Although Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in Britain, Europe and the US, the biggest day for online shopping worldwide is ‘Singles day’ in China.
Singles Day was created in China to celebrate single people. It’s held every year on the 11th November, 11.11, with the number 1 symbolising the single individual. This day has gradually become one of the biggest online shopping events i.n the world.
Alibaba Group made Singles Day synonymous with people treating themselves to gifts and last year they recorded sales of £9.4 billion during the 24 hour event (The Guardian).
Alibaba’s Singles Day sales continue to climb every year, reaching this years record figure of $17.8 billion (£14 billion).
In the last few years, several European brands have joined Singles Day. Dyson went on board in 2014 and Macy’s, Hugo Boss and United Biscuits joined the in 2015.
Waitrose entered the Chinese market in April this year, they said: “Singles Day is a big occasion for consumers and businesses in China and has the potential to give the products we offer more exposure and provide another opportunity to test demand for our brand.”
2016 Singles Day sales figure are four times that of worldwide Black Friday sales (source).
Interestingly, mobile devices play a large part in Singles Day’s success. Alibaba reported 82% of purchases had been made on mobile phones during Singles Day. “In contrast, many Black Friday opportunities are concentrated on the high street, which is not always convenient for those just wanting to shop from home, on their mobile or from more rural areas” Wing Chan, group marketing director of The Hut Group.
The exponential growth of mobile and the already observed shift online of British shoppers suggests that Black Friday will continue to grow online; this year 64% of purchases took place on mobile devices (22.7% on tablets, 41.7% on mobile), which is 16% more than the previous year (source).
This is a big opportunity for retailers in the UK and Europe. Investing and focusing your business growth on mobile clearly reflects customer’s current shopping behaviour and desires. Not only that but it can also convert more highly – on Black Friday, mobile optimised websites had a 30% increase in sales and a 25% higher average order value.
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In 4 days it will be Friday the 25th November, better known to the world as Black Friday.
Black Friday has become very popular in Europe, with retailers using it to kick start shoppers into buying their Christmas purchases. In fact, it’s now so popular that retailers have extended it to Black Friday week! With more sales than boxing day, it’s a huge event for retail.
However, fresh on it’s tail is a sales day that originates from China called Singles Day (there’ll be more about this in our next post out very soon, stay tuned!), first let’s take a look at this years Black Friday predictions.
The popularity of Black Friday is growing faster in Europe and sales have increased dramatically over the years.
Around 14 million English customers will join the 24 hour sale, spending £2.3 million a minute, according to vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.
£6.77 billionforecast to be spent over the Black Friday peak period (Monday 21 – Monday 28 November 2016)
£1.27 billion to be spent on Black Friday (+16% higher than 2015)
£3.45 billion (51%) of total sales will be completed through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)
According to a survey by PwC (on 2000 adults), people intend to spend more on Electrical and Technology items and Christmas related products.
Top 10 categories shoppers will spend the most money on (PwC)
Around three fifths (57%) of consumers that were planning a purchase said they were now holding off in anticipation of getting a better deal on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
Your opportunity: Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers have the biggest increase in predicted spend for 2016’s Black Friday. Recent research we conducted with this audience showed they are really into deals and discounts so now they’re getting more aware of and familiar with Black Friday this is showing in their huge increased predicted spend for 2016. Looking at their predicted spending growth compared to other age groups, this is a big opportunity for retailers and we would advise keeping a close eye on baby boomers in 2017 if you aren’t already. As they become more tech savvy, more comfortable with online spending and familiar with events such as Black Friday, they will be a huge growing market for retail. Remember they have a lot of spare cash and are very brand loyal customers (trust and quality are very important to them).
Average predicted spend by age range (PwC)
Want to know about the results of our recent Baby Boomer Research? Send us a quick message and we’ll let you know when we publish the results so you can be the first to read all about them!
Black Friday extended
Black Friday started out as a single day of discounting activity, which then became a weekend in 2014, an extended period in 2015 and is now spanning an entire week in 2016.
Amazon and other online retailers have realised that spreading shipment of orders into early November will positively impact customers’ satisfaction. Amazon has extended it’s Black Friday promotions to almost two weeks. In 2015, on Black Friday, the retailer sold more than 7.4m items in the UK. This was a record for Amazon, and sales equated to 86 items a second! This year, it will offer double the number of deals compared to last year.
Many other retailers have followed Amazon. For example, Debenhams, Sharps, Boots, Feel Unique and more have extended their Black Friday to an entire week of discounts.
The shift to online
Shoppers are choosing to look for deals online instead of the high street (64% online vs 17% in store), to overcome the chaotic scenes seen in shops in previous years (for more insights about shopping behaviour on Black Friday, check out our blog post Black Friday: Consumer psychology of grabbing a bargain) and never-ending waiting times at the till.
Retailers are now trying to spread out consumer spending. In past years, Black Friday has been typified by crazy situations in stores with shoppers fighting to pick up discounts, and websites crashing due to the enormous number of visitors.
Last year, the technical difficulties forced some consumers to head to the high street, however a lot of them left very disappointed as they couldn’t get the deals they expected to find online, with some customers even finding it cheaper and more convenient to click and collect via their mobile in store rather than purchase at the till.
Courier companies are struggling to cope with the rush of online orders, with Hermes asking 5,000 staff to work up to 20 days without a break to deal with the amount of parcels. The couriers’ working conditions really worried the Health and Safety Executive that has been mobilised “to ensure the company’s actions do not put the safety of its couriers as well as road users at risk” (The Guardian, 20th Nov 2016).
