Mr, Ms or Mx? Inclusive form design for gender diversity

Is it time for forms to include gender diversity?

Think about a form that you filled out recently, or indeed a form on your website. It’s likely you were asked for your title and your gender. It’s also highly likely that you were only given very binary answer options to these questions, for example, male or female may have been the only choices available to you for your gender. But what if you don’t fit that mould? What if you don’t identify yourself as male or female? Should we be opening up form answers to be more inclusive?

Form Example

Times have changed. Things are no longer black and white when it comes to gender identification. The proportion of the UK population who define as non-binary when given a choice between male, female and another option is 0.4%, which is 1 in 250 people (Titman, 2014).

For young Millennials and Generation Z, the proportion increases even more. Brought up with the internet and social media, their awareness of gender and acceptance of differences contributes to their challenge of traditional stereotypes.

“A lot of older people aren’t as used to talking about non-binary genders as my generation are, so a little more patience is needed for them, I guess” says Allie, 21.

When it comes to gender, young people are the most open minded and non-defining. They see their identity, including their gender, as fluid. In research by the J Walter Thompson Innovation Group, it was discovered that:

  • 80% of Generation Z (13-20 year olds) believe gender doesn’t define a person
  • 70% feel strongly that public restrooms should be gender neutral
  • >44% by clothes designed for their gender
  • 56% know someone who is gender neutral and refers to them as ‘they’ as opposed to ‘he’ or ‘she’

As marketers and designers, it’s easy to add a gender question to our forms and make it mandatory in order to collect data and market our products more effectively. But asking a non-binary person this question and forcing them to choose an option may be seen as offensive, hurtful and yet another reminder to them of how they aren’t accepted.

Let’s look at some statistics:

  • 46% of non-binary people felt the need to hide their identity as non-binary while accessing NHS services
  • Over a third of people said that they were to some extent the ‘other’ gender, ‘both genders’ and/or ‘neither gender’ Joel et al. (2014)
  • 19% of people disagreed with the statement ‘you are either a woman or a man’ and a further 7% were not sure (YouGov)
  • A survey of 79 non-binary people in the UK found that the vast majority reporting feeling uncomfortable (100%) and unsafe (94%) being non-binary in the UK

HSBC now give customers the option of a range of titles, including “Ind”, which stands for individual, meaning free of gender, and “Mre”, an abbreviation for “mystery”. In total they’ll offer 10 gender-neutral titles. However, we noticed that their website only offers Male and Female as options, meaning customers have to contact HSBC directly to change their gender (not the ideal user experience).

It’s important that digital experiences aren’t excluded from non-binary options.

With regards to your business, the risk is that your form and the experience it provides may turn people away or at the very least they’ll be left with a poor impression of your company.

So what can we address this within form design?

1 Use Mx

There are lots of gender-neutral options in use, however, the most prevalent is the use of ‘Mx’. Mx is short for Mixter, however don’t confuse this to mean a mix, it’s simply a way of identifying that a person doesn’t associate themselves as either gender.

2 Remove your Gender field

As with any form, you should always question the value of requesting data from the user. You may have a question about gender in your form that doesn’t actually provide you with enough value to warrant keeping it. In this case, remove it altogether.

3 Use ‘Other’ but use it with caution

It surprised us to see the BBC using ‘Other’ as their alternative gender choice when signing up to use the iPlayer. If this applied to you, how would you feel being categorised in the Other category? Sure they have a ‘Prefer not to say’ category but what if you want to state your gender but can’t? As a public funded organisation, one that ensures it’s services are accessible and inclusive, we would expect them to be more inclusive in how they handle questions on gender.

Use ‘Other’ with caution

4 Change the field type

If you want to represent all possible gender options, the issue is there are a lot! To keep things simple you may need to think about changing the control you use. For example, you could have a free text field, with auto-suggest. Or you could offer further options once ‘Other’ is selected (see below example from the NHS).

Change the field type

Cambridge University suggest the field is left open for the user to type in their answer (see their recommended example below).

“I would say I am gender fluid but also non-binary and trans. My gender is an evolving thing, like my sexuality, the more I explore it the more it changes. The only reason why I feel I should put a label on it is just to make it easier for other people.”

Payton Quinn, age 24

It’s important to present your gender question in an inclusive way to help non-binary people feel welcome to describe themselves as something other than men and women.

5 Make it optional

Consider if you really need this field to be mandatory. Could you change it to optional? Or could you add the option of ‘Prefer not to say’?

6 Provide reassurance of privacy

People may feel uncomfortable disclosing their gender and wonder why you want to know and what you will use it for. Providing a simple explanation can help to eliminate their concerns.

