Why I work in User Experience / UX

 

This is a special insight post by Lisa on what motivated her to study and pursue a career User experience / Usability.

user experience designer Lisa DuddingtonFor some people, making an impact in the world means being famous or stopping world poverty but for me it’s about making all our lives a little easier.

This morning I was explaining to a lovely gentleman on the phone what I do for a living and how we help businesses. Afterwards it led to a discussion between Ricardo and I on why we chose to go into user experience. Our paths are very different. This is mine.

When I was a teenager I remember being very frustrated with products and computers. Back in the 90s you had to read instruction booklets, there was no escaping them. You had little chance of getting anything to work without first suffering a long read of an overly complex instruction manual. The out-of-the-box experience was horrendous. The excitement of your new purchase swiftly dulled by a sense of utter helplessness, confusion and hours spent on the phone to customer service reps who were just as clueless as you were.

Perhaps because I was young, I recall not being frustrated at myself for not understanding how to use products, instead my frustration was very much directed towards the companies designing these difficult to use products. To me, I could see simple solutions, common sense changes that could have made the whole experience so much easier! I couldn’t believe that large brand names who surely must employ very intelligent people could miss such obvious problems!

I just want to make people’s lives easier

This is where my passion for user experience originates. My aim has always been to make life easier for everyday people. People shouldn’t have to think about how to use a product, they should just be able to use it. The product should be a means to an end and something that is a joy to use, not an obstacle that causes unnecessary frustration and wastes your time.

Can you imagine how much time and frustration we’d all save if you could just pick up and use anything without having to think about how to use it?

We only live once so why should we waste our time working out how to do things, let’s just do them!

For me it’s very much an added bonus that my aim in life also has massive financial benefits for businesses. It means that I can get paid to pursue my quest to make everything in life easy, simple and intuitive. It’s partly why I love working on all types of interfaces and products. The more things I can change for people and the more impact I can have on their everyday lives, the better!

I’m a bit like a superhero for everyday people

I guess I’m a bit like a superhero for everyday people, making life better for them without them ever realising. They’ll go about their daily lives without ever knowing that somewhere I’m working away and fighting battles so that it’s easier for them to do their online shopping, it’s quicker for them to use their systems at work so they can get more done and feel happier, it’s easier to record their favourite programmes on tv, use their mobile phone…

For some people, making an impact in the world means being famous or stopping world poverty but for me it’s about making all our lives a little easier, because we only live once so why should we waste our time working out how to do things, let’s just do them!

Mobile shopping to soar this christmas

mobile christmas shoppingHow are you planning to do your christmas shopping this year? Online from your favourite comfy chair, nice and toasty by the fire? Will you take to the high streets in search of the perfect gift, taking in the christmas atmosphere with a mulled wine? Or will you combine the two, preferring to find the perfect gift then check on your mobile to see if you can buy it online and save money?

The latter of these options is called ‘showrooming’ and has become more popular in recent years as consumers seek out the best product by reading reviews and the best price for their intended purchase. Research by IAB shows people are also taking photos of products (22% did this) and posting them to social networks.

A whopping 76% of people now use their mobiles whilst shopping. The canny consumer, rather than walking from store to store to find the best price can now quickly use that mini computer in their pocket, to check prices on the whole of the internet. That’s some consumer power!

As retailers prepare for the big christmas spend, expectations by analysts are that mobile shopping (frequently referred to as m-commerce) will become the preferred platform for many consumers, especially with the rise of mobile apps.

Mobile purchases accounted for just over 8% of online purchases in the first three months of the year and this figure is predicted to increase to 20% by christmas. The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index forecasts that £920 million will be spent via m-commerce, which equates to one fifth of the £4.6 billion total online sales expected.

The big online stores are also expecting to see significant sales growth via mobile. Ebay expects mobile sales to account for 30% of all sales over christmas.

With more consumers turning to mobile shopping, ensuring you offer the best user experience is now more important than ever before. In the busy bustle of christmas, if your mobile visitors can’t find the items they want quickly, if the product details and reviews are too difficult to get to, if the path to purchase doesn’t offer a persuasive, engaging experience, they’ll spend their hard earned money with your competitors instead.

Did you know?

We worked on the design and usability for one of the very first smartphones.

Yes we’ve been working with mobiles for a long time! We’ve worked with most of the major mobile manufacturers and when it comes to mobile you won’t find anyone more experienced than the Keepitusable team. We’re experts when it comes to things like mobile interface design, user research, hardware ergonomics, usability testing, concept research, eye tracking and everything else mobile!

ericsson r380

We really are mobile ux and usability experts. You can trust our high quality work.

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Why Dragons Den’s James Caan values putting users first

 

James Caan

Any idea what kinds of business James Caan invests in? Well he recently divulged the primary thing he looks for in any type of business and it happens to be a business that is user-centric.

The first principle is that, it doesn’t matter what sector you are involved in, the basics are always the same – right from the very outset you have to know what makes your customers tick.

Of course we’ve known that focussing your business around your target users is one of the most important things you need to do but why is that? Because you are NOT your customer. You don’t think like them or have the same experiences as them. You see your business from totally different points of view. So to make your business appeal to your customer you have to take time to research them and understand their wants, needs, concerns, opinions, behaviour… only then can you build a business that meets their requirements.

If your business is based online, then this means conducting research not just to understand your target users but also to analyse their behaviour and interaction with your site to be able to improve your user experience and increase sales.

