5 benefits of observing UX research in person

5 Benefits of UX Research for Stakeholders

The impact of observing UX research can NOT be underestimated!

The impact of observing UX research can NOT be underestimated, yet it often is. Do you only ever conduct unmoderated remote research (using platforms like usertesting.com)? If you do then not only are you missing out on the rich data that actually interacting with users will bring you, but crucially, the impact of your research within the business will likely be much lower than if you’d organised face-to-face research and invited stakeholders to attend in person.

There are immediate benefits for researchers, designers and all stakeholders who attend in-person UX research.

 

1 Immediate buy-in for design changes

User frustration
There’s nothing like the impact of observing a real person struggle with your software.

You’ve been battling with a particular project manager for months about the location of the login box, you think it should go in the top right to be consistent with other websites and crucially where your users will expect to find it. Your PM, however, thinks it should be one of the first things people see when they come to the site, so they think it should go in the navigation bar so it will sit more centrally on the page.

As you watch your researcher carry out the first user interview you feel a little nervous about what’s going to happen as they’re now asked to login…. The first thing you see is the user’s eyes immediately look to the top right of the page. Their mouse soon follows as they look for the login option and they say ‘Oh I expected to find it up here”. Your PM suddenly remarks “Why isn’t the login option in the top corner?”. You feel like head butting the wall, but at least they’re finally seeing the design from the perspective of the user and you can finally move the damn login to the top right!

Buy-in is critical

In fact, it could be argued that getting buy-in is even more important than the research itself – after all, what’s the point of conducting research if it’s not believed, attended to or actioned?

2 Greater empathy for customers and their experience

Mobile Website Interaction
Stakeholders see the world through business and financial lenses, so much so, that they become far removed from seeing the world through the eyes of real customers as human beings. Instead of just being data and figures on paper, the customer becomes a real person with thoughts and feelings, and someone who makes a buying decision based on things this person has never even seen as important before now. Simply knowing that there’s a real person sat next door, with a name, hobbies, family and is your target audience, enables the stakeholder to build a stronger connection with them as a person and take this deeper connection with them in the rest of their work and the daily decisions they have to make.

 

3 Make better decisions based on valid insights and facts

Make informed decisions
At the end of the day, stakeholders really do want to make the best decisions they possibly can to benefit both the business and the end customer. The more hours they observe of customer research, the more empowered they are to make better decisions that will benefit the end user. This is why in-person observation is so crucial. Stakeholders are much more likely to attend in-person research than to sit and watch a remote user test (they’ll get bored by the one-way interaction or distracted by someone popping by their desk ‘for a quick word’ and the end result is they won’t watch more than 5-10 minutes).

If your research is conducted well (e.g. your researcher is skilled to limit the effects of biases), then the insights gathered will also be valid. This is worth noting, because if your research is conducted poorly, your findings will be flawed and lead to poor decisions being made. For instance, thinking back to the researcher in the first scenario with the login option, imagine they asked the user “So, do you like the login box in the middle?”. Through the way they’ve worded this, they’ve weighted the question in favour of a positive response, therefore biasing the end answer. The stakeholder won’t know this, so when the user answers that yes they like it in the middle, that is taken as a valid insight and lead to a bad decision being made on the login box location. In contrast, a good researcher won’t ask a question in that way in the first place, but if they did slip up (researchers are humans too after all), they would immediately know and be able to go back in the room and say to everyone, “we need to remove that finding as it was biased by the way I worded the question”. There are ways to re-ask the question in the research to still gain a response btw!

 

4 Gain buy-in for a customer-centred culture and more research!

Your customers and users

Let’s assume your business is fairly new to UX and the benefits of conducting research with real people who represent their customers. It’s your dream as a UXer that your company listens more to your team and your users. Well, one of the quickest, easiest and most effective methods to do this is to hold a research day and invite as many people as possible to attend. Let them experience the insights and the benefits these insights bring to their work for themselves. Then let the word-of-mouth spread! The insights from UX research don’t just benefit the e-commerce team or the marketing department, they have value across the whole business. That’s why gaining buy-in is SO important.

 

5 Build stronger team relations

UX research collaboration
When you invite people to spend time together observing users, something magical happens. They share common interests, a common passion, a purpose to better the experience for the person they’re observing. To do this, they have to talk, collaborate, come up with ideas together and all of this bonds people, helping to build stronger relationships between teams and team members.

Need help or advice?

If you’d like to know more about conducting UX research and how it can benefit your business, contact our UX experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

You might also like:

12 reasons to invest in UX
Top 10 major risks of poor user recruitment: Is your recruitment negatively affecting your research?

Xennials: The new micro-generation and what you need to know

Do you know there’s a small micro-generation of people who sit in-between Generation X and Millennials? Xennials were born between 1977 and 1983, which makes them thirty somethings right now. They’re different to the generations before and after them, partly because of the huge shift in technology that happened at a crucial stage in their lives.

