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I recently did a virtual shop-along on an e-commerce site. I observed users using the site and asked questions along the way. I was able to gather a lot of good insights.

All seemed good, except for one thing: Our educational content was rarely visited during the session. The users either missed it, or they didn’t expect to see it on our site, or both. When I took them to the pages, they all expressed that those content can be useful. We all know to not test the future. So I did bother asking the question of “will you use it”.

My question is, what is my takeaway from this feedback? What would be my recommendations to the client?

Is it: User thinks the content is useful. Now let’s make it more discoverable and watch the metric?

It’s totally possible that user thinks something is useful, but will never use it, right? E.g. I have an electrical can opener, but my default one is still a manual one as long as the can is not too hard to open.

Or maybe I should've asked different questions during the test?

Thank you for any feedback!

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  • During the shop-along, did you happen to capture the moment in the workflow when the educational content would have been useful?
    – Izquierdo
    Jan 6 at 20:29
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It depends on what the goals are for the educational content section.

If it exists to be there in case users need it then the fact that they didn't could be an interesting minor finding (and maybe a suggestion to remove it).

On the other hand, if it was a test of that section or you expected users to use it (for some reason) the fact that they missed seeing it could be a major red flag.

You learned that during a typical transaction users don't need assistance from that section. That's great! They had everything they need in the primary UI and didn't need to look for help, and will probably be successful most of the time. Your definition of success likely doesn't include mandatory use of that section. (If every user reads educational content but none check out, that's probably not a win for the site as a whole even if it's good for that page.)

To go deeper into the discoverability you could set up a different user test where they are given an impossible task and then you can see how they use the educational content to figure things out (or if they don't).

Alternatively, to see if the content itself has value, you'll need to find users who have the right sort of questions and then you can talk to them about if they got the answers they need.

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  • This is great insight: " (If every user reads educational content but none check out, that's probably not a win for the site as a whole even if it's good for that page.)" I can dig up metrics. Our products are jewelry. The latest user test I had included customers buying for their fiancee, our hypothesis is that, for this persona/segment, they will need educational content more than say, inexpensive items. But still most of them didn't take up on the buying guide/educational content.
    – lu yan
    Jan 11 at 15:49
  • I guess it comes down to: some customers don't need to get technical even though they are buying expensive jewelry. Others do (maybe focus on these customers)? Another reason we keep these content is SEO.
    – lu yan
    Jan 11 at 15:50
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Without understanding the correlation between the eCommerce part of the site and the educational content it is hard to understand the takeaways. Are they buying guides or post-buy type of guides ? Or it's relevant to the website but not relevant within the buying process?

On one side, as you mentioned " User thinks the content is useful. Now let’s make it more discoverable and watch the metric?" but the concern that even though they seem to consider it useful they didn't use it, the main question is if the content is visible at the right time and point in the flow.

Eg. educational content about a certain product could be placed on that certain product page.

Eg 2. educational content relevant after purchasing a product can be placed in as a QR code when delivering the product or after the checkout process. ( These are absurd examples )

So understanding what the purpose of the educational content is would be a good starting point to determine what would the takeaway be.

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  • Thanks very much. "buying guides or post-buy type of guides ?" There are both kind. "Or it's relevant to the website but not relevant within the buying process?" It's consumer products, like fashion tops, not really technical. That makes it tricky. We do have bits and pieces of these type of content on the product listing and product details pages. But take up rate is not very high. And that's what we are trying to figure out: should we be happy with the current engagement rate, due to the nature of our products? Or is there room to improve?
    – lu yan
    Jan 11 at 15:15
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If that content is useful, but not necessary, you need to test if it is reachable from the homepage (or other landingpage) in case its needed.
You could nudge them with - "you want to inform yourself about our product, how would you do that"?
Or if company goal is to push that content as obligatory, you could design it more prominently and then test again if they reach it.

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  • I like this " "you want to inform yourself about our product, how would you do that"? I think it's a great question to include in an user interview.
    – lu yan
    Jan 11 at 15:19

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