Keep It Usable beat hundreds of entrants to the DADI awards

DADI Awards Usability Finalist

We’re excited to announce that we’ve made it as a finalist in the DADI Awards Usability category for our redesign of KOOTH.com.

Katy Thomson of The Drum told us:

We received over 550 entries this year so getting through to this stage really is a huge achievement. Your work has impressed the panel! You should be very proud of you and your team’s hard work.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with KOOTH, it’s the UKs most successful online mental health platform for young people. KOOTH.com provides online counselling to 10,000 young people with potentially life-threatening issues such as self harm and suicide through to everyday worries at school or home.

Like many pieces of software, it had been designed originally by experts (in mental health) and engineers. They care greatly for their end users and recognise the importance of an easy to use platform, so, having heard of Keep It Usable and our reputation, they commissioned us to completely redesign the front and back end of KOOTH to make it easier to use not just for young people, but also for their counsellors who are mostly novice, low tech computer users.

3 Kooth Home Signed out

They’ve had lots of positive feedback from young people (when we first went into schools to ask young people about KOOTH, the only thing they liked about the design was the logo – talk about a challenge!) so this is a huge step in increasing the appeal KOOTH has with the target audience as well as increasing engagement with the platform to encourage return use and word-of-mouth referrals.

The results have been phenomenal.

97% of KOOTH users plan to come back for another chat soon (engagement / returning visitors)
97% of KOOTH users said they would recommend this service to a friend (referrals)

The KOOTH team have also had lots more enquiries and contract wins following the redesign. Feedback from customers and potential customers has been incredibly positive. As well as the UX and visual redesign, KOOTH now incorporates advanced reporting tools that make commissioners lives much easier so they now have the confidence that young people will use the platform and they can easily see the impact and results for their region.

Of course, there’s a huge monetary return on their investment in UX for the KOOTH team. After just one year, there will be a five fold return. In addition, the added value to service users and commissioners based on increased efficiency and effectiveness amounts to an estimated £300,000 per year. Less money is spent on training, re-training and supporting counsellors in how to use the system.

Jaguar Land Rover reveal the car of the future

land-rover

Jaguar Land Rover aim to reduce driver distraction and improve safety with a host of new technologies that make use of head-up displays and gesture control.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of Research and Technology for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We are working on research projects that will give the driver better information to enhance the driving experience.

“By presenting the highest quality imagery possible, a driver need only look at a display once. Showing virtual images that allow the driver to accurately judge speed and distance will enable better decision-making and offer real benefits for every day driving on the road, or the track.”

Virtual windscreen

The virtual windscreen is Jaguar’s head-up display for cars. Unlike Google Glass, the virtual windscreen is the optimal user experience for safe driving. By superimposing information and graphics onto the windscreen, the driver is able to maintain their whole attention on the road. It will display information such as the current vehicle speed, braking guidance, hazards, ghost cars and racing lines.

Gesture control

Who needs lots of buttons? Not Jaguar Land Rover! They’re aiming to limit the amount of physical button pushing required whilst driving so as to keep the driver’s eyes on the road and reduce distraction.

“We have identified which functions still need to be controlled by physical buttons and which could be controlled by gesture and carefully calibrated motion sensors,” said Dr. Epple. “The system is currently being tested on a number of features including sunblinds, rear wipers and satellite navigation maps. It has the potential to be on sale within the next few years.”

Self learning car

The car of the future will be self-learning and know all of your personal preferences, such as your preferred climate control settings in particular weather conditions and which journeys you prefer to take. The Smart Assistant feature will recognise that you’ll be late to your meeting and text ahead to say you’ll be 10 minutes late. It will even change the entertainment system based on who’s in the car.

With features such as Auto Adaptive Cruise Control (AACC), your future car will even learn how you drive and can replicate your driving techniques. All to help minimise driver distraction.

