Creating meaningful experiences: an Introduction to User Experience design

Creating Meaningful UX Experiences

“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good design fits our needs so well that the design is invisible.” Don Norman 

What is UX?

‘An experience is a story, emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action.’ (Hassenzahl 2010, pp. 8)

Each person has their own definition of User Experience (UX) so it can be difficult for newcomers to understand what is meant by the term UX. UX refers to the experience a person has and who they feel when interfacing with a system.

Technologies have become progressively more complex as the industry advances and they are embedded into people’s everyday life to such an extent that our experiences are mostly created and shaped through digital devices. What used to be a one-way medium has evolved into a very rich and interactive experience and from this arises the importance to not just test the product but to test the interaction between users and the product. Users’ needs are always changing as they continually evolve their expectation, so continuously testing the user experience of your product is vital to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.

Working in UX requires many skills, below is just a small subset.

UX design disciplines

What is UX design?

UX design is the process of enhancing the end user satisfaction with a product or service as well as increasing business KPIs (if you have a great UX designer they’ll deliver both). In simple words, UX design is about how to create technology that can fit human needs, solve problems and make life simpler.

The more you understand your users the better you can design a product that is attractive and meaningful. User-centred design (that aligns your design to your users needs) will ensure the design of a successful product and an enjoyable user experience.

A UX designer will ensure a product logically flows from one step to the next. UX design experts study and evaluate the ease of use of the product, the perception of the value of the interface, the efficiency in performing tasks coupled with business needs.

The checkout process of an e-commerce website is frequently evaluated in terms of the user experience because it’s often a major jumping off point when customers are transacting. Testing how easy and pleasant users purchasing something on the website can be utilised to identify the challenges and obstacles that users face.

As human beings, we are all different. What works for one person might have the opposite effect on another. For this reason the aim of UX is to design for specific user groups (personas) experiences, promote certain behaviours and habits; user experiences will be different and unique for every product. The design process must be tailored to goals, values, needs and expectations related to a specific product.

What’s the difference between UX and usability?

There is some confusion around UX and usability; they are often used synonymously, however in reality, usability is a part of UX.

UX addresses to how the user feels when using an interface; it is more related to the overarching process and interaction with the product, whilst usability is about whether a task can be achieved in a satisfactory time and manner. In fact, according to ISO 9241, usability is purely regarded as efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.

Whereas UX entails everything that effects how a person interacts with something and can include a whole variety of psychological and social factors; social proof, trust, emotions, frustrations and satisfaction. Usability is just one part of UX.

Which research methods are involved in UX?

The methods for researching UX are numerous and they are strictly related to the nature of the research and the final aims of the testing. Each research is tailored to which aspects of the interface is to be evaluated.

Some of the research methods in UX are:

  • One-to-one interviews: gather deep insights from real time behaviour, interaction, personal experiences, opinions and perceptions.
  • Focus Group: this group research method allows the researcher to investigate behavioural patterns and the influence of group interaction.
  • Concept Testing: testing a concept directly with users allows designers to understand expectations about the product and to transform early ideas into more solid concepts that have been adapted for user needs.
  • Card Sorting: used to inform structure and categorisations based on how users perceive them to be. Utilises understanding of the users mental model.
  • Usability testing: is a research method to evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction of a product based on empirical evidence.
  • Diary study: this technique gathers deep information about feelings, habits and behaviours across a period of time.

Is the setting of the research important?

The setting of the research is very important – a poor environment can undermine the validity of the test. As in psychology, the success of research is also based on the environment in which it has been run. A comfortable, cosy and natural environment will help users feel relaxed and behave naturally, as if they were in their natural setting: their own home. Keep It Usable pioneered the home style UX lab – our Home UX Lab has a living room design and cosy, relaxed feel to put people at ease and gather deeper insights so you get more value from your research.

Home UX Lab Manchester UK

What are the benefits for your brand?

Knowing your users and designing for them has a lot of benefits for your brand image, the engagement of your users and on your revenue.

UX design deals with users emotions and feelings and it has long term effects as well as immediate ones. For example, a simple improvement in the checkout process of a website can massively increase the revenue and, at the same time, it will grow loyalty resulting in repeat customers and referrals. If users find the product useful, pleasant and easy to use they will return and use it not just once but whenever they need it.

A positive user experience will make users wonder how they could live without your product!