We’re very excited today because it’s World Usability Day (and we are Keep It Usable after all). It’s a special day that aims to raise awareness of the importance of usability and educate people about what usability is. It brings together professionals and non-professionals throughout the world with one aim:
To ensure that technology helps people live to their full potential, and that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use in order to create a better world for all citizens everywhere
Usability unfortunately now gets overshadowed by it’s sexier cousin ‘UX’, however, we mustn’t forget that once upon a time (and not so long ago) the term UX didn’t exist at all, and in it’s place was good old ‘Usability’. Usability is still vitally critical to any design, so before we get on to your free mobile usability checklist, let’s have a quick look at usability…
What is usability and how’s it different from UX?
Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object such as a tool or device. In the digital context, usability is the degree to which a digital interface can be used by specified consumers to achieve objectives with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specific context of use.
Put simply, usability is how easy or difficult something is to use. Usability and UX are often used synonymously, but they are in fact different, so let’s have a quick look at how we can distinguish between the two… A simple way to think about it is to remember that user experience encompasses the whole experience a person (in this case referred to as a user) has with a brand’s digital components (it’s worth noting that the term Customer Experience is used to define offline touchpoints too). Usability is just one part that makes up this experience. Other aspects of UX could include things like the brand, marketing, customer service, live chat, content, pricing, visual design, etc. The User Experience honeycomb (Peter Morville) shown in the image below, illustrates usability as just one of seven parts of UX (read this post about what UX is and the benefits).
So, nowadays, UX is used to describe the overarching process and interaction with the product, whilst usability is more about whether a task can be achieved in a satisfactory and timely manner. In fact, if we look at the international usability standard ISO 9241, it defines usability solely as efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. Norman and Nielsen take the definition a little further, saying that “usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use”, and that it is defined by 5 components:
Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can people recover from the errors?
Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use?
Usability is crucial to your success
For most companies, checking their usability is a basic hygiene factor for survival. Users have no patience to put up with bad user interfaces or hard to use products, they no longer try to work it out themselves, they head off to your competitor who does what you do but they do it simpler, easier and quicker. If you don’t provide good usability you’re effectively sending your customers to your competitors. If those customers came to you through PPC, congratulations, you’ve also paid money to send those lost customers to your competition! A small investment in usability testing pays off massively in both the short and long term.
What are the benefits of usability testing?
Conducting usability testing will:
Increase sales and conversion: your user interfaces will be more effective at selling your products/service and therefore will increase your sales.
Improve credibility and trust in the brand: good UX is associated with increased brand appeal and positive brand associations.
Decrease bounce rates: people bounce for many reasons. During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible will be identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
Avoid costly redesign: testing the product in the early stages of the design process and identifying usability issues at the earliest stage will avoid redesign costs later on and lost revenue.
Improve user satisfaction: a satisfying user experience is related to positive emotions due to the fulfilment of fundamental psychological human needs: self-esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness (Self-determination Theory, Deci & Ryan). Moreover, the feeling of satisfaction gathered during a positive user experience, will create an emotional and affective bond between users and your brand, as well as a sense of engagement and motivation to use your brand in the future (for more about how to engage with your customers emotions, take a look at ‘How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences’).
So, how do you test usability?
Typically, usability is measured relative to users’ performance on a given set of test tasks. The most basic measures of usability are based on the following metrics:
Success rate (whether users can perform the task at all)
Task completion time
Users’ subjective satisfaction
So, you’re basically measuring whether people can complete a task, how long it takes them, how many errors they make (and their classification), and how satisfied people feel after completing (or failing to complete) the task. It is crucial to recruit a representative sample of your target users in your usability test. The recruitment process should screen and select the people that could be your users/customers. There is no point testing the usability of, for instance, your ecommerce website with people that would never buy the products you sell. For this reason, it’s crucial to define personas that will lead the screening process to recruit the sample of users that fit your demographics (to read more about personas and how to create them, check out this post).
When to usability test…
Usability plays a role in each stage of the design process. Testing the usability of your interface or your industrial design with your users should be an ongoing process, that starts from the early phases of concept ideation, through to final launch. It’s worth considering that people’s behaviour, attitudes, needs and expectations change over time and so should your product / service so it’s good practise to run regular usability tests to continuously implement and improve your designs.
Test your current design. If you have a design in place currently, test it first to identify what you should keep or emphasise, and the barriers and obstacles that give users problems.
Test your competitors to gather insights about their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for you.
Conduct user testing on prototypes. You don’t need to spend too much time designing prototypes, they can be lo-fidelity because you will need to change them based on your usability test results.
Develop the most successful prototype idea, informing the design of the interface with the findings gathered from continuous testing throughout the design process to refine the design.
Test your final design before launch to capture any new issues that may have entered through the visual design process.
Keep testing. Keeping your interfaces updated requires design changes – these should be tested to ensure you’re not creating new problems.
Mobile usability: Your biggest opportunity awaits!
Smartphones are now the core of our daily lives and are in the pockets of 66% of UK adults. 90% of 16-24 year olds own one, but don’t discount the older generation! 55-64 year olds are also joining the smartphone revolution, with ownership in this age group more than doubling since 2012, from 19% to 50% (keep an eye out in the new year for our latest Baby Boomers mobile shopping experience research or email us to request a free copy when it launches). Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report indicates that a third (33%) of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online.
Mobile is where consumer growth is
The rise of mobile is a predicted and inevitable trend so it is crucial for your website or app to be easy to use from the smaller screen of a smartphone. Not only will mobile growth continue, but we’ll also see mobile usage increase too. It’s something we’re noticing in our own consumer research: Users feel more comfortable browsing and purchasing on mobile devices as time progresses and they become more and more used to smartphones. We’re seeing this in the older generation too – do not discount them!
