Infographic: 2015 E-commerce Opportunities

Source: Statistics from the e-commerce expo October 2014 day 1 and day 2.

More fascinating e-commerce insights for 2015! Expo day 2

Following our hugely popular write-up of the e-commerce expo day 1, here’s what happened on day 2. It’s even better, with fantastic insights on how to be successful in e-commerce in 2015, with advice from Paypal, Maplin and leading successful entrepreneurs!

The future of payments now

Rob Harper, Paypal

paypal mobile

Mobile payments are growing rapidly. More and more consumers are using their mobile to purchase. It means they’re buying on their terms and on their device.

However, £1.5bn was lost to uk commerce in the last year! Why? Payment friction is one of the leading reasons why customers leave websites. According to a poll by Harris, 47% of customers failed to complete a purchase as the process was too difficult on their mobile phone. What makes this worse is that 63% of consumers are less likely to buy from the same company through a different purchase channel after abandoning a mobile transaction due to poor performance.

Rob described how on average, it takes the user 140 taps to pay through a smartphone (see Smartphone Steve below).

average_moible_payment_process

Of course Paypal were at the expo because they believe they have the solution to this. Using Paypal, the number of taps is reduced to just 19 taps. He claimed it was more convenient, secure and Smartphone Steve doesn’t have the hassle of trying to find his wallet (which a lot of people don’t carry with them all the time, whereas they’ll always carry their mobile). Rob said that 47% of UK Paypal mobile users wouldn’t have made the purchase had Paypal not been available.

Paypal are also expanding into the mobile payments market in the offline retail space – will they be successful?

Driving performance through paid media optimisation and rich content

Michel Koch, Maplin, and Emmanuel Arendarczyk, NetBooster

Hands up if you know who Maplin are! That was one of the first things we were asked and a room full of hands shot up in the air. Apparently we were fairly unusual, as the average percentage of people who recall Maplin, is just 9%. However, just earlier this year, this figure was as low as 3%. They launched a TV campaign which was seen by 70% of tv viewers, pushing up Maplin’s recall rate to the current 9%. The TV ads focussed on Maplin Moments. If you don’t remember the ads, here’s a reminder below (I especially love the first bit, “This guy, let’s call him…. Guy”):

“The customer first, always”

Focus on your audience, on people and their behaviour. Maplin’s motto is “the customer first, always”. Maplin used to only focus on keywords, now they focus not just on people, but people with a certain behaviour.

It may (or may not) come as a surprise to hear that Maplin has a fantastic NPS score. They score second, directly beneath Apple. Beneath Maplin, in order, are First Direct, Amazon and ebay.

Maplin have heavily invested in mobile and TV channels. They advise going to where your customers are. For them, this is YouTube (the second biggest search engine in the world, after Google) and they have invested in the creation of how to videos for YouTube viewers. Video is incredibly powerful and lots of companies have seen increased conversion due to them: ‘1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words’ Forrester.

maplin_youtube_results

Customer engagement trends – how to stay ahead in 2015

Steven Ledgerwood and Saima Alibhai, Emarsys

customer_engagement

Steven and Saima, advised that your starting point should be the above 4 key questions: Who is the customer, what content fits the customer, when to reach the customer ad how to reach the customer.

3 key trends of 2015

1. Understanding customer behaviour

Your website gives you 10x more user generated data compared to email alone and is the most up to date data, however the challenge is getting value from this (big) data.

Right time + right content + right person = positive perception + revenue + engagement

For example, if a user comes from facebook to your site, use the right content and language: ‘Thanks for coming from facebook…”

And if the user leaves without purchasing you can now send them an email reminding them to purchase. Then when they come back to your website you would remind them about the item in their basket that they were going to buy as well as some additional cross-sell suggestions.

2. Multichannel personalisation

94% of companies agree that personalisation is critical to future success, however, more than half of companies are not using their CRM data to personalise how they communicate with their customers. 72% understand the importance of personalisation but they don’t know how to do it.

