We recently lunched a new, redesigned and much improved website for a Tokyo-based client. This firm’s website has grown over the years–as happens with many businesses–to be its primary tool for customer acquisition and interaction. Web-based forms and a host of back-end systems–most of them browser-based and built by Netwise–handle key business operations such as inquiries, estimate and work requests and the like.
As part of the website redesign process we sought to optimize and refine the customer-facing functions in order to create the most positive user experience possible. We made changes to the information architecture and workflow, improved the design, built in improved error handling, assorted Ajax functions and more. In this critical area we succeeded in realizing significant improvements over the previous version of the site, using the latest tools and practices. But we had a problem.
One of the main jobs of the website is to collect information and documents via a somewhat lengthy form. With the launch of the new site, however, we started seeing a drop in the number of documents that accompanied inquiries. In this area documents are more or less assumed, but now we were getting 5% of inquiries with no attached documents, or about a 300% increase. Something was clearly wrong.
We tested and tested some more, using all of the current browsers and also older ones. We used fast connections and slow ones. We tried big files and small ones, and myriad file types. We could not reproduce the error. We scoured the data from Google Analytics to try and find some clue, a hint as to the cause. We collected information from users who reported problems, tried to reproduce the issue with the same combinations of OS and browser, all to no avail. Frustration mounted.