Get your FREE 50 point Mobile UX Checklist!
To celebrate World Usability Day and to encourage you to take advantage of the continued growth in mobile, we’re giving away copies of a 50 point mobile ux checklist! Download it and you will find a set of useful guidelines to check your mobile user experience.
Understanding your customer journey is key to success. However, with an increasing number of touchpoints, understanding your audience is getting more and more difficult. It’s critical to know not just their interests and opinions, but also their habits, behaviours and interaction points in both the online and offline worlds. With big ticket items, such as expensive holidays and luxury cars, the customer journey is even more complex to comprehend. Consumers decisions on these items are processed differently to lower value items, people take more time over the decision, compare more alternatives and refer to many trusted sources for advice, but how do they make a decision? Do these sources really make a difference? What psychological tips and tricks can you employ to sell big ticket items to consumers?
Why are high ticket purchase decisions different?
Unlike lower value items, high cost purchases are more risky purchases for a number of reasons:
High price. They cost more so it takes more time to save up and pay for the item, consumers want to make sure their hard earned money is not wasted on a bad decision.
High risk. When it comes to experience purchases such as the annual family holiday or a honeymoon, there is a great deal of pressure on the person booking to ensure the experience is memorable and that everyone has a great time.
Longevity. A car will be something that’s used daily, for a number of hours and will remain in their life for a number of years.
68 days is the average time it takes users to research high ticket purchases
The fragmented but shortening customer journey
The customer journey in the digital era is no longer linear. With the rise of digital technologies and the connectedness that typifies the shopping experience, the costumer decision making process has become more fragmented.
However, the customer journey is also showing signs of shortening for high price items. Research over the last few years shows that consumers may be becoming more decisive. This may be because evidence indicates they are researching much earlier and spending much longer in this stage of the process. From 2013 to 2015, the average time taken in the research phase decreased by 14% for high cost purchases, from 79 days to 68 days (GE Capital Retail Bank and Synchrony Financial).
User experience in the digital world is no doubt contributing to this shortening timeline. The more that digital experiences, such as websites and apps, are designed around user needs, the more likely it is that the customer’s questions and concerns are answered and they’ll more likely reach the moment of truth. The key is ensuring that your website is the one to do this so that you keep the customer in your website as opposed to them going back to Google and a competitor to meet their needs. You need to identify and prevent all those barriers that can make people bounce, and work to actively keep them engaged with your product.
Rational and irrational decision making
“95% of our decisions are emotional, and 5% are rational. So even with all of these touch points we tend to go with our gut.” (Kahneman)
In the decision making process we think we are being very rational, researching the product, collecting information, comparing what’s included and prices, reading reviews, looking at photos and watching videos… but unbeknownst to consumers, their final decision to purchase is driven by emotions (irrational).
M.Talks of Ignition One states “We may be getting more decisive, but it doesn’t mean we’re getting any more loyal. Perhaps we’re just using all the information to filter down to a decision, but it’s still going to be an emotional decision. We’re not going to be any more [rational] about it… with some items we’re going to look at all the facts a bit more, but we’re still going to go with our emotional reaction to things. When it comes to marketing, it’s all about how you feel. If you don’t feel towards a certain brand, then you don’t want anything to do with it. You want to make sure you’re playing up all of your marketing campaigns to play into those emotions. The thing about the big-ticket items where you have to make a big financial commitment is that naturally, you want to make more time about that decision and have as many opportunities to verify your decision as possible. But our decisions are mostly driven by emotion rather than rational thought.”
Still likely to purchase in-store, despite their increased use of digital
88% are likely to purchase a high priced item in-store, not online. So, despite the increased use of digital throughout the customer journey, the final transaction is mostly still being made in a physical store.
8 ways to convert high ticket consumers online
1. Focus on mobile customer experience
With 50% of consumers using their mobile at some point during the research and purchase of a high ticket item, it’s more important than ever to focus on your mobile customer experience. Mobile is by far the most difficult platform for brands to get right due to the small screen space, so it’s worthwhile investing in expert help to focus on analysing your online user experience, identifying barriers and opportunities to engage and convert your consumers.
2 Limit choice
The potential for your consumers suffering from the paradox of choice increases the more options you give them and the less likely they are to make a choice. And when they do finally make a choice they’ll be less satisfied with it – this is called Buyers Remorse. This is what happens when you book your holiday then a week later see a better deal that you wish you’d booked instead.
3 Have a clear call to action on each page
It’s important for you to guide your customer when they’re on your website. Have one clear call to action button for each page. If you need other buttons, make these secondary buttons by decreasing their visual appearance and enhancing the appearance of the primary button to clearly stand out on the page.
4 Use video
High consideration purchases are driven by emotions. “The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.” (Psychology Today). The best way for you to communicate emotion is through video.
People want to feel that their purchase is unique, tailored on their needs, something that makes them proud to show and tell others about. People enjoy the fun aspect of personalising their product to their needs. It’s an external reflection of themselves. It also enhances their commitment and likelihood to purchase – personalisation can deliver 5-10 times the ROI on marketing spend and increase sales by 10% or more (McKinsey, 2013).
6 Post purchase experience
The final purchase decision, especially for expensive purchases can be followed by buyers remorse; Have I made the right decision? Is it the best product? Buyer’s remorse (or buyer’s regret) is the sense of regret a person feels after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with expensive items or when when customers have made a choice from many different options. A feeling of self-doubt and remorse can emerge after the purchase process. To lessen the risk of buyers remorse, keep in touch with the customer after their purchase, reassuring them of the good decision they made to buy their product and the benefits it’s going to bring them. They will become a loyal customer. Also this goes without saying but ensure you send reminders to them to leave a review!