The pot hole avoider

Are you fed up of driving over pot holes and the damage they can cause? Well now there’s a solution. The Discovery Vision concept will use lasers to scan the road ahead and prepare the car’s suspension to minimise the impact of things on the road such as pot holes as much as possible.

3D  instrument clusters

3d jaguar land rover

Jaguar Land Rover are also looking at technology that could replace rear view and external mirrors with cameras and virtual displays. The problem in the past has always been that with just 2D interfaces driver’s can’t accurately judge the distance or speed of other road users. Therefore, JLR have developed new technology in the form of a 3D instrument cluster that uses head and eye-tracking technology to create a more natural 3D image on the dashboard. This creates a perception of depth that enables the driver to judge distance.

Hat-trick of client awards for Keep It Usable

We produce user experiences that make people sit up and take notice, that ruffle the feathers of your competitors and attract more customers to your brand. We don’t talk the talk, we walk the walk. Have a look for yourself:

Kooth

Shortlisted: Best User Experience Big Chip 2014 (winner announced in July)

- Estimated 5 fold return on investment in just 1 year.
- Increased sales and dramatic increase in enquiries.
- Added value to service users of £300,000 per year.
- Increased staff satisfaction and decreased training costs.

“We’re delighted with our work and our partnership with Keep It Usable”

Used by young people throughout the UK, Kooth was already a hugely successful online counselling platform however it was in desperate need of an overhaul. We conducted focus groups and workshops in schools to uncover insights that enabled us to complete a successful redesign of the frontend UI that young people now love!

We also overhauled the backend system UX for counsellors as they struggled to use the existing complex interface and it was costing the company in re-training and lost productivity. We increased efficiency and user satisfaction – combining multiple views into one to decrease navigation whilst in a counselling session. It meant their clients also received more value for money due to the extra time counsellors were able to spend counselling.

Netflights

Shortlisted: Best Digital Experience – Leisure, Events and Travel. UK Digital Experience Awards 2014 (winner announced in July)

Netflight’s focus on their mobile, tablet and desktop user experience is key to their commercial success. Taking an iterative research and design approach enables us to create ideas and assess our designs with their target audience in the most effective and efficient process. We also go above the standard usability benchmark by applying PET (persuasion, emotion, trust) principles to increase positive user engagement and satisfaction.

Manchester Council

Shortlisted: Best public sector website Big Chip 2014 (winner announced in July)
Winner: Best public sector website UX UK Awards
Winner: Best government website People’s Lovie Awards
Winner: Best home page People’s Lovie Awards

How our research with residents and design recommendations led to an award-winning website

Contact Keep It Usable

Free book: Designing for the web (rrp £29)

designing for the web

We’ve  just discovered this incredible free design book. It looks super useful and is full of supporting visuals. This book was previously selling on Amazon for £29.

A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web aims to teach you techniques for designing your website using the principles of graphic design. Featuring five sections, each covering a core aspect of graphic design: Getting Started, Research, Typography, Colour, and Layout. Learn solid graphic design theory that you can simply apply to your designs, making the difference from a good design to a great one.

We’ve not had a chance to read it yet so do get in touch and let us know what it’s like.

Download A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web.

Designing for the web - Free bookDesigning for the web - Free book

A psychologists thoughts on Spritz and the future of digital reading

How do you read these days? Do you read physical or digital books? Have you heard of Spritzing? Here, Lisa Duddington, Digital Psychologist at Keep It Usable, looks at how reading has changed and what the digital future holds.

UX Books“I’m an avid reader, in fact my nickname is ‘the bookinator’. You can normally find me hanging out in the psychology section at Waterstones. For a long time, I just couldn’t see myself ever replacing phsyical books with digital versions. To me, part of the ‘user experience’ is looking through a book case of pretty, colourful covers, picking each one up in turn and leafing through the sheets, breathing in the smell of the paper. Each book is in itself unique, it has character. However, this all changed when I jumped onboard the Kindle revolution. I can now carry hundreds of books with me in my handbag and that’s pretty amazing! However, there’s a new player about to come onto the market called Spritz that will radically change how we all read and could see an end to current eReaders.”

