Stefan Stefansson is the co-founder of WithSara, a membership that supports women and provides fun, effective, and quick workouts from home. In this episode, he joins Ward to discuss the importance of Usability and UX for a membership.
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Ward Sandler: Welcome, everyone! Today I’m interviewing Stefan Stefansson, the co-founder of WithSara, a platform supporting women to get a fun, effective, and quick workout from home, featuring his wife, Sara Olasfdottir. Stefan is also the CEO of Sensivo, a venture-backed startup in Stockholm; he has been on the founding teams of many successful software startups and has held various key positions in Icelandic companies. Stefan, welcome to the Membership Maker Podcast; we’re thrilled to have you here.
Stefan Stefansson: Thank you, Ward. I’m very excited to talk to you about all things membership,
Ward Sandler: It can be daunting for a membership owner to approach UX or user experience, but we know that it’s essential to convert website visitors into members. What’s your experience applying principles of usability and user experience in your membership?
Stefan Stefansson: Yes, so my first job out of college was at an Icelandic E-commerce giant, and on my first day there, I got handed these two books, and the name of the books was Web Usability by Jacob Neilson and Usability Testing by the same author. And my role there was to acquire traffic to the websites that we had and then convert them. And after being there for a little bit of time, they also sent me to San Francisco to attend a seminar with this man. And this man has been in the user experience usability game for a long time. So he’s kind of a little bit of like the King in this area. So, I mean, what I did to learn these principles was just to study what’s out there, you know, these sites. Okay. You know, like Amazon or these social networks like Facebook, they implement a wide variety of testing all day long, and they get outside people to do it as well. And, you know, the fine things of this testing is often public and available. And we know that there are these basic principles of usability, user interface, design, and user experience. That if implemented, it will increase the happiness of your website, visitors, you know, you, we know how people behave because it has been studied, you know, the psychological behaviour of them using a site. For example, you know, when somebody enters the site, it’s known that they look up in the left corner to see what company is this, or do they have a tagline? And then they look to the right and see if there’s a call to action button, and in the middle, they try to scan the headline. And we know that you know, it’s best to have the mental text and clear headlines in all your content because people just scan. And we know that people like a call to action buttons because it draws them into the content. And we also know that blue underlined text gets a higher click-through rate than pink. So there are these elements and principles and usability and user interface, the same that that can be easily found by Googling it. And they’re not; if you apply the top 10, most common and most basic principles, you’re already better than 80% of the websites out there. So I will definitely make sure to share these resources with you later.
Ward Sandler: Yeah, Jacob Nielsen, he has an agency or something called the Nielsen Norman Group, I believe. Which yeah, have a newsletter for folks that are out there with a robust blog with, you know, I think over a decade of a blog post. So definitely check that out. There’s a lot of good stuff there. Definitely, one of the people that I kind of first got on my web design journey, so yeah, a lot of, a lot of good content there. I think usability is just one of those things that, how do I say this? People, people underestimate yeah how important it is, right? Like, or they overestimate how good they are at it, right? So if you haven’t actually studied usability and design, you may think, you know what looks good and what’s in, what’s effective on a website, but you’re probably wrong, at least in some important ways because it, sometimes it’s counterintuitive a lot of times it’s counterintuitive just because you think it visually looks cute or it looks attractive. It doesn’t actually mean it converts well, and those are very important distinction. So I think reading a little bit, just like any topic, reading a little bit about it and understanding some of the principles like you mentioned, can go a long way. And just by doing that small amount, you’ll be way ahead of everyone else.
Stefan Stefansson: And also, you know, I think it was Steve Blank who said that there are no facts inside the building. You need to go out there, you need to speak to people and, you know, ask them or, or test how what you’ve built feels to them. You know, are they able to solve the problems that they’re trying to solve? And they’re also because we talked about, you know, these no-code solutions, there are many solutions out there that can be integrated with most of the platforms that MemberSpace kind of connects to, that can be used to test the user behaviour on your site, and you know, how they interact with your content and give you heat maps, and statistics on it. So it’s definitely something that it’s worth looking into, and it will give you a lot of insight because usually, as you said, the layout is really important; you assume it’s good.
Ward Sandler: Yeah. And I think to build on that point there, talking to people. So there are tools for sure to collect data like heat maps and, you know, what headlines are converting better, which are definitely useful. And then there’s also the qualitative of talking with people, having a conversation and asking them, you know, what part of the site is confusing to you? Or when you were getting set up, was anything not clear? That kind of stuff, especially in the beginning, it’s really helpful, and it’s something that you really should prioritize and make time for because you want to get that right. Once you kind of start doing that kind of rough usability user testing, you’ll get the big blockers out of the way. The big things are just in that are not making sense that you thought made sense, but just don’t if you just talk to like even, I think the Nielsen Norman group mentioned this, even talked to five people or run five usability tests.That’s enough to catch the majority of the big errors that are going on your site. So it’s not like this giant need to talk to a hundred people thing, talk to a handful of people. And that will very quickly tell you what part of your site is like the most wrong. And that will be huge in terms of helping your conversions and building the business.
Stefan Stefansson: Yeah, for sure.
Ward Sandler: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Stefan; we really appreciate it. Would you like to share any resources or recommendations for folks trying to learn more about WithSara?
Stefan Stefansson: Just a recommendation, if you’re interested in what we’re doing, and I want to see examples of what we talked about, you can go to WithSara.co to learn more about us! And also, I really recommend reading a little bit about the things that Jacob Nielsen has published on Usability and User Experience.
Ward Sandler: Excellent. Thank you.