What to use to segment and personalise campaigns: gender, purchase behaviour, email behaviour, preference centre, team knowledge (see pic)

market_segmentation

Focus on what people are doing RIGHT NOW.

3. Automate! Automate! Automate!

The biggest opportunity available to marketers and those in e-commerce is the 92% of all website visitors that aren’t converting. Of the 8% who convert only 50% buy again. 8% of customers generate 41% of revenue.

website_visitors_not_converting

An example was given that if people don’t purchase, you could send them an email, offering them a discount along with photos of other products they might be interested in.

How digital tools will change the in-store shopping experience

Juha Mattson, Walkbase

Juha really was presenting the future of e-commerce and I loved this presentation. It showed how you can now analyse and treat conversion online and offline together to have one overall ROI. Focussing on an omni-channel approach. Physical stores can be measured the same as online:

retail_store_engagement

There are two levels of analysis: crowds and individuals.

Crowds: useful to analyse crowds when opening a new store in a new location, christmas sales, etc.

The in-store sales funnel. How many go past the store, how many come in, how many are engaged. If you run an offline campaign what’s the roi? Footfall and repeat visit patterns. You can now work this out.

Walkbase enables you to compare and benchmark online and offline together. How does it work? It uses wifi, bluetooth, door counters, video cameras to bring you new segmentation insights and rich customer profiles. Once you have this data, you can then engage more with the customer:

Example: Customer browses products online then when they enter a physical store they get these products retargeted to them as ads or offers in-store.

online_offline_marketing

The game changing opportunities in omnichannel retail:

1. Measurability of physical stores

2. Online-offline integration

3. In-store engagement

Walkbase enables retargeting across all devices and was said to be very easy to install. You need to install wifi detectors unless you already have wifi. Walkbase also uses beacons that you place in different locations in the store.

Panel debate

Liam Patterson of TopLAD and Osvaldo Spadano of Elastera

ecommerce_expo_panel_debate

Surprisingly, throughout the expo there was very little mention of going out and talking to customers, researching them and getting to some real, qualitative insights. I suspect this is because most of the presenters were very data driven people / product providers. Refreshingly, the panel session was purely about the personal experiences of two highly successful entrepreneurs. And do you know what they both said was the key thing to their success? Listening to the customer!

I nearly jumped out of my seat and punched the air at this point. Two whole days it took for someone to say, look what really works is actually talking to the customer. Yes data is brilliant and vital but if you don’t get out and talk to real life physical people you’ll never truly understand what your customer thinks, feels, wants, needs and discover what’s at the heart of their interaction with your brand.

Listen to the customer

Put the customer first is the key thing we learnt” said Liam “really understand your audience”.

Osvaldo was particularly passionate about talking to customers:

“It’s important to listen to your customer, not just rely on the data. It’s a big, BIG mistake.”

Osvaldo described, how it was only by going out and talking to customers and asking lots of questions that he was able to get the real human part of how his product was going to help people. Note: This is only something that can be gathered through real one-to-one conversation.

Beware of feature creep

Liam warned that it’s easy for businesses to become too feature led. He advised stepping back, think about what’s going to move your business forwards for your customers. Do you see how everything comes back to what is best for customers? If you’re only ever looking at data and doing small one-way remote testing, you’ll never get a deep understanding of your customer as a person, and you’ll miss crucial insights that could propel your business forwards.

I’ll conclude this post with advice from Osvaldo:

“It’s very powerful to go and talk to the customer. Try to understand their problem. Why do they want to do something about it? It’s all about problem solving. If you get good at it, you’ll have a good business.”

 

Did you miss our write-up of day 1? Read our overview of day 1 of the e-commerce expo >>>

Watch out for our next blog post: Your 2015 e-commerce crib sheet.