7 Consider using pronouns

Facebook have an interesting way of asking for ‘Custom’ gender. Once selected, the user is free to type in not just one gender identity, but multiple. They also select their preferred pronoun (see below).

Facebook

8 Watch your copy too!

When people don’t identify with male or female, they don’t feel comfortable being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’. Remember to use ‘they’ or ‘ze’.

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7 Tips to Craft Compelling Call-to-action Copy

Call to action (CTA) UX Design and Conversion

There’s no doubt about it, we all know that well-designed call-to-action (CTA) buttons increase conversion. But it’s not just about the visual design of the button. What you say on your CTA (the text) is just as important.

Psychology and persuasion

CTAs guide and prompt users to do something on your website, like searching, signing up or buying a product. It needs to be a clear instruction to your users; it’s there to prompt them to take action.
That’s why your CTA needs to be clear to your users. It has to tell them what they need to do next. However, it also needs to be compelling and persuasive to motivate them to take action. This is where psychology comes into the creation of your CTA. You can’t simply state what will happen when they click the button, it needs to be written for persuasion. Your users need to know why they should click the button.

1 Use a verb

CTA UX Design Using Verbs

To get people doing what you want them to do on your website, you need to use actionable language. This means verbs! Using a verb helps you tell users how to get from point A to point B, providing directions and guidance. For example, in telling your user “Click here to get started”, you are suggesting what to do and where they are going next. By not including a verb in the CTA copy, you aren’t prompting readers to act, which can negatively impact your click-through rate and conversion.

Barry Feldman of Unbounce recommends starting with an actionable word such as “get”, “learn”, “discover” or “enjoy.” And once you’ve set yourself up to speak to the value of the offer, he recommends following up your action-packed verbs with “the value the clicker shall receive.”

Button copy like “click here” or “download now” doesn’t communicate what you stand to gain by clicking. “Enjoy a free week—on us!” on the other hand, does.

2 Use you or yours

Using you or yours makes users feel like you care about them, and not just about your own business. You want to help them, and make their life easier. It personalises your CTA, and gets your users feeling like you are doing something for them. They feel like you are talking to them.

3 Use me or my

Similar to the previous point, using possessive pronouns makes your users feel as though your product or your service already belongs to them.

4 Show value

Using a short sentence rather than just a word can help users to understand the real value of their action. You can have an entire page explaining the value of your product, but who reads a page in its entirety? No one. Make your call to action as explanatory as possible.

If your call-to-action button doesn’t tell users of the value they will gain by clicking it, they won’t click.
UX Design to Increase CTA Conversion

5 Use a negative call to action

Is the aim of your service/product solving someone’s problem? Make it obvious in your CTA. A negative call to action plays on your users’ frustrations with their current situation and makes it clear how you can solve their problem. “

Worried about your credit rating?” appeals directly to the person’s concerns.

6 Add Free and consider surrounding text

Are you offering a free trial period? Make it obvious that there is no commitment for your users. Netflix example is a good one: their call to action for new users is “Join free for a month” but they clearly specify with a sentence above the button that you can “Watch anywhere, cancel anytime”. Consider the surrounding text.


Example: Adding “it’s free” next to the CTA increased conversion by 18%.
CTA UX Design - Power of FREE

7 Incentivise

Using words that provide incentives is a great motivator to click on your CTA. Answer the question “What are your users getting out of this?” and put it on your call to action. They might get a bonus if they purchase immediately or if they invite someone to join the service.

A change in one word can significantly make the difference because words have power, so choose them wisely. Remember to test, test, test your call-to-actions.

Your next read:

How just one word can change your conversion

CTA UX Design - Black and Decker Button Conversion Test

Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion

 

8 ways to convert high value purchases online

Understanding your customer journey is key to success. However, with an increasing number of touchpoints, understanding your audience is getting more and more difficult. It’s critical to know not just their interests and opinions, but also their habits, behaviours and interaction points in both the online and offline worlds. With big ticket items, such as expensive holidays and luxury cars, the customer journey is even more complex to comprehend. Consumers decisions on these items are processed differently to lower value items, people take more time over the decision, compare more alternatives and refer to many trusted sources for advice, but how do they make a decision? Do these sources really make a difference? What psychological tips and tricks can you employ to sell big ticket items to consumers?

Why are high ticket purchase decisions different?

Unlike lower value items, high cost purchases are more risky purchases for a number of reasons:

  • High price. They cost more so it takes more time to save up and pay for the item, consumers want to make sure their hard earned money is not wasted on a bad decision.
  • High risk. When it comes to experience purchases such as the annual family holiday or a honeymoon, there is a great deal of pressure on the person booking to ensure the experience is memorable and that everyone has a great time.
  • Longevity. A car will be something that’s used daily, for a number of hours and will remain in their life for a number of years.