  • Increase sales and conversion: your user interfaces will be more effective at selling your products and therefore will increase your sales.
  • Improve credibility and trust in the brand: good UX is associated with increased brand appeal and positive brand associations.
  • Decrease bounce rates: people bounce for many reasons. During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible will be identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
  • Increase visibility (no. of new and return visitors): UX experts are not only looking to increase new customer conversion, but they’re also focussed on improving retention and longer term conversion.
  • Avoid costly redesign: testing the product in the early stages of the design process will avoid redesign costs later and lost revenue.
  • Increase business intelligence and ease decision making: If you understand your customers opinions and needs, everyone in the business will be able to make better business decisions that are more in line with your customers needs. The more user research you do, the more aligned you’ll be with your customers thinking.
  • Better reviews: Online reviews are read by everyone, they’re the word of mouth of the internet and they are trusted because they come from ‘people like me’. Through an increased understanding of customer needs and improving accordingly, you will create a better experience that leads to better reviews.
  • Improve user satisfaction: a satisfying customer experience is related to positive emotions due to the fulfilment of fundamental psychological human needs: self-esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness (Self-determination Theory, Deci & Ryan). Moreover, the feeling of satisfaction gathered during a positive user experience, will create an emotional and affective bond between users and your brand, as well as a sense of engagement and motivation to use your brand in the future (for more about how to engage with your customers emotions, take a look at ‘How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences’).

In the digital era, a website is often the first point of contact that costumers have with your brand. We have evidenced in our research, that first impressions have a big impact on user behaviour and their decision making process. It takes just a few seconds for users to judge if your brand is worth their time; remember that a bad user experience will put them off, undermining their trust in your company and compromising future use of your brand.

Help!

Would you like to evaluate and measure the UX of your website or product?

Do you need help improving your online sales and conversion?

Would you like to understand your customer behaviour and opinions, discovering the whys behind your data?

Do you need to get your business thinking from the customers perspective so you can make informed, strategic decisions to increase sales?

Do you want to improve the quality of your customer research so you get deeper insights and more true-to-life behaviour?

Contact our UX and Conversion experts >

 

10 Reasons from real users: Why is Pokemon Go so addictive?

“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?

1 Nostalgia

“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”

pokemon_pikachu_misty_pok_m

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.

PokemonGo_anxiety

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

Pokemon 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

Pokemon Mobile App Screens
“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

2 Walk

3 Find Pokemon

4 Flick a Pokeball to catch it

Repeat

6 Achievement

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.

7 Exercise

“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.”

PokemonGo_depression

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’ ”

8 Fun

Pokemon Mobile Outdoors

“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?

Pokemon-Loading-Mobile
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.

Email us now at hello@keepitusable.com for your complimentary initial consultation.

Other posts you may find interesting:

Baby duck syndrome: Why users hate change and what you can do about it
Using the Pareto Principle to improve your user experience

Understanding the user-centred approach to accessibility

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.

Accessible flower shop

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.

Inaccessible flower shop

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
Accessibility context in the UK
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:

WCAG-2-guidelines
Perceivable Perceivable
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
Operable
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
Understandable
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
Robust
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:

User characteristics User characteristics
The abilities (and disabilities) of the target users including perceptual, cognitive, motor, and linguistic abilities.

Domain requirements Domain requirements
The tasks that need to be supported, group, social and cultural dynamics, communication patterns, environmental factors, and so on.

Tech requirements Technological requirements
Such as availability of hardware and software and the availability of plug-ins.

Performance requirements Performance requirements
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.

Other posts you may find interesting:

What is User Testing?
5 user tests every Product Manager should commission

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.

12 reasons to invest in UX

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.

The evidence:

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%.

ux_share-prices

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!

ux-project-failure

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.

Business intelligence

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.

Decrease advertising costs

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.

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’).

Customer satisfaction

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.

Support costs

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!

Ericsson R380

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.

Increase customer retention

12. Motivate your team

When your team can see the value of what they are building, so will your users.

Team motivation

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.

Other posts you may find interesting:

What is User Testing?
5 user tests every Product Manager should commission

5 user tests every Product Manager should commission

User research

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.

What next?

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.

An interview with Zappos

Alex Genov - Zappos

This month Keep It Usable spoke with Alex Genov who is Head of UX Research and Web Analytics at Zappos.

Alex shares with us some fascinating insights into the process they follow at Zappos, the research methods and UX tools they use, how they decide what to test with users vs what to MVT.

