Keep It Usable app featured in the papers

If you were sitting down with your coffee on Saturday morning, reading the papers, you may have seen Keep It Usable featured with the design of Clintouch, an award-winning health app commissioned by the NHS that has subsequently made an appearance at 10 Downing Street to inform the future of how digital technology can improve the nations health.

health app that calls your doctorClintouch is one of the first apps being prescribed by doctors to patients to aid early intervention. Currently prescribed to patients with psychosis, the app could ultimately save the NHS millions by enabling earlier treatment before a patient becomes seriously ill.

This groundbreaking app has subsequently gone on to win an innovation award and is currently being trialled in NHS trusts in the UK.

Independent research that we conducted with users of health and wellbeing apps showed that there is a great deal of distrust and disengagement with health apps (caused by the quality of apps in the marketplace at the moment). Users want trustworthy apps that are easy to use and will do what they claim to do. Clintouch is hopefully the first of many apps that bridge the gap between patient and doctor and make a real difference to both the NHS an people’s lives.

There is a great deal of scope for health and wellbeing apps to improve our lives, cut NHS costs and improve the relationships we have with our doctors. However, it is crucial that these apps are designed by professionals in collaboration with health experts so they actually work and have a high level of efficacy, otherwise they just join the thousands of health apps already in the app store that are downloaded and never used.

Read the full newspaper article >

Read our blog post about Clintouch >

The privacy paradox and how you can use it to increase conversion

The privacy paradox and how you can use it to increase conversionIn the era of Web 2.0, privacy is not only one of the liveliest issues in the debate about consumers behaviour and individual rights, but also one of the most difficult one to solve. Companies want more customer data, customers say they dislike this, yet they freely provide personal data.

Nowadays, the border between private and public is becoming more and more blurred; people are used to sharing their pictures, videos, preferences, personal information, and everyday a huge amount of online data is collected, however, they still appear to be seriously concerned about their privacy and claim it to be an important factor in their online decision-making process. To make things even more complicated, concern about privacy doesn’t in fact match actual online behaviour.

The Privacy Paradox

The privacy paradox is the discrepancy between an individuals’ intentions to protect their privacy and how they actually behave in the online marketplace, it’s the relationship between individuals’ intentions to disclose personal information and their actual personal information disclosure behaviours, which are often very different.

According to several privacy-related studies, the online audience can be divided into three big categories:

1. Privacy fundamentalists: very privacy-oriented and concerned
2. Privacy unconcerned: not at all privacy-oriented
3. Privacy pragmatists: in-between the other two categories

In general, consumers appear to be much more sensitive about the use of their medical, financial, and family information than they are about their product, brand consumption or their media usage behaviour. Why is this? Because things like their medical, financial and family information, when disclosed, can cause potential embarrassment and security problems. People also fear loss of control of this type of information.

Conceptual Model of Disclosure

The conceptual model of disclosure is a theory that states the consumer’s behaviour is influenced by both their perceived risk of disclosing their information and the trust they have with the company.

Conceptual Model of Disclosure

Privacy Paradox Model

In reality, the consumer’s actual behaviour is more highly influenced by trust. This is why people disclose information even when they say they’re really concerned about their privacy.

Privacy Paradox Model

Figure 1 Norberg P., Horne D., and Horne D. 2007 The Privacy Paradox: Personal Information Disclosure Intentions versus Behaviors.

One of the problems is that people have a tendency to over-report their understanding of privacy issues and their willingness to act in order to protect them. There’s a disjoint between users attitudes and opinions and their actual behaviours and experiences online.

This was tested in an “e-commerce experiment” to understand how privacy indicators affect the users decision-making process.

Ecommerce test

Above: Screenshot from e-commerce experiment (Jensen C., Potts C., Jensen C. 2005 Privacy practices of Internet users: Self-report versus observed behavior).

They observed that consumers tend to disclose personal information more easily than they claim to do. What the research highlights is that users self-reported experiences don’t match with their actual online behaviour. What clearly emerged is the importance of “trust-marks” in the interaction between users and digital interfaces.
Trust-marks → factors which may not say anything about the site’s privacy practices, but which are interpreted as such by users.

