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documentation such as user journeys and personas up to date so your team are not making decisions based on potentially out of date and no longer relevant insights.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.
Need help or advice?
Are you considering making changes to your website and are concerned about how your customers will react? We recommend
Have you ever noticed how you use the same small number of features in your favourite software? It’s capable of hundreds of functions, but have you ever actually used them all? How about your favourite website… do you look at every single page or do you generally just look at a small number of pages that most interest you? Do you use all the functionality on that page or do you just press the occasional ‘Like’ button?
This is the norm. You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule; we tend to use 20% of things 80% of the time. The principle is also used to mean that 20% of the effort will generate 80% of the results. It’s often the case that 20% of customers generate 80% or more of revenue for a company. It’s known as the Pareto Principle and it can be found in all aspects of our lives.
Let’s learn a bit more about it and how you can apply it to your UX and Conversion.
What is the Pareto Principle?
In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto noticed that every year, 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced approximately 80% of the peas. He found it very interesting and he observed that this proportion could be applied, in a larger scale, to economic society: 80% of land is owned by 20% of people.
If you think about it, this principle can be applied to most of your everyday life. We bet you tend to wear just 20% of your clothes 80% of the time and out of everything you own, you probably use just 20% of things regularly.
When you’re creating that company presentation in Powerpoint do you ever use all of the features or would you say it’s about 20%? Does 20% of your website generate the 80% of your income online?
What are the benefits of using the Pareto Principle in UX?
Identify the top 20% of your current usability issues and feature gaps so you can fix them.
Keeping focus on the most essential aspects of your website ensures that most of your visitors can find what they need very quickly.
This in turn leads to higher conversion rates and more return customers for your brand.
A simpler, clean and straightforward user experience, free of distractions, barriers and frustrations.
We know that too much information can cause the inattentional blindness effect, leading users away from what they are really looking for on your website. If you want to avoid this and ensure a positive user experience, keep it simple and focus on those 20% of things that really matter for them.
The 20% of what you have left will be better quality and much more effective.
Applying Pareto to UX
In our experience in conducting research with users, we have evidenced that features that generate the majority of conversions are a minority of the functionality provided on a website or an app.
The 80/20 rule has a crucial effect on the user experience and ultimately on the effectiveness of the content or functionality of your website.
Knowing that, how can the 80/20 rule be applied to improve your UX and Conversion?
What are the 20% that users want the most? At the start of a project, consult users on the features you have in mind and get them to rank them and discuss their thoughts. You’ll soon discover the 20% of features that will appeal to 80% of your target users. Make these your MVP then develop from there in future iterations. Beware of feature creep.
Use analytics to determine the top 20% of things your users use the most.
Conduct user research on your top user journeys. What are the top 20% of things that 80% of people use your website, software or app for? Focus on these in user testing to get the most value and impact from your consumer research.
Prioritise the research results and focus your design and development resources on the 20% of issues that are causing 80% of users problems. The aim is to tackle the biggest barriers first.
De-clutter features or content that is not needed by your users. It’s just detracting from other things that are more effective.
Help 80% of users. Do 80% of people all choose the same option? If so, consider defaulting to that option.
Keep converting don’t stop. Keep focussing on the 20% of things that could make the biggest difference to your ongoing conversion.
Don’t invest too much time and money optimizing lesser-used functionality. Your investment is best spent in your top 20% instead.
Here is an example of the 80/20 rule on Amazon’s checkout process. As shown in the picture, the country in the form is pre-populated with United Kingdom. Since the United Kingdom is the most selected country while browsing from amazon.co.uk, they’ve made it the default selection, therefore saving time during checkout. One less thing to think about and choose has no doubt had a positive effect on their conversion of this page. People do not like completing forms so the less effort required from them, the more likely they are to complete the form and convert.
Below is Laterooms old Home page. Through analysing their data analytics and conducting multiple rounds of user testing, they discovered that most people don’t use or even look at most of the content on the page. 98.6% of users didn’t use the menu and 98.9% ignored their prominent popular destinations content.