Alex also shares with us a conversion challenge his team faced and how they overcame it. We also learn about his background, what makes him tick and his top tips for you.

Hi Alex, could you tell us a little about yourself, your team and what you do for Zappos?

I am a customer research professional who applies his Social Psychology background and his passion for research, design, and innovation to the software industry. My professional goal is to help teams create remarkable products and services which make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable.

Currently I am leading UX Research and Web Analytics for the Zappos Family of Companies.  My work includes both hands-on research for all the Zappos online properties as well as mentoring and team development.

In previous positions, I was responsible for research and usability of the products and services for companies like TurboTax (Intuit), State Farm Insurance, and the Active Network.   I have over 15 years of relevant experience – 5 years of academic research and over 10 years of customer research in the software industry.  I received a PhD in Experimental Social Psychology from Clark University.   My areas of research include: defining and measuring emotions, individual differences, usability, and consumer segmentation.

During my academic career, I developed and taught college-level courses in Research Methods, Statistics, and Social Psychology.  I have numerous presentations at professional conferences, several publications in peer-reviewed journals, and several patent applications.

What process do you follow?

The research team is part of the larger UX team.  As a UX team we follow agile, cross-functional process which involves Design Thinking, rapid prototyping, concept testing, iterative and benchmark usability, and a variety of other methods along the creative and development product development journey.

How much research do you carry out with your users?

We do research along the full cycle of: problem definition —> idea generation —> interface design —> product release —> back to problem definition.

What types of research do you do and why?

We combine both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Qualitative for idea generation and to understand the “why”

  • In-depth interviews
  • Home visits / Contextual inquiry
  • Iterative usability
  • Co-creation
  • Focus groups

Quantitative to understand the “what” and to quantify opportunities and issues

  • Surveys, including Market Segmentation
  • Choice-based conjoint studies
  • Data mining
  • A/B testing
  • Benchmark usability

 

Which UX tools do you and your team use?

  • Survey authoring tools
  • Sawtooth
  • Qualtrics
  • Remote usability via WebEx
  • Online card sorting
  • Optimal Sort
  • Analysis tools
  • SPSS
  • R
  • A/B testing – internal platform

How much A/B and MVT testing do you carry out?

Lots.  We do not release anything before A/B testing it.

How do you decide which changes you should research with users first vs which you should simply MVT?

In the idea generation stage and the concept development stage talking to customers and doing iterative research makes sense because it is cheap to start over and make changes until a good design is developed.

If the change has to do with actual customer behavior, we A/B test – actual behavior which ultimately leads to conversion is the best indicator of success.  Asking people what they would or would not do is silly.

Could you give an example of a conversion barrier or challenge you have faced and what steps you took to overcome it?

We discovered some legacy “error” messages we were surfacing to costumers.  Those were ominous-looking and had harsh and non-factual language, e.g. “Fix the following errors” when the customers had not done anything wrong.  We redesigned the messages to be much more helpful and even apologetic on our part.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Continuing to learn about what makes people tick and how to create new experiences which positively affect the lives of millions of people.  Breaking barriers and silos between Marketing Research, User Research, Web Analytics, and so on.  Mentoring less experienced colleagues.

Could you share one of your top tips with our readers?

Break down barriers and silos between Marketing Research, User Research, Web Analytics, and so on.  Those are based on archaic organizational structures and make no sense from the point of view of the customer.

Keep It Usable app featured in the papers

If you were sitting down with your coffee on Saturday morning, reading the papers, you may have spotted Keep It Usable. We were featured in an article about a fantastic health app called Clintouch, which has been developed by Manchester University. We are proud to have worked on the design of the user interfaces for this now award-winning app that has subsequently made an appearance at 10 Downing Street to inform the future of how digital technology can improve the nations health.

Clintouch is one of the first apps being prescribed by doctors to patients to aid early intervention. Currently prescribed to patients with psychosis, the app could ultimately save the NHS millions by enabling earlier treatment before a patient becomes seriously ill.

This groundbreaking app has subsequently gone on to win an innovation award and is currently being trialled in NHS trusts in the UK.

Independent research that we conducted with users of health and wellbeing apps showed that there is a great deal of distrust and disengagement with health apps (caused by the quality of apps in the marketplace at the moment). Users want trustworthy apps that are easy to use and will do what they claim to do. Clintouch is hopefully the first of many apps that bridge the gap between patient and doctor and make a real difference to both the NHS an people’s lives.

