10 things developers should know about customer experience

I regularly moderate round tables on topics of interest to CIO’s. These are closed-door sessions and participants are screened to allow us to have a frank, peer to peer discussion about critical topics. The sessions are sponsored, but the rules are clear – sponsors are expected to send a real expert in the topic and no sales pitches are allowed.

In July, I held what proved to be a very popular session on Customer Web Experience with Akamai as the sponsor. It provided Ravi Mairi, their vice- president of Web experience products who was indeed a expert in this area.

Partway through the session one of the CIO’s said he expected his development team to be able to tell good user experience from bad user experience.   A number of us challenged him on this – we all have talented design and technical teams, but do they really know good user experience from bad?  

I thought we should tell the team in no uncertain terms what we as CIO’s thought separated good user experience from bad user experience.   It’s an area where we have a lot of expertise.   I thought, ‘What would we send as a note to our team?’ And here’s what came out.

To: Web Development Team

From:   CIO

Subject: Customer Web Experience

I was at a session today with a number of my peers and we hashed out what we thought was good and bad experience for our customers who encounter us on the Web. Here are 10 things I want you think about. There are five things I like and five things I despise.

Five things I like:

  1. A great site is simple and intuitive. That may sound obvious, but if it is, why are so many sites just the exact opposite? I want a site that can “read my mind”.   I don’t want us to talk about OUR products or US.   I want us to talk about what our customers want and need.
  2. Have as few clicks to get to information as humanly possible. If you design this site right, it will never take me more than three clicks to get where I want to go.
  3. The content must be targeted, relevant and brief. Tom Petty said it best. “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” If it works for a great songwriter, it will work for you. Save me the blah, blah, blah and the corporate speak. Give me the information I need – quickly.
  4. Site search – Forget Google search, what about your site search? I expect to be able to find what I want using your site search. And I don’t always call things what you do.
  5. Offer me real help when I need it. I don’t want to be imposed on, but when I do have a question, offer me help. I love it when I can do a live chat when I want to. At the very least, have some way I can contact you to ask a question.   My time is valuable. When I need the answer, I need it now.


Five things I despise – and if you have them, I will leave your site and I’m not coming back.

  1. Pop-up surveys – Just say no. I do. Hey – here’s the straight facts. We don’t want to fill these in. And even if I wanted to help you out, I often don’t know what to say. Here’s a tip. Look at what I DO not what I say. Monitor my behaviour.
  2. Do not disable the back button – If the only thing that’s holding me on your site is that you’ve made it inconvenient for me to go back where I was, I am gone. While I’m typing that url or going to my history to find where I want to go back, I’m closing your site – for good.
  3. Mobile sites with reduced features – Really make me crazy. Look – I work on my phone, my tablet and my laptop.   I want to be able to negotiate and find what I want no matter what device I’m using. If I found it on my lap top in the morning, I want to be able to check it out at night when I’m watching my kid’s soccer game.
  4. Multiple menus – Just give me one menu, please. Multiple menus make me crazy. Is your site too big for that? Simplify.
  5. Don’t make me log in – I get it. You want me to identify myself. But I have enough passwords to manage and enough places that require a log in. Don’t ask me to log in unless it’s absolutely necessary. I want my personal information to be protected but other than that, I don’t want to have to login for your convenience.

Keep these in mind and I’ll like our site better – I bet our customers will too.

How about you? What would you add to this? Love to hear from you.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Love
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO and Chief Digital Officer of IT World Canada - Canada's leader in ICT publishing and digital marketing.

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