If you were born when Star Wars was released, you’re a Xennial

Xennials are caught in the cross fire of generations. Some research sources place a Xennial as Generation X and others define them as Millennials. The term Xennials recognises that this particular age group do not fit neatly into either generation.

“The idea is there’s this micro or in-between generation between the Gen X group – who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt-wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident.”

Dan Woodman, Associate Professor, University of Melbourne
Image source: Mashable

There’s a distinct technology gap between Generation X and Millennials. Xennials were in the unique position of having a traditional digital-free, analogue childhood but a digital adulthood – they had their first mobile phone in their early 20s when the technology boom hit. Millennials grew up with technology, whereas Xennials had to adjust to it in early adulthood.

“It was a particularly unique experience. You have a childhood, youth and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones. It was a time when we had to organise to catch up with our friends on the weekends using the landline, and actually pick a time and a place and turn up there… We learned to consume media and came of age before there

We learned to consume media and came of age before there was Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and all these things where you still watch the evening news or read the newspaper”.

You may have watched Simon Sinek’s talk about Millennials, where he bluntly speaks of their self-entitlement, self-interest, lazy attitudes, growing up in a world where ‘every child wins a prize’ and how this has affected them as working adults. This is a very different mindset to Generation X.

We asked Lisa Duddington, our co-founder for her thoughts as she happens to be a Xennial!

“I find this new category quite exciting and something I can personally relate to! I’d say I identify myself more with Millennials than Gen X technology-wise, but I associate more with the attitudes of Gen X. There’s a definite cross-over with both. I was a teenager when my parents first got the internet but it was so awful to use back then – it was painful just to dial-up to get online nevermind use the horrendous looking websites! I was about 20 and at uni when I got my first mobile. I feel quite fortunate that I was able to enjoy my childhood, playing out with friends without the pressures of social networks and being permanently ‘plugged in’ but still young enough to fully adopt to technology when the shift happened”.

Of course, it’s important to remember that not everyone fits a mould. Your experience depends on factors such as your family’s wealth, technology adoption, gender, race, culture, etc. If you were a late Gen Xer with a wealthy family of early tech adopters, you may well feel more like a Millenial and vice versa.

How Xennial are you? try this quiz!

You might also like:

Free Generation Z Shopping Report Download
The future of e-commerce: Generation Z

Top 10 reasons why good user recruitment is crucial to the success of your UX research

Good user recruitment is crucial to the success of UX research

Underestimating the importance of good user recruitment is very dangerous and can have huge negative impacts on the whole research process. So, it is worth bearing in mind that investing in good user recruitment is fundamental for the success of your research.

In one of our recent posts (Top 10 major risks of poor user recruitment: Is your recruitment negatively affecting your research?), we talked about the risks of poor user recruitment.

So now you know the risks, let’s look at all the fantastic benefits you’ll get by conducting good user recruitment 🙂

“Good user recruitment is fundamental for the success of your research”

Participants

1 Participants are representative of your target users

This is one of the most important benefits. Good user recruitment assures you that participants reflect the main characteristics and behaviours of your target users. This means that you are able to do research with a smaller group of people but the findings can be applied to a much larger population.

2 Communicative participants

If your user recruitment is thorough, you will be sure that all participants are chatty, communicative and at ease with the researcher. It is very important that only people able to easily express themselves are recruited, in order to gain valuable and useful feedback during the research. You need people ideally who are able to verbalise their thought process and think aloud.

3 Motivated for the right reasons

Good user recruitment ensures that participants are interested in taking part in the testing/research for the sake of the research and not simply the gratuity. It is frustrating when you realise that someone is there just for the money. This person will be purely focussed on getting through your questions and tasks as quickly as possible, they won’t give you useful findings and you may need to totally discount them from your data set.

4 Punctual and reliable participants

There’s nothing worse than a room full of stakeholders all waiting for a late participant to show up. With good quality recruitment, it is possible to decrease the risk of this happening, recruiting only reliable participants that are punctual and will not cancel at the last minute. This allows the researcher to focus on their user testing without having to worry about rushing the sessions to keep in line with the research timetable or having to find a replacement for a user who has failed to attend.

5 Increased research validity

Researching with highly screened participants gives more validity to the whole research process. If your participants have been carefully assessed and fit all the criteria for being suitable candidates, your research feedback will be more valuable and representative of user needs.

The benefits of good UX user recruitment

Using a third party

6 Hiding your recruitment behind an agency has huge advantages!

Using a third party for your recruitment allows you to hide your brand until the day of the session. This has a huge positive impact on your research. Why? If someone knows they’re being recruited by, for example, Topshop, what’s that person going to do before they come to your research? They’re going to go straight onto the Topshop website and familiarise themselves with it before they attend. This can happen with labs too – if we were recruiting for you but participants know they’re going to Topshop’s address for the research, it doesn’t take a genius to work out who’s doing the research and the users are likely to swat up beforehand (even if we tell them not to – it’s like being told not to think of a pink elephant… yes you’re already imagining a pink elephant now aren’t you ;)). Not very useful if you’re after first impressions and natural usage!

