Think about a form that you filled out recently, or indeed a form on your website. It’s likely you were asked for your title and your gender. It’s also highly likely that you were only given very binary answer options to these questions, for example, male or female may have been the only choices available to you for your gender. But what if you don’t fit that mould? What if you don’t identify yourself as male or female? Should we be opening up form answers to be more inclusive?
Times have changed. Things are no longer black and white when it comes to gender identification. The proportion of the UK population who define as non-binary when given a choice between male, female and another option is 0.4%, which is 1 in 250 people (Titman, 2014).
For young Millennials and Generation Z, the proportion increases even more. Brought up with the internet and social media, their awareness of gender and acceptance of differences contributes to their challenge of traditional stereotypes.
“A lot of older people aren’t as used to talking about non-binary genders as my generation are, so a little more patience is needed for them, I guess” says Allie, 21.
When it comes to gender, young people are the most open minded and non-defining. They see their identity, including their gender, as fluid. In research by the J Walter Thompson Innovation Group, it was discovered that:
80% of Generation Z (13-20 year olds) believe gender doesn’t define a person
70% feel strongly that public restrooms should be gender neutral
>44% by clothes designed for their gender
56% know someone who is gender neutral and refers to them as ‘they’ as opposed to ‘he’ or ‘she’
As marketers and designers, it’s easy to add a gender question to our forms and make it mandatory in order to collect data and market our products more effectively. But asking a non-binary person this question and forcing them to choose an option may be seen as offensive, hurtful and yet another reminder to them of how they aren’t accepted.
Let’s look at some statistics:
46% of non-binary people felt the need to hide their identity as non-binary while accessing NHS services
Over a third of people said that they were to some extent the ‘other’ gender, ‘both genders’ and/or ‘neither gender’ Joel et al. (2014)
19% of people disagreed with the statement ‘you are either a woman or a man’ and a further 7% were not sure (YouGov)
A survey of 79 non-binary people in the UK found that the vast majority reporting feeling uncomfortable (100%) and unsafe (94%) being non-binary in the UK
HSBC now give customers the option of a range of titles, including “Ind”, which stands for individual, meaning free of gender, and “Mre”, an abbreviation for “mystery”. In total they’ll offer 10 gender-neutral titles. However, we noticed that their website only offers Male and Female as options, meaning customers have to contact HSBC directly to change their gender (not the ideal user experience).
It’s important that digital experiences aren’t excluded from non-binary options.
With regards to your business, the risk is that your form and the experience it provides may turn people away or at the very least they’ll be left with a poor impression of your company.
So what can we address this within form design?
1 Use Mx
There are lots of gender-neutral options in use, however, the most prevalent is the use of ‘Mx’. Mx is short for Mixter, however don’t confuse this to mean a mix, it’s simply a way of identifying that a person doesn’t associate themselves as either gender.
2 Remove your Gender field
As with any form, you should always question the value of requesting data from the user. You may have a question about gender in your form that doesn’t actually provide you with enough value to warrant keeping it. In this case, remove it altogether.
3 Use ‘Other’ but use it with caution
It surprised us to see the BBC using ‘Other’ as their alternative gender choice when signing up to use the iPlayer. If this applied to you, how would you feel being categorised in the Other category? Sure they have a ‘Prefer not to say’ category but what if you want to state your gender but can’t? As a public funded organisation, one that ensures it’s services are accessible and inclusive, we would expect them to be more inclusive in how they handle questions on gender.
Use ‘Other’ with caution
4 Change the field type
If you want to represent all possible gender options, the issue is there are a lot! To keep things simple you may need to think about changing the control you use. For example, you could have a free text field, with auto-suggest. Or you could offer further options once ‘Other’ is selected (see below example from the NHS).
Change the field type
Cambridge University suggest the field is left open for the user to type in their answer (see their recommended example below).
“I would say I am gender fluid but also non-binary and trans. My gender is an evolving thing, like my sexuality, the more I explore it the more it changes. The only reason why I feel I should put a label on it is just to make it easier for other people.”
Payton Quinn, age 24
It’s important to present your gender question in an inclusive way to help non-binary people feel welcome to describe themselves as something other than men and women.
5 Make it optional
Consider if you really need this field to be mandatory. Could you change it to optional? Or could you add the option of ‘Prefer not to say’?