The vast majority only used Search.
So, Laterooms decided to redesign their home page to focus on the main thing users do when they come to the website: Search. They aimed to remove distraction and clutter, emphasise the search feature, hide ancillary elements and boost credibility. This is a great example of how removing distraction from the page creates a highly focussed user journey and a lovely, clean UI. No colourful banner ads and no gimmicks. Of course they tested the new design with users and following great feedback, split tested the new design against the current version.
The new, simplified design (shown below) was the clear winner
Mobile first demonstrates Pareto
Luke Wroblewski has made a name for himself advocating a mobile first approach to design and build and it is certainly in line with the 80/20 rule. Luke observed how, most of the time in the design process, the desktop version of a website is the first to be developed and the mobile is often an afterthought. As such, the mobile experience suffers. The mobile first principle states that the design process should be the other way round: mobile should come first. Why?
In designing the mobile version of a website the focus has to be on the 20% of features and functionality that is most crucial for users, simply because there is limited space on small mobile screens. This makes it the most challenging user interface to design for and many companies are still struggling to find talented people and agencies like Keep It Usable that can create outstanding mobile user experiences.
Need help simplifying your user journeys or creating amazing mobile experiences?Arrange a call with one of our super friendly UX experts for complimentary, no-ties advice.
Personas are amazing! If you don’t have them or if you have them but don’t use them (what a waste!) then you’re missing out on a whole host of business benefits. Let’s have a quick look at these before we dive more into what personas are and how they fit into the design process…
Benefits of Personas
Company wide understanding of who your users are
Deep understanding of customer behaviour and needs
Stop everyone in your company from talking about themselves, their friends and family as the user(s)
More effective, focussed conversations and business meetings
Clearer and better decision making – focussed on user needs and goals
Greater empathy with the customer
Enables your design team and project managers to create much better products and services
Where did it all begin?
Personas were introduced in 1998 by Alan Cooper.
At the time he was working on the design of new software and he interviewed some colleagues (possible future users of the software), to collect some ideas to implement in his project. That day, without even realising it, Cooper started to engage himself in a dialogue, play-acting as a project manager, inspired by one of the colleagues he interviewed that day.
Cooper found this play-acting technique was tremendously effective for solving design questions around functionality and interaction, allowing him to understand what was necessary or unnecessary from a user-centred point of view.
Since then, he used this technique to design all of his products, bearing in mind the benefits of thinking from the users point of view. Hypothetical user archetypes allowed him and his clients to better understand the end user in their projects.
What is the personas method?
Using Cooper’s own words:
“You tend to canvas the user community, collect their requests for functions, and then provide them a product containing all of those functions. I call this the sum of all desired features.”
Personas are narrations, stories about imagined characters; they are imagined and described in interaction with the product that is going to be developed (website, device, app, software etc.). Personas are defined in the early stages of the design process and they guide the project team throughout the product development process.
Defining personas is also essential for any consumer research involving the product. To canvas the profile of future users helps in the recruitment of a representative sample of the population for an effective and realistic UX testing session.
Why are personas so important to the design process?
The most important goal of personas is to create understanding and empathy with the end user(s).
If you want to design a successful product for people, first of all you need to understand them. Designing for everyone results in an unfocused goal that will dehumanise the profile of future users. The personas method allows you to draw not just a profile about gender and age, but to dig into the psychology of the imagined character in their interaction with the product.
The power of the narration that typified this method, allows us to create a story that introduces the product in the everyday life of the imagined character. The narration sets goals, creates visibility of problems and potential issues in the user-product relationship.
Personas are a crucial passage in the user-centred design process because they define expectations, concerns and motivations, helping design teams to understand how to design a product that will satisfy users needs and therefore be a success.