7 Giving meaningful context
Give context to your customers experience, make your product come alive in their eyes, giving meanings that are relevant and timely for them. In a study, international travellers were asked ‘How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death for any reason?’ versus ‘How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death in terror incident?’. Travellers were willing to pay more in the second condition because of the time and context (the unfortunate questions were asked during a period in which the risk of terror attacks was high).
8 Utilise Virtual Reality
To give customers the experience before purchasing. Car makers such as Audi are offering consumers virtual test drives that enable consumers to test drive their cars without the need to visit a showroom. This approach disrupts the standard customer journey of research then test drive, as consumers can fast track straight to the test drive before doing their research. Once consumers finally go for their real test drive it will feel like a familiar experience and remove some of the friction, resulting in a higher chance of purchase. Fashion retailers are already looking at how VR could help to ease changing room friction and queues and utilising technology such as smart mirrors.
You need to understand how young people shop if you’re going to convince them to buy from your brand.
Generation Z make up 10% of UK population (aged 16 to 24) and they’re of great interest to marketers, UXers and conversion specialists because Gen Z are the first generation to be born and raised in the digital age.
So, how does this effect their shopping behaviour?
How do they feel about shopping in a physical shop versus shopping online? How do they shop? Is there a difference in what they buy online versus offline? What concerns do they have and what does shopping mean to them? How does their shopping behaviour differ to previous generations and how should you engage with them as consumers? Which is their platform of choice for shopping and how do they prefer to be contacted by companies?
If you were watching BBC Breakfast Business News on channel 1 this Monday at around 7.50am you will have spotted our mobile expert and psychologist, Lisa Duddington, talking to Victoria Fritz about why we’re all so addicted to our smartphones and the effect it’s having on our lives. This is because new research by Deloitte confirms that the UK ‘has never been more addicted to smartphones’.
For most people this will confirm something you’ve felt for a while. Just looking around, you’ll have noticed the number of people walking down the street with their head down, engrossed in their digital mobile lives, perhaps you’ve even accidentally bumped into a few of these mobile zombies.
How about you? Do you think you’re addicted to your mobile?
Watch Lisa discussing our mobile addiction on BBC Breakfast (skip to 8 minutes in):
Are you addicted?
It might surprise you to learn that you check your mobile hundreds of times every day. Many of these are micro interactions – a quick press to check the time or to see if you have any unread messages or other alerts.
Our mobile is our constant companion. It’s replaced many other gadgets in our life and the more it replaces, the more we rely on it. It’s now not just a device for calls and texts, it’s our alarm clock that wakes us up first thing in the morning, it’s our sat nav to get us to work, it’s our note pad for reminders, it’s our calendar to organise our day for us, it’s our camera and video recorder to capture important memories, it’s our communication device and our means of accessing the whole world.
The younger generation having grown up with technology are exhibiting the heaviest levels of mobile use. In the generation z research Keep It Usable conducted last year, nearly 40% of young people claimed to use social media and messaging to communicate with friends for more than 6 hours every day. They’re also using ecommerce sites frequently; 27% browse products more than 5 times a day, 14% browse more than 10 times a day! This is a huge opportunity for retailers to convert young consumers using mobile platforms.
Psychology: Why are smartphones so addictive?
So we know we check our phones a lot, but what is it about them that makes us so addicted?
Well, if you think about it, smartphones are designed to get us to check them repeatedly. Every single alert aims to draw our attention to check the device. When we hear an alert we experience a sense of anticipation and even excitement at what we might have received. A new message from a friend makes you feel good and this leads to positive reinforcement, it makes the connection between an alert and the reward (the message) even stronger. This strengthens the connection and behaviour pattern so that it soon becomes a habit.
One of the reasons we feel the need to constantly check our phones is the fear of missing out (FOMO). If we take the example of a message from a friend, it’s very unlikely that we will let that message sit on our mobiles without reading it as it may potentially contain some exciting news or gossip that we feel we must read now or we might miss out!
Or course messages and alerts aren’t always positive like the example described. A lot of the time they’re quite dull and boring – a spam marketing message or a reminder to visit the dentist. However, it’s this mix of positive and negative, of never knowing if an alert will make you feel great or not that keeps us addicted. This is called the variable reward model and it’s exactly the same model that is used in the design of slot machines. The unpredictability of the reward, the anticipation, the never knowing if the end result will be positive or not, the feel good factor of winning / receiving exciting news keeps us addicted. It is this variable reward model that makes them so addictive.
Are you aware of where your mobile is at all times? Do you ever have moments of fleeting panic when you can’t see your mobile? When you leave your mobile at home do you feel anxious and feel like a part of you is missing? If you’ve ever lost or had your phone stolen did you experience high feelings of anxiety or depression? If so, you likely have nomophobia.
Nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia) is the fear of not having your mobile with you. It’s very real and is something we’ve probably all experienced at some point in our lives. Unsurprisingly, nomophobia is more prevalent amongst younger people and effects them when they lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.
How mobile addiction effects our health
One of the surprising and concerning findings from the Deloitte report is that a third of UK adults and half of 18-24 year olds check their mobile phones in the middle of the night. A third checking for messages and a sixth replying to them!
Now to understand the impact of this, we need to look at how the brain reacts to light. Blue light makes the brain think it’s time wake up, red light makes the brain think it’s time to sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin, it helps with sleep timing and our circadian rhythms. The problem is that this is the same light emitted by our mobile phone screens. Basically, looking at your mobile screen in the middle of the night will make you feel more awake and disrupt your sleep pattern, making you feel much more tired the next day.