6 Provide reassurance of privacy
People may feel uncomfortable disclosing their gender and wonder why you want to know and what you will use it for. Providing a simple explanation can help to eliminate their concerns.
7 Consider using pronouns
Facebook have an interesting way of asking for ‘Custom’ gender. Once selected, the user is free to type in not just one gender identity, but multiple. They also select their preferred pronoun (see below).
8 Watch your copy too!
When people don’t identify with male or female, they don’t feel comfortable being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’. Remember to use ‘they’ or ‘ze’.
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).
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.
“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.
Need help or advice?
Are you considering making changes to your website and are concerned about how your customers will react? We recommend
User testing, aka usability testing, user research, UX testing… everyone’s talking about it, all the best companies are doing it, but what exactly is user testing? And why are your peers banging on about it so much?
Why is user testing important?
Because it will save you A LOT of money, make your projects more successful and make you look good for all those new customers you’ll convert at the end of it.
Increase your sales
Whether you’re responsible for e-commerce sales, online conversion or sales of a product there’s a common factor for those that go through regular user testing. They’re more successful, they experience higher and faster growth and the business works better as a whole because everyone understands the user.
Save time and money
A common misconception of user testing is that it will lengthen your design and build process, however, there’s no need for this to be the case. It runs in parallel with other activities. The one way to guarantee adding time and having to increase budget and that’s by not including any user testing in your project. Imagine getting to the end, only to realise that you missed out a crucial piece of the user journey and you’re going to have to rework everything.
Fail fast and fail often
If your new project isn’t going to resonate with customers you want to know that as soon as possible so that you can adapt it and re-test it until you get it right. The sooner you get this insight the better! How soon? You should start at the concept stage and you don’t even need any tangible designs to get your first, most important user feedback. Test everything with your target users.
Improve what you’ve got
Whatever stage you’re currently at (wireframes, prototypes, procrastination…) user testing will always be enlightening to improve what you already have. Identify the main issues, the strengths and opportunities for further enhancement.
Consumer insights, intelligence and evidence
You’re building for an end user, a human being so why wouldn’t you actually observe their behaviour, listen to their feedback and question their expectations? The insights you’ll come away with will help you across your whole business and the changes you’ll need to convince your teams to make will be clearly evidenced by the testing. When conducted by experts, user testing is a methodology and a science that produces behavioural and psychological evidence of the changes that are necessary to meet your customers needs.
When it comes to digital experiences, users are used to being able to do things quickly. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. In recent years we’ve seen big change in the customer mindset, they now expect things to be easy to use and they’re more aware of usability than ever before. Once upon a time people would blame themselves but now they are quick to blame a company for a poor experience with their website, app, software or product.
Usability is a necessary condition for survival and doing user testing is the solution to ensure your costumers with a positive and enjoyable user experience, which will in turn create more new and return customers.
What makes this harder for you is that people no longer read instruction guides and they’ll skip through your very helpful user interface overlays. We know, you put them there to be helpful, but we’re sorry to have to tell you that we see users skip these all the time. Then when they need the help they can’t find it!
There are many things to consider. You need to provide users with all information they need and to allow them to find it as quickly as possible. Most of them will not take the time to look through a website that is not usable. For this reason, ensuring your projects include user testing is a clever time and money saving activity your company would choose.
What is user testing?
User testing is an essential part of the UX design process. It typically consists of evaluating a product by researching it with your representative users (who we recruit). A product may be a physical product such as a kettle, a piece of software, an app, a website or other form of digital interface such as those found in retail stores. User testing when done best, takes the form of one-to-one interviews that are conducted face-to-face by a qualified UX researcher. This research method enables deep information to be gained about your users’ patterns of behaviour, preferences and opinions, in order to implement this feedback for a more successful product. Testing early during the design process allows you to prevent future re-design costs and to launch a user-friendly product. Testing doesn’t require a big sample of participants since the aim of the session is to gather qualitative data. Remote user testing tools are also available and are useful for backing up face-to-face with greater numbers, however they should not be used in isolation unless your budget really does constrict you.
In the user testing session, a wide range of testing tools can be involved. Each testing session is tailored on your objectives and the best user research technique is chosen according to your needs.