There is a great deal of scope for health and wellbeing apps to improve our lives, cut NHS costs and improve the relationships we have with our doctors. However, it is crucial that these apps are designed by professionals in collaboration with health experts so they actually work and have a high level of efficacy, otherwise they just join the thousands of health apps already in the app store that are downloaded and never used.

Keep It Usable app wins award and goes to 10 Downing Street

ClinTouch Mobile App

ClinTouch wins Outstanding Innovation award

Designed in collaboration with Keep It Usable, ClinTouch was recently the subject of a meeting hosted by David Cameron’s senior health policy advisor at 10 Downing Street, to consider the impact that digital technology could have in improving the nation’s health. ClinTouch is an easy to use app that provides an innovative new way of supporting people with psychosis, enabling early intervention and significant cost reductions for the NHS. This revolutionary digital intervention, developed by Manchester University empowers self-management for people with psychosis and reduces serious episodes occurring, improving the lives of individual patients and reducing NHS service costs, such as unplanned admissions and A&E presentations.

Significant cost savings for the NHS

Cost savings for the NHS are significant: Earlier intervention services in psychosis have the potential to save the NHS £119m over three years (Schizophrenia Commission Report). The ClinTouch mobile app is an end-to-end digital solution that improves communication and closes the information gap between patient and practitioner. This empowers service users to be more active in their care and recovery. This prevention is aided by utilising real-time data and alerting professionals of significant changes in their patient’s symptoms.

ClinTouch-Screens-Keep-It-Usable

Rich data and analytics

Through the app, users are prompted to record their symptoms and feelings. A unique and bespoke branch of questions then follows ensuring that each question asked is relevant with a graphical bank of user-friendly analytics immediately available for the patient to consider and review. This digital data-log can then be used to help identify any lifestyle or environmental triggers that prompt the onset of symptoms. ClinTouch has been built into an end-to-end system in two NHS mental health Trusts, with summary data accessible at clinical team desktops and streamed into e-healthcare records. If early warning signs for relapse occur, healthcare professionals can act to enable early intervention.

Manchester University, Manchester City Council, NHS, Manchester Mental Health

What’s the real difference? Face-to-face versus Remote user testing

Have you ever wondered what the real difference is between remote unmoderated user testing (like usertesting.com and whatusersdo) and face-to-face user testing? Which method should you use, when and what for? There is a huge difference in these two techniques and the end results so let’s take a look at them both in greater depth.

Face-to-face

Interviews conducted face-to-face with target users, often in a lab setting or in-context, for example in the person’s home to make them feel more at ease and uncover more realistic feedback and issues. The interviews are a two-way conversation guided by a trained researcher.

Usability testing

The positives

– Can be conducted at any stage of the design process, even before you have any UI in place. Gathering very early feedback will save time and cost later!

– Conducted by a researcher as a two way conversation, giving the opportunity to question answers given and behaviour observed.

– Very rich data. The opportunity to question users enables you to discover deep insights and more potential barriers to conversion.

– Greater team collaboration. When observing lab research, the team are together in an accompanying observation room. This increases design collaboration and buy-in for changes.

– See the user and their reactions. Face-to-face interviews use technology that can record the user as well as their interactions, so you can see their facial expressions and real time responses. This can make the videos much more powerful – it’s harder to ignore the feedback if you can see a real person and you know they’re just sat in the next room!

– Discover deeper problems and opportunities. The researcher can spend a portion of the interview understanding behaviour and underlying psychological motivations, these can often open up greater opportunities than just examining the UI in isolation.

– If a user stops thinking out loud (this is quite common), the researcher can prompt them or follow up with another question.

– Gain environmental, contextual and personality insights (if the research is conducted in context).

When should I use this method?

– You want to understand current user behaviour, needs, wants and concerns.

– You want feedback on early concept ideas, which you should pursue and why.

– You want to test sketches or lo-fidelity mockups.

– Throughout a project when you need to more deeply understand user behaviour and interaction.

– When you need to get stakeholder buy-in. They’re much more highly influenced when they’re sat in a room together, observing real people struggle to use their UI.

– If you want to benefit from the expertise of a UX researcher to run the session and to help recommend changes that will successfully engage users.

– When you need to establish rapport with users to encourage trust to discuss things they might not disclose if just speaking into a computer.

