I was intrigued to read in the financial press today how a firm of litigation lawyers spend a lot of time and effort focusing on usability (UI) and performance before they launched a recent class action.
The class action, in Australia, is against the 5 banks of the local oligopoly and their penalty fees. This is where you exceed your overdraft, or pay late, and they charge you penalty, say $35 or $50. These dishonour and late fees brought the banks $5 billion dollars in revenue in the last 5 years for zero cost. The Action claims that this practice is illegal.
Being aware of what is generally described as a "universal hatred" for the banks in Australia the firm, IMF Australia, planned their moves very carefully. They expected to be inundated, which they were, and yet they also took nothing for granted in having people come to the website and finding it too hard to register. This very rational approach impressed me.
IMF managing director Hugh McLernon explained that they tested several variations of the litigation homepage www.financialredress.com.au and the goal was registration speed. He said after several iterations they had it down to a few minutes on the basis that someone read all the terms and conditions, and a very short time if they just ticked the boxes and registered.
They then focused their attention on performance and stress testing, and satisfied themselves that the site could handle the peaks. This was well thought out, since a brief appearance on a morning TV show brought 13,000 registrations in the following minutes. That's impressive.
As of now the site has 100,000 registrants and they expect up to 1 million people to join the Action. It's compelling when celebrities in the form of TV hosts, newsreaders and radio announcers all happily declare to their audience that "I've joined up and I recommend that you take a look at the website".
In fact, McLernon said that they now have a web platform which will enable them to open up a new era in class actions in Australia - so this was a very serious plan and rigorously executed around their web assets.
On the other hand - cinemas
I wanted to also book a cinema ticket on the weekend. The Village Cinemas website is a navigation nightmare. I wanted to (1) see session times, (2) book and pay for a ticket. I've registered before, and even nominated my favourite cinemas, so you'd think I could get an instant choice of what I want to do, at those cinemas e.g. find a movie.
Unfortunately Village Cinemas are so obsessed by their own self-interest that they make you go through 4 pages of updating your profile EVERY time you log in! Can you imagine! These people REALLY want you to abandon.
I mean, I can get into my bank's website and complete a payment transaction with the same number of clicks!!!
Web-centric customer lifecycle
I know that the lawyers are also driven by self-interest, but at least they are showing respect for their users by offering a simple and effective path to achieve the outcome desired by people coming to their website. They take you through rapid qualification, and then rapid registration, and even a "try before you buy" as you can register without completing any bank account details. That comes later, and you can think about it all then. This is a well designed workflow and website, using a web-centric customer lifecycle as the underlying model.
What's your best example of a fit-for-purpose website?