User testing will generally be task oriented. Tasks will be created in advance and the user will be asked to complete them whilst being questioned by a researcher who will analyse and question their behaviour in real-time. A good researcher will pick up on UX issues as and when they happen, and pursue a relevant line of questioning.
A user test may also include activities to inform structure and navigation, such as card sorting. Typical measures of usability may also be included, such as the SUS rating scale – the official measure of user satisfaction. This is a questionnaire that the user completes to give an overall satisfaction score.
After the testing sessions, our expert will analyse the findings thoroughly and they will provide you with a full range of design solutions.
Are you ready to grow?
User testing gives you deep psychological and behavioural insights from users that will improve not just your user interfaces and products, but also your business as a whole. The more you understand your users, the stronger and more successful you’ll become.
If you’re curious about any of the above and how user testing will help you to create a more successful product, contact our user testing experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
This year, online sales over the 24-hour Black Friday period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history (last year they were £810m). £3.5bn in sales are expected over the whole weekend. For retailers, Black Friday is a huge sales opportunity but also creates pressure to keep up with the Joneses and discount items to an uncomfortable level. Combine this with the instore chaos we saw in the UK last year and it’s a pretty crazy time!
For Americans, Black Friday symbolises the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season. They take the Friday after Thanksgiving off from work, taking advantage of the long weekend to start their Christmas shopping.
Although Black Friday is still not very popular in Europe, in the UK it has very quickly become the biggest shopping day of the year, even beating Boxing Day.
The figures speak for themselves…
In 2014, UK consumers spent £810m online on Black Friday and they are expected to spend even more this year. According to IMRG & Experian, online sales will reach £1.07bn. If that prediction is correct, online sales will reach a record in the UK’s online retailing history, exceeding for the first time £1bn in just 24 hours.
The Centre for Retail Research estimates that in total (combining online and in store shopping) British people will spend £1.39Bn in just one day, this is 32% more than the previous year.
Living in suburban or residential locations; they don’t have easy access to shops
Regular consumers of content on mobile devices
Compare this with Boxing Day shoppers who are more likely to be younger and live in urban city centres.
Their demographic profile has important implications for retailers. For example, considering that the most Black Friday shoppers don’t live in the city centre and don’t have easy access to shops, attention should be put in to planning and optimising the delivery service or in communicating details about deals, coupons, opening times, etc, through social media, to enable costumers to plan and organise their shopping.
How are Black Friday customers shopping?
(Simpson L., Taylor L., O’Rourke K. and Shaw K. (2011). An Analysis of Consumer Behaviour on Black Friday, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 1 No.1)
They already have a specific product in mind
They buy particularly electronic media items
More willing to buy gift items rather then items for themselves
This year, consumers will be even more aware about the convenience of buying on Black Friday and shops will be even more crowded than last year, lines outside will be longer and tension will grow faster among the more competitive ones.
Last year, Black Friday was definitely a success, but retailers weren’t ready to deal with, quite frankly, the chaos that ensued amongst consumers, to the point that some of them have decided not to take part again this year. One of the most surprising retailers not taking part this year is American owned Asda, who will instead offer discounts spread across November and December.
Why is Black Friday more aggressive than other UK sales days
Last year, the situation got so chaotic that Telegraph renamed the day as “The Black and Blue Friday”. People queued in the cold outside shops for hours, then running and fighting their way to the product they wanted. But it’s not like this on Boxing Day or any other sale day in the UK…
So, what’s transformed the decent and respectable UK shopper into a merciless shopping, fighting machine? Frustration can be a reasonable answer.
A lot of psychologists tried to find explanations and causes of aggressive behaviours and the Frustration-Aggression Theory (Dollard, Neal, Miller, at al. 1939; Berkowitz, 1969) is one of the hypothesis proposed to explain the phenomenon. The authors support the idea that when people perceive that they are being prevented from achieving a goal, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression and violence. The closer you get to a goal, the greater the excitement and expectation and consequently the more frustrated you get by being stopped.
The theory doesn’t suggest that frustration always lead to aggression, but in some particular circumstances can boost aggressive behaviours.
Black Friday might be one of those above mentioned circumstances.