People are no longer passive users of a product or a service, but they are actively interacting with it; they are engaged in a ‘conversation’ in which both sides, user and product, are actively asking and responding. Defining personas during the design process helps your team to imagine that conversation.
When designing personas, the story needs to cover the following:
Demographic presentation of the character (age, gender etc.)
General traits (occupation, interests, hobbies etc.)
The scenario is very important for the effectiveness of personas.
Scenarios are imagined situations in which the character interacts with the product. Personas without scenarios have no value, so defining good scenarios is crucial.
The narration of an imagined scenario follows this structure:
Setting a problem, a situation
Describe the character’s reaction to the problem
Define the role of the product in this scenario (e.g. how does the character interact with the product in that situation? Why does the character use the product? With which aims? What are the character expectations of the product?)
Resolution of the situation
Remember, if you want your product to be successful, you have to design it bearing in mind who will use it.
1. Collection of data. In the first step, you collect as much information and knowledge about your users as possible. Data can come from many different sources, even from pre-existing knowledge in the organisation. A good starting point is user research to gather insight into your users.
2. Hypothesis. Based on the data collected in the first step, you create a general draft of the various kind of users, including in which ways users differ from one another.
3. Description of scenarios. You create scenarios that describe solutions; possible situations that could trigger the use of the product are described. Scenarios will be used to better imagine user interaction with the product. The story about how the character will use the product is the personas’ ultimate objective.
4. Description of personas. Preparation of a brief description of the typical user, paying attention to user needs, motivations, aspirations and values. It is very important that you add to the narration one of the scenarios created in the previous step. The ultimate aim at this stage is to generate a narration that creates an empathic bond between the imagined person and the reader.
5. Selection of 3-6 personas. The ideal number of personas is limited (too many and you’ll start to lose track of who’s who). At this stage, choose 3-6 descriptions that are the most representative of your typical users. Selecting a limited number of personas allows you to be more focused during the design of the product.
6. Dissemination of personas. It is important that personas defined during the process are shared with the whole project team to provide a shared understanding of your users / customers.
Here’s an example of a completed persona:
Need help or advice?
If you’d like to know more about personas and how they can help you to create a more successful product, contact our UX experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
Accessibility is defined as the matching of delivery of information and services with users’ individual needs and preferences in terms of intellectual and sensory engagement with resources containing that information or service, and their control of it. Accessibility is satisfied when there is a match regardless of culture, language or disabilities.
Why should you care about accessibility?
Since the online environment is an extension of the physical one, there is nothing more effective than a metaphor with the offline world to understand how crucial accessibility online can be for your business.
Imagine you are running a flower shop; the business is going pretty well, the shop is in a very good and central location, easily accessible from the main street. A lot of people visit it every day, attracted by the colourful window display with fresh flowers, the enticing aroma and your brilliant customer service. Inside the shop, flowers are tidily organised and labels with names and a clear description are provided. You tend to stay in the shop, ready to help your customers.
Now, think about the same flower shop, but imagine that in front of the main door there is a big step that prevents access for some of your customers. There’s no window to showcase your flowers and you turn off the light to save money. In the shop, no labels or descriptions are provided and flowers are randomly arranged. Moreover, you tend to stay in the back of the shop so your customers struggle to find you if they need help with something.
That’s exactly what happens when your website is not accessible.
The context in the UK
48% of the UK population could potentially have problems accessing your website:
Disability affects 19% of working age people in the UK
9% of the UK population have some form of colour blindness (1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women)
4% are visual impaired
12 million are over 60 years old; that is the 21% of the entire population
Disability on the internet includes things like:
Problems with sight
Problems using a mouse or keyboard
Problems with hearing
Problems with reading and understanding
But web accessibility also helps people who:
Have a slow internet connection
Have a small screen or unusual device
Can’t listen to sound at work
Use an old web browser or operating system
What are the benefits of having an accessible website?
Web accessibility protects your website against demographic changes and opens your business to everyone with an internet connection.