Jaguar Land Rover reveal the car of the future

land-rover

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

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

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

Virtual windscreen

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

Gesture control

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

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

Self learning car

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

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

The pot hole avoider

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

3D  instrument clusters

3d jaguar land rover

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

Hat-trick of client awards for Keep It Usable

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

Kooth

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

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

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

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

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

Netflights

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

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

Manchester Council

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

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

Contact Keep It Usable

A psychologists thoughts on Spritz and the future of digital reading

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

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

What is Spritz?

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

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

spritz 250wpm
spritz 500wpm

How does it work?

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

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

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

Information processing

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

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

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

Spritz Mobile

Less emotion

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

More concentration, less control

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

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

The future of digital

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

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

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

Spritz on Smartwatch

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

Guest Interview: On The Beach Head of Design

Keep It Usable On The Beach interview
This months Keep It Usable guest interview is with our friend Fritz Von Runte.
Fritz is the Head of design for our client On The Beach and we had the great pleasure of working with the team on a recent project.
Fritz Von Runte“I would go to the lab with Keep It Usable in the morning, and in the afternoon I’d be writing tickets to change things – in the best Agile practice.”

Could you tell our readers a bit about your background and your role at On The Beach?

I started my career in Art Direction almost 20 years ago, working for the advertising industry. I was always interested in “New Media” and eventually I decided to shift my career, to focus on web. Then, 7 years ago I made my masters in User Interface Design and specialised in UX.
At On The Beach I wear a couple of hats. I’m the head of a design team of four professionals. We try to maintain a certain design language throughout the company, with consistence and on brand. It’s a tough job because it’s a big company, with many colleagues, many requests, and many design problems, all in need of our solutions. Plus, it’s one of the most successful online travel agencies in the UK market. It’s a massive responsibility. I am also responsible for designing the experiences our users will have, not only in the web but also offline, via our flight and hotel vouchers, and customer documentation, for example.

What does your typical day involve?

I have a very busy schedule, but there’s a certain framework that I try my best to fit it. We’re Agile, so every morning we have the Design stand-up where we communicate what every member of the team is doing at the moment and discuss the flow of tickets. We also have Agile stand-ups for all other projects, most of these involving the Design Shop (as we call our team), so one of us must be there to update the other teams. I try to schedule all my meetings in the morning so I can use the afternoon for research and design.

How important is UX at On The Beach and why is it valued?

On The Beach has been around for almost 8 years and it grew very rapidly. A couple of years ago they began to understand the need to pay more attention to the experiences and the usability. I was brought on board as the first designer focusing on the UX, we had a good six months changing the culture to accept and understand a bit more about this need. But, to be honest, this change was painless and smooth, as the directors were (and are) open to new solutions that could improve the website and our client’s experience. We have a lot of room to develop, to research, and to propose new ideas. It’s a wonderful place to work and it’s a thrill to be doing UX design at this moment in time at a company like On The Beach.

You work to an agile development process. Why and how does UX fit into this process?

I guess that is the biggest challenge. Agile is awesome but historically it tends to treat design and the experience as something frivolous or secondary. One of my goals is to raise awareness of how better it is to deal with usage challenges from the start instead of doing it rapidly and then having to re-do it. On the otherhand, when we are testing and prototyping, we use Agile principles and it works really well to prove (or disprove) assumptions from a very early stage, without having to spend much time in development for example.

What tools do you work with?

Primarily with paper and pencil – it’s how everything starts!. Then I move to a PC. I find it easier to talk to the network and to other technologies with a PC. But, we have all sorts of platforms in our team; Windows, iOS, Ubuntu, Android…
When it comes to software I use many different ones. The whole Adobe suite of course – and I mean the whole suite! I’ve used Visio in the distant past, then I moved to Axure and Balsamiq, but because of the dynamics here at On The Beach I now mainly use Illustrator for my low-fi wireframes as I’ve accumulated an extensive library of symbols and actions… :) Plus a lot of on-the-fly coding on the console and notepad, and also other online tools like UXPin, Litmus, JSFiddle, etc.

Mobile app vs responsive web design vs mobile web – what are your thoughts at On The Beach?