7 Reliable service

A good user recruitment agency won’t let you down. You will have the peace of mind that the recruitment will be completed on time and your research will not be negatively affected at the last minute. A good agency should specialise in UX user recruitment and should tell you immediately if they can’t recruit your target audience. The last thing you need is to be let down at the last minute!

8 Quick and flexible recruitment

Researchers are often forced to postpone their research due to the unnecessarily long recruiting times demanded by agencies. This is incredibly inconvenient when you are working in iterative design cycles. Good user recruitment agencies will be able to offer quick and flexible recruitment to fit in with your research schedule.

9 Honesty in the process

Good user recruitment agencies don’t pretend to be able to recruit the sample you need and then pull out at the last minute when they realise they can’t. A professional agency is honest and transparent about it’s capabilities and ability to meet your requirements, and if necessary, it will help you find a third party more suitable for your needs.

10 Good understanding of UX and your needs

In our experience, we have dealt with several recruiting agencies who knew little about UX research. So, they struggled to really understand our needs and consequently, they couldn’t recruit what we were looking for. Good user recruitment requires a full understanding of the UX research process and methods used.

Do you want to benefit from good user recruitment?

We’re bringing to you our new UX user recruitment agency, I Need Users, founded by UX experts, Keep It Usable. We totally understand your user recruitment needs and your research because we do it ourselves on a daily basis. I Need Users also provides quick, flexible and last minute options to suit your iterative methods.

You might also like:

Top 10 major risks of poor user recruitment: Is your recruitment negatively affecting your research?
What is User Testing?

Top 10 major risks of poor user recruitment: Is your recruitment negatively affecting your research?

Recruiting the right participants for a study is a difficult task and an essential component of the research process. It ensures your user research is valid and the end results (your design changes) are effective.

“Poor user recruitment may have major negative impacts on your research”

It’s well worth the extra time, effort and cost to ensure you recruit representative participants who can provide useful qualitative feedback. Recruiting the right participants is the foundation of effective user research, because your research results are only as good as the participants involved.

When the recruitment of participants for your research is poorly carried out, there is a whole host of negative consequences and potentially a dramatic negative impact on your research and validity of the findings.

Top 10 major risks of poor user recruitment

1  No recruitment at all!

When the agency tells you they can recruit your target users, but it turns out they can’t. This is one we’ve personally experienced. We briefed an agency on what we needed and even gave them the full screener to use and they promised they could deliver. At the last minute, they suddenly pulled out as they realised they were unable to recruit any of our target users.

2  No-shows

The worst thing that can happen on the day of the research and whilst you have your stakeholders and your manager in the observation room is that a user doesn’t turn up. This might happen when people are not carefully selected and their reliability has not been assessed during the recruitment process. However, sometimes things do happen that can’t be avoided – One time a user called us at the last minute to say they wouldn’t be able to make it as they’d just crashed their car on the way to see us! Certain target groups are understandably less reliable (mums often have sick children or last minute childcare issues), in which case you might need to consider recruiting a standby user to stay onsite.

3  Late-shows

Late shows put a lot of pressure on the researcher so need to be avoided as much as possible. There may be bad traffic that day, the bus was late, or the user may simply be poor at time keeping. You should always ask people to arrive earlier to account for these little problems.

4  Uncommunicative participants

Part of good recruitment, is assessing the user’s ability to verbally express themselves. A poor recruitment process can lead to the shortlisting of participants who struggle to express themselves and struggle to communicate their opinions to the researcher.

5  Misinterpretation of your needs

Poor user recruitment is often caused by misinterpretation of your needs due to a lack of expertise in UX research by the recruitment agency. Often agencies don’t clearly understand what is involved in doing user testing / UX research and because of this lack of expertise, they struggle to understand exactly what you need and therefore they fail to recruit the right people.

6  Non-representative sample

If the agency doesn’t understand your needs, they won’t be able to craft an accurate screener.  The screener is essential for selecting the right candidates. It may surprise you to hear that many agencies don’t even use a screener, they simply send out a message with your requirements asking for people to let them know if they meet all the criteria. It means it’s a lot cheaper for them to recruit as it takes less time, however, it’s much more likely that users will tell untruths simply to fit the criteria.

7 Brand advocates and bias

Companies who recruit themselves often don’t realise how much they are biasing their own results. A real world example we have just seen, is a retail e-commerce company who are asking for users through their social media channels (along the lines of, ‘love our brand? come in and give your opinion on our website!’). Firstly this type of recruitment attracts people who are already brand advocates and therefore are more likely to give you positive feedback. Yes, that’s nice to hear but not very useful, especially as your aim is to grow your business and attract new customers – what do they think, what will make them switch brands? Also bear in mind that it’s highly likely that users will use your website before they attend the research too as they know they’re going to be using your website. Using a third party keeps this hidden until they attend the session as they won’t know they’ll be using your website until they are at the session and they can’t swot up beforehand!