– If you want more authentic results.

– If the tasks and feedback will take longer than 15 minutes.

The drawbacks

Your research is only as good as the person conducting it. Face-to-face relies heavily on the research capabilities of the researcher. If someone with little experience runs research, there is a greater risk of them asking leading questions, not establishing rapport and missing key identifiers for insights to further pursue. They are also more likely to express interviewer bias – where they impose their beliefs and expectations subconsciously on the user and therefore influence their responses. It takes years of practice to conduct great user interviews but great interviews give better output.

– If your testing requires a large number of participants, face-to-face testing will quickly become very expensive. It works best for small scale, qualitative research (5-15 people).

– It generally takes longer than remote testing.

Remote unmoderated testing

Tasks and questions are planned in advance so that the user can complete them in a small amount of time (usually 15 minutes) in their own time at home. This is a one way method (no researcher involved) with users required to think aloud as they complete tasks.

Remote unmoderated usability testing

The Positives

– Cheap

– Quick

– User is in their environment on their device (note: face-to-face can also be performed in context)

– Cheaper for collecting large samples.

– No researcher needed (note: this could also be seen as a negative)

When should I use this method?

– If you need very quick results.

– Your budget is too small for face-to-face.

– If you just need to test a small aspect of your UI, something that can be explored in 15 minutes.

– You need a larger number of responses to backup qualitative face-to-face research with greater significance.

– You aren’t researching difficult, complex flows or sensitive issues.

– You’re main focus is on identifying easy to find usability issues and not deeper problems, insights or psychological barriers to conversion.

– When your UI is higher fidelity.

The drawbacks

– One way method, no active questioning. If the user misinterprets the question or gets stuck on something they can’t recover from, no one can put them back on track and help them. You also have to try and pre-empt the problem they might encounter in order to ask the right questions in the first place, this allows no chance to pursue interesting things they may do or say.

– Limited to around 15 minutes. This limits the amount of feedback you can gather and the depth of questioning. It can feel like the user’s just got themselves settled into the research and they’re giving some great feedback, then before you know it, the session has ended.

– Doesn’t record the user so you won’t get to see their facial reactions or body language.

– Higher risk of expert and money-motivated users. Some of the users may participate in many tests therefore becoming experts, others may be highly motivated by the payment and they’ll fly through the tasks without getting into the correct mindset.

– Users focussed on usability. As people sign up through the testing website, people are sometimes aware that the focus is on usability and user experience and you’ll hear them mention ‘usability’ and other terms a real consumer just wouldn’t pick up on.

– Thinking out loud can be quite a difficult skill to maintain. Once their cognitive resources are concentrated on the task in hand it’s easy to forget to think aloud. In face-to-face the interviewer can prompt them, but in remote, the user is on their own.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Understandably it feels very comfortable doing remote testing. You are more in charge, you can control the tasks and questions and even the end videos – if one user is particularly scathing there may be the temptation to not show that video to the team.

However, if it’s the only method you use you will always be limiting yourself to the top level issues you can find based on the tasks and questions you define (do you see how you’re already biasing your own results with your own expectations?). There’s also the limitation of the 15 minute sessions, as well as your own ability to analyse this sessions appropriately and suggest recommendations that will give the most effective results.

If you’ve never tried face-to-face research we’d strongly advise you give it a go. Yes some of it might be uncomfortable to hear but mostly, it will be an eye opening and inspiring experience! You’ll feel more connected to your customers, you’ll feel more connected as team, and you’ll go away with tonnes of new ideas to make your user experience and conversion much better!

Need help?

If you are in any doubt as to which method is right for you, or if you would like to find out more about how face-to-face could help you, feel free to get in touch and one of our experts will happily help you.

Another award shortlist for Keep It Usable

WIBA Award Keep It Usable

We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ve another award in our midst! This time it’s our founder, Lisa, who has been shortlisted for the North West Women in Business awards (WIBA) STEM category. STEM aims to recognise women who work in the traditionally male dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Lisa says “I’m very proud to be representing women in the STEM category. There’s still an under representation of women in the digital and tech scene. Certain sectors I work in are highly male dominated and I would love to see more women with the belief that they can enter these sectors.”

Best of luck Lisa!

We’d also like to give recognition to the amazing work of Ladies That UX. A group set up by Lizzie Dyson and Georgie Bottomley to support women who work in the UX field. Thank you for your continued support!