UK Political Elections Influenced by Usability of Websites – Wildcard Friday

By Nik

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Today’s political environment is so different from what it was a decade ago. The ability for voters to make their own decisions and maneuver the architecture of information that will help them form positive and negative opinions has improved dramatically with the internet. Unlike television, crafting arguments in the online world must be done by means of influencing choice of navigation and selection of content.

Political groups in the past few years who are able to be seen as a very visible option online have had the benefit of sharing their arguments with potential voters. They did this either through pull tactics like search engine optimization where they are showing up as net surfing options when a potential voter is searching for specific topics; or through push strategies like social networking. Likewise, websites are message vehicles that give an amazing advantage over the traditional billboards, print and television ads.

Through keen usability, political parties are able to get visitors to see it their way, while introducing a sense of choice; and choice is usability. This is what we’ll focus on today.

Here, we’re correlating 3 bits of information to tell the story of how usability may strongly be effecting the elections in UK right now. Recently, webcredible.co.uk analyzed the websites of the main parties in the UK: the Liberal Democrats, The Conservatives and the Labour Party. The process was thorough and when all the right questions were asked, the Liberal Party’s website came out on top, with a score of 80.

Can this affect the outcome of the election? Well, let’s see the metrics.

Google Insights indicates that in the past 30 days, there has been a huge uptick in searches for the keyword “UK Elections”. This indicates a spike in activity online, which should theoretically translate into an advantage for the Liberal Democrats. In the right-most box, we are looking at the changing activity in the UK polls.

While internet activity is increasing in the election, the usability scores of the Liberal Democrats party may actually be influencing poll numbers dramatically. This vehicle of controlled argumentation may indeed be a great factor in the recent upswing reported by the Guardian/ICM poll on the 18th of April. The percent in favor of the user-friendly party has jumped from 20% to 30% in a matter of one week; the same week that has seen the highest level of internet activity surrounding the elections.

The business world requires as much attention to the factors of success that help influence voters in new political elections.

The e-commerce world is no stranger to competition and sometimes finding where to buy your next power toothbrush will take you through the same rounds as making the your next voting decision. As business owners, we wait patiently for increased activity in our markets online, but capturing that demand through improved visibility on search engines is the difference between being given a chance to make your case and not getting that opportunity.

But usability persistently plays a much larger role in your bottom line than most e-commerce store owners would think. It’s beyond the design, or your product selection or what you stand for as a company; but how you are able to argue your position as the store that deserves the sale. As the internet continues to play a major role in elections, we’ll always have something to learn from them that is incredibly applicable to online business.

It’s hard to know when you’re doing a good job with usability. In the e-commerce world, everything is a lot easier to track. One change could significantly improve conversion rates while another does not. This is why we offer full service multivariate testing to our clients in a program called Conversion Booster. If you’re interested in learning more, please give us a call at 800-504-4324. We can easily provide an audit of your site to help put the future of conversion optimizing in the context of your website.

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