8  Not enough time to recruit

Working as a UXer means working to tight timescales and an iterative process. It used to drive us crazy that recruitment agencies would need 4 weeks notice to recruit (or they’d turn us away as they were too busy). Fortunately, we have a solution for you, keep reading to find out!

9  Recruiting ‘experts’

Someone slips through who works in web design or who used to work in your sector. They are obsessed with tiny details that ordinary users wouldn’t pick up on and there will be very little of their interview that you can use afterwards.

10  People who just want the money

Their aim is to get through the session as quickly as possible so they can get paid. They don’t interview well as their mind is purely focussed on finishing the tasks quickly as opposed to getting into the mindset. Good recruitment screens out this type of person.

The solution

All of the above can be easily avoided by using good recruitment methods and a thorough user recruitment agency who specialises in UX user recruitment. They are almost impossible to find, and our own bad experiences have led to innovate within the UX industry.

We’re bringing to you our new UX user recruitment agency, I Need Users, founded by UX experts, Keep It Usable. We totally understand your user recruitment needs and your research because we do it ourselves on a daily basis. I Need Users also provides quick, flexible and last minute options to suit your iterative methods.

Need help or advice?

If you’d like to know more about UX participant recruitment and how it can help you, contact our UX experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Other posts you may find interesting:

Top 10 reasons why good user recruitment is crucial to the success of your UX research
12 reasons to invest in UX
5 user tests every Product Manager should commission

Black Friday 2016: new trends and future opportunities


Image credit: Fenwick

In 4 days it will be Friday the 25th November, better known to the world as Black Friday.

Black Friday has become very popular in Europe, with retailers using it to kick start shoppers into buying their Christmas purchases. In fact, it’s now so popular that retailers have extended it to Black Friday week! With more sales than boxing day, it’s a huge event for retail.

However, fresh on it’s tail is a sales day that originates from China called Singles Day (there’ll be more about this in our next post out very soon, stay tuned!), first let’s take a look at this years Black Friday predictions.

Some figures…

The popularity of Black Friday is growing faster in Europe and sales have increased dramatically over the years.

Around 14 million English customers will join the 24 hour sale, spending £2.3 million a minute, according to vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.

Let’s look at this year’s predictions from IMRG:

  • £6.77 billion forecast to be spent over the Black Friday peak period (Monday 21 – Monday 28 November 2016)
  • £1.27 billion to be spent on Black Friday (+16% higher than 2015)
  • £3.45 billion (51%) of total sales will be completed through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)

According to a survey by PwC (on 2000 adults), people intend to spend more on Electrical and Technology items and Christmas related products.

black_friday

Top 10 categories shoppers will spend the most money on (PwC)

Around three fifths (57%) of consumers that were planning a purchase said they were now holding off in anticipation of getting a better deal on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Your opportunity: Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers have the biggest increase in predicted spend for 2016’s Black Friday. Recent research we conducted with this audience showed they are really into deals and discounts so now they’re getting more aware of and familiar with Black Friday this is showing in their huge increased predicted spend for 2016. Looking at their predicted spending growth compared to other age groups, this is a big opportunity for retailers and we would advise keeping a close eye on baby boomers in 2017 if you aren’t already. As they become more tech savvy, more comfortable with online spending and familiar with events such as Black Friday, they will be a huge growing market for retail. Remember they have a lot of spare cash and are very brand loyal customers (trust and quality are very important to them).

baby_boomers_black_friday

Average predicted spend by age range (PwC)

Want to know about the results of our recent Baby Boomer Research? Send us a quick message and we’ll let you know when we publish the results so you can be the first to read all about them!

Black Friday extended

Black Friday started out as a single day of discounting activity, which then became a weekend in 2014, an extended period in 2015 and is now spanning an entire week in 2016.

Amazon and other online retailers have realised that spreading shipment of orders into early November will positively impact customers’ satisfaction. Amazon has extended it’s Black Friday promotions to almost two weeks. In 2015, on Black Friday, the retailer sold more than 7.4m items in the UK. This was a record for Amazon, and sales equated to 86 items a second! This year, it will offer double the number of deals compared to last year.

Many other retailers have followed Amazon. For example, Debenhams, Sharps, Boots, Feel Unique and more have extended their Black Friday to an entire week of discounts.

The shift to online

Shoppers are choosing to look for deals online instead of the high street (64% online vs 17% in store), to overcome the chaotic scenes seen in shops in previous years (for more insights about shopping behaviour on Black Friday, check out our blog post Black Friday: Consumer psychology of grabbing a bargain) and never-ending waiting times at the till.

Retailers are now trying to spread out consumer spending. In past years, Black Friday has been typified by crazy situations in stores with shoppers fighting to pick up discounts, and websites crashing due to the enormous number of visitors.

Last year, the technical difficulties forced some consumers to head to the high street, however a lot of them left very disappointed as they couldn’t get the deals they expected to find online, with some customers even finding it cheaper and more convenient to click and collect via their mobile in store rather than purchase at the till.

