Welcome to the Byte Blog where we share our thoughts on design, technology, and occasionally, cats.
First of all, congratulations on launching your new site! It takes a lot of work and time, for both us and our clients, to get a new site designed, built and online. So before anything else, give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far.
Now the site’s in your hands, and it’ll naturally need some updates over time (be it to a blog or a calendar or other areas of dynamic content). Later on, when your organization thrives and grows, you’ll be able to use our Byte CMS to communicate those changes via the website.
If you’re a high-level site owner, you pay close attention to your site, and over time, you’ll find yourself noticing areas that need a little help. Occasionally it’ll be a bug, or something broken, which our support team is here to help you with.
More often, though, it’ll be an issue that’s less tangible. Something isn’t getting the response you’d hoped for, which often calls for a bit of redesign. We love to help out in those situations, and we hope that clients will contact us in those situations.
And that’s exactly what Milwaukee Public Library did when their chat bucket wasn’t getting the response they hoped for.
How we nearly tripled MPL’s chat system activity.
Shortly after the new year, MPL got in touch with our own Emily Soddy, asking for ways to increase the usage of their chat bucket. Emily asked if our design team (me) could have a crack at redesigning it to be more useful, and they agreed.
On the left, below is how the bucket looked before I got my hands on it. The four icons at the bottom, once clicked, revealed contact information pertaining to that icon. (The phone icon revealed the phone number, the envelope revealed the email address, etc)
On the right is the new look.
Not a huge difference, right? I didn’t change the styling of it at all— I just moved information around, and set the chat window to be open by default. That’s all it took to make a 183% increase in chat sessions. Specifically, that’s 33 chat sessions in December 2014, and 93 chat sessions in January 2015.
This is the kind of thing that gets me really excited, because design is so much more than making things visually pleasing. Design is meant to solve problems, too, and this is the perfect example.
Solving problems with design
So what changes did I make? Here’s a list of what’s and why’s:
1. We programmed the chat tab to be open, automatically, during operating hours.
Why? Three reasons. First, let’s be honest here— the four communication icons don’t really *look* like buttons. Until a user hovers over or opens one, they might not think they’re clickable at all. I could have redesigned the buttons, but instead I chose to teach the user how to use the tabs by having one automatically open. Second, leaving the chat window open makes it clear to the user how *very* easy it is to contact the library. They barely have to think about it— they can just click in there and start talking. It’s easier than calling, and you get a faster response than emailing. Third, it prevents the decision fatigue that comes from having to choose from the four ways to contact the library.
2. I took the operating hours and the caveat about email questions out of the main window and put them into the tabbed info areas.
Why? All that information, although crucial, didn’t apply to *all* of the different methods of contact, and so it didn’t belong in such a high spot of hierarchy. If we want people to act, the actionable areas (the four tabs) need to take priority. Also, Emily’s a programming wizard, and she can set the chat window to “close” when operating chat hours are over.
We care about your website’s growth & development, too
Really, we do. We want to be able to point to our lovely websites like Outpost, Community Advocates and The School of American Ballet and show that they’re still going strong. It’s why our support team is so responsive, and why we’ve had so many repeat-clients, like Milwaukee High School of the Arts (who we recently redesigned) and the Herb Kohl Education Foundation (we’re working on a redesign now— we designed their original site over 10 years ago!).
So keep in touch. We’re already looking forward to talking to you.