Oh and did you know that sleep texting is a thing now? Yes people are now texting during their sleep, posting all sorts of things and not remembering any of it!
Fancy switching off?
If all this is sounding worryingly familiar, don’t worry, there are some simple steps you can take.
Try switching your phone off at night time and if possible don’t use it just before you go to sleep – read a book instead and you’ll find you sleep better, waking up more refreshed.
During the day, try not to check your phone as often (it might help to turn it off for a set time), or have set points in the day where you check your phone and email, this will limit the disruption to your daily work.
If you turn to your phone when commuting or when in a new social situation, try putting your phone away and instead notice the things and the people around you. You might notice new things and find you speak with more people, you might even make new friends.
Feeling brave? Leave your mobile at home for a whole day and see if it has a positive effect on your life.
“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good design fits our needs so well that the design is invisible.” Don Norman
What is UX?
‘An experience is a story, emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action.’ (Hassenzahl 2010, pp. 8)
Each person has their own definition of User Experience (UX) so it can be difficult for newcomers to understand what is meant by the term UX. UX refers to the experience a person has and who they feel when interfacing with a system.
Technologies have become progressively more complex as the industry advances and they are embedded into people’s everyday life to such an extent that our experiences are mostly created and shaped through digital devices. What used to be a one-way medium has evolved into a very rich and interactive experience and from this arises the importance to not just test the product but to test the interaction between users and the product. Users’ needs are always changing as they continually evolve their expectation, so continuously testing the user experience of your product is vital to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.
Working in UX requires many skills, below is just a small subset.
What is UX design?
UX design is the process of enhancing the end user satisfaction with a product or service as well as increasing business KPIs (if you have a great UX designer they’ll deliver both). In simple words, UX design is about how to create technology that can fit human needs, solve problems and make life simpler.
The more you understand your users the better you can design a product that is attractive and meaningful. User-centred design (that aligns your design to your users needs) will ensure the design of a successful product and an enjoyable user experience.
A UX designer will ensure a product logically flows from one step to the next. UX design experts study and evaluate the ease of use of the product, the perception of the value of the interface, the efficiency in performing tasks coupled with business needs.
The checkout process of an e-commerce website is frequently evaluated in terms of the user experience because it’s often a major jumping off point when customers are transacting. Testing how easy and pleasant users purchasing something on the website can be utilised to identify the challenges and obstacles that users face.
As human beings, we are all different. What works for one person might have the opposite effect on another. For this reason the aim of UX is to design for specific user groups (personas) experiences, promote certain behaviours and habits; user experiences will be different and unique for every product. The design process must be tailored to goals, values, needs and expectations related to a specific product.
What’s the difference between UX and usability?
There is some confusion around UX and usability; they are often used synonymously, however in reality, usability is a part of UX.
UX addresses to how the user feels when using an interface; it is more related to the overarching process and interaction with the product, whilst usability is about whether a task can be achieved in a satisfactory time and manner. In fact, according to ISO 9241, usability is purely regarded as efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.
Whereas UX entails everything that effects how a person interacts with something and can include a whole variety of psychological and social factors; social proof, trust, emotions, frustrations and satisfaction. Usability is just one part of UX.
Which research methods are involved in UX?
The methods for researching UX are numerous and they are strictly related to the nature of the research and the final aims of the testing. Each research is tailored to which aspects of the interface is to be evaluated.
Some of the research methods in UX are:
One-to-one interviews: gather deep insights from real time behaviour, interaction, personal experiences, opinions and perceptions.
Focus Group: this group research method allows the researcher to investigate behavioural patterns and the influence of group interaction.
Concept Testing: testing a concept directly with users allows designers to understand expectations about the product and to transform early ideas into more solid concepts that have been adapted for user needs.
Card Sorting: used to inform structure and categorisations based on how users perceive them to be. Utilises understanding of the users mental model.
Usability testing: is a research method to evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction of a product based on empirical evidence.
Diary study: this technique gathers deep information about feelings, habits and behaviours across a period of time.
Is the setting of the research important?
The setting of the research is very important – a poor environment can undermine the validity of the test. As in psychology, the success of research is also based on the environment in which it has been run. A comfortable, cosy and natural environment will help users feel relaxed and behave naturally, as if they were in their natural setting: their own home. Keep It Usable pioneered the home style UX lab – our Home UX Lab has a living room design and cosy, relaxed feel to put people at ease and gather deeper insights so you get more value from your research.
What are the benefits for your brand?
Knowing your users and designing for them has a lot of benefits for your brand image, the engagement of your users and on your revenue.
UX design deals with users emotions and feelings and it has long term effects as well as immediate ones. For example, a simple improvement in the checkout process of a website can massively increase the revenue and, at the same time, it will grow loyalty resulting in repeat customers and referrals. If users find the product useful, pleasant and easy to use they will return and use it not just once but whenever they need it.
A positive user experience will make users wonder how they could live without your product!
Increase sales and conversion: your user interfaces will be more effective at selling your products and therefore will increase your sales.
Improve credibility and trust in the brand: good UX is associated with increased brand appeal and positive brand associations.
Decrease bounce rates: people bounce for many reasons. During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible will be identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
Increase visibility (no. of new and return visitors): UX experts are not only looking to increase new customer conversion, but they’re also focussed on improving retention and longer term conversion.
Avoid costly redesign: testing the product in the early stages of the design process will avoid redesign costs later and lost revenue.