Courier companies are struggling to cope with the rush of online orders, with Hermes asking 5,000 staff to work up to 20 days without a break to deal with the amount of parcels. The couriers’ working conditions really worried the Health and Safety Executive that has been mobilised “to ensure the company’s actions do not put the safety of its couriers as well as road users at risk” (The Guardian, 20th Nov 2016).

Personas: Why is it important to understand your users?

Persona example 1

Image credit: Xtensio

Personas are amazing! If you don’t have them or if you have them but don’t use them (what a waste!) then you’re missing out on a whole host of business benefits. Let’s have a quick look at these before we dive more into what personas are and how they fit into the design process…

Benefits of Personas

  • Company wide understanding of who your users are
  • Deep understanding of customer behaviour and needs
  • Stop everyone in your company from talking about themselves, their friends and family as the user(s)
  • More effective, focussed conversations and business meetings
  • Clearer and better decision making – focussed on user needs and goals
  • Greater empathy with the customer

Enables your design team and project managers to create much better products and services

Where did it all begin?

Personas were introduced in 1998 by Alan Cooper.

At the time he was working on the design of new software and he interviewed some colleagues (possible future users of the software), to collect some ideas to implement in his project. That day, without even realising it, Cooper started to engage himself in a dialogue, play-acting as a project manager, inspired by one of the colleagues he interviewed that day.

Cooper found this play-acting technique was tremendously effective for solving design questions around functionality and interaction, allowing him to understand what was necessary or unnecessary from a user-centred point of view.

Since then, he used this technique to design all of his products, bearing in mind the benefits of thinking from the users point of view. Hypothetical user archetypes allowed him and his clients to better understand the end user in their projects.

What is the personas method?

Using Cooper’s own words:
“You tend to canvas the user community, collect their requests for functions, and then provide them a product containing all of those functions. I call this the sum of all desired features.”

Personas are narrations, stories about imagined characters; they are imagined and described in interaction with the product that is going to be developed (website, device, app, software etc.). Personas are defined in the early stages of the design process and they guide the project team throughout the product development process.
Defining personas is also essential for any consumer research involving the product. To canvas the profile of future users helps in the recruitment of a representative sample of the population for an effective and realistic UX testing session.

Why are personas so important to the design process?

The most important goal of personas is to create understanding and empathy with the end user(s).

If you want to design a successful product for people, first of all you need to understand them. Designing for everyone results in an unfocused goal that will dehumanise the profile of future users. The personas method allows you to draw not just a profile about gender and age, but to dig into the psychology of the imagined character in their interaction with the product.

“Personas consolidate archetypical descriptions of user behaviour patterns into representative profiles, to humanise design focus, test scenarios, and aid design communication” (Cooper, A. (2004) The inmates are running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity)

The power of the narration that typified this method, allows us to create a story that introduces the product in the everyday life of the imagined character. The narration sets goals, creates visibility of problems and potential issues in the user-product relationship.

Personas are a crucial passage in the user-centred design process because they define expectations, concerns and motivations, helping design teams to understand how to design a product that will satisfy users needs and therefore be a success.

People are no longer passive users of a product or a service, but they are actively interacting with it; they are engaged in a ‘conversation’ in which both sides, user and product, are actively asking and responding. Defining personas during the design process helps your team to imagine that conversation.

Designing personas

The story

When designing personas, the story needs to cover the following:

  • Demographic presentation of the character (age, gender etc.)
  • General traits (occupation, interests, hobbies etc.)
  • Psychological traits (needs, motivations, aspirations etc.)

Collection of data when designing personas

The scenario

The scenario is very important for the effectiveness of personas.

Scenarios are imagined situations in which the character interacts with the product. Personas without scenarios have no value, so defining good scenarios is crucial.

The narration of an imagined scenario follows this structure:

  • Setting a problem, a situation
  • Describe the character’s reaction to the problem
  • Define the role of the product in this scenario (e.g. how does the character interact with the product in that situation? Why does the character use the product? With which aims? What are the character expectations of the product?)
  • Resolution of the situation

Personas design-process

Remember, if you want your product to be successful, you have to design it bearing in mind who will use it.Personas design process

1. Collection of data. In the first step, you collect as much information and knowledge about your users as possible. Data can come from many different sources, even from pre-existing knowledge in the organisation. A good starting point is user research to gather insight into your users.

2. Hypothesis. Based on the data collected in the first step, you create a general draft of the various kind of users, including in which ways users differ from one another.

3. Description of scenarios. You create scenarios that describe solutions; possible situations that could trigger the use of the product are described. Scenarios will be used to better imagine user interaction with the product. The story about how the character will use the product is the personas’ ultimate objective.

4. Description of personas. Preparation of a brief description of the typical user, paying attention to user needs, motivations, aspirations and values. It is very important that you add to the narration one of the scenarios created in the previous step. The ultimate aim at this stage is to generate a narration that creates an empathic bond between the imagined person and the reader.