What is Spritz?

Spritz uses a very small interface to present just one word at a time. One letter in each word is coloured red and this is representative of the ORP (Optimal Recognition Point). It’s basically the point within the word that you’re most likely to recognise and therefore read the word optimally.

Have a go for yourself. Focus on the red letter and try to relax, using your peripheral vision to read each word. If you feel like you can go faster, try adjusting the wpm.

spritz 250wpm
spritz 500wpm

How does it work?

With Spritz, your eyes focus in one position, as opposed to having to move to read the rest next words. This is where Spritz makes a huge difference to the speed at which you read. 80% of your reading time is actually spent moving your eyes from one word to the next. Without this movement, you can achieve hugely increased WPM (word per minute) reading times.

80% of your reading time is actually spent moving your eyes.

Although this sounds incredible and I’m sure you’re already thinking about how many books and emails you could now get through in a day, what is questionable is the ability of the brain to process and store this information as deeply.

Information processing

How many times have you had to read and re-read a paragraph of text because you were distracted or you simply needed further understanding? Do you ever pause when reading a book to reflect on what you’ve just read? Does you’re reading slow down and speed up in reaction to the content? All of these things show the limits of Spritzing.

The appeal of Spritzing for many will be in reading easy to digest fiction books. However, non-fiction books are less suited. Our pace of reading is naturally slower when we’re learning, digesting and questioning, making sense of and understanding anything new. We’re also more likely to re-read paragraphs so Spritz wouldn’t really be suitable.

CEO of Spritz, Frank Walden says “If you’re reading Shakespeare, you’re not going to want to do it with Spritz, but with a romance novel, for example, people skim like crazy anyway. They just rip through a book, reading for plot. Are they savoring every word? Probably not.”

Spritz Mobile

Less emotion

One of the downsides of Spritzing is a lack of emotion in the words due to the speed. When we read we naturally tend to subvocalise (we hear the characters voice in our heads). However, when we read at speed we lose the ability to subvocalise, giving less emotion to the words.

More concentration, less control

As Spritz requires the user to look in one place and the words flash quickly, it can feel like it requires increased concentration and focus. There’s a feeling of ‘I can’t look away or I’ll miss a word’. With the constant movement we wonder if there will be any physical side effects, such as motion sickness. Will there be a tendency for users to blink less?

What’s unanswered right now is how the user controls the Spritz. If you’re interrupted, how do you get back to where you were? Whereas in a book you may recall you were about halfway down the page and relocate your position fairly quickly, with Spritz’s one word at a time presentation, this may be time consuming and difficult.

The future of digital

How would you like to read 50 emails in 7 minutes?

This will have some really interesting effects on future digital devices and interfaces. It adds a whole new world of possibility for showing lots of information, quickly, on very small screens. We’re now going through a phase of larger screens but Spritzing could change all of this. Imagine being able to read a whole novel on a bracelet, or check your emails on your ring. It could also be the perfect pairing for Google Glass. Imagine Spritzing within adverts – marketers would be able to show a lot more information within a much smaller space and people would in theory read more of it in a single glance.

Smart watches have struggled to gain mainstream popularity. They’re bulky and don’t really offer anything over and above the smartphone. The small screen poses difficult interaction with the interface, and makes reading things like emails a rather more painful process. Spritz could well be the trigger the smart watch needs to gain mass market popularity.

Spritz on Smartwatch

The possibilities of how this could effect future technology are really exciting! Let’s Spritz!

New UX Book featuring Keep It Usable

There’s a new UX book on the scene and guess what, it features us!

We’ve been getting a bit of a name for ourselves within the UX scene based on the quality of our work and our passion for all things UX. So when Peter Beare and Gavin Allanwood gained approval to create a new UX book they invited us to take part. The book covers an overview of the whole User Experience process, from research with users (our section – chapter 2) through to design and build.

