The view from here
What “Full House” Taught Me About Website Usability
The characters from Full House taught me pretty much everything I know about life, which some might argue is the reason you'll often find me in the BKV hallways saying, "You got it, dude."
Website usability is something perfectly illustrated by each of the characters from Full House. Really. Let's take a look at how a diverse plethora of personalities somehow lived harmoniously in a 4-bedroom house and determine what lessons you can learn from them as you construct a Web home for your business.
I can't claim to be an expert the likes of BKV's Certified Usability Analyst Todd Chambers (the guy has "usability" in his title!), but from the lessons I've picked up from him and his team - as well as through my Web experience and extensive history with Full House - I'd like to share some of personalities you may find visiting your site and how to appropriately engage with them.
AKA The Head of Household
Profile: HOH has the ultimate buying power! What does Danny want to see when he goes to your site? He wants to know why to spend his money with you.
• Get to the point. Keep your sentences short, concise, and descriptive. Allow him to research, but don't overwhelm him on the homepage with useless information - layer it all appropriately.
• Make it easy to buy. Don't hide your lead form or purchase button. How will he ever spend his money with you unless you give him the path to do so?
• Make him an offer. A Danny is much more likely to convert if he has a coupon you've offered to text to his phone or a discount code to use at checkout.
AKA The Non-Committer
Profile: Joey epitomized a flip-flopper. The guy lived in his friend's basement for years and owned a chipmunk puppet, for goodness' sake.
• Show him/tell him why you're great. Not every person knows that you offer the most innovative product in the world or that your service consistently beats out competitors in ratings.
• What do you offer? What is your USP? Joey needs to know why he's on your site and why he should care about your pitch.
• Make your site easy for Joey to find and enjoyable for him to stay. Dense copy gets you SEO rankings (awesome!), but it can't all be text. Joey is easily distracted and needs to connect to your brand. Find a balance between your core messages and getting your brand across appropriately, right on the home page.
AKA The Snob
Profile: Uncle Jesse wouldn't buy a hair product unless it was flown in from Greece. Image mattered to him.
• What makes your product special or premium-quality? Why is it better than all the other products? Call this out above the fold. Ritz Carlton does a great job of this from a graphic perspective (although the site could use some copy!).
BKV recently did an audit for one of our clients that included a survey asking our client's marketing department to rate the top 15 items, in order, they believed should be represented on the homepage: USP, Satisfaction Guarantee, Logo, Brand Images, etc. The results led to the homepage layout.
If your product caters to an Uncle Jesse more than a Danny, focus on quality over value. Audit your audience to ensure you're speaking to them.
AKA The Teenager
Profile: DJ Tanner really represents any avid consumer of information who is truly "plugged in" to the digital world.
These folks are a challenge to the marketing world, as they have an attention span roughly the length of a fruit fly and are savvy enough to know when they're being "marketed to." But they are some of your best allies when you're trying to sell a product because they want to consume and they want to share. Snag them.
• Give them the opportunity to engage. I'm not just talking about "Share" buttons for social media (which, by the way, every site should have). I'm talking about a mobile-friendly site, an active social media campaign, opportunities to connect with other brand advocates, a FourSquare account, and any unique idea you can bring to the table to set the bar a little higher for your industry.
• Don't talk down to them. You have to strike a balance in your copy of being straightforward and clear for Danny while keeping consistent with the WebSpeak DJ is used to using.
AKA The Catalyst
Profile: Kids are catalysts for purchases. The HOH isn't going to go out and buy your product without a reason, so if what you offer speaks to children, you have to convince them first that it's something they need.
• Be the Next WebKinz. If you're offering a product geared toward a younger generation, make it come alive for them. Make it a game, interactive, develop an app for it, and build a solid brand through images and fun messaging.
AKA The Naïve Consumer
Profile: Since babies don't have laptops, I'm taking a look at Michelle Tanner from a more theoretical perspective, as the naïve consumer who just doesn't understand the Web.
I'm talking about some parents (who just discovered this "thing called, ah, Face-Space? Tweester?"), grandparents, and other potentially slow adopters of new technologies.
• Stay clear, be descriptive, and always keep user experience top of mind. A jerky, crazy Flash intro may look cool and colorful, but is it serving your audience? Are people who don't understand the Web going to sit through it to wait to get to your content? Further, will people who do understand the Web have the patience to bother with the load time?
The Web was built for quick, concise information and easy access to everything you need. If a consumer doesn't find it on your company's site, they'll find it on your competitor's.
There you have it: the six consumers who may stumble across your site, prime-time 90's TV style.
At BKV, our Web team spends time upfront developing an understanding of a client's business and a strategic plan of action with which to move forward - so we're not left at the end of the day wondering if we've left out a Jesse or a Michelle.
Best of luck with the blueprints for your Full House!