Posted by & filed under Design.

Creating a website these days is really easy, especially with the abundance of HTML templates online. But what’s hard is creating one that is actually useful for your users and gets you result.

Questions like where to place specific UI elements, colors to choose, copy, imagery or graphic selectionetc. pops up in your head. Here are 5 tips to improve your website UX and change your site for the better.

1. Know Your User

To build a great Web site, you must have a rich understanding of who is the target user and what are his goals? Clearly define your target group to make sure you appeal to the right people.

How? Talk to the support and salesteam and listen to their interactions with customers. Who is calling in? What are the common queries, pain points and complaints? Read email responses that come via your website’s “Contact Us” form and other feedback links.

persona

Source -Flicker

Goal Directed design – Yourinterface should be designed around the goals of the users and not on what you want or prefer. It’s about discovering the user needs to accomplish and meet the expectations by getting them there. This will help you in answering the most important questions –

• Who are my users?
• What are my users trying to accomplish?
• How will users interact with my product?
• How will my product introduce itself to first-time users?
• How can my product deal with problems that users encounter?

2. Landing page cheat sheet

Landing page is the most crucial page of website and the starting point for most user visits. All the more reasons to design it really kick-ass. Here’s how –

blog-exotel-layout-wireframe

Let’s look at each section –

A. Links – Cut the Clutter. Keep only those links which are important for user to sign up. For ex. -Dropbox has just one link “Download”. Keep links like about us,blog etc. for footer.

Bonus Point: Begin Link Names with the Most Important Keyword.

B. Above the fold – Make the site’s purpose clear. Explain what your product is about and how does it benefit user with a clear Call to action button.

Key Pointers –

a. Don’t be shy to have a long landing page as long as it’s engaging the user with clear CTA’s at apt places.

Hire the LocomotiveCMS team and find the best Rails developers

Source –LocomotiveCMS – by Ideawebme

b. Use color contrast for Call to Action buttons. Also, try bigger click areas with great copy. Keep only one primary action on the screen at any given time and show secondary actions with weaker colors.

c. If you are doing signup’s in landing page, make sure to ask for the absolute bare minimum. Remember, Fewer fields = better conversions.

C. Below the fold – It can happen that people know how your product works but don’t understand its potential benefit to them. This is why you should point out the advantages that people will get from your product by showing the key features or benefits with product screenshot.

D. Build Customer Confidence- by providing product reviews, testimonials, return policies and customer service commitments that will make the user establish trust in you. Use Social Proof instead of talking about yourself.

E. CTA– Easy to miss but very crucial.Have a CTA with supporting copy below the fold.

Few examples -

online-eucation-landing-page

Source – Behance/ideawebme

Dropbox
Source –Dropbox

3. Copy

Focus on the copy and the tone of the website. Keep copy concise and highlight the main points.

• Use bullets to help visitors read and understandcontent quickly.
• Craft copy for key UI elements like button, error and success message, welcome message on user onboarding very thoughtfully.
• For email marketing, copy is one of the main determinants of whether or not a campaign succeeds. Reallygoodemails.com is great resource of this.

Contentsnippets.com – has a great collection of content snippets to use as inspiration.

4. Speed

Google now considers page speed a major consideration for search engine rankings; 75% of internet users agreed that they would not return to a website if it did not load within 4 seconds. Needless to say, faster loading site is an important requirement.

5. Test early, test often

Company website isn’t something that is launched and done; it needs to be continually tweaked and tested to find the combination that really moves the needle.

Icing on the cake

• Design for the blank slate – Ignoring the blank slate stage is one of the biggest mistakes websites and apps make. Use it as an opportunity to delight user by insertingquick tutorials and help blurbs etc. Emptystat.es will be your friend.

• Consistency – Consistency is a big deal when it comes to website designs. Having consistent structure and interactions is key to creating a consistent UI. Across all elements on the site, maintain a look and feel. Logos, headers, navigation and banners should not look dramatically different from page to page. Keeping forms consistent in style, structure and interaction can sometimes make or break a conversion rate. Using Pattern Libraries like – patterntap , pttrns.com will come really handy for this.

• Color contrast –The simplest way of grabbing user’s attention is using color contrast aptly. Best example is “call to action” button.

Lack of contrast, makes content difficult to read. Pay special attention to link text color when they are hovered. Make sure to choose best color scheme using these color palate generators – Kuler and Color Scheme Designer .