Users appear to live a “double bind” relationship in dealing with privacy issues on digital interfaces, and this is affecting their decision-making process in purchasing online. The Double Bind theory (Bateson G. 1950) in psychology is defined as a conflicting communication dilemma in which the message doesn’t match with the observed behavior; that causes an emotionally distorted and frustrated reaction in the individual.

Tips to improve trust, acquire more data and lessen abandonment

Here follows some tips that could help interfaces designers in dealing with the paradox, avoiding frustration and consequent abandon in purchasing online.

Visible link to a privacy policy

It has a major effect on purchasing behavior, even though, according to the study, only a quarter of the policies were consulted. In most cases, users had more confidence in a site simply because it had a policy (the impact a policy has is of course more powerful when it is read, but it is not negligible when it is not). Policies are important, not just because of what they say, but because they are there.

Netflights Privacy Policy
• Credit card icons

Even if it does not in fact imply any promise of fraud prevention or privacy protection, consumers find these icons reassuring.

Netflights Credit Card Icons
• Show a contact phone number

Preference for phone information over mailing or email information. Consumers feel reassured to see a phone number to contact the company if any problems occur during the transaction.

Netflights Contact Info
• Development of policy simplifications and standardised indicators

Implement standardized, simple visual indicators for the risks users are exposed to.

It is interesting to note the strong effect policies have despite the fact that users rarely read them. Just having a link to a policy makes a difference. This indicates that in many cases it is the presence of a policy that has a positive effect on users, not its content. Users are looking for “trustworthiness”, not based only on fact but rather on appearance and first impression.

Keep It Usable app wins award and goes to 10 Downing Street

ClinTouch Mobile App

ClinTouch wins Outstanding Innovation award

Designed in collaboration with Keep It Usable, ClinTouch was recently the subject of a meeting hosted by David Cameron’s senior health policy advisor at 10 Downing Street, to consider the impact that digital technology could have in improving the nation’s health. ClinTouch is an easy to use app that provides an innovative new way of supporting people with psychosis, enabling early intervention and significant cost reductions for the NHS. This revolutionary digital intervention, developed by Manchester University empowers self-management for people with psychosis and reduces serious episodes occurring, improving the lives of individual patients and reducing NHS service costs, such as unplanned admissions and A&E presentations.

Significant cost savings for the NHS

Cost savings for the NHS are significant: Earlier intervention services in psychosis have the potential to save the NHS £119m over three years (Schizophrenia Commission Report). The ClinTouch mobile app is an end-to-end digital solution that improves communication and closes the information gap between patient and practitioner. This empowers service users to be more active in their care and recovery. This prevention is aided by utilising real-time data and alerting professionals of significant changes in their patient’s symptoms.

ClinTouch-Screens-Keep-It-Usable

Rich data and analytics

Through the app, users are prompted to record their symptoms and feelings. A unique and bespoke branch of questions then follows ensuring that each question asked is relevant with a graphical bank of user-friendly analytics immediately available for the patient to consider and review. This digital data-log can then be used to help identify any lifestyle or environmental triggers that prompt the onset of symptoms. ClinTouch has been built into an end-to-end system in two NHS mental health Trusts, with summary data accessible at clinical team desktops and streamed into e-healthcare records. If early warning signs for relapse occur, healthcare professionals can act to enable early intervention.

Manchester University, Manchester City Council, NHS, Manchester Mental Health

A cash-less future? Insights from MoneyConf

Having just returned from MoneyConf, we’re feeling incredibly excited about the future of banking, currencies, payments and FinTech. The next 10 years will be a game changer for the banking and payments industries. It will also be a transformational time for consumers who will see the gradual disappearance of physical money, replaced with virtual wallets and mobile payments.

Banks – Innovate or fail

Banks Innovate or fail

However if you work in a bank, you may have more cause for concern than excitement. Where other industries are innovating, some banks have only just woken up to the importance of digital and many are already rapidly falling behind. It’s not surprising when you consider that their major sources of income are based on experiences that are poor for the customer. Yes there is a reason why they don’t warn you when you’re near to going into your overdraft or there’s a higher interest current account that they could switch you over to.

