The Contact Us page and giving users what they want

April 4, 2007

Summary - Give users as many options as possible to complete the action they require
without overwhelming their online experience

It has been a while since my last post. I therefore wanted to get things going again, as my aim is to post something every three days to my blog. Anyway, I’m a signed up member to lovefilm.com, who offer DVD rentals via their website.

Whilst their website is very good I needed to send an email to them so I went onto the Contact page.

My first frustration is why is this not called Contact Us, which is the industry standard. I think it is Jacob
Nielsen who has said that the majority of your users will shop/ surf on other websites and therefore you should conform to standards that users are used to. My personal preference is to call this link ‘Contact LOVEFiLM’ as this explains exactly what you will be able to do the page you are about to visit (which incidentally is an important accessibility requirement). Contact Us is fine, and is the standard, but it is a little generic. It’s a small change, but it’s little things like this that make a big difference to a users experience on your website.

My second point is connected to the copy on the LOVEFiLM Contact page.


Copy in question

How can I contact LOVEFiLM?

We make it easy for you to contact us:

  • By Email.You can email Customer Services using the link below, at any time. We   have a dedicated team of Customer Services agents who will be able to answer any questions that you may have. All queries will get a dedicated and personal reply and we always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.

——

What annoys me, is firstly it is another step before the user can complete the action of submitting a Contact Us enquiry, but also that the actual link to Customer Services is below the fold and is not that easy to find. You could still leave a link below the fold, but I would also add an additional link and make Customer Services a link too. This makes the copy ‘You can email Customer Services using the link below’ far more user friendly. Plus, the majority of users will click straight on the link Email customer services if it is moved to a more logical position because this is exactly why they have gone to the page in the first place.


Suggested Revised Copy

How can I contact LOVEFiLM?

We make it easy for you to contact us:

  • By Email.You can email Customer Services using the link below, at any time. We have a dedicated team of Customer Services agents who will be able to answer any questions that you may have. All queries will get a dedicated and personal reply and we always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.

         Email customer services

—–

Some may say that the Contact Us page is not that important. However, as this is your customers or users communicating directly with you then it is. If you are a business – it is probable that some very annoyed customers will be using this page to complain about a missing order or poor customer service. Why make their experience worse than it potentially is already, by not making this page simple and user friendly.

James Burton


Newsvine presentation of comments & replies

February 25, 2007

Summary – Newsvine has found an excellent way to structure replies to blog posts.

I’m always looking for ways of improving the presentation of information on websites and one thing that has always annoyed me is the way replies or comments are handled by most forums, blogs and news/ article based websites. There is generally no distinction between a reply or comment about the main post and a reply or comment about a reply or comment (you with me still). There is also the problem, especially if their have been lots of replies, that when the author of the material replies to comments the reply is lost further down the page and it is therefore very difficult to follow the discussion trail.

My colleague, at digivate, Kun Dang, runs a blog on the blogging service Newsvine about SEO. He’s just started out, but there is already some good content. Whilst reading his blog I very impressed with the Newsvine site as a whole, but one are a that immediately caught my eye way the way it handles discussions on blog posts.

It is an issue that I been looking into for a student community website I’m putting together. I strongly believe that improvements in this area are the next leap forward for forums especially. For instance on forum posts that roll over onto 2 or more pages, it is very annoying when you want to reply to a particular reply (say on the first page) and your reply gets lost at the very end of the whole post.

Anyway, back to Newsvine…

Example of how replies are displayed on the Newsvine blogging service.

As you can see SEO uk has replied to the comment by Ecommerce Expert within the comment itself rather than in the standard sequential sequence which is the industry standard. SEO uk is also marked as the author of the article which is a nice touch. The feature helps to create discussions within a discussion and is clearly presented to the user through the simple block design that is in use.

I applaud Newsvine for taking the step to improve the way information is presented to the user, hopefully some of the larger blogging services will follow suit.


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