Keep It Usable beat hundreds of entrants to the DADI awards

DADI Awards Usability Finalist

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

Katy Thomson of The Drum told us:

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

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

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

3 Kooth Home Signed out

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

The results have been phenomenal.

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

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

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

Jaguar Land Rover reveal the car of the future

land-rover

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

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

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

Virtual windscreen

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

Gesture control

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

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

Self learning car

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

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

The pot hole avoider

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

3D  instrument clusters

3d jaguar land rover

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

Hat-trick of client awards for Keep It Usable

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

Kooth

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

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

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

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

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

Netflights

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

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

Manchester Council

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

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

Contact Keep It Usable

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

designing for the web

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

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

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

Download A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web.

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

A psychologists thoughts on Spritz and the future of digital reading

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

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

What is Spritz?

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

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

spritz 250wpm
spritz 500wpm

How does it work?

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

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

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

Information processing

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

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

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

Spritz Mobile

Less emotion

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

More concentration, less control

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

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

The future of digital

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

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

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

Spritz on Smartwatch

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

The biggest mobile Christmas yet! Are you ready?

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

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

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

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

Mega Monday (or Cyber Monday)

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

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

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

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

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

December’s Twin Peaks

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

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

ecommerce_peak_shopping_days

Source: Econsultancy

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

Mobile WILL overtake desktop

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

What should you do right now?

Tips from Keep It Usable:

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

Tips from Econsultacy:

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

Here are some of our favourite tips:

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

Manchester City Council named Best Government Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa’s BBC Radio Appearance

bbc radio manchester

If you were up early this morning and listening to BBC Radio Manchester, you’ll have heard Lisa Duddington of Keep It Usable chatting with Allan Beswick.

Lisa was invited to appear on Allan’s show following her recent success at being shortlisted for 2 women in business awards, the award ceremony of which will be held next week.

The topic of focus for the interview was today’s news as well of course as some discussion of usability, research, tech and women in business.

Allan told Lisa of his own frustrations with websites:
“If I had control of the world… I would require all websites to operate the same way, because when you’re looking for something, looking for a product or a service or whatever, you go to one website, you’ve got to spend ten minutes, quarter of an hour trying to navigate it, you go to another one – it’s entirely different! What’s the point of that?…So many of them are counterintuitive”.
Lisa and Allan also discussed the importance of research, prototyping and usability in a world where you don’t get second chances with customers:
“Lisa: A lot of companies underestimate the amount of research and testing and prototyping that you need to do on anything, be it a hard product or a website or an iPhone app. You really do just need to spend quite a bit of time testing it and researching it with real people, people like yourself, to make sure that it is easy to use and it is going to be a success and that it does meet people’s needs and their wants… What we would do is we would go in and do the research for them so as opposed to just launching something and hoping people like it. We would do research beforehand to make sure that they do like it before you spend all that money on launching a product.

Allan: Because a customer driven away is a customer that never comes back…

Lisa: Exactly! And not only do they not come back but they tell thousands of people on social media not to come back.”
If you missed the show, you can still listen to Allan and Lisa on BBC Radio Manchester’s Allan Beswick show. Just fast forward to 44:30 and 1:17:35 to hear Lisa’s parts.

World Mental Health Day 2013

World Mental Health Day

Today is world mental health day and it is a crucial day to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues that can effect anyone at anytime.

We’ve been heavily involved in mental health for the last few years. It’s an area where having a good, simple user experience designed by specialist ux psychology designers is absolutely crucial. When someone is distressed, frustrated, stressed, angry, confused, the last thing they need is an interface that worsens their current mental state.

Qwell

Qwell Counselling - Mental health software application for adults

Qwell is a software application that we designed for Xenzone. The engaging user centred has ease of use at the forefront.
Aimed at adults, Qwell provides a safe, reassuring online therapy environment run by fully trained counsellors.

Read the Qwell Case Study >

Kooth

Following a successful launch of Qwell, we were invited to redesign the hugely successful Kooth. Kooth is an award winning online counselling platform for young people. It is commissioned throughout the UK and has helped tens of thousands of young people.