5. Selection of 3-6 personas. The ideal number of personas is limited (too many and you’ll start to lose track of who’s who). At this stage, choose 3-6 descriptions that are the most representative of your typical users. Selecting a limited number of personas allows you to be more focused during the design of the product.

6. Dissemination of personas. It is important that personas defined during the process are shared with the whole project team to provide a shared understanding of your users / customers.

Example persona

Here’s an example of a completed persona:

Persona example 2

Image credit: Xtensio

Need help or advice?

If you’d like to know more about personas and how they can help you to create a more successful product, contact our UX experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Other posts you may find interesting:

12 reasons to invest in UX
What is User Testing?

References
The origin of personas (Cooper) – http://www.cooper.com/journal/2008/05/the_origin_of_personas
Persona templates – http://fakecrow.com/free-persona-template/

KIU Insights: How people are shopping for Christmas 2015

It’s nearly Christmas! How are people shopping for the perfect gifts? We decided to chat to shoppers about their christmas shopping for 2015.  We were interested in understanding how people are shopping for Christmas; how they’re doing their research, organising their ideas and deciding where, when, what and how to buy. Are they shopping online or offline and why? So we spoke with christmas shoppers and here’s what they told us.

Christmas Shopper Profiles

The people we spoke with fell into one of three broad categories:

  • Offline (high street) christmas shoppers
  • Online christmas shoppers
  • Online-offline christmas shoppers

They are driven and inspired by different factors and christmas shopping is a completely different experience for each of them. Let’s look a bit more closely…

Offline christmas shoppers

These people love and enjoy the experience of shopping for Christmas! For them, it’s an opportunity to share time with friends and family. They love walking round the shops and markets, taking in the atmosphere and being inspired by the window displays. They enjoy window-shopping and they love the christmas spirit that is present in the high-street.

Online christmas shoppers

Online christmas shoppers are more time and gifts focused. They want to find the perfect gift for their friends and family and they see buying it online as easier and more efficient, in their eyes it saves them time and hassle. Moreover, most of the online christmas shoppers live farther from a city centre and don’t have easy access to a large variety of shops. In general, they aren’t big fans of shopping in the high-street and much less during the christmas holiday season. Online they can avoid the crowded shops and long waiting lines. Convenience is key.

Online-offline christmas shoppers

Fifty-fifty christmas shoppers do their christmas shopping both online and in the high street. They are price and gifts focused and they will follow the best deal, whether this is online or offline – they have no preference.

Have they started their christmas shopping? How is it going so far?

When do you think people start and finish their christmas shopping? Most of the christmas shoppers we spoke with had already started their christmas present shopping, and many had bought most of their gifts already. Most people had begun to look for gift ideas and inspiration at least two months ago, in October. Some had even finished all of their shopping by the end of November!

Super organised shoppers confessed that they bought their first presents at the end of July/beginning of August. If you really want the ‘wow effect’ they said you need to start early.

For personalised and unique gifts, people would rather buy gifts far ahead or online.

“Everything looks so similar in the high street during Christmas.”

Even the late shoppers seem to have a christmas shopping strategy. They started looking for ideas around mid November and now they clearly have in mind what they want, even if they haven’t yet bought the gifts.

Where do christmas shoppers find inspiration for their gifts?

For Christmas lovers nothing can ever replace shopping in the high street. They feel excited and can’t wait for the christmas season to start! They enjoy christmas shopping with their friends and family, for them it’s an enjoyable experience.

Christmas shopping with friends

They told us that they enjoy the atmosphere, the lights, the smell of mulled wine and cinnamon.

“Christmas shopping is fun, why would I stay at home on my own looking for presents online when I can do it with my friends?”

Those shoppers that love looking for christmas gifts in the high street, also seemed to be the ones without a clear idea of what to buy. They are driven by emotions and they look to be inspired by window displays. They describe christmas shopping as an ‘unmissable experience’ and they claim that it’s easier to find gift ideas in the high street than online.

“I love christmas markets! I haven’t decided what to buy yet, but I’m looking for something around… there are lots of christmas things.”

For the online christmas shoppers (particularly young people) their first port of call is Google to look for inspiration. Once they’ve decided what they want to buy, they search for the specific product on various shopping websites. Amazon and eBay are the most popular because of their good deals, short delivery times and competitive prices.

Shopping online also enables people to better ponder their choices, theirs is a more considered purchase.

“If you go into town you don’t have any guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for, and it can be a waste of time.”

“I don’t want to spend money on presents that I don’t really want to buy.”

How do they choose the perfect gift online?

When browsing christmas gifts online, many people said they take screenshots of the products they might want to buy or take notes on their mobile about prices and details.

Others, simply open several tabs at the same time on their laptop, so they can easily compare products and prices.

“I just leave the product open on chrome, that’s how I remember what I’ve looked for before.”

They also explained that even if they haven’t decided whether to buy the product or not, they will add it to the basket of the website so that they can save the product and find it easily. In doing this, they have more time to think about it before before making the final decision. In effect, they’re using their basket as a shopping list to shortlist the things they like.

