If there’s anything twenty years of user experience expertise have taught us, it’s that habits stick. And the COVID-19 habits we’ve picked up over the last year will be no exception. Leaving the house without a mask will be unthinkable. Why wait in line for cleaning supplies when you can order them online and have them delivered to your doorstep? And remote work will no longer be an employer “perk” but an employee expectation.
As the real world moved digital, our UX designers soon realized that the online user experience was more important than ever before. Enhancing website performance to account for an influx in users, enabling live-chat and rapid-order features, and strategizing messages of support, safety, and empathy took precedence.
The habits that caused these changes are not going anywhere, even as the pandemic slowly cedes. So how can you transform your online user experience to adapt to the changes COVID-19 has made necessary?
Identify Your User Shifts
Neilsen, a leader in user research, has argued that users and customers will have experienced one or more of the following shifts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these shifts is something you must keep in mind as you create, promote, and sell your products online.
- User groups
Whether they want to avoid the virus or follow local lock-down regulations, your customers have changed their behavior. This is why ordering has gone online and eating has gone outdoors. Everything from working, eating, sleeping, and shopping has drastically shifted. Make a list of the behavior changes your target customers are going through right now, then analyze how these changes impact the way they interact with your brand and your products.
Psychologically, the priorities your users had two years ago are not the same. Health, safety, connection, and economic stability are likely at the forefront. Knowing this, how can your product or service help your users achieve one or more of these goals? How can you change your marketing, messaging, and website to get this point across? Is there a way you can take ownership over their emotions?
Along with age, race, education level, etc, your users can also be grouped into a new category, according to Neilsen: risk-averse and risk-tolerant. Which category do your users belong to? What expectations do the users in these groups have? And how would they react to certain messaging? Nielsen gave the example of one travel website: risk-averse users negatively reacted to pictures of people without masks or near food.
New UX Features to Help You Adapt
Considering the questions above and the research you gather from them, there are a few new UX features your website can make the most of in order to adapt:
- Get rid of unnecessary info. It’s time to “kill your darlings.” Take an inventory of the content on your site. Chances are you don’t need a lot of it. Keep in mind that a lot of the users on your site will be new. Make it easy for them to find what they need.
- Make policies front-and-center. This is especially important if you run a commerce operation. Make sure return and shipping policies are clearly accessible. Again, this is because most of your users will be new. It will also help alleviate the anxiety they have about the economic impact of making a purchase.
- Install live chat. We’ve stressed the importance of live chat long before COVID, but there is no better time than now to make use of it. Make it easier for your users, who are juggling work, home, and school, to find the answers they need in only a moment.
- Foster connection. We yearn for connection, now more than ever. In fact, UpCity reports that social media use increased 21% globally during the pandemic, with millennials engaging with online content for eight to ten hours per day. Build a community online, whether that’s through a social media hashtag customers can unite around, a customer feedback page filled with testimonials, or a media gallery of your product in action.
- Show empathy. We’re in this together. That’s what you should be telling your customers. Revisit your written content and your call-to-action. Is the content easing worries? Addressing new priorities? Or is it increasing anxiety, especially among the risk-averse?
- Encourage users to reach out. If users are stuck, encourage them to contact you. Make sure a phone number and email address are prominently displayed. If your brick-and-mortar hours change, keep them updated online so users always know when they can visit.
Your Partner Online and Off
We understand that these changes are difficult. But your organization has already shown it can adapt to difficulty over the past year, and it can adapt again to meet your customers’ new needs.
Our UX design team is right by your side. Over the past year, we’ve worked with businesses in every industry to improve the user experience they offered to both their customers and employees, helping them make the most of this rapidly changing world and keep up with its demands. COVID-19 may have transformed the user experience, but KDG will always remain a constant partner. Reach out to our UX design team today to learn how we can help.