At the start of the project, we held workshops and focus groups with young people in schools and it was clear that the design of Kooth wasn’t engaging with the target audience. They knew what they liked, what they needed, what was cool and so with their input we designed a much more youthful, fun, simple, engaging platform that met with both their requirements and the clients.

Excitedly, our redesign of Kooth will be launched later this month. We can’t wait to show it to you and tell you all about it, so be sure to check back soon!

A psychological explanation of why consumers love colour choice

iphone5c colours

Whenever colour choice is discussed with consumers, we have always seen a positive reaction

Apple have finally done it with the iPhone 5C! They’ve launched coloured handsets in keeping with their other famously colourful products. Will consumers like coloured phones? Will they appeal to the mainstream user?

For those of you who follow @usabilitygal on Twitter or have spoken to Lisa in the past, you’ll know that for years she’s been championing colour choice in mobile handsets and it’s been a bug bear that there is so little choice for consumers other than boring, dull colours such as black, dark grey, navy and white. Most people disagreed, their explanation being that a wide variety of colourful cases was all that consumers needed. Sell mobiles in monochrome colours and let people pimp them up if they so desired.

Unfortunately, this limited viewpoint relies on the consumer at the point of purchase having the imagination to envisage each mobile in a colourful case that they haven’t yet even begun to think about. Therefore, one of the major purchase factors is in fact colour.

We’ve conducted hundreds of research interviews and usability tests with mobile users which is why we’ve always been champions of colour choice and personalisation. That’s not to say that you should let people have free reign, people need boundaries and limits otherwise we’ll just see a repeat of MySpace in the 90s all over again!

Whenever colour choice is discussed with consumers, we have always seen a positive reaction, particularly with the female market. We feel that the female consumer has been hugely overlooked in the tech world and unless more women take board positions within tech companies, the only way companies will be able to adapt to the female consumers needs is to listen to them. Simply, conduct research.

So, why is having the choice to personalise a design through the use of colour so appealing to people?

Extension of the self

When people buy products that will be shown and used in public, there is an added social acceptance dimension in the purchase decision – what will other people think? This is where it becomes more difficult to predict human behaviour. People have a multitude of reasons for why they buy something, and if that product is both a high purchase price and something that a wide variety of people in both their current and future social circles will see, the decision becomes more complex, weighty and important.

The mobile becomes a reflection of you, your status in life, your personality, your desires… Knowing this, people will often choose a product that is not a reflection of who they are currently, but who they want to be in the future. It becomes a status symbol of their future self.

Colour helps this expression of themselves as we know through the many articles that have been written on colour psychology – is your personality a bold, confident red or a friendly, reserved blue? Are you a blue but want others to see you as a red so you purchase a red product? Whatever the reasons, people like a choice of colour and are often conscious of what that choice indicates to others about them.

Increased emotional attachment

Admit it, you have an emotional attachment to your mobile don’t you? Most people admit to feeling like a piece of them is missing when they are without their mobile. Increased personalisation increases the amount of human-device attachment that a person experiences. It becomes an expression and extension of themselves which brings with it an increased emotional bond.

Fun

Quite simply, having a colourful phone is more fun! Who wants to look at boring black all day long? Bring on bold, bright colours that make you feel alive, energetic, playful and happy :)

Choice and increased control

iyengar jam

Who doesn’t love choice! In studies it’s been shown that people love choice, well, they say they love choice ‘the more options the better!’ however in practise this isn’t the case at all. Famous studies that demonstrate the paradox of choice, such as, the jam experiment by Iyengar, prove that when given too much choice people actually don’t make a choice at all. Why? The crux of the issue is that people fear making the wrong choice. Lots of choices puts a lot of demand on the person to weigh up each choice, it’s pros, it’s cons, the implications of making the wrong choice, how they’ll feel if their choice is the wrong one, etc. Given a few choices, people are more likely to make a purchase, will feel more confident about their decision and happier afterwards.

Choice equals more control and a greater feeling of power. Providing more colours for the iPhone 5C is giving more control back to the consumer.