Reviews were also seen as a positive of shopping online. Reading other users comments and experiences helps shoppers to choose what to buy and what not to buy!

Sharing inspiration is also an activity carried out online. Social media is used for communicating and sharing gift ideas with friends and family.

“I send the link of the product to my sisters in messenger. We’re looking for a present for our mum, and through Facebook it’s easy to share our ideas with each other.”

The online shoppers said they don’t like packed, crowded and messy shops during christmas season. The chaos of the high street disorientates them and in the quietness of their home they can be more focused and more easily find the perfect gift for their friends and family.

…and the online-offline christmas shoppers?

For the online-offline christmas shoppers, the most important thing for them is finding the best deal!

They have a careful and methodical strategy. They move fluidly from searching presents online and in the high street, they compare prices both online and in store, they already have in mind most of the gifts they want to buy, but they are also open to appealing offers. These are our classic showroomers.

In a way, the online-offline shoppers summarise what all christmas shoppers have in common:  they are all driven (some more than others) by price and convenience.

All of our shoppers said that price is very important; for some it is crucial, for others it is important but not that important that it prevents them from christmas shopping in the high street. Planning and budgeting is important. In this regard, lists are used to organise, control and manage christmas expenses.

“I plan what to buy, otherwise I’d spend a lot”

“I have a list of people, presents and prices…so I can control what I’ve spent so far”

Showrooming: The future of Christmas shopping

Our research supports that christmas shopping is moving in the direction of exploiting online and in-store shopping.

“Showrooming” appears to be the new way of shopping, not just at Christmas.

Using their mobile phones while shopping in high street shops, browsing and comparing products in store and online at the same time is an effective strategy to find the best price whilst directly experiencing the product and enjoying the christmas atmosphere that only shopping with friends in the high-street can bring without any stress or anxiety.

The shopping experience is becoming a more rounded experience, moving across offline and online spaces as determined by context and need. Our mobiles are now an extension of our shopping experience and it will be the responsibility of retailers offer their costumers a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas experience, that supports customers whether they’re shopping in-store, online or both.

If you want to know more about Showrooming and how to improve your costumer experience on mobile, read our post Mobile shopping to soar this Christmas

Black Friday: Consumer psychology of grabbing a bargain

This year, online sales over the 24-hour Black Friday period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history (last year they were £810m). £3.5bn in sales are expected over the whole weekend. For retailers, Black Friday is a huge sales opportunity but also creates pressure to keep up with the Joneses and discount items to an uncomfortable level. Combine this with the instore chaos we saw in the UK last year and it’s a pretty crazy time!

For Americans, Black Friday symbolises the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season. They take the Friday after Thanksgiving off from work, taking advantage of the long weekend to start their Christmas shopping.

Although Black Friday is still not very popular in Europe, in the UK it has very quickly become the biggest shopping day of the year, even beating Boxing Day.

The figures speak for themselves…

In 2014, UK consumers spent £810m online on Black Friday and they are expected to spend even more this year. According to IMRG & Experian, online sales will reach £1.07bn. If that prediction is correct, online sales will reach a record in the UK’s online retailing history, exceeding for the first time £1bn in just 24 hours.

The Centre for Retail Research estimates that in total (combining online and in store shopping) British people will spend £1.39Bn in just one day, this is 32% more than the previous year.

Black Friday Sales

Telegraph, 23 November 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/black-friday/12009461/Black-Friday-2015-the-best-bargains-and-deals-when-and-where.html

Who are Black Friday Shoppers?

First of all, let’s understand who are Black Friday typical shoppers: (IMRG 21 October 2015, http://www.imrg.org/-1bn-to-be-spent-by-uk-online-shoppers-this-black-friday)

  • Typically families with children
  • Aged between 35-55
  • Living in suburban or residential locations; they don’t have easy access to shops
  • Facebook users
  • Regular consumers of content on mobile devices

Compare this with Boxing Day shoppers who are more likely to be younger and live in urban city centres.

Their demographic profile has important implications for retailers. For example, considering that the most Black Friday shoppers don’t live in the city centre and don’t have easy access to shops, attention should be put in to planning and optimising the delivery service or in communicating details about deals, coupons, opening times, etc, through social media, to enable costumers to plan and organise their shopping.

How are Black Friday customers shopping?

(Simpson L., Taylor L., O’Rourke K. and Shaw K. (2011). An Analysis of Consumer Behaviour on Black Friday, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 1 No.1)

  • They already have a specific product in mind
  • They buy particularly electronic media items
  • More willing to buy gift items rather then items for themselves

This year, consumers will be even more aware about the convenience of buying on Black Friday and shops will be even more crowded than last year, lines outside will be longer and tension will grow faster among the more competitive ones.

Last year, Black Friday was definitely a success, but retailers weren’t ready to deal with, quite frankly, the chaos that ensued amongst consumers, to the point that some of them have decided not to take part again this year. One of the most surprising retailers not taking part this year is American owned Asda, who will instead offer discounts spread across November and December.