It’s a book that you can easily dip in and out of and is particularly beneficial to those new to UX who need a higher level understanding of the process, tools and techniques that are used to create a good user experience.

User Experience Design: Creating designs that users really love is now available on Amazon for just under £20 – well worth it.

User experience design book - Creating designs users really love By Gavin Allanwood and Peter Beare
“By putting people at the centre of interactive design, user experience (UX) techniques are now right at the heart of digital media design and development. As a designer, you need to create work that will impact positively on everyone who is exposed to it. Whether it s passive and immutable or interactive and dynamic, the success of your design will depend largely on how well the user experience is constructed.

User Experience Design shows how researching and understanding users expectations and motivations can help you develop effective, targeted designs. The authors explore the use of scenarios, personas and prototyping in idea development, and will help you get the most out of the latest tools and techniques to produce interactive designs that users will love.

With practical projects to get you started, and stunning examples from some of today s most innovative studios, this is an essential introduction to modern UXD.”
UX-User-Profiling-Chapter
We particularly like the layout and style of the book as there is an emphasis on imagery and real world case studies that makes the content really easy to consume and particularly engaging.

Below, you’ll see our user experience machine poster. If you’d like an electronic copy of this, you’re more than welcome to download a copy. We also have a few printed copies – if you’d like one just get in touch.

User Experience Machine

Look out for our next book!

We’ve also been invited to appear in another ux book out later this year, so keep your eyes peeled for that one, which will have a more academic slant.

25% of shoppers plan to spend more this Christmas

Following our recent article The biggest mobile Christmas yet! Are you ready? new research with shoppers shows that 37% of shoppers expect to do more online shopping this Christmas than they did last year and 25% expect to spend more this Christmas, compared to 2012. We expect this in part to be due to a rise in consumer confidence over recent months.

Food retailers aren’t set to have as large an increase in online shopping as when it comes to the big Christmas food shop, 71% of shoppers say they’ll visit a physical store to carry out the task. Only 14% say they will do their Christmas food shop online.

Younger shoppers are the most willing to spend this Christmas with 45% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 25-31 year olds planning to spend more this year.Don’t get too excited for 2014 just yet…

“While we expect a better Christmas for retailers this year, it would be  premature to pop the Champagne corks.  Granted, consumer confidence has increased substantially during the past 6 months, but we anticipate that for many a reality check will set in once credit card bills start to land on shoppers’ door mats in January.”

This research was conducted in the form of a survey to 1,000 respondents by Savvy Marketing. As such, qualitative data in the form of reasons for the above statistics are missing. If you have any thoughts or explanations for the above, tweet us @keepitusable and we’ll retweet your opinions.

88% of mobile shoppers have negative user experiences

Keep-It-Usable-Mobile-Shopping-UX

We’ve just read about some interesting research that was conducted in the US by Skava earlier this year that shows that although the number of consumers using smartphones to shop has increased to 71%, the user experience is still far behind consumer expectations and satisfaction is low. 88% of consumers who shop via mobile have had negative experiences.

Mobile shopping user experience issues

  • Navigation (51%)
    People find that websites are more difficult to navigate through their mobile device compared to desktop.
  • Small images (46%)
    Product images are too small for consumers to make a buying decision.
  • Security concerns (41%)
    Concerns regarding security still prevail. This particularly relates payments.
  • Checkout process (26%)
    Checkouts are still not being designed to be easy and simple to complete via mobile. This creates a major barrier to purchase.

Other consumer concerns

  • The costs of data usage.
  • Difficulty adding coupon / discount codes.
  • Mobile website speed.
  • Clicking the wrong buttons (less precision on mobile).