Figures from Harvard Business School predict that based on past statistics, only 8% of the banks around today will still be here in 10 years. Why? Because they will fail to innovate. Innovation doesn’t make the corporate agenda because in good times, ‘there’s no reason for innovation’ and in bad times ‘there’s no money for innovation’. New startups that are more focussed on building technology that helps customers and gives them a better experience will have increased adoption. If banks fail to innovate themselves, they’ll need to look to buying out some of the technology that startups are bringing to the table, or risk being left behind.

Financial services

Mobile will continue to grow

Mobile will continue to grow

However, customers still don’t trust mobile…

Customers still don't trust mobile

Need to focus on Omnichannel

Brands will need to focus even more on the whole customer journey across devices and the physical store.

Need to focus on Omnichannel

Virtual wallets are coming!

This is one we’ve been waiting for. No need to carry cash around with you anymore. No need to even carry cards with you anymore. Mobile payments have arrived and in 10 years time expect them to be fully mainstream. If you’re a purse manufacturer you may want to focus on handbags in the future!

Virtual wallets are coming!

The problem for merchants and consumers will be too much choice.

Too much choice

And customer education, as people aren’t familiar with wallets yet.

Customer education

Mobile payments using NFC

For physical retailers, the future of POS payments will be mobile payments using NFC to make the transaction quick and simple.

Mobile payments with NFC

Contactless payments have grown rapidly over the last few years, with massive growth last year that’s set to continue. With consumers growing used to this new behaviour (if you’re in London you’re even more familiar with contactless through your daily use of the tube) using NFC to pay via your mobile seems to be a natural next step. We can expect those technologies that work alongside the user’s existing learned behaviour to be adopted more quickly and potentially more successfully.

Contactless payments

Digital money is here

Bitcoin. Have you heard of it? Controversial but this digital currency could well be the future. Bitcoin was created in 2009 and behaves just as a physical currency does. It can be bought and sold, transferred to others, it can go up and down in value and it can be used to purchase goods. In the future, we may well be paying for things using Bitcoins.

How Bit coin Works

A cash-less future?

It looks like the future may well be one that doesn’t involve physical cash. Payments will be so easy to make virtually that we may find physical coins and notes gradually disappear. Future generations may only understand money in the form of digits. How do you feel about this?

With the increasing adoption of mobile wallets and mobile payments, we’ll also see the disappearance of card payments and with it, the need to own a wallet.

And beyond mobile payments, expect to see biometrics coming into effect. Can you imagine paying for your coffee using just a scan of your fingerprint? Or your eyes?

Will banks still exist or will peer 2 peer replace them? How will banks innovate to keep up with the rapid technology startups are bringing to the table?

One thing’s for sure, good user experience will prevail.

How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences

Digital platforms and technology allow us to do things quicker and easier. Well, that’s the theory. The reality can often be far from this. How many times have you been looking for information only to give up and visit a competitor site? Unfortunately, badly structured websites and complicated software are all too commonplace. We’ve been spoilt by the likes of Apple and expect this simple, effective and affective user experience across all our interactions with technology.

Customers want experiences “that dazzle their senses, touch their hearts and stimulate their minds” (Schmitt, 1999)

Our relationship with technology affects our emotions and quality of life. Therefore, in order to provide users with positive and satisfying experiences, understanding their emotional responses is a necessity. Experiential marketing assumes that customers take functional features, benefits and quality as a given.

How do we make users like it?

Making users like something is not as easy as you might think. The qualities of physical products, websites, software and other digital media can be classified into two distinct groups (for this we’ll look at the work of Hassenzahl et al. 2000):

1 Pragmatic qualities

Pragmatic qualities relate to practicality and functionality.

Manipulation

Manipulation refers to the functionality and how that functionality is accessed, i.e. the usability. At a very basic level, can it do what it needs to do? A consequence of pragmatic qualities is satisfaction. Satisfaction occurs when a user uses a product or service to achieve certain goals and those goals are met.

Examples of attributes that are typically assigned to websites (and software in general) are “supporting,” “useful,” “clear” and “controllable.” The purpose should be clear and the user should understand how to use it.

