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Usability: Do you want the data or the conversion?

Over at Usability Counts they ran an article a while back about?how?Expedia generated $12 million a year?in additional income just by eliminating a single, optional field from their form. The field was confusing to customers and resulted in many people abandoning their transaction right at the end of the process, just because Expedia wanted a little extra information and people didn’t know what to put there. Expedia?might have looked for ways to make the request?clearer, but instead they took the smarter step of just eliminating the field entirely. The extra information was a nice to have, the sale was the goal.

This struck a chord with me because I recently started an email account just for coupons, especially restaurant coupons. I then began going to the sites of all the restaurants I like and joining their email clubs. Thanks to Google, I can fill out most of a form automatically and the process goes quickly. The problem comes when a web site asks for more information than is necessary or expected.

All I want is for the site to email me their coupons so that I can use them for the occasional night out. I believe this is all that most people want when they sign up for a restaurant’s email list. We?don’t want them to send us?text updates. We?don’t want them to call us. We?certainly don’t want to register as a user on their site and give them a user name and password that we’ll never remember. Unfortunately, many restaurant web sites want us?to do all of these things. It’s a waste of our?time, and an abuse of our?interest in them. I have to wonder how many potential customers give up when they see these fields.

The key, when you are trying to convert a lead, is to make it as easy as possible for the lead to say yes. That’s why I appreciated one site that simply asked for my name and my email address. That’s all they needed and I was happy to give it to them. A few seconds later, they emailed me a coupon and I used it the next day. That, my friends, is usability.