If you do not have a proper understanding of what your customers want then sadly you are destined to fail. There are plenty of examples out there of companies, big and small, who lost sight of their customers and what they wanted.  The end result is always the same no matter how big or established the name is.

Tough economic climates tend to separate the strong from the weak. If there is a problem with your offering then a recession is only going to highlight that problem.
There is no loyalty when it comes to business and that is the case even more so in the modern and increasingly competitive world.  Customers, whatever the marketplace, are fickle and will go with whoever offers them the best services and products at the best price.
The key with any business is always to remember the customer and put them at the forefront of everything you do.  You have to offer the best products and most importantly, stay in touch with the customer’s needs at all times.

In my line of work I have met too many people who have made the same simple and very fundamental mistake of forgetting about their customers.

As the old saying goes the customer is always right. If you ignore that simple motto then sadly it will all probably end in tears.

Consumer behaviour insights: Smartphone vs tablet

With the increasing growth of tablet devices it’s important to understand how people are using these devices and what they’re using them for so we can design the best user experience for them which will convert higher.

In the past few years, mobile has been the primary focus for many businesses but as we’ve discussed previously, tablet use is growing phenomenally and it’s important to think about your tablet strategy right now.

To design anything for a smartphone or tablet it’s firstly incredibly important to understand the user(s) and their behaviour. Recent research by Flurry provides useful insights into how people are currently using these devices.

Smartpones vs Tablets Age Distribution

We can see from the above chart that there’s a clear tendency for tablet users to be older than smartphone users. In this case the difference averages 4 years. How old is your target market? If they’re older, in particular 55+ you definitely need to have a great tablet strategy in place.

Smartpones vs Tablets Usage by Hour

Interestingly, tablets are used much more than smartphones in the evenings. This provides evidence that tablets are being used as a fun, entertainment device within the home. This would indicate that tablets are more often used alongside, or instead of television. Let’s look further into how people use smartphones and tablets…

Smartphones vs Tablets Category Usage

It’s clear to see why tablets beat smartphones for evening usage; the primary thing people are doing in the evening is playing games. Consumers spend 71% more of their time playing games on tablets than on smartphones. With their larger screens, tablets provide the better gaming user experience.

Consumers spend more time using tablets for media and entertainment whereas smartphones are predominantly being used for communication and task-oriented activities.

Smartphones vs Tablets App Engagement

Finally, when we check the engagement metrics, tablets win hands down. This stands to reason when people are using tablets for higher media consumption like gaming. Smartphones still have the highest frequency of use, with people dipping into their mobile apps throughout the day. As mobiles are the device most people have with them all the time we would expect it to be the most frequently used.

If you’d like to know more about designing for mobile or tablet user experience, or if you’d like us to conduct research into your current user experience with your target market, get in touch using our contact form.

A day of eye tracking at the Expo

Eye tracking is amazing, insightful, state of the art technology that enables you to literally see through people’s eyes. It’s most often used to increase sales on e-commerce websites, software or products but can also be used to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns before they launch.

If you’ve never used eye tracking to gain insights into consumer behaviour then you really are missing a whole section of vital information to improve your user experience and conversion.

We recently exhibited at Salford Business Expo where we held live, interactive eye tracking demos using our website eye tracking unit. The unit looks like a standard computer monitor however inside are hidden cameras that track the users’ eye movements, mapping them onto what’s being tested so we can see in real time precisely where they’re looking.

One of our live eye tracking demos

Website eye tracking demo

 

We have several types of eye tracking units from a portable pair of glasses to large Monitors, that we use to test a whole range of things:

Digital – Websites, software, touch interfaces, mobile apps, tablet apps

Products and hardware ergonomics – Mobile phones, machinery, remote controls

Marketing – Adverts in magazines, digital adverts online, billboards

Packaging / out of the box experience – Does your packaging attract the customer? Measure and compare your out-of-the box experience.

Shopping customer experience – How do customers shop in your store? What draws their attention? Does your product / brand stand out against competitor products?

On a very basic level we’re observing and analysing human behaviour with digital and product platforms, our aim being to improve the interaction by making it feel intuitive, easy and enjoyable. If you can achieve this people are 87% more likely to buy from you, they’ll buy more, come back more frequently and will be 3 times more likely to recommend you.

We were impressed by their focus on what actually works, rather than just what looks nice on a mock up

Visitors to our stand at the expo were clearly fascinated and amazed when we replayed their eye tracking videos back to them, discussing with them why certain elements of the website being tested caught their attention and why other things that should have in theory caught their attention didn’t. User behaviour is unpredictable and differs between types of people, so for design to work to sell your product or service and not just look pretty, it needs to be user centred.

Just like a shop front, if people aren’t drawn in through the door by seeing something that appeals to them or if they can’t work out how to get through the door, they’ll walk on by and stop at your competitor instead.

We run and analyse all our eye tracking research so we do all the hard work for you, delivering the insights you need to sell more of your products or services.

We had a brilliant day at the expo, educating the people of Salford and Manchester to the benefits of user experience and eye tracking and we hope at the very least that they start to think more about the people using their website or product. As opposed to designing something that just looks nice, our designs actually work to bring you more sales (as well as looking nice too of course!).

An example of our mobile and tablet eye tracking unit setup

Mobile and tablet eye tracking setup