2 Hedonic qualities

Hedonic qualities refer to the psychological needs and emotional experience of the user.

Hedonic qualities are divided into three categories:

Stimulation

Users want to be stimulated in order to enjoy their experience with your site, software or product. Rarely used functions can stimulate the user and satisfy the human urge for personal development and more skills. Digital experiences can provide insights and surprises, for example, if after a period of time a feature hasn’t yet been used, the software could inform the user via a quick tip.

Identification

The human need for expressing ourselves through objects to control how you want to be perceived by others. We all have a desire to communicate our identity to others and we do this through the things we own and the things we use. They help us to express ourselves; who we are, what we care about and who we aspire to be. This is why people enjoy using personalisation on sites such as Twitter. Changing our background wallpaper and header image, helps us to express ourselves.

Evocation

Which memories and feelings does the experience evoke?
Evocation refers to the symbolic meanings that the experience has on our memories and our background. The visual aesthetics of a website may remind you of a past experience. For example, a travel website with a background image of a beach, might bring back memories of a past holiday and all the feelings (most likely highly positive) associated with that experience. As we all have different experiences in our lives, what we feel when we look at an identical website will be unique to us, the individual.

It is the combined pragmatic and hedonic aspects that form the appeal and the amount of appeal that a digital or physical platform has. 

Situation

The users’ experience also depends on the context of use. Where are they? What do they need to do? How many times have they used it? Who are they with? How much time do they have to do what they need to do?

The first time a user tries an application, they may experience some confusion and minor issues, leaving with a slightly negative experience. However, when they become more familiar with all the features and how to access them, they will become more emotionally attached to it, and therefore each use becomes a pleasant user experience. This can be problematic within User Experience design as a poor, inefficient interface may be disliked by it’s users but they can be reluctant to change it because they have learnt how to use it. Therefore their perceived effort to deal with the change and the additional learning is deemed greater than sticking with the poorly designed current system.

Designer's and User's perspectives

Which feelings are felt with a good user experience?

The most satisfying user experiences are related to positive emotions such as, enthusiasm, pride, interest and inspiration. These positive emotional responses are all related to the hedonic qualities of the product: for example enthusiasm is connected to the stimulation dimension and pride is related to the identification quality. The hedonic qualities of interactions are those that make us feel  an experience is satisfying.

In contrast, users who feel irritated, hostile and upset experience more pragmatic (usability) and technical problems.

Emotions and user experience: a recent study

Recent research by Tampere University in Finland (Partala & Kallinen) about the emotional aspects of users’ experience highlights how the most satisfying experiences are related to positive emotions, those that fulfil our psychological needs and are more personal to us.

Our sense of time changes with pleasurable experiences

When people enjoy the most satisfying user experiences, such as playing Angry Birds, they typically report feeling not especially hurried and people often lose track of time. In psychology we refer to this as entering a state of ‘flow’. However, when an experience is frustrating and unsatisfying, a moderate level of urgency is felt and time may appear to go slower.

Satisfying experience and psychological needs

Users that have a satisfying digital experience will report emotions connected to the fulfilment of the most important psychological needs:

Autonomy “I make my own choices and decisions”

Competence “I can do this”

Selfesteem “This makes me feel good about myself”

Relatedness “This is connected to my needs”

As supported in the psychological theory of Self Determination (Deci & Ryan, 2000), the fulfilment of these needs emphasises psychological growth, integrity and wellbeing. An individual’s experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness is argued to foster the most high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity. So if you want to create engagement or you want to motivate your users, perhaps to change their current behaviour or habits, then you should look to how you can utilise psychological needs.

Understand users and exceed expectations

Nowadays, users are not only looking for efficiency and good usability. What makes the user experience unique and enjoyable is making people feel confident, stimulated and surprised. Connect with your users on an emotional level.

Observing behaviour, analysing and asking users to reflect on their own experiences through user research offers the opportunity to design experiences that satisfy the user’s true needs, leaving them with an experience that exceeds expectations, creates long term engagement, increases brand value and ‘wows!’. People will then use your website or app not because they have to but because they want to.