Responsive is a terminology that I don’t really subscribe to. There are two ways to see this issue. Firstly, like we all used to test our websites, years ago on different browsers and systems, and get charts of usage of monitor sizes and resolutions, we now should make sure this product performs well in all possible environments – the mobile, the tablet, the internet tv, the laptop, etc, in all browsers and all systems. Nothing has changed – the game is just a bit harder now.

Secondly, different products have different needs and different platforms have different needs. The very first version of Tetris I’ve ever played was called Nyet. Tetris is a classic game that existed in any possible platform, even portable ones like Gameboy. Have you tried to play Tetris on the mobile? It changed the whole dynamic and usability of the game. So having a webapp whose functionality is the same on different platforms, but with some adjustments to the grid depending on the screen size, is not something I take for granted.

I always challenge the concept of mobile apps, for different reasons. I don’t think it’s always the best way to serve your product to a client. I have a parallel career as a DJ and record producer, and the music market is flooded with Mobile Apps. I don’t see it as a great tool to serve content. I see it mainly as a badge on your mobile screen, saying to the world and yourself that you’re are a big fan of artist or band xyz. I think mobile apps – the ones you download, and that updates itself when you’re connected to the wifi – are more interesting when your product is a tool and that you think the user will use it enough times to justify its download and space on screen and internal memory.

With On The Beach there are two main factors that made us not to choose this route. Firstly we are so dynamic when it comes to software development, making at least two deploys per week, that an app from us would be constantly updating, and that wouldn’t be the best experience for the user – think Acrobat Reader, when was the last time it didn’t tell you it needs updating? :) The second reason is accessibility. Although we have a significant number of customers choosing us as their online travel agent more than once a year, plus all the people that come back from their holidays and come to us to book their next ones – and that would justify an On The Beach app as a tool – we wanted to use our efforts and energy on something that would serve everybody. For example, users coming from Google or Bing, a link on Facebook, a suggestion of a friend or a specialist site like Trip Advisor (that sends us hundreds of users every day). Instead, we made an entirely new website, just for the mobile, that you don’t need to download or upkeep. It’s there for anyone with a connection and it works really well.

On The Beach Tablet and Mobile websites

Describe an example of the work involved from design through to implementation?

I think the design process is the same on every branch of design. From designing a chair to a party flyer, from a shopping cart experience to a car. We have an idea, then some high level analysis, then research, concept, testing and finally wireframing. Then back to the research.

How important is research to OTB?  How did the Keep It Usable research feed into the agile development process and how did the feedback help to shape the software?

Research is fundamental to my work and to the company. We are constantly analysing data and testing the best way to do everything. When it comes to our mobile website we did extensive research, and Keep It Usable was a major part of it. We had instant feedback on certain features that are paramount to the mobile experience. I would go to the lab with Keep It Usable in the morning, and in the afternoon I’d be writing tickets to change things – in the best Agile practice.

What are your favourite UX-related resources?

I have way too many bookmarks, rss and twitter feeds, but I think the benefits from other people or companies experiences come from knowing the whole case. This is why I love to go to meetings and talks, I’m very active at #NUX, and I try to go to all UX conventions I can. It’s a good way to get to know people in the industry, but mainly I do it to hear the cases straight from the horses mouth. A button being small or big, positioned left or right, its colours… it doesn’t mean anything without data, without knowing the purposes and goals that were briefed.

Fritz on Twitter: @fritzvonrunte

Would you like to work with us?

Keep It Usable help many different kinds of companies to understand their users. We conduct research with real people and design interfaces using an evidence-based approach; every element has reasoning.

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If you’re not investing in UX, your competitor will be!

Content Strategy: Exclusive interview with Sara Wachter-Boettcher

This month, we’re focussing on the importance of Content Strategy. This coincides nicely with the launch of a new book titled ‘Content Everywhere’ by Sara Wacheter-Boettcher who is also the editor of A List Apart. We interviewed Sara to talk to you about her new book and explain exactly what content strategy is, how it fits into the User Experience (UX) process and why it’s important for you to have a content strategy.