Sales psychology: Why sales drive shoppers
Psychologists say that the allure of a bargain speaks to our human nature. Limited-time offers and last chance buys trigger the fear of scarcity and Fear of loss that drive us to buy. It makes us buy things we don’t really need, simply because we might not have the opportunity to buy them so cheaply again. IT’s how you end up with boxes of shoes in the cupboard that you never wear but you thought were an absolute bargain at the time you bought them with 70% off!
“People truly want to get a good deal, and so they might be less rational… when they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal, the decision-making is emotional” Kenneth Manning, professor at Colorado State University.
Did you know that sales drive our competitive spirit? We want to tell other about the great deal we got and we hope ours was better than theirs (even if we didn’t really need the item in the first place!). People treat it as a personal accomplishment to boast about.
Sales also have a positive affect our brain chemistry. In 2007, Stanford researchers discovered that when subjects shopping for clothes saw a sale price, the brain’s pleasure centre lit up. Sales, in other words, make us happy.
The sales environment also triggers consumers to part with their cash: “We are classically conditioned to hear this music, see these lights, even the experience of the shorter days and associate it with spending and shopping,” says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist
So, be ready, 2015 Black Friday is just around the corner (27th November) and we hope and wish will be a good one, for both shoppers and retailers!
Starbucks is coming to Italy in February. You might think this isn’t a big deal but for the Italian market it really is! Italian’s are precious about their coffee and their drinking habits differ greatly to those of the US and UK. The whole customer experience is different, which is why the opening of Starbucks in Italy is so controversial…
First of all, it’s interesting to know that Starbucks has an ancient bond with Italy; originally, Starbucks sold only coffee beans, but after a journey to Italy, the owner had the idea to recreate and export “caffetteria-style shops”.
Italian coffee drinking behaviour
From an Italian point of view (Yes, I’m Italian), coffee is not just a drink: it’s a ritual, a chit chat with the barista, it’s the best end after a good meal, it’s the perfect “good morning”, it’s a pleasant and quick break, but above all, it has to be short, black, bitter and served in a small ceramic cup (very hot).
Typically, an Italian will enter the coffee shop, simply ask for a coffee (which is an espresso – this is the standard drink), stand up at the counter, drink the coffee which takes just a few minutes, then leave.
You can see that both the drink and the behaviour differ a lotfrom the typical Starbucks experience.
In this scenario, will Italian consumers appreciate Starbucks Americano, Latte or Frapuccino? Will they buy coffee served in the famous cardboard cup? How will they reply to the renowned question “stay in or takeaway”?
In Naples, the south of Italy, the “coffee ritual” is even stronger than in the north. There’s a popular tradition called “caffè sospeso”, literally translated as “pending coffee”. It’s rooted into the Naples’ working-class culture, and basically consists of having an espresso but paying for two, leaving one on the counter, ready for the next costumer, as a symbol of good luck and an act of “charity”.
Will the Italian consumers pay for a “frappucino sospeso” or a “pending latte”? What will happen?
Image taken from “La banda degli onesti”. Totò, a famous Italian comedian and actor, drinking a coffee at the counter.
Italy’s La Stampa newspaper wrote: “We thought we had everything in Italy, but it turns out we lacked one thing: American coffee”.
Coffee for Italians is part of their culture, their behaviour, a national identity and habit; and Starbucks knows it. Even more important, Starbucks have had to really know Italian customers before making the decision to open a branch in Italy. It’s no coincidence that the first Italian Starbucks will open in Milan, the most international city in Italy, heart of Italian business, fashion and a highly multicultural centre.
What are the opportunities and potential barriers of having Starbucks in Italy?
The company announced that they will promote Starbucks as a place for business meetings as well as a cozy spot where to relax; an intimate coffee shop in the heart of the business area of Milan, where you can work or sip a coffee with friends.
Free WIFI will be the main attraction for Italian customers. There aren’t many places in Milan where you can find free and fast WIFI.
A hi-tech + coffee formula. Technology will be the key differentiator for Italian Starbucks. Along with free WIFI, customers will have access to a “Starbucks digital network” streaming movies and tv shows.
Deeply rooted coffee culture. Italian customers have a strong bond with their habits, particularly when it comes to coffee and food.
