New technologies follow a pattern. They start by imitating older technologies before they evolve to their true forms. The first automobiles looked like horseless carriages. It wasn't until the Vintage Era of the 1920's that cars evolved to a form that we'd recognize today with features like front-engines, enclosed cabs, and electric starters. Televisions started off copying radios - they looked more like an armoire with a small screen stuck on the front.
In the process of working on my latest piece of research, it became clear that the Web has followed a similar pattern. Early sites imitated a much older medium - paper. And even though 'web page' still dominates our thinking, online experiences have begun to evolve away from the page-based metaphor. In the next 5 years, the evolution of online experiences toward their true form is about to take off at a much faster rate than in the previous 5 years.
Consider that today's default Web platform - a browser running on a PC - is rapidly giving way to diverse online environments. The types of devices we use to connect to the Web are proliferating. In addition to the growth of netbook adoption, there are new devices like the Chumby and the Energy Joule. Portable devices are rapidly getting more powerful - as a result, the tradeoff between mobility and capability is shrinking. And even as the hardware evolves, the interfaces on the devices we use to connect to the Web are becoming more and more customizable. And the reason any of this matters at all is because consumers are already adopting these technologies.
So what are the implications of these trends? What does it mean for the future of online experiences? At Forrester, we've concluded that the resulting online customer experiences of the future will be:
A few months ago, I asked for your input on our Web Site Review methodology. Harley Manning, Rich Gans, and I incorporated your feedback, scoured the latest academic and human factors research, and reflected on the past 1300+ reviews we've completed. And the result? The latest and greatest version (version 8.0 to be exact), officially renamed Forrester's Web Site User Experience Review 8.0.
What is it? Forrester's Web Site User Experience Review uncovers flaws that prevent users from accomplishing key goals on Web sites. It's is an expert evaluation, a type of methodology - also known as a heuristic evaluation or scenario review - that was originally developed by Rolf Molich and Jakob Nielsen as a lower-cost alternative to lab-based usability techniques.
How does it work? The review process begins by identifying the target users and their goals on the particular site. Armed with this information, a trained reviewer emulates the user and tries to accomplish specific goals on the site. The experience is then graded against 25 criteria. Scores for each criterion range from -2 (severe failure) to +2 (best practice), so overall scores for completed Web Site User Experience Reviews range from -50 to +50, with +25 representing a passing score.
The 2010 CxPi ranks 133 organizations across 14 industries: Airlines, Banks, Credit Card Providers, Health Plans, Hotels, Insurance Firms, Internet Service Providers, Investment Firms, Parcel Shipping Services (new this year), PC Manufacturers, Retailers, TV Service Providers, Utilities (new this year), and Wireless Carriers.
Barnes & Noble took the top spot for the second year in a row. Marriot Hotels, Hampton Inn, Amazon.com, and Holiday Inn Express round out the top 5. At the other end of the spectrum, Charter Communications landed at the bottom for the third year in a row. Here are the full rankings:
Recently I had one of my own customer experiences that shows just how hard it is to get all the elements of a multichannel interaction working right.
Here’s some context: Over a year ago I switched from Comcast to Verizon FiOS for my home television service and internet access. So far I’ve been very satisfied with my choice – I like the FiOS product better and the Verizon people I’ve dealt with have been great, especially the woman who signed me up and the guy who installed the service.