User Experience as a key to online success
A company’s business card on the Internet is its website, which must quickly and accurately showcase the core values of the company or its brand in a tangible way. Notwithstanding general agreement on this, successful online communication still poses a major challenge for many companies. Communication with the customer is successful if the user has a positive online experience. However, this is not as simple as just transferring content that was communicated via print media in the past to the Web. The special requirements of this medium must be taken into account. Unlike print media, the Internet offers unlimited space for content, for example,but the user spends less time reading. The Internet reaches a global audience and many different users are accessing the contents concurrently. In addition, navigation through a site is dynamic and has many branches. Thus, it is easily possible for the user to get disoriented if nouser guidance is provided.
Solving these challlenges by simply adhering to the generally applicable online guidelines is not sufficient for generating good user experience on the Internet. A systematic procedure is called for when creating a website.
Following the motto “Let the experts do the expert’s job!”, Technische Werke Kaiserslautern(TWK) asked the usability experts of Fraunhofer IESE to analyze their old website, identify shortcomings, and develop a proposal for a new, user-friendly solution. The relevant TWK brandvalues such as “trust”, “competence”, “safety”, “proximity to the customer”, “modernity”,“ecological conscience”, and “customer friendliness” were to be made tangible for the visitor on the revised website.
After a heuristic evaluation phase, the Fraunhofer IESE team used the method of user-centereddesign, UCD, to solve the problem. UCD makes it possible to design better interactive products by placing the users with their requirements and needs into the center of the development process– which is a basic prerequisite for achieving user satisfaction.
A high-fidelity prototype of the new website optimized for the Firefox web browser was developed and evaluated in several usability tests. The result was not only a positive user experience; the new website is now also able to convey all of the company’s brand values to its users!