Increase business intelligence and ease decision making: If you understand your customers opinions and needs, everyone in the business will be able to make better business decisions that are more in line with your customers needs. The more user research you do, the more aligned you’ll be with your customers thinking.
Better reviews: Online reviews are read by everyone, they’re the word of mouth of the internet and they are trusted because they come from ‘people like me’. Through an increased understanding of customer needs and improving accordingly, you will create a better experience that leads to better reviews.
Improve user satisfaction: a satisfying customer experience is related to positive emotions due to the fulfilment of fundamental psychological human needs: self-esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness (Self-determination Theory, Deci & Ryan). Moreover, the feeling of satisfaction gathered during a positive user experience, will create an emotional and affective bond between users and your brand, as well as a sense of engagement and motivation to use your brand in the future (for more about how to engage with your customers emotions, take a look at ‘How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences’).
In the digital era, a website is often the first point of contact that costumers have with your brand. We have evidenced in our research, that first impressions have a big impact on user behaviour and their decision making process. It takes just a few seconds for users to judge if your brand is worth their time; remember that a bad user experience will put them off, undermining their trust in your company and compromising future use of your brand.
Would you like to evaluate and measure the UX of your website or product?
Do you need help improving your online sales and conversion?
Would you like to understand your customer behaviour and opinions, discovering the whys behind your data?
Do you need to get your business thinking from the customers perspective so you can make informed, strategic decisions to increase sales?
Do you want to improve the quality of your customer research so you get deeper insights and more true-to-life behaviour?
Conducting user research is now something that most successful brands do to improve their user experience and ultimately their bottom line. However, there is still a lot more potential to increase revenue and profitability as many brands still don’t do enough user research. They are reactive and responsive to the demand for research as opposed to ingraining it within their process as an active continuous activity. In fact, recent research has shown that 58% of companies only conduct research on a quarterly or less frequent basis which is far from adequate if you want to be a leader in your market.
User research is not just about waiting until you have something to test. It should be a pro-active activity that provides regular insights into customer behaviour, psychology, process, interaction, expectations and keeps up with the fast changing pace of the digital world at the moment. The way customers shop is constantly adapting and you need to adapt too.
So why should i continuously carry out user research?
1 Understand your customers
Customer behaviour, attitudes and expectations adapt over time and with changes in technology. Conducting regular research enables you to keep informed of how customers perceive your brand and how they’re interacting and transacting with your business. Rather than waiting for changes to happen then reacting to them, you can identify early turning points and be the first to innovate to changes in your sector. This continuous learning enables you to keep all your user documentation such as user journeys and personas up to date so your team are not making decisions based on potentially out of date and no longer relevant insights.
2 Test hunches and hypotheses
Your team should always be coming up with hypotheses to explain data, current and future user behaviour. Some of these you’ll be testing through your split testing but for concept ideas you’ll need other ways to test these and gain user feedback. Assumptions should always be treated carefully – don’t base major decisions on hunches, make sure you have the evidence to back them up through user research. The type of user research you’ll need to conduct depends on what you want to find out – what’s your hypothesis? See 5 user tests every product manager should commission.
3 Benchmark KPIs against yourself and competitors
What do you use as your KPIs? For your online digital experiences you might be using metrics that include those found in the definition of usability ISO 9241-11.
These are: Efficiency: How long does it take to complete the task? If you’re an online retailer who sells dresses online, how long does it take a representative customer to find and select a red dress for an evening out?
Effectiveness: How do they accomplish the task? Do they complete it using the most optimal path or do they go around the houses, getting a little lost along the way? This is your effectiveness rating and it’s an important indicator of how easy and intuitive your tasks are to complete.
Satisfaction: How satisfied does the user feel after completing (or maybe they didn’t complete) the task? This is a self rated measure.
You’ll find correlation amongst the above three measures. If one scores low it’s likely the other metrics will score low too and all the above correlates with NPS scores. If you regularly run research to benchmark your user experience against yourself (to check the changes you’re hopefully constantly implementing to improve your conversion) and against competitors you’ll always know how you compare and where your strongest opportunities are.
4 Avoid costly rework
Or maybe the idea works but the implementation of it isn’t quite right, it’s not testing well and now there’s not enough time to fix it before launch. If only you’d run some user research on an early prototype! The earlier you can catch problems the better as that’s when it’s much cheaper and quicker to fix them. Some people think user research will add time and cost to their project but it really doesn’t, it slots in easily and quickly, and will save you a heck of a lot of rework later on.
5 Be more successful
By continuously conducting user research in your process, the team are constantly seeing their work from the user’s perspective. They’ll begin to think more like your customers and imagine them as they’re working on their UX designs, when they’re in meetings and when they’re coming up with new ideas. Rather than speaking of their own opinions and experience, they’ll begin to talk about what Alice said last week and this gives them a much more solid basis for coming up with innovative ideas and solutions that are born from user insights. These ideas have a much greater chance of being successful for your business.
What to do next
Commit to a regular schedule of user research and see the changes it makes to:
Your team morale
The understanding of your customers
The quality of new ideas generated
The cost savings you’ll make through less rework
The improvement in all your customer experiences
…and the business will benefit hugely from the increase in revenue.
“Addictive, stupidly addictive. It’s making me feel like I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality which I didn’t think I did before. It’s bad, don’t do it kids!”
This is how one 32 year old described his use of Pokemon Go. In less than a month, it’s become the most successful mobile game in history. It’s already overtaken Tinder and is rumoured to have now reached Twitter growth proportions. Usage time has already beaten other social media apps.