Keep It Usable shortlisted for Online Business Award

Keep It Usable Salford Business Awards 2015

We’re super excited to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for another award! This time it’s for the Online Business Award (Salford Business Awards), which recognises organisations that have effectively used technology to create a significant difference.

Ricardo says “We’re very proud to have been shortlisted for the online award. We continually make a significant difference to our clients businesses, helping top brands within the UK and internationally to be more successful online. We use a unique combination of highly specialist skills coupled with our many years of experience to improve online user experience and conversion. We’ve also been busy pioneering our own software. It’s great to be recognised locally with such a fantastic award.”

Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion 

call-to-actions

What are call to action buttons?

When designing an interface, one of the main goals of the designer, is to ensure that the end user is able to clearly understand what they should do next and where each click will lead them. Call to action buttons are essential to this dynamic, as these buttons are what guide the user through the interface.

The very name of the button, call to action, states there is a necessity for the person engaging with the interface to be stimulated to perform a task. In this case, the designer wants the user to press a button: to make it more enticing so that more visitors will convert. Therefore, your call-to-action buttons should be usable, but they also need to be actively persuasive to encourage more clicks and higher conversion.

Do they really make a difference?

Call to action buttons are the biggest A/B tests run by businesses (they make up around 30% of all tests). The difference between a poor and a great CTA can be anything from a few percent to a few hundred percent and more!

The internet is full of examples of how successful a good CTA can be. Take a look at Which Test Won for some great examples that you can interact with and test your own predictions of which CTA converted better.

So, let’s take a quick look at how we can make these buttons more enticing.

Psychology tips to increase conversion

1 Colour psychology

Colour plays a very important role in determining the pull of your button. The colour you choose can determine who clicks, how many times they click, and how quickly they click.

colour_psychology

For example:

– Females tend to prefer the colours purple, green and blue, while men tend to prefer blue green and black

– Blue is a colour considered to build trust while yellow tends to signify a warning.

These signifiers and others should be taken into account when designing CTA buttons to ensure the right audience is drawn to ‘click’. Not only is it important to choose the right colour, but to ensure that the entire page or interface is aesthetically pleasing. Consider the background colour of your template to ensure colours don’t clash and your button isn’t lost in the background.

2 Placement psychology 

You want your call to action button to stand out on the page, otherwise it will get lost amongst other elements and suffer from less clicks. If your button has an important message, ensure that it is positioned where it will stand out.

You also want your users to understand what happens when they click on your button. It can be a good idea to introduce your button with accompanying short text to support why the user should click it, what are the benefits for them?

Spotify

 

3 Visual psychology

The shape and overall design of the button is where one can get creative, but it is good to keep in mind particular ideas that could add to the ‘clickability’ of the button.

Take into consideration the following:

People like curves. It has been found that rounded corners draw attention to the inside of the button, whereas square edges draw attention away from the centre. Neuro-aesthetics researchers have found that people prefer rounded shapes and these shapes actually cause more activity in the visual cortex (Bar, M., & Neta, M. (2006). Humans prefer curved visual objects. Psychological Science, 17(8), 645-648).

Size = Importance. The size of the button should be determined by how important that particular action is to be carried out.

 

4 Wording psychology

The importance of the message plays a huge part in determining the design of the button. In an increasingly fast paced society, the concept of reading long text becomes less and less appealing. As a result, one wants to ensure that the call to action button is as specific as possible, and gets the message across in the shortest amount of time.

How do we do that?

Be specific. Consider what you want the user to do and use a command to describe the button. For example, buy, watch, download etc. However, take note that some of the bigger conversions come from using less generic and more specific phrases, such as the one below.

CTA-button-test-1

image source

Keep it simple. Professionalism doesn’t necessarily mean big words and difficult commands. Simple commands make it easy for the user to know what to do and what comes next and allows for a smooth transition through the interface.

Clarity. If necessary, include a simple message on the button to clarify any ambiguity that may be there from the command. Through simplicity is important, clarity is essential.

Speak the users language. The larger increases in conversion come from analyzing what your customers really need. In user research we recommend listening to the language they themselves use to explore their mental model and what resonates with them.

Free is one of the biggest persuaders to motivate action so if your service is free or has a free trial, make it obvious for the user to see.

