What neuromarketing can teach us about design in web usability

What neuromarketing can teach us about information design in web usability

Gráfica comparativa de la activación emocional o estrés experimentado por las usuarias al usar la Guía de Tallas de los 3 ecommerce estudiados: H&M, Asos y Zara

We continue presenting what we’ve learned from the neuromarketing study undertaken on three popular e-commerce fashion sites: H&M, Asos and Zara.

In our previous post we explained how, at a somatic level, we had seen Hick’s law and the paradox of choice for users who shopped on e-commerce fashion sites, the focus of our latest neuromarketing study.

In that post we saw how too many elements in navigation menus with multiple options representing a category of products (t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sleeveless t-shirts, new items: t-shirts, etc.) induced high levels of stress in the users. On that occasion by comparison Asos had the worst results concerning usability and for the given task that required the users to: “find the section where you can see all the green t-shirts for men that the shop has”.

As we say, on that occasion Asos was the worst, followed by H&M and then Zara in that order. However, there was a neuromarketing study task in which Asos stood out, doing much better than the others, and left H&M as the worst of the three.

The task is more specifically confirming clothing size when making an online purchase. We asked users on the product information page for black trousers to select the size they should purchase given their high and waist measurements in centimetres.

We observed that all users clearly knew where to find that information. They didn’t take very long in locating and clicking on the link “Size Guide”. It was what happened when they were faced with the information shown in the size guide that made the difference between one online shop and another.

However, what we’re going to see in this post is the importance of correct information design for web usability and conversion on an e-commerce site.

In the case of Asos, the users performed the tasks with hardly any emotional activation or stress. They opened the section size guide, and given their waist and hip measurements in centimetres, were able to quickly and easier identify the trousers they needed to choose. For this online shop, and for this task in particular, we saw a usability maxim demonstrated: Don’t make users think.

Presentation of the Size Guide for ASOS’ online shop.
Presentation of the Size Guide for ASOS’ online shop.

There’s something that Asos does here very well, and it’s reflected in the emotional unconscious reaction of the users when performing the task: Asos only shows the users the measurements and sizing related to the product they’re buying. In this way, the effort to look for and interpret the information is minimised and executing the task takes very little time.

At the other end of the spectrum was H&M. What happened with their shop during this task in particular caught our attention and led us to discovering something that we didn’t think could even happen as far as possible user reactions when we designed the study.

The stress levels induced in the users when attempting to interpret the information shown in the section “Size Guide” for H&M was higher than the other shops and very few users managed the complete the task.

Emotional activation and stress suffered by the users when using the Size Guide for the three e-commerce sites studied: H&M, Asos and Zara
Emotional activation and stress suffered by the users when using the Size Guide for the three e-commerce sites studied: H&M, Asos and Zara

For H&M users reached high stress levels close to 300% (while in ASOS they approached a maximum of 50%). Their discomfort when carrying out the task on H&M’s site was clear, even through their body language. This happened because the users weren’t able to find an answer to their question in the information shown in the size guide.

Yet, why weren’t the majority of users able to carry out the task with H&M’s e-commerce site?

H&M’s size guide section is structured as shown in the following image. Look at it and answer: Where would you find the size of trousers most appropriate for you?

Size Guide for the H&M online shop
Size Guide for the H&M online shop

We see you’ve chosen the same as most people. During the test, all users expanded the section “jeans” from amongst the visible choices in order to find an equivalence table between body measurements in centimetres and trouser sizes. Is this the same choice you would have made?

To the surprise of our users, after expanding this section they only found measurements in inches which they weren’t capable of understanding.

Details on the jeans section of the size guide for H&M’s e-commerce site
Details on the jeans section of the size guide for H&M’s e-commerce site

When they had gotten to this point the users closed the size guide, went back to browse the product page looking for new clues. They then opened the size guide again after not seeing any new information on the product page that could help them complete the task, and ran into the same problem again: measurements in inches for jean sizing. We had users repeat the process, opening and closing the size guide up to 5 times!

The few users who managed to complete the task were those who started to open all the expandable sections in the size guide- whether or not they were related to the task they were attempting to complete or the product they were purchasing. Through doing so they discovered that the sizing of trousers other than jeans, in the section “Tops, blouses, dresses and skirts, etc.” It seems that in this “etc” the users must have assumed the shop’s non-jean trousers were included here… assuming too much in my opinion…

Here is where, as we said before, we’re breaking a usability maxim. We’re making the users think too much. The process of performing any task using an interface should be as direct and guided as possible.

In the case of Zara, it’s in the middle as far as execution time and stress levels. In the size guide, as H&M does it, you can see sizing information for all types of articles. After scanning different options, which required a certain amount of time and stress as we’ve seen in previous images, the users correctly interpret that the trousers are included in the “Clothing” section and from there find the trouser size they should choose given their waist and hip measurements.

Size guide for Zara’s online shop.

It’s mainly deciding which section of the size guide includes trousers that is most problematic for users on H&M’s site compared to the sites for the other shops.

Zara size Guide
Zara size Guide

After seeing these shocking results concerning the stress suffered by users while trying to find their trouser size when making purchases on H&M’s site, the increased time it took them to perform the task, and the large number of the users weren’t able to complete it, we feel we can clearly and categorically recommend that the team at H&M should address the issue.

If you agree with us and you want to motivate H&M to implement some type of improvement that helps with using the size guide for their online shop, please tweet this message with us:
.@hmespana We encourage you to improve this part of your e-commerce site> http://bit.ly/twt2306 Thank you #neuromarketing @somosflat101

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