I hope you got inspired with this post. Sticking to these tips will help you ensure that your site stays user-friendly and functional. If you want to achieve great results keep testing and improving it on a regular basis.

vasudha chandak

 

 

Vasudha Chandak is a UX designer with love for pixels. She develops simple solutions to problems by crafting interfaces with simplicity, usability and brand identity in mind.

Posted by & filed under General.

[Guest post by Anand Kannan, Managing Director and Co-founder of Valued Epistemics Pvt. Ltd]

At GREedge , we have had our challenges with the right telephony system. As a technology innovation and R&D driven Online Training firm we offer a highly personalized and unique service that helps students improve their GRE scores through online study programs.

Handling variety AND scale

With “high degree of personal attention” as a core customer promise, we have the challenge of paying detailed attention to each and every student, each time they contact us. No other e-learning or online service company in any branch of learning, let alone the GRE, offers this type of strong, personalized value proposition to its customers. As a result we have the capability to help a wide variety of students boost their score for GRE.

The top GRE scorer, aiming for nothing less than a 330 (a very high, globally competitive score in GRE) to an eager aspirant requiring the basic minimum requirement of a 290 or 300 (that might be required in a graduate education program in physiotherapy, for example) pose very different expectations.  Our mix of customers draws from college going students, working professionals and that small but significant section who are in transition from college to the next step of their career. Each of these segments in turn has vastly different conveniences, aspirations and expectations. They hail from all states and several countries.

In any given week, we might have dozens, sometimes even well over a hundred of our students taking the GRE. Others, in various stages of their GRE preparation or practice for the GRE, can run into thousands at a time. This includes students who have completed their GRE but come in for additional help regarding their higher studies or other advice pertaining to their aspiration. GREedge offers programs of relatively long duration and stays in touch with students for several months (sometimes well over a year), providing them the freedom, flexibility and assurance of support for the GRE and higher studies.

The customer response process is both event driven and proactive. Our internal objective is to not miss even one opportunity to help or motivate a student to do better. This comes with its own operational challenges. How do you make sure that you do not miss even a single incoming communication? How do you make sure that a student who requires intervention or follow-up always gets it?  In addition, how do you make sure that the student has the freedom to use a medium of his or her choice/preference?  A student may use email, SMS, website form, a direct messaging system built into our proprietary student learning interface, called Learning Tracker or an Online Seminar Session chat box or a mobile messaging system such as What’s app, Facebook messaging, post on the student Facebook Group and of course, the classic old way – the telephone or mobile call.

Living up to your own service model

It is imperative of any modern service that you give the customer (in our case, the student) the freedom and flexibility of using any touch-point and take the burden and pain of tracking and maintaining continuity of service across different touch-points upon oneself. And in this process, have high standards – not miss even a single communication opportunity, especially one that is desired by a customer. GREedge’s own internal tracking metrics also tell us and prompt us about each student who might need additional help, inputs or feedback as they work through their GRE training program online.

GREedge is aided by sophisticated back-end technology platform, a sort of an extended, homegrown CRM – amalgamated with a learning tracking and lesson/ content management system and analytics and an online training program delivery center that utilizes this technology platform to drive service delivery- GRE online  training and coaching  including student support.

The telephone call is the especially touchy part. While any student can originate a call anytime, he/she would actually call only when in relatively high urgency, deeper than normal frustration or as the GRE is nearing. The telephone call is real-time. Unlike email or other modes of messaging, the interaction has to be right then and there. Even if the incoming call is missed for any reason, the call has to be returned double quick and with no scope of missing the contact. While the telephonic contact itself is a minor part of the overall learning service that we offer for GRE, it is an important and high value piece, and is personally very important to the customer, especially at certain points in the life-cycle of the service. In other words, our telephonic communication process has unique requirements that are not met by older telephony solutions in the market.

As a personalized service, this is further complicated by the fact that we assign unique Student Facilitators for GRE training. Since each student has his/her own way of learning and preparing and challenges with respect to scoring, only the corresponding SFA of a student can actually address a particular student’s concern based on their familiarity with the past history of the student and their learning process for GRE. Now, on top of this, there are two subjects in the GRE -GRE Verbal and GRE Quant or Quantitative Reasoning.  Besides, we have a fairly rigorous Student Welfare and Quality of Service Survey Process to ensure that an overwhelming majority of our students are happy, satisfied and progressing well with their GRE score boosting objective and with the kind of help and support they receive from GREedge. There is a GREedge Quality Bell, a system to alert and escalate any dissatisfaction issues to the top management of the company instantly. All these aspects have to be made available to every student as soon as they try contacting us over any touch-point.

