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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  28 Jul 2015

E-COMMERCE: Moving SA E-commerce Beyond Usability Into Delight


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There is a danger in SA's emerging e-commerce environment to work on overcoming a user's frustrations with your site by focusing on usability. "Of course, user frustrations must be urgently resolved," says Sven Schoof, Senior Product Manager at, "but the goal in overcoming the frustrations is not achieved at the mid-point of ensuring decent usability. From a UX perspective, you have both to overcome frustration and leapfrog usability to deliver actual delight. This is the real goal."
Sven Schoof, Senior Product Manager at Schoof, Senior Product Manager at

Usability means employing user-centred design to make sure the shoppers' needs and goals are met. But it is simply not good enough just to be usable. So what if the checkout works? Why would any SA user expect anything less? The real question is: 'Is the checkout a delightful experience?'

Seasoned South African online shoppers' buying experiences have never been limited to this country's e-commerce offering. We have shopped, and do shop, from many of the world's leading e-commerce sites, which have been focussed on UX for much longer than most home-grown, South African e-commerce sites. Full houses at the Joburg and Cape Town chapters of the UX South Africa conferences over the past two years are testimony that the country's e-commerce players are now taking UX seriously.

Essential mindset

"From an international and a local perspective, has the essential mindset that even the most mundane aspects of the user's experience of our site needs to be unusually easy and enjoyable, while being particularly engaging," commented Schoof, "Our users need to have consistent experiences that are worthy of their notice. We look at every aspect of our UI and ask: How could we disrupt this in the most positive way? That's how you can insert and embed unexpected delight."

Spree believes that deep knowledge of the customer is the way to successful UX design. Schoof said: "There's a necessity to combine quantitative and qualitative data, as well as having a cross-functional UX team, which possesses analytics know-how." Not surprisingly, Spree has invested in user labs, mind modelling and extensive user surveys and analysis that aims to get to grips with the nuances of the what, why and how their users shop. Mining the data shapes future plans for a fully responsive website, a mobile-first strategy and the micro-interactions that can be quickly implemented to build trust and increase enjoyment. Spree has recently launched 'Quick View' as a usability improvement, which provides shoppers with easy and fast access to products, and the ability to add products to cart without leaving the category view.

Schoof concluded: "The heart of Spree's UX is the outstanding quality of our content. We have focussed on a beautiful editorial style that is perfectly balanced in the e-commerce environment. Where else will you get the latest, expert fashion and style advice and inspiration, and also be able to simply click to buy? It's a recipe for delight."

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