Usage Time: Pokemon GO vs Social Media Apps, US Android App Data: July 8th 2016 : Data by SimilarWeb
Walking around, you’ll find Pokemon catchers of all ages and genders, often in small groups with big smiles on their faces. It seems to appeal to everyone.
But what is it that makes this particular game so addictive? We went out to hunt down Pokemon Go users in Media City, Manchester, to discover what makes the user experience so addictive.
10 Reasons why Pokemon Go is SO addictive?
“I used to play Pokemon when I was younger so it’s just the nostalgia of it I guess and I like that this is the first generation as well so it’s the generation that I know the most”
A crucial factor that has a big role in the game’s success is nostalgia. The game is a real blast from the past. Fans that embraced Pokémon during their childhood in the 1990s are once again indulging in their old obsession. Nostalgia, is a powerful force in luring users to a new but familiar experience (let’s look at what’s popular in the cinema right now.… Ghostbusters… Batman vs Superman…). The adults that once loved the cartoon or played the video game on their game boy, now have the opportunity to re-live those old feelings that make them feel good. To the cries of “gotta catch’em all” people feel happy, they associate the words with their carefree youthful days of no responsibility and lots of fun.
“The only way to deliver fun is to have players feel confident, give them a sense of exploration and connect them socially to others – on those three very important counts, the game looks like it’s succeeded” said Andrew Przybylski, psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute.
Studies on nostalgia show it increases optimism, inspiration, boosts creativity, and pro-social behaviour. Pokemon Go reminds you of the fun things you used to do and the people you used to do it with but it also helps you look forward to more fun times in the future.
2 Meet new people
“I’ve met a few people, it is quite sociable. I was talking to a woman with a dog and she was playing Pokemon at the same time so we were comparing notes, so it is making people interact a bit more I think”
We all have in common the desire to be socially connected and to belong to a group – this is clearly seen with social media. But why?
Throughout our lives, we all go through a complex identity construction process that entails a continuous practice and experience of the self, a role playing and a negotiation with other identities in order to define who we are.
In this regard, sharing and socialising, it is necessary to find the inner self; social media is a unique stage to do this. It offers the opportunity to experience the self in many different ways than in the offline world – through images, videos, avatar, status etc – and in a context where we feel more in control of our actions and of other people’s feedback.
In the same way, Pokemon Go gives you control of the interaction; it has the flexibility to let you play alone, or with other people. The anonymity and the de-individuation that typifies our society makes it challenging to interact and connect with other people in the offline world. The game offers the opportunity to connect with others over a common interest, making it a more spontaneous, low risk interaction.
“Just randomly having little bits of chats about Pokemon, looking at what kinds of Pokemon they’ve got”
Twitter is full of stories about Pokemon Go‘s impact on anxiety and depression, with thousands of people praising the game for getting them out of the house and making it easier for them to interact with friends and strangers.
3 Enhance existing relationships
“Everybody in the office is playing. I think it encourages people to chat to other people. It’s brought us two closer”
Playing Pokemon Go is not just giving people the opportunity to make new friendships, it’s also strengthening existing relationships. A couple of co-workers told us how they’ve become much closer since playing the game together (we caught them playing it on a lunch time walk together), and one mum who was sat with her family told us that the reason she had started playing it was to get closer to her two sons and to enhance their relationship. It was something to talk and laugh about with them, it was something new that she had in common with them.
“My experiences have been very positive. I play it on the bus to work instead of spending that time on social media and comparing my life to all my friends. In the evenings I take my three younger brothers for a walk in the local country park “pokemon hunting”. We’re spending at least an hour, often longer, out there. Only yesterday we spotted and watched fox cubs playing, bats flying over a field catching bugs and sat quietly to watch some rabbits.”
4 Augmented reality
There’s been a lot of talk about augmented reality and although it’s out there, many apps still do a poor job of creating an engaging experience. It’s often more of a marketing gimmick than a true enhancement to the user experience. Pokemon Go embeds augmented reality very successfully – they’ve turned it into the main feature of the game. Augmented reality is ingrained into the user experience and makes the characters feel more alive. It’s successfully bridged the gap between the digital and physical worlds.
5 Easy to play
“It’s a pretty simple game”
“I think it’s pretty intuitive”
The game is really simple and easy to get started, there are no barriers to use. It doesn’t require expensive equipment, you just need a smartphone with a camera and GPS. Crucially, these are technologies that users are already very familiar with. They feel easy. It also doesn’t require much learning. There are no instructions to read and the game is pretty simple to understand, especially if you’re already familiar with Pokemon. In fact all you need to do is:
1 Go outside
3 Find Pokemon
4 Flick a Pokeball to catch it
Achievement is another key factor of the Pokemon Go success.
Achievement and motivation are two strictly related concepts. People need to feel motivated in order to act, and motivation is boosted by achievements. The self-confidence that arises from the achievement of a goal – catching a Pikachu – motivates people to play more and more…and Pokemon Go players are indeed very motivated, to the point of catching Pokemon whilst their wife is giving birth!
The achievement experience is the fundamental mechanism of the entire Pokemon Go game. And it’s such an easy goal to achieve, that you can’t stop yourself. The ease with which the reward comes every time your phone buzzes, alerting you that a Pokemon is nearby, is very basic psychological conditioning.
“It’s getting everyone out walking. It’s an excuse to get out of the house.”
Catching Pokemon means you have to get out and about, in effect, you have to exercise. It’s well documented that exercise has a positive effect on both the mind and body and that many people find it highly addictive.