People with disabilities and special needs have spending power (disposable income of £50 billion per year) and the benefits of a website accessible to everybody are:
The website will be higher in the search engine: SEO and accessibility go hand-in-hand because websites that are inaccessible to users with disabilities are also inaccessible to search engines. One of the most powerful elements of SEO is creating machine-readable content. This is content that can be read by humans as well as assistive technologies, like screen readers.
You won’t incur legal fees: according to the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and Equality Act 2010 service providers must not discriminate against disabled people and an equal access to public or private services should be guaranteed
Increasing conversion: an accessible website will be more usable for all users not just for people with disabilities. Good usability and a positive user experience on your website will increase conversion.
Your brand will gain a positive image.
Which guidelines do you need to follow for developing an accessible website?
WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) defined in 2008 is an internationally adopted technical standard; the guidelines explain how to solve many of the problems that your users with disabilities face on the web. Although, WCAG 2.0 is not an all-inclusive list of issues that users with disabilities might face, they are internationally recognised standards.
WCAG 2.0 has 12 guidelines that are organised under 4 principles:
The principle of a website being perceivable is about the senses people use when browsing the web:
Provide text alternatives for non-text content
Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning
Make it easier for users to see and hear content
The actions people take when browsing:
Make all functionality available from a keyboard
Give users enough time to read and use content
Do not use content that causes seizures
Help users navigate and find content
Your website must use clear terms, have simple instructions and explain complex issues:
Make text readable and understandable
Make content appear and operate in predictable ways
Help users avoid and correct mistakes
A robust website is one that third-party technology (like web browsers and screen readers) can rely on. This minimises the risk of your users relying on technology that cannot correctly process your website:
Maximise compatibility with current and future user tools
WCAG 2.0 are organised into three levels of conformance:
Level A – the most basic web accessibility features
Level AA – deals with the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users
Level AAA – the highest (and most complex) level of web accessibility
Starting with Level A is a great way to make progress and begin helping out your users. Level AA is the standard many governments are using as this level targets the most common and most problematic issues for web users.
How can you test if your website is accessible?
In the WCAG 2.0 a list of universal guidelines are presented, but what we clearly know is that it can be difficult to universally define the usability of a website. A website or an interface that is usable for one person, might not be for someone else.
Some websites were found to perform extremely well in usability evaluations with disabled people, yet did not meet certain WCAG lines.
A holistic approach to accessibility is necessary to develop an accessible website. Experts claim that ‘the key measure of a digital system is whether it fits it’s context of use: whether the people for whom it is designed can use it with acceptable levels of usability, for the tasks that they need to do, in the social setting in which these tasks take place, using the technologies they have available.’
User requirements can be grouped into several categories, including:
The abilities (and disabilities) of the target users including perceptual, cognitive, motor, and linguistic abilities.
The tasks that need to be supported, group, social and cultural dynamics, communication patterns, environmental factors, and so on.
Such as availability of hardware and software and the availability of plug-ins.
For example, task success rates, task-completion times, satisfaction ratings, and quality of task output (e.g. comprehension outcomes in an e-learning environment).
These requirements have a cultural context in which they have to be considered in order to be meaningful. The holistic approach to accessibility is based on social inclusion rather than on the principle of universal accessibility.
A user-centred accessibility approach will entail both evaluating your website with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and testing the usability directly with disabled users. This approach emphasises the importance of the user and on satisfying his/her requirements.
In times of increasing complexity and reliance on technology, it is important to ensure that what is being gained is increased quality of life and that “by designing with the disabled in mind, we can create products that are better for everyone.” Inclusive Design
Need help or advice?
If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
References Sloan, D., Heath, A., Hamilton, F., Kelly, B., Petrie, H., & Phipps, L. (2006, May). Contextual web accessibility-maximizing the benefit of accessibility guidelines. In Proceedings of the 2006 international cross-disciplinary workshop on Web accessibility (W4A): Building the mobile web: rediscovering accessibility? (pp. 121-131) Ford M. & Nevile L, 2004, “Issues enabling support for Multi-locational Accessibility“, IDABC: Cross-border E-Government Services for Administrations, Businesses and Citizens Conference’, Brussels, February 2005.