Consumers don’t return after a bad experience

  • 36% would abandon the purchase altogether.
  • 30% would never return to that particular retailer’s mobile website again after a negative experience.
  • 29% of smartphone owners claimed it would be 6 months or more before giving a retailer’s mobile website a second chance.
  • 33% would immediately go to a competitor.
“It isn’t just about putting a mobile website out there – it is about building an experience that is easy for customers to use and takes into consideration the unique attributes of mobile devices. Achieving significant conversion rates on mobile is possible. Amazon, a constant threat to traditional retailers, generated $4bn in sales through mobile last year.” Arish Ali, Skava

Many retailers are still failing to provide a satisfying user experience and are currently losing customers and market share to their competitors who create superior mobile experiences.

Would you like to work with us?

Keep It Usable have many years designing mobile user experience – we’re some of the most experienced mobile ux specialists in the UK. We even worked on James Bond’s mobile phone! If you need any advice with regards to your mobile ux, we’ll happily provide complimentary advice, send us a quick message now.

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If you’re not investing in UX, your competitor will be!

The biggest mobile Christmas yet! Are you ready?

This year, mobile Christmas shopping is really going to soar like never before!
This is the year mobile will begin it’s journey overtaking desktop for Christmas shopping.
Are you ready?

Last year, there was an overall 17.8% increase in online sales, much of which was due to  increased usage of smartphones and tablets and higher trust in shopping via these devices. This year, mobile shopping is set to dramatically rise. Adobe have predicted mobile shopping will grow by a whopping 97% compared with last Christmas and they anticipate tablet growth of 60%.

However, people are still quite split in their opinion of online shopping:

“I’d actually rather go and touch it and see it, to be honest, rather than go online”
“Convenience… and it’s easier to compare prices. If it’s something expensive I’d go and look at it at the shop first and then buy it online at the best price.”

Mega Monday (or Cyber Monday)

The first Monday in December (Dec 2nd this year) comes shortly after payday (last friday in Nov, also known as Black Friday) and is consistently the busiest day for online retailers. Having browsed retailers online over the weekend and shortlisted their favourite items to buy, shoppers log on typically after dark on Monday. The busiest time being between 8pm and 9pm.

Interestingly, the term ‘Cyber Monday’ was originally created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online and it appears to have worked incredibly successfully!

Last year £320m of sales were made on Visa’s credit and debit cards, with that number set to significantly rise this year. It’s been dubbed Mega Monday by Visa, which says people across the UK will use its credit cards to spend £222,222 in 4,722 transactions every 60 seconds – an increase of 20% on last year.

According to Barclays bank, nearly two thirds of high street retailers surveyed expect website traffic to increase by 11 per cent on 2 December.

On Mega Monday last year, online retail spending increased 18.9% compared to the same day the year before. Online is spreading across smartphones and tablets, with an ever-greater share of online sales. The last Mega Monday saw Mobile representing 21.5% of online site traffic – up a staggering 79% on the year before.

December’s Twin Peaks

Did you know there are two peak days in December for mobile click throughs? The first is Mobile Sunday, this is the second Sunday of December. The second is Christmas Day, especially in the morning. These are two days you need to be prepared and planning for.

Stuart McMillan, head of e-commerce at Schuh, predicts the busiest mobile shopping day will happen slightly after this, on the 16th December.

ecommerce_peak_shopping_days

Source: Econsultancy

Stuart says “It’s likely to be mobile-tastic this Christmas. I predict that we’ll have 33% of traffic coming from mobile devices, 22% from tablets and 45% from desktops by mid-December.
Now’s not the time to make big changes to your sites, but there is still opportunity to do some MVT for copy optimisation. There are probably still things that could be done on mobile site speed which are quick wins.”

Mobile WILL overtake desktop

John Lewis predict that mobile traffic will overtake desktop this Christmas.
“Mobile is set to be the shining star of Christmas 2013. Shopping is becoming much more of a social experience with people browsing, purchasing and sharing ideas with others using their mobile phones and tablets. We expect this to increase dramatically during the festive period as customers shop on the go and we anticipate that Christmas Day will be the tipping point for mobile.”
Interestingly, John Lewis have traditionally seen customers sticking to smaller transactions via mobile, however, they say this has been rising.