“It’s getting everyone to go to parks and stuff so that’s pretty cool”
Dr. John Grohol is an expert in technology’s impact on human behavior and mental health, he says. “The research is really, really clear on this, that the more you exercise, the more it would help decrease feelings of depression,” he says. “It actually works as an anti-depressant and it has a really, pretty strong effect. It’s probably one of the most beneficial things a person with depression can do.”
Plus, walking around also helps people’s physical health – lose weight and get fitter. All these feel good factors contribute to the addiction.
“Our bosses kids are into it, so he has the excuse of saying ‘do you want to come on a walk and we’ll go and catch some Pokemon’ ”
“It’s simple and it’s fun. You just plod along, it’s something to do on your lunch breaks”
It’s a game and it’s fun to play. You could go for a walk to the park or you could go hunt Pokemon at the park, which you’ll likely find much more fun to do and you’ll probably bump into other players whilst you’re there.
9 Variable reward model
Slot machines are so addictive because they give intermittent variable rewards. Social networks are addictive for the same reason. Pokemon Go uses the same reward model. Variable rewards are one of the most powerful tools to ‘hook’ users. Research shows that our feel good hormone, dopamine, surges when the brain anticipates a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a hunting state that activates the parts of the brain associated with want and desire.
The rewards in Pokemon Go aren’t predictable and as you chase that Pokemon there’s also the fear of not catching it: the psychological ‘fear of missing out’ (fomo) coupled with the excitement of the anticipation of catching that Pokemon. It’s the anticipation that often gives us the biggest dopamine hit.
10 Post brexit escapism
The timing of the launch of Pokemon Go couldn’t have been any better. In the UK, half of us still are depressed about brexit, there’s real uncertainty and fear of what’s to come and in the world there’s been numerous terror attacks. A little escapism is much welcomed! Where Brexit divided the UK as a nation, Pokemon Go is bringing us back together.
How do users want to improve Pokemon Go?
Whilst chatting with Pokemon Go users, we also found out what’s annoying them the most – server issues! Everyone said this was the most frustrating issue with the game at the moment. The gyms also seemed to be a little confusing for some people who didn’t really know what they were supposed to do. Younger people wanted more features, more Pokemon and greater access to gyms.
Will the addiction continue?
Analysing the psychology behind the game mechanics and the user experience, we don’t see any reason for the current addiction to decline.
Need help to create an engaging gaming app user experience?
Our UX experts specialise in psychology and designing engaging mobile user experiences that create a sense of flow. Our expertise in mobile interface and experience design goes back to the first ever Ericsson smartphone, so your mobile app is in the safest of hands with us.
How many times have you heard people complaining because the updated version of Facebook is awful? Every time there’s a change, it all kicks off again… everyone becomes angry and adamant they’ll never use Facebook again but then they get used to the change and forget all about it until next time. There’s even been a timeline created of all the Facebook backlashes.
Facebook is just one example we can all relate to, but there are many across the internet including many ecommerce websites and apps. But why is it that people are so reluctant to changes within websites, software and apps? This reluctance that users have towards change is called ‘Baby duck syndrome’.
Baby duck syndrome
But what do baby ducks have to do with users behaviour?
Well, the name comes from psychology and ethology (the study of animal behaviour). Konrad Lorenz, studied animal behaviour and he observed how new born ducks that leave their nest early, instinctively bond and ‘imprint’ with the first moving object they see (in Konrad’s case this happened to be him).
The same thing happens to people when they’re online. Users get used to and learn how to interact with a website or software in a certain way, this can take some time to do so they’ve also invested effort into doing this. Once they are familiar with the platform and like it, they struggle to change their habits. In general, people perceive the familiar as easier and more efficient and the unfamiliar less so; they have a tendency to “imprint” in the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to the first. Changes to the existing system will be perceived as less easy to use (even if they do actually make it easier) because they require some learning and therefore effort on the users behalf to get used to the new functionality.
This is not isolated to the digital environment either. In the offline world people are also reluctant to change – they feel safer when they can maintain a routine and an instinctive inner strength motivates them to stick with what they’ve learnt, with what they know, because it feels safer for them.
When a radical change is made to something already viewed as useful, but does not fundamentally change the experience, people rebel – and they rebel quickly.
The dilemma for ux designers and product owners
So, your dilemma is this… if you keep the same interface, users will be happy and feel comfortable, but the risk is that you end up stuck with an interface that doesn’t change with the times and gets stuck in the past. It may well have issues to do with the UI and interaction that need to adapt to improve the user experience. However, if you change it significantly, even if it’s for the better, your users are likely to rebel against the change and deem the previous version as better (even if you’ve tested and proved that it was actually worse).
Keeping your product updated is important, but so is keeping your users happy and providing them with an interface that’s easy and pleasant to use. Angry users and social media aren’t a good combination!
How to make changes with minimal upset to users
People need to feel reassured and supported. You need to provide assistance and to guide them through the transition phase.
Be there for your users, support and explain the nature of the changes, reassure them about how to do it. Don’t make your users feel forced or imposed, let the interface communicate with them rather than instructing them to make the change.
If you take the risk to make changes to your website, app or software and if you are ready to upset you users, you should also be 100% sure that the changes you are introducing worth the risk.
Conduct user testing. Observe users using the new version of your website or software, take note of the feedback and keep the change process open and in continuous progression.
Lessen any fear of the change by making your users aware that these changes have been tested with them already and that you’re making the change for their benefit. Explain why.
Instead of changing everything at once, make a series of small incremental changes. This is what Facebook do now and for most users small changes go totally unnoticed, despite them leading to the same end result eventually.
Interact and listen to your users, tweeting, facebooking, reading forums and taking in their concerns and expectations.
Test your interface to gather concrete proof that your users will understand the improvement and finally embrace it.
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