Knowing your users and designing for them have a lot of benefits on your brand image, the engagement of your users and last but not least on your revenue as well as on the engagement of customers with the product.
1. Increase sales and market share (conversion)
The crucial reason for all businesses to invest in their UX is the value of the return. Successful companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple all invest in their customer experience and the evidence is in their huge success. To give you an idea, every £1 you spend on UX returns on average £100. Importantly, it’s also an investment that keeps paying for itself in the longer term, unlike acquisition costs.
From 1993 to 2004, the UK Design Council tracked share prices. They found that design-aware companies out-performed other companies by more than 200%.
Case Study: Netflights
One of our travel clients, Netflights, invested in the UX of their website. Over the space of a year, all of their KPIs increased significantly. This included their revenue increasing by an impressive 26%, and their customer satisfaction rate rising to 95%.
2. Decrease bounce rates
People bounce from your site for many reasons – do you know these reasons? Are you just guessing? During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible are identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
3. Avoid project failure and costly redesign
Investing in a user centred design process is the most effective thing you can do to lessen your risk of project failure and redesign costs. If you include user testing throughout your design process, you can rest assured of validation in the design. This will result in 25% less rework and bug fixes post-launch. Why risk leaving that user validation to launch and having your project sink like a led balloon. Test sooner rather than later!
4. Increase business intelligence and ease decision making
If you understand your customers opinions and needs, you and everyone else in the business will be able to make better business decisions that are fully in line with your customers needs. The more user research you do, the more aligned you’ll be with your customers thinking.
5. Decrease your acquisition costs (advertising spend)
A good user experience is the best advertisement your business can have. “If a lot of people use that website then it means that it’s good”, we hear this hundreds of times during research. Nothing is as strong as a user that has had a good experience, suggesting to other users to use your brand. Social proof is a crucial factor for your business to be successful. And best of all, it’s FREE!
When your bounce rate decreases and you have more people coming to your site based on great customer reviews and a whole host of other positive side effects from your improved UX, you’ll spend less on your marketing channels but you’ll be converting more. This also has a longer term impact.
6. Increase basket size
Have you noticed how you spend more time on sites that you enjoy using? You buy more from them too. Through focussing on your customers and improving the design of your site, you’ll notice an increase in your average basket value. Focus on improving cross sells and up sells as part of your strategy to further increase basket size.
7. 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’. Of course offline reviews and word of mouth still exist, but online is where people have the most reach. Upset one person and thousands of people can read their review and decide not to buy from you. Through an increased understanding of customers needs and improving the website accordingly, we create a better experience that leads to better reviews.
8. Improve customer satisfaction and NPS score
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 product further 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’).
9. Decrease customer service and support costs
If your users can find the information they need on your site, they’ll be more happy and won’t need to contact your customer service staff for further help. We all know how frustrating it is when you can’t find something on a website and have to phone up a call centre, most likely waiting on hold for ages just to get a simple answer. We’ll tell you a secret, most people won’t do this. They’ll simply press the back button and go to your competitor. The problem is that you have no idea why this has happened, unless you do regular user testing.
10. Make your site / product reach it’s full potential
Apple didn’t invent the smartphone (we know because we part of the design team of the first Ericsson smartphone), and Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but what made those products so successful? The usability and good user experience were instrumental for their exponential growth and it can be the same for your business!
11. Increased customer retention
If a person enjoys using your website or product (if they have a good experience) they will come back in the future again and again… We hope you’re starting to understand that UX is not just a one off benefit. It keeps paying for itself over and over again.
12. Motivate your team
When your team can see the value of what they are building, so will your users.
Need help or advice?
If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
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.
