test, test, test. Is it accessible without sacrificing substance? Trust your site analytics—are they telling you that certain pages/content can be eliminated? Start by evaluating your current state to establish a baseline buyer journey. Mapping key buyer flows will allow you to measure their effectiveness, and help identify how they impact the conversion rate in your demand funnel. The better your metrics, the more concrete their evaluations, the more focused your solutions will be.
- Build elevators. Many electronics supplier and distributor websites are skyscrapers with staircases: they have thousands of pages (floors) only accessible via outdated navigational schemes (staircases). Companies at the leading edge of customer experience—those providing frictionless flow—provide “elevators” on their pages: keyword search, parametric search, selectors, wizards, page-specific search widgets, etc. Create paths for your users that eliminate the huffing and puffing of taking the stairs.
- Eliminate Unnecessary Steps. This is another area where testing is key. Are all steps in a given task necessary? Can some be combined? Fewer steps = less friction, so streamline processes where possible.
- Anticipate User Errors - and fix them now. Via testing, identify common pitfalls electronics buyers encounter, and develop systems for resolving these errors with minimal user input (think autocorrect).
- Provide Intuitive, Contextual Guidance. Identify steps at which users commonly encounter friction; identify the cause of the friction and offer contextual instructions via UI elements such as “What’s This?” links or a small graphical question mark.
- Key Systems. Website presentation layers, content management systems, product information management systems, and search and analytics are major components in creating friction-free websites. Achieve your substance via complex back-ends while enabling frictionless flow via simple front-ends.