Relevant Responsiveness is the better half of Quality

Strongly and consistently pursuing these objectives has enabled us to exceed over a period of time, the academic quality andGRE score improvement track record  offered by any high end coaching class, a book or a website full of study material and even for that matter, a website with plenty of video lectures. This has in turn translated into higher trust and positive market chatter, again, over a period of time.

Detailed, scientific ability to boost gre scores  along with an extensive communication and contact system has its own power in becoming a preferred method of preparing for the GRE. However, the telephonic contact part was also the most flaky bit. There were quite a bit of mismatches in time, missed calls and inability to keep track of the sheer volume and detailed nature of the interactions. Besides, if a student has the proverbial “last minute doubts and queries” or “butterflies in my stomach anxieties” a couple of hours before his GRE, it is futile to return the call late. Relevant Responsiveness, as we have learnt, matters highly when you want the quality of your offering to be perceived well by your customer.

Wild beasts and heavy-lifting

Adopting a good method of telephony which can hold up against the expectations and requirements described above has been on our radar for a long time. Besides the personalized routing abilities, we were also seeking a certain degree of intelligence and flexibility. In many ways, the telephony and call routing system should not only integrate with our customer/student tracking technology but also understand our model of organization.

We had searched and also considered developing internally, a system that suits these requirements. This includes heavy equipment used by Call Centers and BPOs’ like Avaya or Cisco as well as smaller SME focussed products from companies such as Panasonic. We had discussed with different telephone and mobile operators. They are simply not geared to customize solutions they have to the requirements of one small company. We examined free software like Asterisk, FreeSwitch etc which offer an open source telephone exchange. These are wild beasts which require considerable programming and software development and integration to be tamed and used consistently. We called in a couple of telephone system vendors and held extensive discussions with them. All that resulted was an expensive, unaffordable price quote.

Finally, we considered developing such a system internally, expending some R&D clock-cycles but abandoned that approach due to the high difficulty and cost of the project and the need to focus on our core technology – the tracking and improvement of learning. Most solutions also require what Jeff Bezos once called “undifferentiated heavy-lifting”, managing clumsy clusters of telephone lines, servers, software, redundancy and a stand alone support and maintenance team. Often, these are far away from your core skills and best done by someone else who focuses on it exclusively.  In the quest for a good telephony system that integrates well with our internal software framework and organizational model and helps us do better for our customer, we had almost given up.

Fortunately, one of the managers in the company, stumbled upon Exotel, a Bangalore based cloud telephony solution provider and started investigating on his own. After a while, more people got into the discussion and the solution appeared to hold promise. We contacted Exotel and initiated the process of piloting and testing their neat solution to this vexing problem. Recently, we completed integrating and switching to Exotel for a significant part of our telephony requirements.

Beauty and the beast

Exotel, it appears, has tamed the wild beast! It has even made it behave according to its clients wishes and desires. And learnt to do all the heavy lifting that the supply of reliable and appropriate  telephony seems to entail. In just a matter of a few weeks, the entire model of service was embedded in the call routing and integrated into our CRM. The system of API’s and architectural flexibility provided for painless – almost joyful – integration and testing. The great aspect of exotel’s solution is that the capex requirements are negligible. Everything has been turned into opex and pay-by-use by their flexible billing model. We do not have to deal with running servers, monitoring ports, maintaining a motley of telephone and internet lines, understanding really tedious regulatory requirements and discussing with a whole bunch of operators.

But the best part, is the sheer beauty and awesomeness of their interfaces and the full suite of API’s for integration. The entire experience of using the exotel system as well as switching over to it, was simply superb for both our internal teams as well as for our customers and students. The responsive and flexible approach of the exotel team is one more thing that we really appreciate and value. My team feels like  brave and jubilant  ring-masters striding alongside a big, ferocious beast and feeling in perfect control while using exotel’s cloud telephony solution.

Exotel’s cloud telephony solutions will go a long way in providing satisfactory solutions to a number of small and large enterprises with varying and complex requirements of contacting and staying in touch with their customers.

anand kannan vepl

The guest author Anand Kannan is Managing Director, GREedge.com , Online Academy to boost GRE scores.

Posted by & filed under Customers, SME, Startup.

