The history of economic transactions pre-dates the Neolithic period (about 10,000 years ago). This period was characterized by the barter economy, where the exchange of goods and services was done without the use of currency. That is, someone who needed cattle but had excess wood could barter with a second trader who needed wood and had cattle available to trade.
This practice worked for a certain period, but was replaced over time because of its inherent inefficiency. This exchange was based on reciprocity, which requires a double coincidence of wills between the traders. There were many substitute practices until the arrival of currency as an element of exchange, metalism was one of them, but this subject is for another day.
Today I would like to talk about the place where these transactions were or are carried out. The market, like the element of exchange, money, has taken on various characteristics. Today the most common form of market that is gaining more space is the web through e-commerce.
The web has done for physical spaces, what currency did for the barter economy, it has made the process of exchanging goods and services efficient, because efficiency is design. I will explain more about this below.
E-commerce, via the web or Internet, if you will, is nowadays the most sophisticated place for commercial transactions. These are done through e-commerce sites. Here, physical structures such as shopping centers and chain stores have given way to digital menus and clickable links; electronic carts and POS machines have given way to checkout modals and digital carts.
The design methodology used for this case is user research, which has been shown to bring positive results for the business
However, all this sophistication also carries its problems; the problem of ease of use, or in other words, usability. Here, design enters the field again to make the process efficient, because design is efficiency. In this context efficiency can be highly correlated to high levels of productivity and in return profitability.
On the subject of improving procurement processes on electronic pages, we have the example of the American designer Jared Pool, who in a case study writes how one of his clients made an improvement to their e-commerce page that resulted in over 300 million US dollars in sales. All because of one button.
“But how can a button generate $300 million?”, you might be wondering.
It’s hard to imagine that a simple button could make such an impact, but it did. Let me explain what happened: On an e-commerce website, users after adding purchase items to their digital cart were forced to create an account on the website, this process which somehow required more time from users, prevented customers from finishing their purchases. It seems like a simple problem to detect, but it took a user survey for the design team to come to this conclusion.
The most common reaction from users interviewed as part of the survey was, “I’m not here to start a relationship, I just want to be able to buy the products I need, fast.”
With this insight, the e-commerce company’s design team made a change to the purchase flow and a change in the text of a “register” button that led users to create an account to “make payment” that guided users to the credit card information field and checkout.
For frequent users, who make regular purchases, there was always the option to create an account on the website, but this became secondary as irregular shoppers represented a significant slice of the market, 300 million US dollars to be precise.
Because design is efficiency, the above example illustrates how important it is to have a team of designers working on a product even when the product is on the market. The design methodology used for this case is user research, which has been shown to bring positive results for the business.