Telecom B2B websites serve a critical function – simplifying the most common tasks for the largest clients. projekt202 has done extensive user experience research and design on these B2B portals, and I thought it would be a good time to share some of our findings.

By    Joe Dyer    Director of Experience Strategy & Insight projekt202

By Joe Dyer
Director of Experience Strategy & Insight

Many B2B portals are complex behemoths that try to serve a number of purposes – provisioning, paying bills, monitoring usage, upgrading equipment, tracking customer support and more. This complexity — coupled with the fact that many business customers have told us they don’t find much value in some of the larger B2B portals — can make for a daunting user experience challenge.

Don’t frustrate your largest clients

It’s obvious that businesses spend much more on communications infrastructure and services than a family of four. What’s not obvious, however, is that breaking common user experience principles can lead to frustration and lost brand trust for these larger clients.

Less is more

Because these portals evolved over time, with functionality often powered by cobbling together several back end systems, they may try to do too much. We found that users got overwhelmed quickly by bloated navigation or dense menu screens, and they mainly wanted to get to the most popular tasks quickly.

Simplifying the menu screens and navigation to the most frequently-used tasks offers a simpler and faster user experience for most users. As long as the full list of tasks is still available for more advanced users, the tried-and-true “less is more” approach works well all-around.

Follow the users’ mental model

Our methodology for discovering mental models involves ethnographic observation of the experiences of users and customers to identify critical information – looking past what users say and getting to the heart of what they really think. This approach always uncovers key findings about how users view and use the site, vs. how the business thinks users use the site.

Language and wayfinding that seem intuitive to employees can often baffle real users. That’s why it’s important to take a fresh look at mental model research every few years. This can help designers not only meet but exceed user expectations when designing a B2B functionality-driven site.

If you have to offer training to use the portal, that’s a sign that the design is not intuitive and could be losing your customers’ trust.

Consistency is key

Users generally learn how a site works faster when similar elements (navigation bars, buttons, links, menus, etc.) have a consistent look and feel and work the same way across the entire site. This is a core UX design principle, and it’s been proven hundreds of times through countless usability studies.

So, even though the functionality may rely on multiple back end systems, it’s important to give users a consistent experience – leading to reduced frustration and faster time on task.

Our User Experience Design practice helps you deliver that seamless experience that’s needed for the connected world. Our software engineering practice can bring that experience to life.  We lead with the intention of improving your organization’s bottom line — to drive revenue growth, customer lifetime value, and increased scoring across social sentiment and Net Promoter Scores.  Leading with strategy-filled observational insights ensures we’re solving the right problems, and our UX Design team will make sure customers and users love the outcome.