Hi Sara! Please could you tell our readers about yourself and what you do

I’m an independent content strategist, the editor of A List Apart magazine, and a general loudmouth. Right now I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the heart of Amish country, because my husband has a visiting professorship here. Before that, I lived in Arizona, and before that, Oregon, which I still miss every day.

I work directly with clients or partner with agencies to solve complex content problems, and I spend a lot of time writing articles and speaking at conferences to help other web professionals deal with the complexities of content and how it affects their business.

Congratulations on your new book ‘Content Everywhere’. What is it about?

The idea for book came out of all the hubbub over mobile and responsive design that started in the summer of 2011. I had this realization: The problems that we already had with content—both with managing and maintaining it, and with users being able to find content that was relevant to them—were about to be exacerbated by mobile.

That’s because the way we’ve been conceiving of and creating web content has been in big, monolithic pages—and those pages just wouldn’t hold up against the onslaught of different devices and services that are coming. It just looked like big, broken blobs of stuff. Creating new, separate content for every new device wouldn’t work for long, either—there are just too many to keep up with. Instead, we need to make our content more flexible—more capable of being shifted and moved around however it’s needed—and that comes from structure.

When we break content down according to what it is and what it is trying to communicate, and store it in a way that respects its natural shape and flow, then we can do so much more with it: We can connect it to other content based on shared attributes and relationships. We can reformat and reflow it for different devices. We can mash it up with third parties’ data via an API. So that’s what the book is all about: Showing you how to break your content down and turn it into a flexible foundation, and then showing you all the different types of things that will allow you to do.

Who would benefit from reading your book?

It’s definitely a practitioner’s guide—a book for people who want to work hands-on with content. That includes people in content strategy, editorial, and writing roles, but it’s not limited to them. It’s also for people in IA and UX, who are often tasked with organizing and labeling information. The book helps you take those skills and apply them to a micro plane, within a single piece of content.

What I didn’t expect when I wrote the book was how many people from mobile design and development fields would pick it up because they want to really learn how to deal with content—and that’s been really exciting to see as well.

How does the role of content fit within UX? 

You can’t really have one without the other, I don’t think. If you’re trying to design an experience and you don’t think about the content, what exactly are you designing? And if you are thinking about content without thinking about the people who will ultimately read or use it, then what’s the point?

What’s interesting about content strategy work is that it both fits within and outside of typical UX roles, because content has to deal with so many other things: the people and workflows and departmental silos and skillsets inside an organization, the content management system, the relationship between groups like IT and marketing and their ability to communicate and get things done, the ongoing needs of the business and how much content will need to be produced in the long run to serve them. The list could go on.

 

IBM’s “Customer Facing Solutions” infographic

What are the benefits for those companies that include content in their UX process? 

If you don’t think about content, you get delays. You get content that “breaks” the design. You get a beautiful interaction stuffed with defensive and condescending error messages. You get a system that works beautifully, but no one on staff who understands how to care for it—how to update the content effectively, what to do when content needs to archived, what sorts of content are appropriate for the experience in the first place. And so, the benefit of including content considerations in every project and every organization is that you can skip all that mess and wasted time and budget, and deliver something that fits the brand, resonates with users, and smooths the entire process—oftentimes with a lot fewer headaches.

 

Richard Ingram’s illustration shows ways in which a UX team might collaborate with a content strategist

How would user research feed into content strategy?

Well, it’s really hard to connect with your users and get them to care if you don’t understand much about them. I personally work on user research as often as possible, conducting user interviews, synthesizing analytics data, observing users in action. If I’m not the one conducting the research, I want to hear as much as I can from those who are. The more you can empathize with users and understand what’s important to them, the better you can make your content resonate with them, and also the more you can avoid the lure of pretty-yet-meaningless marketing copy, which is shallow and useless.

Could you share one thing people reading this article can do right now to improve their content?