68 days is the average time it takes users to research high ticket purchases

The fragmented but shortening customer journey

The customer journey in the digital era is no longer linear. With the rise of digital technologies and the connectedness that typifies the shopping experience, the costumer decision making process has become more fragmented.

However, the customer journey is also showing signs of shortening for high price items. Research over the last few years shows that consumers may be becoming more decisive. This may be because evidence indicates they are researching much earlier and spending much longer in this stage of the process. From 2013 to 2015, the average time taken in the research phase decreased by 14% for high cost purchases, from 79 days to 68 days (GE Capital Retail Bank and Synchrony Financial).

User experience in the digital world is no doubt contributing to this shortening timeline. The more that digital experiences, such as websites and apps, are designed around user needs, the more likely it is that the customer’s questions and concerns are answered and they’ll more likely reach the moment of truth. The key is ensuring that your website is the one to do this so that you keep the customer in your website as opposed to them going back to Google and a competitor to meet their needs. You need to identify and prevent all those barriers that can make people bounce, and work to actively keep them engaged with your product.

Rational and irrational decision making

“95% of our decisions are emotional, and 5% are rational. So even with all of these touch points we tend to go with our gut.” (Kahneman)

In the decision making process we think we are being very rational, researching the product, collecting information, comparing what’s included and prices, reading reviews, looking at photos and watching videos… but unbeknownst to consumers, their final decision to purchase is driven by emotions (irrational).

M.Talks of Ignition One states “We may be getting more decisive, but it doesn’t mean we’re getting any more loyal. Perhaps we’re just using all the information to filter down to a decision, but it’s still going to be an emotional decision. We’re not going to be any more [rational] about it… with some items we’re going to look at all the facts a bit more, but we’re still going to go with our emotional reaction to things. When it comes to marketing, it’s all about how you feel. If you don’t feel towards a certain brand, then you don’t want anything to do with it. You want to make sure you’re playing up all of your marketing campaigns to play into those emotions. The thing about the big-ticket items where you have to make a big financial commitment is that naturally, you want to make more time about that decision and have as many opportunities to verify your decision as possible. But our decisions are mostly driven by emotion rather than rational thought.”

Still likely to purchase in-store, despite their increased use of digital

88% are likely to purchase a high priced item in-store, not online. So, despite the increased use of digital throughout the customer journey, the final transaction is mostly still being made in a physical store.

8 ways to convert high ticket consumers online

1. Focus on mobile customer experience

With 50% of consumers using their mobile at some point during the research and purchase of a high ticket item, it’s more important than ever to focus on your mobile customer experience. Mobile is by far the most difficult platform for brands to get right due to the small screen space, so it’s worthwhile investing in expert help to focus on analysing your online user experience, identifying barriers and opportunities to engage and convert your consumers.

Mobile shopping CX

2 Limit choice

The potential for your consumers suffering from the paradox of choice increases the more options you give them and the less likely they are to make a choice. And when they do finally make a choice they’ll be less satisfied with it – this is called Buyers Remorse. This is what happens when you book your holiday then a week later see a better deal that you wish you’d booked instead.
Parados of choice

3 Have a clear call to action on each page

It’s important for you to guide your customer when they’re on your website. Have one clear call to action button for each page. If you need other buttons, make these secondary buttons by decreasing their visual appearance and enhancing the appearance of the primary button to clearly stand out on the page.

4 Use video

High consideration purchases are driven by emotions. “The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.” (Psychology Today). The best way for you to communicate emotion is through video.

5 Personalisation

People want to feel that their purchase is unique, tailored on their needs, something that makes them proud to show and tell others about. People enjoy the fun aspect of personalising their product to their needs. It’s an external reflection of themselves. It also enhances their commitment and likelihood to purchase – personalisation can deliver 5-10 times the ROI on marketing spend and increase sales by 10% or more (McKinsey, 2013).
Audi R8 personalisation

6 Post purchase experience

The final purchase decision, especially for expensive purchases can be followed by buyers remorse; Have I made the right decision? Is it the best product? Buyer’s remorse (or buyer’s regret) is the sense of regret a person feels after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with expensive items or when when customers have made a choice from many different options. A feeling of self-doubt and remorse can emerge after the purchase process. To lessen the risk of buyers remorse, keep in touch with the customer after their purchase, reassuring them of the good decision they made to buy their product and the benefits it’s going to bring them. They will become a loyal customer. Also this goes without saying but ensure you send reminders to them to leave a review!

