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Wednesday, May. 11, 2011 at 9:26 am

Mode, Usability, and Guilt-by-Association

By Whitney Wilding
May 11th, 2011

The more experience I have with web optimization, the more critical I become in my day-to-day interactions with websites. I am a true fan and believer of livingsocial.com. My purchase of more than one of the advertised daily deals has made me a repeat customer of the associated business offering the deal coupon. However, I wish that livingsocial.com would give their customers an opportunity to rate their experiences with the businesses offering coupons on their site, because I would have marked my experience with Fandango.com as less than satisfactory.

What Went Down

Some time ago, livingsocial.com featured a tantalizing offer for Fandango.com – spend 9 bucks and get two movie tickets. Now, any of you who have been to a movie recently know the cost of a night out at the movies can be up to $12 a ticket! In short, this was a sweet deal I couldn’t pass up. Excitedly, I booked my slot! However, frustration kicked in when I went to Fandango.com to redeem my deal. Now, I am all for the idea behind Fandango’s website – search for movies in your area, find a movie that interests you, pick your movie time, print your ticket and show up. No waiting in lines necessary. In an instant gratification world, this is a brilliant format… if and when the site is working.

What it Shows Us about Mode (Persona/Type) and Usability

Anytime I have been on Fandango.com, I experience unusually long wait times, seemingly broken links and questionable call to action buttons. When I enter my zip code in the search box and hit the call to action button, I expect to see the search results almost simultaneously. I mean, aren’t I here to avoid the waiting game?! Nevertheless, every time I do this, there is an inopportune amount of wait time before the search results appear. To make matters worse, the site gives no indication that my search results are being formulated, and I often wonder if the button is broken.  Fortunately for Fandango, even though my motivations when on a site such as theirs are skewed toward NT-SP (fast-paced) tendencies by the very nature of the site (skip the lines), I’m not a natural competitive or spontaneous personality type, and I usually manage to wait around long enough to realize that the results were being processed.

Remember that Persuasion Architecture teaches us a visitor will have a preferred behavior pattern (mine is NF – slow-paced, and favoring emotional content), the product or service, company, brand, and buying situation also have a dominant “personality” associated with them (Fandango’s business premise capitalizes on the convenience of a fast-paced experience), and how these factors interact and pull your visitor away from their natural behaviors ultimately is what you need to account for on your site. Thus you can begin to see why it’s a serious issue to say that even I (who naturally prefers a slower paced purchase) was tempted to leave the Fandango site more than once and just spend full price on a movie! Why on earth is Fandango even taking this risk?  If Fandango could lose me, there are undoubtedly plenty of natural NTs and SPs giving up and going elsewhere!

Let this be a lesson to Fandango.com and similar sites out there: understand that customers come to a site such as yours under the premise of not having to wait, and before you attempt to do online marketing driving potential buyers to your site, first ensure the site meets the appropriate baseline usability expectations. Usability can be considered a primer to good optimization, and basically involves determining if prospects can move from step 1, all the way to the final action you want them to take on your site, without encountering any stumbling blocks that hinder them from making a purchase or completing that lead form. When we start work with a client on one of our OnTarget subscriptions, we’re looking to clean up any of these kinds of issues that are lingering on the site before we even get on with the business of conversion barriers, much less tackle the issue of persuasive momentum.

What it Shows Us about Guilt by Association

And what about sites that advertise for them or feature their offers? Don’t overlook the guilt-by-association factor your mother always warned you of: Because of my negative experience with Fandango.com, I lost a little respect for livingsocial.com. That’s two businesses out there that could potentially lose my business. The more touch points a customer interacts with, the more you have a chance to gain their loyalty or lose their business. Perhaps, sites like LivingSocial.com could do some review analysis of the businesses they feature on their site, before they choose to accept their business. Just food for thought in the effort to mold a future of better user experiences for all.

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Comments (10)

  1. For good business your association should be always with good service providers.If you are good at your business but your associate partner lakes in your service,your business will definitely flop.

  2. If you are good at your business but your associate partner lakes in your service,your business will definitely flop.

  3. while i value the ideas behind this blog post (certainly valid), i disagree with the example. every experience that I’ve had on Fandango went very smoothly.

    i do agree with the idea of a site like living social having a review for the merchant. would make life easier for those who were thinking about purchasing one of the deals on their site.

  4. That didn’t sound like a very fun experience. That type of thing is what makes me skeptical of purchasing anything online. I have even had a bad experience on websites with good reputations like ebay. I agree with the above statements, that when it comes to customer satisfaction the business in charge of the customer has to make sure the services matches the expectations of those customers.

  5. You always want to be careful who you do business with. If I don’t like a website, I’m most likely not going to like a website that sponsors it even if I’ve never visited it.

  6. Really Good u have to think how to do it better.
    In my opinion u need much more reputations.

  7. If you’re so well versed in this area why do not you create your own design? Or try to make suggestions for improvements to owners livingsocial.com and Fandango.com

  8. @Antown – for one, because we are not designers and do not want to be. However, with more than 10 years of experience doing Conversion Rate Optimization, several best-selling books about our methodology, and numerous awards and speaking engagements under our belts (not to mention the countless revenue increases we’ve generated with our clients), we’ve more than earned the right to provide constructive criticism about barriers to conversion. As such, we do offer suggestions for improvements…. to our paying clients, many of which you can read about in case studies on this very blog.

  9. excellent. you have to think how to do it better.
    In my opinion you need much more reputations

  10. you made a very valid point, why go to a website and not have your order processed quickly or at the very least have some sort of indication that the processor is working on it. I am going back to my website to see what experiences my customers are having. i personally want my customers to be able have a great experience and tell others about it.

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