 

5 Emotional psychology

It is important to keep in mind the emotions you want your end user to feel while scrolling through your interface. Whether it be a sense of urgency, pity or excitement, you want to give them a reason to click on your button. Think about what calls you to action and why. Why did you buy those shoes on the internet? Was it because they were on a one day sale, or because they were only available online? Our minds are triggered into action by emotions as well as a perceived sense of need to perform an action. With your button, you have the opportunity to develop a sense of need or create a sense of urgency or desire to take your users to the next step.

Twitter

As humans, we’re pre-programmed to respond to images. They draw us in emotionally. The images you use alongside your CTA can play a huge role in creating the right emotion to engage users and increase uplifts.

 

Example: Basecamp

Basecamp use several techniques to increase the psychological pull of their CTA.

basecamp

Concise explanation with benefits, written in the user’s language (note the informality which makes for a friendly tone of voice), ‘Basecamp helps you wrangle people with different roles, responsibilities and objectives toward a common goal: Finishing a project together’.

– Social Proof to further persuade visitors to sign up. Social proof is evidence of other people using the service, in this case, the ‘4,869 companies signed up to use Basecamp just last week’.

Free. Yes they utilise the power of the word ‘free’ within their CTA.

Specific wording. Note how they could have just used generic ‘Sign up’ wording but they chose to go with a much more personal feel ‘Use Basecamp free for 2 months – it’s on us’. Did you spot the reciprocity there too? The way they bring out the ‘it’s on us’ makes it feel like they’re doing you a favour, psychologically when someone does something for you, you’re much more likely to reciprocate.

 

The exciting part!

Now that we’ve taken you through a number of techniques and examples to show how you can increase your conversion using effective CTAs, there’s just one thing left for you to do, and that’s to try a few of these on your own designs.

We’d love to hear how you get on and if you need any advice or have any questions, we’re always happy to help.

Psychology of Social Networks: What makes us addicted?

Psychology of Social Networks

Have you ever thought about the number of times you check social networks? Is it a few times a week? Once a day? Seventy-two percent of online adults use social media and the average user spends 23 hours a week on social media – that’s the equivalent of a part time job!

We are living in the social media era. 

– 2 billion worldwide social network users

– 500 million tweets sent every day

– 70 million images uploaded on Instagram every day

– 300 hours of video uploaded per minute on YouTube

What makes us so addicted?

Social networks are an extension of ourselves.

Communication occurs during interaction, and our need to be connected and interact with others is universal and unavoidable; hidden behind this social instinct there is the even more powerful necessity of giving sense and meanings to our world. Being in touch with others, allows us to create social universes made of symbols – e.g. language, numbers, gestures, emoticons :) – and social rules, which are shared and understood by everybody.

Social validation is an important part of being human. A Facebook ‘Like’ or a Twitter ‘Favourite’ is a social signal that makes us feel good.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a large driver of social network use, particularly for those aged thirty and under. Sixty-seven percent of users say that they’re afraid they’ll “miss something.” Dr Stephanie Rutledge explains:

We have a brain wired for collaboration, compromise, restraint, comprehending and managing one’s place in shifting-alliances. We notice when others are doing something that excludes us. It will trigger some primitive survival responses. People under 30 are still in the period when they are establishing their own lives, developing personal and professional identities, becoming economically viable (creating alliances), etc. Their focus will of necessity be social.

Ego needs a platform to showcase itself and social networks are the perfect answer. Eighty percent of our online conversations are self-disclosure, compared to 30 to 40 percent of offline conversations. We live in a ‘Me’ society with an obsession of the ‘self’ that drives us to update our status and tag ourselves in photos (but only those that we look good in of course).

Social comparison and self esteem increase. People compare themselves to assess feelings, strengths, weaknesses, abilities and perspectives. Having your social connections reaffirmed makes you feel good.

Brain chemistry. Social networks are physically addictive as well as psychologically. A study from Harvard University showed that self-disclosure online fires up a part of the brain that also lights up when taking an addictive substance, like cocaine.

