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BizReport : Internet : February 24, 2010

Consumers psychologically affected by bad online experiences

Recent research has found that problems with online transactions and slow-loading websites cause consumers to walk away. New research has found that poor performing websites may also be causing consumers psychological distress, too.

by Helen Leggatt

ca logo.jpgIn what they claim to be the first ever neurological study of consumer reactions to poorly performing websites, IT management software firm CA found that consumers may experience "web stress" when online expectations aren't met.

Using an EEG (Electroencephalography) cap and sophisticated neurological and physiological testing equipment, volunteers were wired up during the study and had their brain wave activity monitored. Everyday tasks online such as finding and buying items were tested by the volunteers.

By analyzing brain waves, CA found that consumers had to up their concentration levels by 50% when enduring a bad online experience. Facial and behavioral analysis showed consumers displayed signs of agitation and stress.

Search and checkout were found to be the two most stressful points of everyday processes carried out online, resulting in the volunteers exhibiting a heightened level of web stress. This type of stress results in more than three-quarters of customers abandoning websites before they have completed the task that drove them there in the first place.

"Consumers have high expectations of web applications and web sites - to be always available and instantly responsive. This experiment simulated the experience of underperforming web applications for our volunteers," said Catriona Campbell, leading behavioral psychologist, Director and Founder of Foviance, who partnered with CA for the analysis.

"The results show that when online expectations aren't met, people quickly become agitated, confused and have to concentrate 50% more than normal. All these problems can be detected and prevented as long as businesses take a proactive approach to measuring the customer's experience of web applications."

It looks like sales of The Computer Hammer may be about to skyrocket.

Tags: consumer behavior, online experience, website performance

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