There are thousands of coffee shops, bars and ‘caffetterias’ in Milan where you can enjoy a high quality espresso with a snack (biscuits or a pastry) and where you can simply read a newspaper with a good cappuccino.
Starbucks is expensive compared to the Italian coffee prices. In Italy, one espresso costs 1€ or even less.
For most of the time, “having a coffee” for Italians, means having a quick break, standing up at the counter. Particularly in the afternoon or after lunch. It is not the long sit down break that is common in other countries.
It is not common for Italian business consumers to sit in a coffee shop and work on the laptop or meet in a public space.
A traditional bar-caffetteria in Milan – Bar Zucca. People drinking a coffee at the counter.
The “Starbucks Italian situation” is a great example of the importance of how understanding customers is crucial in order to offer an efficient and successful product.
Moving into the Italian market is a huge risk for Starbucks, however by first opening in Milan, they will be able to take advantage of the large tourist market. It is the least risky option for them and a gentle step into the Italian market to test their acceptance of the longer coffee drinking customer experience.
Layout, images, colours, fonts are equally important in order to provide users with a pleasant online experience and increase the conversion rate of a website. The design of a website is crucial, but it’s not the only factor that we should take into consideration.
Users should be guided and helped in making a purchase decision on a website; they need to have enough information in order to make an informed decision and the navigation has to flow smoothly. But, is that enough?
Changing just one word can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.
Choosing the right way to say something is fundamental, particularly if the aim is to prompt users to take an action, like buying your products or creating an account.
Choosing the right word(s)
Unfortunately there is no universal answer or solutions.
Since words acquire meanings only when considered in context, knowing which words are better then others, means knowing the context, observing users moving and behaving in that context and constantly putting yourself in their shoes.
It is very important to keep testing, particularly in relation to CTA buttons, as shown in the following case studies.
Understanding your customer’s psychology, behaviour and intention is the secret to effective CTA copy.
Example: ‘Buy now’ vs ‘Shop now’
Dewalt.com have a ‘Buy Now’ CTA button on their product pages. Some of the team thought that changing the wording to something less committal like ‘Shop Now’ might encourage greater click throughs. Others on the team thought the wording change could imply a longer purchase process. So they decided to test both variations to see which resulted in greater conversion.
Current CTA: ‘Buy now’. May imply a faster and shorter process to purchase.
Variation: ‘Shop now’. May imply less commitment and therefore encourage more clicks.
17% more users clicked on ‘Buy Now’ rather than ‘Shop Now’.
The small variation in text had a huge impact on the final result. This represented a six-figure difference in the online sales of the product.
The next action is clearer with ‘Buy now’, it is very obvious that the user’s intention is to purchase. ‘Shop now’ could be mistaken for continuing to look at more shops, it is less specific regarding the action and more ambiguous.
Example: ‘Find a retailer’ vs ‘Where to Buy’ vs ‘Nearby Retailers’
Current CTA: ‘Find a retailer’. Concern that this may be mistaken for online retailers only.
Variation 1: ‘Where to buy’. The team felt this version was more direct and may imply less work for the visitor.
Variation 2: ‘Nearby retailer’. Related to a physical and geographical location and therefore may make it clearer that this indicates physical retail stores
4.1% more users clicked on ‘Nearby retailer’ compared to the two alternatives.
The button more clearly indicates physical shops where the user can buy the product as it relates to a geographical location, while the others two options could be mistaken as solely relating to online stores.
How 2 Words Lifted Insound’s Checkout Funnel Conversion to 54%
Following the launch of a redesign, Insound found that conversion was underperforming. It was believed that this was due to the length of the checkout process and the vague wording throughout.
Current CTA: ‘Continue’. Logical description of the button, continues to the next step.
Variation 1: ‘Review order’. Describes what’s going on and reassures that the process is not completed yet, i.e. there’s still time to change your mind.
Variation 2: ‘Submit’. Based on the one-step check out process.
Variation 3: ‘Almost done’. Informs that the process is almost complete.
‘Review order’ was the winner with a 39.4% click rate.
It is explanatory and reassuring at the same time, clearly indicating to the user that they still have time to back out should they need to but also allows them to see an overview of their order and associated information to double check everything before proceeding.
As can be seen, small adjustments to your CTA copy can make a big difference conversion. It’s always worth testing alternatives to see which performs better.