India has been a tech savvy country all the while.  The advent of Software technology in early 90’s brought IT services and along with that plethora of technical jobs. We as a country have a very strong penchant towards learning new technologies, but somehow, our learning has been more towards securing a job rather than  to having innovation in technologies. This is the reason why, we remained a service country rather than a tech-product innovation country except for few products such as  Tally,Finnacle etc.

diy

Most of Indian businesses were paper-based and /or slowly started adapting to tech based solution. In the early days, if offered  a product which customer should  use on its own, it was almost impossible for the company to let customers use the product/solution on their own; a DIY model. During 2008, for every SME customer (event organizer, event management companies and promoters)in India, we at Explara , used to pitch to serve, the first question that my sales & biz team were asked  “can you come and show us how the product works?”. There was no concept of DIY then in SME. We had to use feet-on-the-street sales executives to meet customers and show demo. Though the demo was hardly for 10 minutes but we had to travel for hours both ways to win a SME customer. This continued till 2010 but somewhere during that year magic started to happen. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, ecommercestarted impacting  businesses to use those platforms for mail, marketing, buzz and commerce. Most businesses were arriving on digital space and similarly few Indian products for SaaS (Software-as-a-service) had arrived. These factors created the ‘eco-system’ for the Indian product companies to switch to better DIY model for SMEs. We @Explara also switched to digital marketing and inside sales model without having to travel to customer premises to demo/show how to use the products for event ticketing & management.

 

However, India is still getting DIY friendly and about to see a huge growth. If you are offering a product, I would strongly suggest, evaluate the DIY aspect of it. And here are 7 reasons why you should make your product, DIY:

  1. Automation in marketing, customer acquisition and engagement model
  2. Reduced cost (money and people) to demo product
  3. Use of technology and process to scale your business exponentially
  4. Customers using your product could offer many insights/feedback vs. your own team setting up and not able to understand what works/what doesn’t
  5. Feature test/introduction becomes easy as many users could use the same and you get to know the usefulness of feature and/or time to roll that back
  6. Reduced delivery time
  7. Overall scalability of your business

 

During 2009-2010, we used to travel to demo 5 to 10 customer a week (in more than one city), whereas in 2013-2014, we acquire 90% customer via DIY and 8% via sales demo and 2% travel to customer to demo. Technologies like webinar, remote desktop sharing, survey apps, collaborative apps like Google docs &Dropbox, cloud telephony like Exotel & others have helped the DIY in India.

 

However, with mobility and having different platforms (iOS, Andorid, Microsoft Mobility), there is a new challenge of real-time access & service to customer. We stay optimistic that the above-mentioned technology and new ones will arrive to further simplify the solution delivery and device-agnostic DIY.

 

 

satosh panda Santosh Panda is the Founder & CEO at Explara , an event ticketing and solutions platform. Explara has served customers from over 21 countries

Posted by & filed under General.

If your company has a Business telephony system like Exotel you would have noticed a music being played when a caller is being connected to your co-workers. This music is also played when the caller is placed on a queue. This is popularly called as the “On-hold” music.

As such, it does a good job of filling the void of silence and giving the caller company. But analysis of why and when callers hang-up as well as our data suggest that callers tend to hang up around the 30-40 sec mark while they wait to be connected to your agents. While an intelligent cloud telephony system will help you route the calls by time of the day, geography etc, you may still end up having a few customers waiting on the call for a long time.

This is where a good on-hold messaging can help you…

On-hold Marketing

How On-hold marketing can help you

 

Strike when the iron is hot!

Typically outbound marketing involves spreading the net (marketing message) wide and hoping that you hit your target audience who would be interested in your product or service. But what if you already had a captive target audience who wants to know more about your product. Yes, that’s what your inbound callers are and they are most receptive to your messaging as they are hooked-on to that phone call. Convey new products and offers to callers when they are most receptive to up-selling. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Business, Customers, E-Commerce.

Investors are pumping money into e-commerce firms in India. The hope is that as more young people with higher disposible income start shopping online in the next 5 years, these companies will become profitable. With recent rounds of funding to some of the leading ecommerce firms, the dark clouds over the e-commerce sector have started to disappear. For any retailer, opening more and more offline stores is capital intensive and the online channel definitely looks like a viable option. Besides, the Amazon entry has further validated the online market in India.