Just go look at it—really look at it. What are all the things you’re putting out there? Do they reflect the organization you want to be? Do they sound human and relatable? Can thou figure out why they’re there? How much are you publishing, anyway, and for whom? Every piece of content you put out there takes time, money, and resources away from your organization. Ask yourself whether it’s helping you reach your goals. Once you’ve taken a good, hard look, don’t get overwhelmed. You can tame the beast, but it’ll take some time. Do a little thing to start, and work from there. It will pay off in saved time, better experiences for users, and a lot more clarity about what you’re trying to accomplish.

Other than your book, are their any other online or offline resources you’d recommend to learn more about content?

The magazine I edit, A List Apart, publishes frequently about content, as does Contents. I’d also suggest some books. The foundational text is Content Strategy for the Web from Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. I’d also suggest Margot Bloomstein’s Content Strategy at Work, especially if you’re from a neighboring field and want to understand what focusing on content or working with someone who does can do for you as a designer, a project manager, etc. And finally, Karen McGrane’s new Content Strategy for Mobile is a great complement to my book, especially if you need to convince the powers that be to stop blowing budget on glittery mobile apps and actually make all your content mobile-ready.

Further info

Sara’s website: sarawb.com    Twitter: @sara_ann_marie

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Persuasion within design: Use it or lose it

Here at Keep It Usable, we’ve been studying and applying persuasion and psychology within our designs for many years, but recently it’s gained much more awareness and businesses are beginning to wake up to the huge impact it can have on sales.

Traditionally, marketers, web managers, business owners were mainly reliant on marketing strategies and visual design to capture attention and convert customers. However, where this failed was in understanding the customer and end user. It’s the same if your company focusses too much on A/B and multivariate testing – you’re making changes blindly and just hoping for the best if you haven’t conducted enough user research to start with.

Changing a button colour or text may give you a conversion increase but if you haven’t had any dialogue with your users you have no idea if you’re giving them what they expect, need and want. It’s these things that have the biggest impact. Not only will it inform your design now, but everyone in the company will have a greater understanding of the user and what they want, which can lead to better future ideas.

What is persuasive design?

Persuasive design is based on understanding the end user and using psychological design techniques to increase those persuasive factors that encourage and nudge a user to take action. There are many persuasive factors, including and not limited to, trust, credibility, authenticity, reciprocity, scarcity, motivators to act (free, sex and food being the most common). The skill is in identifying and knowing which will appeal to your audience and which to present at the right time to motivate the desired action. It’s not a case of simply adding everything to your home page and sitting back whilst the clicks roll in, unfortunately it takes skill, timing, an experienced designer, user research, and an understanding of the users psychological buying process to create the perfect momentum to drive the desired behaviour.

Amazon: Masters of persuasive design

We see persuasive design elements used a lot within Amazon’s website. Here are a few examples that are easy to spot.

Imagery

Amazon ImagesEver wondered why people prefer images to reading text? It’s a scientific fact. Our brains respond more quickly to images, they take less time to process which causes us to like them more. So, wherever possible you should display images of your product or service. People like to see visuals of what they’re buying, it helps them to understand and feel confident of their purchase. If it’s done right, imagery can also greatly increase trust in your company and give you credibility, however, be careful because when done badly it can lose you a lot of business. We don’t recommend using stock photos – users know they are fake and that feeling transfers to your business.

People like to imagine how things will look and feel in real life. This is why showcasing multiple imagery of the same product and videos are now commonplace. Fashion and clothing websites benefit dramatically from showcasing videos – people want to see how the garment will look on their body and the movement of the fabric tells them a lot about how it might feel to wear.