7 Giving meaningful context

Give context to your customers experience, make your product come alive in their eyes, giving meanings that are relevant and timely for them. In a study, international travellers were asked ‘How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death for any reason?’ versus ‘How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death in terror incident?’. Travellers were willing to pay more  in the second condition because of the time and context (the unfortunate questions were asked during a period in which the risk of terror attacks was high).

Context matters

8 Utilise Virtual Reality

To give customers the experience before purchasing. Car makers such as Audi are offering consumers virtual test drives that enable consumers to test drive their cars without the need to visit a showroom. This approach disrupts the standard customer journey of research then test drive, as consumers can fast track straight to the test drive before doing their research. Once consumers finally go for their real test drive it will feel like a familiar experience and remove some of the friction, resulting in a higher chance of purchase. Fashion retailers are already looking at how VR could help to ease changing room friction and queues and utilising technology such as smart mirrors.

Virtual reality

Other posts you may find interesting:

Using the Pareto Principle to improve your user experience
Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion

Creating meaningful experiences: an Introduction to User Experience design

“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 UX research / Usability testing.

Keep It Usable Home UX Lab

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 >

 

How just one word can change your conversion

Conversion Copy UX DesignLayout, images, colours, fonts are equally important in order to provide users with a pleasant online experience and increase the conversion rate of a website. The design of a website is crucial, but it’s not the only factor that we should take into consideration.

Users should be guided and helped in making a purchase decision on a website; they need to have enough information in order to make an informed decision and the navigation has to flow smoothly. But, is that enough?

Changing just one word can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.

Choosing the right way to say something is fundamental, particularly if the aim is to prompt users to take an action, like buying your products or creating an account.

Choosing the right word(s)

Unfortunately there is no universal answer or solutions.

Since words acquire meanings only when considered in context, knowing which words are better then others, means knowing the context, observing users moving and behaving in that context and constantly putting yourself in their shoes.

It is very important to keep testing, particularly in relation to CTA buttons, as shown in the following case studies.

Understanding your customer’s psychology, behaviour and intention is the secret to effective CTA copy.

Example: ‘Buy now’ vs ‘Shop now’

Dewalt.com have a ‘Buy Now’ CTA button on their product pages. Some of the team thought that changing the wording to something less committal like ‘Shop Now’ might encourage greater click throughs. Others on the team thought the wording change could imply a longer purchase process. So they decided to test both variations to see which resulted in greater conversion.

CTA UX Design - Black and Decker Button Conversion Test

Hypothesis

Current CTA: ‘Buy now’. May imply a faster and shorter process to purchase.

Variation: ‘Shop now’.  May imply less commitment and therefore encourage more clicks.

Results

17% more users clicked on ‘Buy Now’ rather than ‘Shop Now’.

The small variation in text had a huge impact on the final result. This represented a six-figure difference in the online sales of the product.

Why?

The next action is clearer with ‘Buy now’, it is very obvious that the user’s intention is to purchase. ‘Shop now’ could be mistaken for continuing to look at more shops, it is less specific regarding the action and more ambiguous.

 

Example: ‘Find a retailer’ vs ‘Where to Buy’ vs ‘Nearby Retailers’

Hypothesis

Current CTA: ‘Find a retailer’. Concern that this may be mistaken for online retailers only.

Variation 1: ‘Where to buy’. The team felt this version was more direct and may imply less work for the visitor.

Variation 2: ‘Nearby retailer’. Related to a physical and geographical location and therefore may make it clearer that this indicates physical retail stores

Dewalt.com Copy Conversion

Results

4.1% more users clicked on ‘Nearby retailer’ compared to the two alternatives.

Why?

The button more clearly indicates physical shops where the user can buy the product as it relates to a geographical location, while the others two options could be mistaken as solely relating to online stores.

 

How 2 Words Lifted Insound’s Checkout Funnel Conversion to 54%

Following the launch of a redesign, Insound found that conversion was underperforming. It was believed that this was due to the length of the checkout process and the vague wording throughout.

Hypothesis

Current CTA: ‘Continue’. Logical description of the button, continues to the next step.

Variation 1: ‘Review order’. Describes what’s going on and reassures that the process is not completed yet, i.e. there’s still time to change your mind.

Variation 2: ‘Submit’. Based on the one-step check out process.

Variation 3: ‘Almost done’. Informs that the process is almost complete.

 

Insound.com Copy Conversion

Results

‘Review order’ was the winner with a 39.4% click rate.

Why?