You’re very busy, in and out of meetings all day, managing projects and making decisions that will create a successful product. You’re managing expectations and dealing with multiple conflicting opinions from stakeholders, everyone has a different idea and vision – perhaps you rely on your gut instinct to make the final decision.
It’s great to have lots of ideas but how do you refine these to those that will really resonate with your users and be a huge success? How do you then build these into successful products? How do you validate ideas and evidence required changes? The answer is user testing.
1. Concept tests
The start of a project is the perfect time to begin research with your target users. Are you guilty of waiting until the build is complete before running your first user test? This is a very high risk strategy. We’ve been called into projects at the last minute to test before launch because concern sets in that perhaps the site/software/app actually isn’t all that great. The initial cost saving of not running any user research in the early stages is not worth it when you’re then faced with the overwhelming cost of redesign, development and additional time to launch, all resulting in potential lost sales.
2. SWOT competitor tests
Did you know you can run a full user test on all of your competitors? This enables you to understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your product from a user perspective. The biggest assumption you should avoid making is that they have a good UX. They may well do no user testing, they may not be very good at user testing, they may do it but not interpret and implement the required changes very well, you can’t assume they are better than you you need to find out for certain. You should also include your own site in competitor tests so you can discover how users compare you against them and where you are strong/weak in direct comparison.
3. Features and functionality tests
You have a long list of things you want in the UI. Your stakeholders have their own lists. You all disagree what should be in the UI and which features should take priority. How do you decide? What you need is a user test focussed on determining which functionality and features are important for the user. We use tools to determine what should be included, the priority of importance, user expectations of each feature, where it should be within the navigation structure and interface and much more.
4. Prototype tests
How much time do you spend sat in meetings debating what the UI should look like and where things should go? Forget it. It doesn’t matter what you think, you need to remember you are not your user. Ask your designers to mock up your early wireframes in a prototyping tool. This can then be tested with users. It’s quick, effective and provides you with the peace of mind that your design is progressing in the right direction. Of course, if users respond negatively to it, at least you’ve caught this at a very early stage where alternatives can be mocked up and tested easily.
5. Visual design tests
So you’ve been user testing at the early stages and everything’s gone well, there’s no need to test at the end is there? Wrong. You should always test after the visual design stage. Visual design forms part of the user experience and is crucial to get right. Poor readability, poor CTA contrast, copy, imagery and many other factors can all have a big influence on usability and conversion. Don’t invest in UX all the way up to this stage then blow it on the final hurdle.
The next step is simple. 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.
Digital platforms and technology allow us to do things quicker and easier. Well, that’s the theory. The reality can often be far from this. How many times have you been looking for information only to give up and visit a competitor site? Unfortunately, badly structured websites and complicated software are all too commonplace. We’ve been spoilt by the likes of Apple and expect this simple, effective and affective user experience across all our interactions with technology.
Customers want experiences “that dazzle their senses, touch their hearts and stimulate their minds” (Schmitt, 1999)
Our relationship with technology affects our emotions and quality of life. Therefore, in order to provide users with positive and satisfying experiences, understanding their emotional responses is a necessity. Experiential marketing assumes that customers take functional features, benefits and quality as a given.
How do we make users like it?
Making users like something is not as easy as you might think. The qualities of physical products, websites, software and other digital media can be classified into two distinct groups (for this we’ll look at the work of Hassenzahl et al. 2000):
1 Pragmatic qualities
Pragmatic qualities relate to practicality and functionality.
Manipulation refers to the functionality and how that functionality is accessed, i.e. the usability. At a very basic level, can it do what it needs to do? A consequence of pragmatic qualities is satisfaction. Satisfaction occurs when a user uses a product or service to achieve certain goals and those goals are met.
Examples of attributes that are typically assigned to websites (and software in general) are “supporting,” “useful,” “clear” and “controllable.” The purpose should be clear and the user should understand how to use it.
2 Hedonic qualities
Hedonic qualities refer to the psychological needs and emotional experience of the user.