The power of FREE

Free is one of the biggest persuaders, which is why it is used in every type of industry. Have you seen the big campaign by Graze at the moment? They’re offering one free box to every new customer as well as offering existing customers a free box for every friend that joins (clever hey?). It did take Amazon a while to offer free delivery on all items (remember when you had to spend £5?) and the fact that they’ve kept the delivery free says a lot – it’s working! Paying for delivery adds extra cost to the user, as well as concerns about the cost of sending the item back should it not be suitable. We call these concerns ‘barriers’ and each barrier to purchase adds up to one huge barrier that results in you losing a potential customer. This is why user research and usability testing is so important – it enables us to identify all psychological barriers to purchase so we can not only remove them, but add in elements that address these concerns at the crucial point.

Power of free

You won’t identify psychological barriers like having to pay for delivery (and understand why this is such a problem) by A/B testing alone. You can only gain rich information by talking to your users, getting inside their mind, understanding their daily lives, how your product or website fits in, how it can help them, what’s stopping them using it, what concerns and worries do they have, etc, etc. It’s REALLY important!

Social proof: Reviews

What do you think Amazon is? A product retailer? Surprisingly, they’re primarily a review site. Most people who visit Amazon go there to check out the reviews, even if they intend to purchase the product elsewhere. In user studies, when given tasks, users will often visit Amazon before continuing with their task on the intended site. Reviews are the key reason for this and Amazon know it! That’s why you have to scroll right down the page past all the things they want to cross-sell to you before you can get to what they know you’re there for: the reviews. Their hope is to distract you with similar purchases, free delivery, what other people have bought and all the other lovely things they hope will catch your eye.

Reviews
Customer reviews are very powerful. They give what you’re trying to sell credibility and increase trust. The more the buyer is like them, the more their concerns mirror their own, the more trust and reassurance the user will feel. Most people don’t want to be the first to try something, they want to know someone’s taken the risk before them. People fear making the wrong choice so your aim is to remove or at least lessen that fear, thereby removing another barrier to purchase. A good review placed at the optimal stage in the user journey can be the psychological edge the user needs to feel the pull towards purchasing.

Encouraging cross-sells and exploration

What if users decide not to buy what’s on the page? Amazon try to direct the user to other products they may want to purchase. There are two ways in which they do this but their aim is the same: keep the user within Amazon and increase the likelihood they will see something they want to purchase. Amazon showcase ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ and ‘What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?’ They’re pretty much the same and as people don’t really read text what matters is that they see something that captures their interest and keeps them engaged until they eventually purchase.

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 10.31.38

This isn’t just a clever use of social proof, it works because it’s likely that if you like the product you’re looking at, you’ll also like what most other people looked at or bought. The fact is that although we like to think we’re all individual, we’re more predictable and alike than we want to believe.

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 10.32.11

Further information and advice

Lisa Duddington

We hope you enjoyed this article that only touches briefly on how you can use persuasion within design.

If you’d like any help or if you’d simply like to know more about how persuasive design and user research could help your business, get in touch with us right now and ask for Lisa.

 

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Samsung simplifies smart TV for a user friendly experience

Samsung Smart TV

Samsung, the worlds leading manufacturer of smart TVs, is also leading the way on user experience.

They have simplified the user interface of the internet on their smart TVs in an effort to make them easier to use and more user friendly. Clearly, their overall aim by doing this is to gain more market share and sell more products. Big brands know the way to do this is by creating simple, easy to use, usable products that offer a great user experience.

Functionality that allows two programmes to be watched full-screen at the same time is also impressive. To do this, users wear special glasses with built-in headphones so they only see and hear their selected programme. No more arguments about what to watch on TV!

Users now swipe through five panels which take them between shows being broadcast at that time; on-demand programmes and movies; photos and other content sourced from connectable devices; social networks and Skype; and finally smart TV apps.

The system also uses a facility called S Recommendation to suggest content based on the owner’s past viewing habits which can take account of the way their choices change at different times of the day.

A new T-commerce service will also allow users to identify the clothes stars are wearing and order their own copy of the outfit on selected programmes.

Samsung also showcased smart devices for the kitchen, including a fridge-freezer with a compartment that can be switched between fridge or frozen states, and an oven that can cook two meals at different temperatures.