Communication is to be human

One cannot not communicate (Watzlawick & the Palo Alto School, 1967) is one of the reasons adopted in social and clinical psychology. The social world is socially constructed through interactions between people: roles, rules, categorisations, stereotypes, normality, deviance are results of human sharing, the outcome of our being humans.

Woman using iPhone in upscale New York restaurant

Social networks have the power to amplify this human nature. They have broken the barriers of distance and time, of presence and visibility. They expand the possibilities of sharing and playing identities. They fulfil the most deeply human need of finding a psychological distinctiveness and self-definition in a social context.

They become stages where observing, examining, take part to the “social staging”; the script interpreted is made by interactional dynamics, social rules, emotions and so on;

An extension of our offline world

Facebook profiles become teenagers’ “virtual bedrooms” (Hodkinson and Lincoln, 2008), meant as virtual environments to be personalised, to meet peers and play at adulthood. Several studies demonstrate that users experience the interaction on social media as an extension of their offline social relationships, as a supplement to their real life, and not as a substitution of it.

Social networks are an extension of our most deep psychological instinct, being social

Social networks become stages with no time and no space.

In conclusion, “all media are extensions of some human faculty” (Marshall McLuhan). Social networks are an extension of our most deep psychological instinct, being social.

Social Media

References
  • Paul WatzlawickJanet Beavin BavelasDon D. Jackson (1967). Pragmatics of Human Communication: A Study of Interactional Patterns, Pathologies and Paradoxes. Norton & Company Inc, NY.
  • Tajfel, H. (1974). Social identity and intergroup behavior. Social Science Information,13, 65-93. 
  • Hodkinson, P., Lincoln, S. (2008). Online Journals as Virtual Bedrooms? Young People, Identity and Personal Space. Young, 16(1) pp.27-46.
  • McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media: The Extensions Of Man. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

What’s the real difference? Face-to-face versus Remote user testing

Have you ever wondered what the real difference is between remote unmoderated user testing (like usertesting.com and whatusersdo) and face-to-face user testing? Which method should you use, when and what for? There is a huge difference in these two techniques and the end results so let’s take a look at them both in greater depth.

Face-to-face

Interviews conducted face-to-face with target users, often in a lab setting or in-context, for example in the person’s home to make them feel more at ease and uncover more realistic feedback and issues. The interviews are a two-way conversation guided by a trained researcher.

Usability testing

The positives

– Can be conducted at any stage of the design process, even before you have any UI in place. Gathering very early feedback will save time and cost later!

– Conducted by a researcher as a two way conversation, giving the opportunity to question answers given and behaviour observed.

– Very rich data. The opportunity to question users enables you to discover deep insights and more potential barriers to conversion.

– Greater team collaboration. When observing lab research, the team are together in an accompanying observation room. This increases design collaboration and buy-in for changes.

– See the user and their reactions. Face-to-face interviews use technology that can record the user as well as their interactions, so you can see their facial expressions and real time responses. This can make the videos much more powerful – it’s harder to ignore the feedback if you can see a real person and you know they’re just sat in the next room!

– Discover deeper problems and opportunities. The researcher can spend a portion of the interview understanding behaviour and underlying psychological motivations, these can often open up greater opportunities than just examining the UI in isolation.

– If a user stops thinking out loud (this is quite common), the researcher can prompt them or follow up with another question.

– Gain environmental, contextual and personality insights (if the research is conducted in context).

When should I use this method?

– You want to understand current user behaviour, needs, wants and concerns.

– You want feedback on early concept ideas, which you should pursue and why.

– You want to test sketches or lo-fidelity mockups.

– Throughout a project when you need to more deeply understand user behaviour and interaction.

– When you need to get stakeholder buy-in. They’re much more highly influenced when they’re sat in a room together, observing real people struggle to use their UI.

– If you want to benefit from the expertise of a UX researcher to run the session and to help recommend changes that will successfully engage users.

– When you need to establish rapport with users to encourage trust to discuss things they might not disclose if just speaking into a computer.

– If you want more authentic results.

– If the tasks and feedback will take longer than 15 minutes.