What should you do right now?

Tips from Keep It Usable:

  • If you don’t have a mobile site, optimise what you have. Do a usability test – firstly your current site may not be as bad as you think! The test will highlight the most crucial areas to make mobile friendly. Make sure your hit areas are big enough and that forms are usable. You may also want to implement a save or share link so the transaction can be completed on desktop later.
  • Plan for cross-platform shopping. Even if customers don’t transact on mobile, they are using mobile throughout the discovery and browsing phases. Ensure consistency across devices so that users can easily find what they were looking at on other devices.
  • Focus on persuasion. Could your copy or design be more actively engaging and persuasive? Sometimes simple design changes can have a big impact and an outside set of eyes can really help. An expert review of your site from an outsider is quick and inexpensive.
  • Focus on search results. At Christmas and on mobile, people are both stressed and short of time so they want accurate results when searching. Make sure you provide filters so users can narrow down large search results, different viewing options to cater for different preferences, reviews should be clear and easy to find otherwise you risk losing customers to other sites (that they will visit to read the reviews), make sure you’re showing the most relevant information in search results and of course clear calls-to-action are essential.
  • Start preparing for next year. While it may be too late to turn your business around this Christmas, you can prepare for next year; 2014 is set to see continued growth in online, as well as a proliferation of mobile commerce.

Tips from Econsultacy:

Econsultancy recently published a great article with tips on what you should do right now to prepare for the Christmas period. We highly recommend you read the article.

Here are some of our favourite tips:

  • Extend your returns policy and make it obvious.
  • Incentivise repeat customers in the build-up to Christmas.
  • Obvious telephone numbers and email addresses.
  • Ensure that the checkout is as easy to use as possible (Usability test and implement the quick wins).
  • Make your last delivery dates obvious and consider using a countdown to give people a sense of urgency.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it. Thank you, have a lovely Christmas.

Manchester City Council named Best Government Website

Manchester City Council wins Prestigious Lovie Award for Best Government Site following research by Keep It Usable

AWARD WINNER! Named the best government site at the prestigious People’s Lovie Awards!

Manchester City Council’s website came top of a public vote as the best website in the government category, and judges also bestowed the website a silver award and shortlisted it in the ‘best home page’ category from a list of more than 1,500 entries from 20 European countries.

With the help of Keep It Usable, we’re proud to announce that Manchester City Council have won their first award for their innovative user-centric website.

‘Unsurpassed in its design and functionality, our new look site has become the benchmark of local government websites, making ease of use the main priority for our users in an era when the internet is  gearing increasingly towards tablets and smart phones.’

Following a review of how people asked for services, reported problems and paid bills, the site was redesigned to be wholly customer-centric. In particular, ensuring the top things people want to do are as easy and simple as they can possibly be.
Manchester City Council stated:

“The website was tested thoroughly by Manchester-based company, Keep It Usable. They asked ordinary local people from a range of backgrounds and ages to perform various tasks on different devices to see how easily they could do things.

The site was also tested by accessibility-experts and organisations representing blind or partially-sighted people to make sure it is useable by everyone.

Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “This is a fantastic achievement that gives testimony to the quality and success of the new website. That it has been judged by industry experts as one of Europe’s top government sites, while also being voted for by users of the website, is a huge accolade.

“Unsurpassed in its design and functionality, our new look site has become the benchmark of local government websites – making ease of use the main priority for our users in an era when the internet is gearing increasingly towards tablets and smart phones.”

Nik Roope, Executive Chair of IADAS, said: “The re-designed Manchester City Council website has excelled in its category, showing fantastic prowess in digital innovation and creativity. This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.”

Read the phenomenal user feedback the site received upon launch >>>