The second most important aspect in today’s tech savvy world is that an online presence is seen as a MUST by most buyers. The first thing that a customer does is to find the retailer on Google or Facebook. If the retailer has a good online presence, automatically the level of trust in the brand is established in the minds of the customer. Also, it’s a very good idea to showcase your products online. That way, this can also act as an interface for the franchises / remote retail outlets that sell your products. In most cases, you can avoid the exercise of sending samples to these guys and just provide them the link to the new products that you have launched. So, in today’s world, it becomes really important to be online. Also, it’s very important to figure out the right way to get started. Offline retailers moving online is definitely a trend that’s here to stay.

moving from offline to online

So, what are the key steps for any retailer to go online?

1. Analyze whether his products or similar products are already selling online

A: One needs to cautiously stay away from the online space if you are dealing with volumetrically challenging products with average margins. Ex: Handicrafts. This sector has particularly seen a turmoil with lot of websites shutting down not able to cope up with the costs involved. Most handicrafts that appeal to the offline audience are a logistical nightmare when it comes to shipping them. So if you look at selling a product in the 1000 rupee range that comes to about 3 kilos after packaging, it will be really hard to justify the margins and figure out a profitable transaction.

Second, if you are dealing with low margin products like electronics, as a retailer, it would be hard to sell online as most brands have their own representation either directly or through Tier 1 distributors and can afford to offer a better price and a quicker delivery as well. They will also get better costs on logistics because of economy of scale. What would make sense is to device a strategy around what can sell online without too much of a cost on logistics, has good margins and preferably can’t break in transit. Apparel, for instance. This is a sweet segment, so you could see the likes of Flipkart move to call themselves a fashion destination.

A retailer will also need to leverage on his offline strengths while going online. If they have customer databases with emails and phone numbers, it’s very important to talk to existing customers about your new online store. Any kind of media coverage helps. Once all this is done, the logical step would be to also sell on India’s top marketplaces like Flipkart, Snapdeal etc.

2. How do I figure out the most cost effective solution that is available?

The do-it-yourself (DIY) online solutions will offer a retailer anything between 1000-3000 per month, so it will not be heavy on the pockets, but it will demand a lot of time from the retailer. So, the question in simple terms is going to be whether you value time over money or vice versa. The customized solutions can be anything between a setup cost of about 75,000 to over 3-4 lakhs based on what is required. If you as a retailer are serious about your business, you would probably like to focus on your core competency, i.e manufacturing or distribution while you outsource the technology aspect to a company who is an expert in this field.

3. How do I figure out the payment gateway, logistics and the technology partner?

For any Indian retailer, the offline business is the core revenue source. So, one can’t expect them to deviate focus on figuring out technology, logistics and other aspects of going online. Retailers need to look at players who can do this end to end and by that you would expect someone to take care of cataloguing (photos, photoshop, content), website, logistics, payment gateway and also look at helping you drive sales from as many sources as possible, be it B2C or even B2B. There are players who offer end to end solution and make the process of going online very easy.

4. How do I approach Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and start selling on these platforms?

A: All marketplaces are trying to open up to as many vendors as possible. One can look at these sites as a virtual mall, where you have a retail presence. Typically, you would need to write an email to these guys and wait for a revert. Some companies are very responsive and some take their own time. Once you get in touch with the person who handles your category in a particular marketplace, the next steps would be

a. Send all your product details (photos, content, inventory, pricing etc) in a format defined by the marketplace
b. Once the products are up, have all the branding material specified by the marketplace ready
c. When you have orders, keep them ready, brand them with the marketplace guidelines and coordinate with the logistics company to ship the product and upload the manifests and the courier tracking numbers on the marketplace interface.

Working with different marketplaces and their control panels and managing stock, pricing, accounts can be tough. But there are companies like Eye and Buy who can help you with the on-boarding and managing your entire processes after that. The advantage of selling on these top websites in India is that you start driving value from day 1 itself. It’s like you have a retail presence in about 20 different virtual malls in India and if not sales, you are bound to at least get a lot of eye balls. Secondly, this also drives traffic to your own website over a period of time and can justify the costs involved in going online.

 

parkal suhas kamath

Parkal Suhas Kamath is a co-founder at Eye and Buy Retail Pvt Ltd . Prior to this he was working in sales and marketing consulting with ZS Associates and has a B’Tech degree from NITK Surathkal. He has extensive experience in the e-commerce domain and has helped a lot of clients figure out the online strategy right from small start ups to fortune 50 companies as well. Suhas has been covered on CNBC Young Turks for the UnWrapIndia initiative and also on The Hindu and a few other online publications in the past.

Disclaimer: This article first appeared STOrai Magazine