The drawbacks

Your research is only as good as the person conducting it. Face-to-face relies heavily on the research capabilities of the researcher. If someone with little experience runs research, there is a greater risk of them asking leading questions, not establishing rapport and missing key identifiers for insights to further pursue. They are also more likely to express interviewer bias – where they impose their beliefs and expectations subconsciously on the user and therefore influence their responses. It takes years of practice to conduct great user interviews but great interviews give better output.

– If your testing requires a large number of participants, face-to-face testing will quickly become very expensive. It works best for small scale, qualitative research (5-15 people).

– It generally takes longer than remote testing.

Remote unmoderated testing

Tasks and questions are planned in advance so that the user can complete them in a small amount of time (usually 15 minutes) in their own time at home. This is a one way method (no researcher involved) with users required to think aloud as they complete tasks.

Remote unmoderated usability testing

The Positives

– Cheap

– Quick

– User is in their environment on their device (note: face-to-face can also be performed in context)

– Cheaper for collecting large samples.

– No researcher needed (note: this could also be seen as a negative)

When should I use this method?

– If you need very quick results.

– Your budget is too small for face-to-face.

– If you just need to test a small aspect of your UI, something that can be explored in 15 minutes.

– You need a larger number of responses to backup qualitative face-to-face research with greater significance.

– You aren’t researching difficult, complex flows or sensitive issues.

– You’re main focus is on identifying easy to find usability issues and not deeper problems, insights or psychological barriers to conversion.

– When your UI is higher fidelity.

The drawbacks

– One way method, no active questioning. If the user misinterprets the question or gets stuck on something they can’t recover from, no one can put them back on track and help them. You also have to try and pre-empt the problem they might encounter in order to ask the right questions in the first place, this allows no chance to pursue interesting things they may do or say.

– Limited to around 15 minutes. This limits the amount of feedback you can gather and the depth of questioning. It can feel like the user’s just got themselves settled into the research and they’re giving some great feedback, then before you know it, the session has ended.

– Doesn’t record the user so you won’t get to see their facial reactions or body language.

– Higher risk of expert and money-motivated users. Some of the users may participate in many tests therefore becoming experts, others may be highly motivated by the payment and they’ll fly through the tasks without getting into the correct mindset.

– Users focussed on usability. As people sign up through the testing website, people are sometimes aware that the focus is on usability and user experience and you’ll hear them mention ‘usability’ and other terms a real consumer just wouldn’t pick up on.

– Thinking out loud can be quite a difficult skill to maintain. Once their cognitive resources are concentrated on the task in hand it’s easy to forget to think aloud. In face-to-face the interviewer can prompt them, but in remote, the user is on their own.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Understandably it feels very comfortable doing remote testing. You are more in charge, you can control the tasks and questions and even the end videos – if one user is particularly scathing there may be the temptation to not show that video to the team.

However, if it’s the only method you use you will always be limiting yourself to the top level issues you can find based on the tasks and questions you define (do you see how you’re already biasing your own results with your own expectations?). There’s also the limitation of the 15 minute sessions, as well as your own ability to analyse this sessions appropriately and suggest recommendations that will give the most effective results.

If you’ve never tried face-to-face research we’d strongly advise you give it a go. Yes some of it might be uncomfortable to hear but mostly, it will be an eye opening and inspiring experience! You’ll feel more connected to your customers, you’ll feel more connected as team, and you’ll go away with tonnes of new ideas to make your user experience and conversion much better!

Need help?

If you are in any doubt as to which method is right for you, or if you would like to find out more about how face-to-face could help you, feel free to get in touch and one of our experts will happily help you.

WIBA Award Keep It Usable

Another award shortlist for Keep It Usable

We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ve another award in our midst! This time it’s our founder, Lisa, who has been shortlisted for the North West Women in Business awards (WIBA) STEM category. STEM aims to recognise women who work in the traditionally male dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Lisa says “I’m very proud to be representing women in the STEM category. There’s still an under representation of women in the digital and tech scene. Certain sectors I work in are highly male dominated and I would love to see more women with the belief that they can enter these sectors.”

Best of luck Lisa!

We’d also like to give recognition to the amazing work of Ladies That UX. A group set up by Lizzie Dyson and Georgie Bottomley to support women who work in the UX field. Thank you for your continued support!