It is explanatory and reassuring at the same time, clearly indicating to the user that they still have time to back out should they need to but also allows them to see an overview of their order and associated information to double check everything before proceeding.

As can be seen, small adjustments to your CTA copy can make a big difference conversion. It’s always worth testing alternatives to see which performs better.

Source of examples: Optimizely

The privacy paradox and how you can use it to increase conversion

The privacy paradox and how you can use it to increase conversionIn the era of Web 2.0, privacy is not only one of the liveliest issues in the debate about consumers behaviour and individual rights, but also one of the most difficult one to solve. Companies want more customer data, customers say they dislike this, yet they freely provide personal data.

Nowadays, the border between private and public is becoming more and more blurred; people are used to sharing their pictures, videos, preferences, personal information, and everyday a huge amount of online data is collected, however, they still appear to be seriously concerned about their privacy and claim it to be an important factor in their online decision-making process. To make things even more complicated, concern about privacy doesn’t in fact match actual online behaviour.

The Privacy Paradox

The privacy paradox is the discrepancy between an individuals’ intentions to protect their privacy and how they actually behave in the online marketplace, it’s the relationship between individuals’ intentions to disclose personal information and their actual personal information disclosure behaviours, which are often very different.

According to several privacy-related studies, the online audience can be divided into three big categories:

1. Privacy fundamentalists: very privacy-oriented and concerned
2. Privacy unconcerned: not at all privacy-oriented
3. Privacy pragmatists: in-between the other two categories

In general, consumers appear to be much more sensitive about the use of their medical, financial, and family information than they are about their product, brand consumption or their media usage behaviour. Why is this? Because things like their medical, financial and family information, when disclosed, can cause potential embarrassment and security problems. People also fear loss of control of this type of information.

Conceptual Model of Disclosure

The conceptual model of disclosure is a theory that states the consumer’s behaviour is influenced by both their perceived risk of disclosing their information and the trust they have with the company.

Conceptual Model of Disclosure

Privacy Paradox Model

In reality, the consumer’s actual behaviour is more highly influenced by trust. This is why people disclose information even when they say they’re really concerned about their privacy.

Privacy Paradox Model

Figure 1 Norberg P., Horne D., and Horne D. 2007 The Privacy Paradox: Personal Information Disclosure Intentions versus Behaviors.

One of the problems is that people have a tendency to over-report their understanding of privacy issues and their willingness to act in order to protect them. There’s a disjoint between users attitudes and opinions and their actual behaviours and experiences online.

This was tested in an “e-commerce experiment” to understand how privacy indicators affect the users decision-making process.

Ecommerce test

Above: Screenshot from e-commerce experiment (Jensen C., Potts C., Jensen C. 2005 Privacy practices of Internet users: Self-report versus observed behavior).

They observed that consumers tend to disclose personal information more easily than they claim to do. What the research highlights is that users self-reported experiences don’t match with their actual online behaviour. What clearly emerged is the importance of “trust-marks” in the interaction between users and digital interfaces.
Trust-marks → factors which may not say anything about the site’s privacy practices, but which are interpreted as such by users.

Users appear to live a “double bind” relationship in dealing with privacy issues on digital interfaces, and this is affecting their decision-making process in purchasing online. The Double Bind theory (Bateson G. 1950) in psychology is defined as a conflicting communication dilemma in which the message doesn’t match with the observed behavior; that causes an emotionally distorted and frustrated reaction in the individual.

Tips to improve trust, acquire more data and lessen abandonment

Here follows some tips that could help interfaces designers in dealing with the paradox, avoiding frustration and consequent abandon in purchasing online.

Visible link to a privacy policy

It has a major effect on purchasing behavior, even though, according to the study, only a quarter of the policies were consulted. In most cases, users had more confidence in a site simply because it had a policy (the impact a policy has is of course more powerful when it is read, but it is not negligible when it is not). Policies are important, not just because of what they say, but because they are there.

Netflights Privacy Policy
• Credit card icons

Even if it does not in fact imply any promise of fraud prevention or privacy protection, consumers find these icons reassuring.

Netflights Credit Card Icons
• Show a contact phone number

Preference for phone information over mailing or email information. Consumers feel reassured to see a phone number to contact the company if any problems occur during the transaction.

Netflights Contact Info
• Development of policy simplifications and standardised indicators

Implement standardized, simple visual indicators for the risks users are exposed to.

It is interesting to note the strong effect policies have despite the fact that users rarely read them. Just having a link to a policy makes a difference. This indicates that in many cases it is the presence of a policy that has a positive effect on users, not its content. Users are looking for “trustworthiness”, not based only on fact but rather on appearance and first impression.

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.