Hedonic qualities are divided into three categories:
Users want to be stimulated in order to enjoy their experience with your site, software or product. Rarely used functions can stimulate the user and satisfy the human urge for personal development and more skills. Digital experiences can provide insights and surprises, for example, if after a period of time a feature hasn’t yet been used, the software could inform the user via a quick tip.
The human need for expressing ourselves through objects to control how you want to be perceived by others. We all have a desire to communicate our identity to others and we do this through the things we own and the things we use. They help us to express ourselves; who we are, what we care about and who we aspire to be. This is why people enjoy using personalisation on sites such as Twitter. Changing our background wallpaper and header image, helps us to express ourselves.
Which memories and feelings does the experience evoke?
Evocation refers to the symbolic meanings that the experience has on our memories and our background. The visual aesthetics of a website may remind you of a past experience. For example, a travel website with a background image of a beach, might bring back memories of a past holiday and all the feelings (most likely highly positive) associated with that experience. As we all have different experiences in our lives, what we feel when we look at an identical website will be unique to us, the individual.
It is the combined pragmatic and hedonic aspects that form the appeal and the amount of appeal that a digital or physical platform has.
The users’ experience also depends on the context of use. Where are they? What do they need to do? How many times have they used it? Who are they with? How much time do they have to do what they need to do?
The first time a user tries an application, they may experience some confusion and minor issues, leaving with a slightly negative experience. However, when they become more familiar with all the features and how to access them, they will become more emotionally attached to it, and therefore each use becomes a pleasant user experience. This can be problematic within User Experience design as a poor, inefficient interface may be disliked by it’s users but they can be reluctant to change it because they have learnt how to use it. Therefore their perceived effort to deal with the change and the additional learning is deemed greater than sticking with the poorly designed current system.
Which feelings are felt with a good user experience?
The most satisfying user experiences are related to positive emotions such as, enthusiasm, pride, interest and inspiration. These positive emotional responses are all related to the hedonic qualities of the product: for example enthusiasm is connected to the stimulation dimension and pride is related to the identification quality. The hedonic qualities of interactions are those that make us feel an experience is satisfying.
In contrast, users who feel irritated, hostile and upset experience more pragmatic (usability) and technical problems.
Emotions and user experience: a recent study
Recent research by Tampere University in Finland (Partala & Kallinen) about the emotional aspects of users’ experience highlights how the most satisfying experiences are related to positive emotions, those that fulfil our psychological needs and are more personal to us.
Our sense of time changes with pleasurable experiences
When people enjoy the most satisfying user experiences, such as playing Angry Birds, they typically report feeling not especially hurried and people often lose track of time. In psychology we refer to this as entering a state of ‘flow’. However, when an experience is frustrating and unsatisfying, a moderate level of urgency is felt and time may appear to go slower.
Satisfying experience and psychological needs
Users that have a satisfying digital experience will report emotions connected to the fulfilment of the most important psychological needs:
Autonomy “I make my own choices and decisions”
Competence “I can do this”
Self–esteem “This makes me feel good about myself”
Relatedness “This is connected to my needs”
As supported in the psychological theory of Self Determination (Deci & Ryan, 2000), the fulfilment of these needs emphasises psychological growth, integrity and wellbeing. An individual’s experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness is argued to foster the most high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity. So if you want to create engagement or you want to motivate your users, perhaps to change their current behaviour or habits, then you should look to how you can utilise psychological needs.
Understand users and exceed expectations
Nowadays, users are not only looking for efficiency and good usability. What makes the user experience unique and enjoyable is making people feel confident, stimulated and surprised. Connect with your users on an emotional level.
Observing behaviour, analysing and asking users to reflect on their own experiences through user research offers the opportunity to design experiences that satisfy the user’s true needs, leaving them with an experience that exceeds expectations, creates long term engagement, increases brand value and ‘wows!’. People will then use your website or app not because they have to but because they want to.