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July 2019
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The goal of any eCommerce website is sales, and an effective product page is a must in achieving that goal.

While all products are very different, from physical items to various software programs and apps, there are patterns in the way users expect and want to see information about the product.

In a recent study, I interviewed a group of different DevOps users. The research focused specifically on the software product page features and user expectations regarding how the information about the product is presented to them. The study returned interesting inputs and insights.

1. Personas and end-to-end journeys.

“If there were Ten Commandments for the modern marketer, the number one would have to be: Know thy customer”, said David Edelman, CMO of Aetna.

Who are your users? What are their end-to-end customer journeys? How does the product page fit into their journey? When you know answers then you know what your customers really need and what they are actually experiencing. The combination of customer need and product solution with the right representation of that solution will create a connection between the customer and your product.

When you know your users, and steps of their journey, you will focus on their needs and values and will correctly emphasize the experience buyers wanted.

2. Information hierarchy: Important things first.

I came to this page expecting to find solutions”, -said one of my study testers, “the content in that page should answer questions I have:

  • What is it?
  • What use cases does this product solve? Will it solve mine?

Only if I see that there is value for me, I’ll continue and look for specifics:

  • What features does it offer, and which feature meets which use-case?
  • How easy is it to get set up and running? (Some basic level information about how to get set up.)
  • How well it integrates with other tools and apps I use.
  • How much it costs?”

3. Simplicity: easy to understand, less “buzz-words”.

Fewer buzz-words and easy to understand language.

“I don’t like a marketing-focused approach when the product is described with a lot of buzz words,” — continues another test participant, — “I like plain language that I can understand and that would sell me on.”

“A common misconception is that Plain Language dumbs down content so that anyone can read and understand, ultimately catering to the least knowledgeable reader. In fact, this is far from the truth: Plain Language communicates information quickly and clearly, benefits everybody (as any usability or accessibility effort should), is easily scanned, and is preferred by everyone — even experts.”, says UX Collective writer Rachael Renk in her article “Using Plain Language in UX Writing.

No “White Paper gate”.

I don’t want to read the whitepaper to understand what the product does. If there is a “White Paper Gate” — I’m out of here.”

Perhaps, there are technology experts who still need this authoritative, in-depth report. But, as Suzanne Hoenig, the author of the research article “Do People Really Read White Papers?” writes in her post, “in our research, many top-level Content Marketing Experts used the word “still” in their responses, even though I didn’t suggest it in my request for comment. I find that telling — that we’re considering white papers an older form. We spend so much time putting white papers together — and questioning their impact over more short-form, scannable briefs.”

4. What do other people say about it?

A Survey by Podium reports that 93% of customers stated that reviews do impact their purchasing decisions. There are “influential” Personas whose feedback affect the user’s decision to buy:

  • Experts.
  • Community/forum members.
  • Actual product users who provide reviews, rating, and feedback.

Reviews, feedback, and ratings can be a good source of insights for the business as well.

5. Video.

Video content, duration and presentation style matter.

I asked interviewers about their preferences in the way the information about product features is presented to them. Would they prefer to see the text with some diagrams and illustrations or the video? Or both?

“As I’m dyslexic, and it’s really, really challenging for me to read lots of text. So if there is a video, I go straight to the video. From the accessibility perspective, having the video for me is a must,” — says one of the test participants.

“Seeing information about the product presented in a graphical way delights me, especially if it’s a good quality and style animation. But having someone speak to me in a video feels more like a sales pitch that is overly marketing-focused,” — comments another tester.

6. Trial first.

“I have a natural distrust for marketing folks, we all have been “marketed” and we learned those tricks. So let me try the product first, and please make the sign-up process as easy as possible.”

7. Pricing: easy to see options and compare.

“The pricing information and options should be easy to see and compare. And if there is a discount, I should see it right away.”

Surprisingly, the pricing information wasn’t the main factor in determining if the user will proceed with the purchase. 
If there is a free trial, I may not search for the detailed pricing info at first. I’m interested in the product, and if I try it and it’s good and does what I need — I’ll buy it,” says test participant.

A Study by Podium suggests that the price of the product is not the main factor in consumers’ decision to buy. About two-thirds of consumers (68%) are willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product or service if they are assured they will have a better experience. (Laurie Fullerton, “Online reviews impact purchasing decision”)

8. Support and customer care.

Available Support options.

Most often, during the product research, evaluation, and purchasing steps, users don’t specifically research what type of support will be available to them. But, as the data about the usage of different portals suggests, the Customer Support portal usually has significantly more traffic. It means, many customers visited it in search of specific product information, or a solution to an issue.

It will be helpful for the user during the product evaluation steps to know if there are any support options available, and what type of support will be provided.

FAQs.

This content could be created strategically. It could help customers to see most frequently asked questions during the product evaluation step, but would also help them to find answers and solutions after the purchase.

9. Brand recognition and design consistency

Your brand is unique, and the product page design should reflect it. The visual design of the page may not seem like the most important thing for a user, but during testing, a few participants commented on the general look and feel, and their perception of the graphics and elements of the interface.

“People do not encounter visual design in isolation, but rather as part of a holistic experience which also includes content and interaction, ” — says NN/g author Kathryn Whitenton. “Each dimension of the user experience affects the other dimensions: more aesthetically appealing designs are often perceived as more usable. Likewise, users’ perceptions about brand traits are influenced by interaction-design choices: a design that appears simple and welcoming at first glance can quickly become confusing and frustrating if people can’t understand how to use it.”

10. Design for delight

What does “design for delight” mean? When you exceed user’s expectations by making their journey easy and pleasurable, when you save their time and help them to complete their tasks faster, with fewer steps, and when your product helps them to create delight for others.

“A good design is usable, useful, and effective. A great design delights its users”, — says UXer Vichita Jienjitlert in her “Notes from the Design for Delight workshop.” I read her post, and especially like the section where she asks questions about the product’s long term vision and meaning:

“What will change in our user’s lives because they used our product? How will this change them and the people around them? What is it that will have such an amazing impact on their lives? — The answers to these questions create the vision or value statement of our product. 
We then back up and figure out how we can create that experience over the years.”

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