Daily Mail, 28 November 2014, Manchester.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2852585/Mayhem-Black-Friday-begins-Shoppers-clash-supermarkets-trying-grab-bargains-Boots-Game-Curry-s-PC-world-websites-crash-thousands-start-hunt-Christmas-deals.html

Copyright LUKE MACGREGOR

Why is Black Friday more aggressive than other UK sales days

Last year, the situation got so chaotic that Telegraph renamed the day as “The Black and Blue Friday”. People queued in the cold outside shops for hours, then running and fighting their way to the product they wanted. But it’s not like this on Boxing Day or any other sale day in the UK…

So, what’s transformed the decent and respectable UK shopper into a merciless shopping, fighting machine?  Frustration can be a reasonable answer.

A lot of psychologists tried to find explanations and causes of aggressive behaviours and the Frustration-Aggression Theory (Dollard, Neal, Miller, at al. 1939; Berkowitz, 1969) is one of the hypothesis proposed to explain the phenomenon. The authors support the idea that when people perceive that they are being prevented from achieving a goal, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression and violence. The closer you get to a goal, the greater the excitement and expectation and consequently the more frustrated you get by being stopped.

The theory doesn’t suggest that frustration always lead to aggression, but in some particular circumstances can boost aggressive behaviours.

Black Friday might be one of those above mentioned circumstances.

Sales psychology: Why sales drive shoppers

Psychologists say that the allure of a bargain speaks to our human nature. Limited-time offers and last chance buys trigger the fear of scarcity and Fear of loss that drive us to buy. It makes us buy things we don’t really need, simply because we might not have the opportunity to buy them so cheaply again. IT’s how you end up with boxes of shoes in the cupboard that you never wear but you thought were an absolute bargain at the time you bought them with 70% off!

“People truly want to get a good deal, and so they might be less rational… when they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal, the decision-making is emotional” Kenneth Manning, professor at Colorado State University.

Did you know that sales drive our competitive spirit? We want to tell other about the great deal we got and we hope ours was better than theirs (even if we didn’t really need the item in the first place!). People treat it as a personal accomplishment to boast about.

Sales also have a positive affect our brain chemistry. In 2007, Stanford researchers discovered that when subjects shopping for clothes saw a sale price, the brain’s pleasure centre lit up. Sales, in other words, make us happy.

The sales environment also triggers consumers to part with their cash: “We are classically conditioned to hear this music, see these lights, even the experience of the shorter days and associate it with spending and shopping,” says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist

So, be ready, 2015 Black Friday is just around the corner (27th November) and we hope and wish will be a good one, for both shoppers and retailers!

Starbucks in Italy? An Italian customer experience perspective

Italian Starbucks

Starbucks is coming to Italy in February. You might think this isn’t a big deal but for the Italian market it really is! Italian’s are precious about their coffee and their drinking habits differ greatly to those of the US and UK. The whole customer experience is different, which is why the opening of Starbucks in Italy is so controversial…

First of all, it’s interesting to know that Starbucks has an ancient bond with Italy; originally, Starbucks sold only coffee beans, but after a journey to Italy, the owner had the idea to recreate and export “caffetteria-style shops”.

Italian coffee drinking behaviour

From an Italian point of view (Yes, I’m Italian), coffee is not just a drink: it’s a ritual, a chit chat with the barista, it’s the best end after a good meal, it’s the perfect “good morning”, it’s a pleasant and quick break, but above all, it has to be short, black, bitter and served in a small ceramic cup (very hot).

Typically, an Italian will enter the coffee shop, simply ask for a coffee (which is an espresso – this is the standard drink), stand up at the counter, drink the coffee which takes just a few minutes, then leave.

You can see that both the drink and the behaviour differ a lot from the typical Starbucks experience.

In this scenario, will Italian consumers appreciate Starbucks Americano, Latte or Frapuccino? Will they buy coffee served in the famous cardboard cup? How will they reply to the renowned question “stay in or takeaway”?

In Naples, the south of Italy, the “coffee ritual” is even stronger than in the north. There’s a popular tradition called “caffè sospeso”, literally translated as “pending coffee”. It’s rooted into the Naples’ working-class culture, and basically consists of having an espresso but paying for two, leaving one on the counter, ready for the next costumer, as a symbol of good luck and an act of “charity”.

Will the Italian consumers pay for a “frappucino sospeso” or a “pending latte”? What will happen?


Image taken from “La banda degli onesti”. Totò, a famous Italian comedian and actor, drinking a coffee at the counter.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper wrote: “We thought we had everything in Italy, but it turns out we lacked one thing: American coffee”.

Coffee for Italians is part of their culture, their behaviour, a national identity and habit; and Starbucks knows it. Even more important, Starbucks have had to really know Italian customers before making the decision to open a branch in Italy. It’s no coincidence that the first Italian Starbucks will open in Milan, the most international city in Italy, heart of Italian business, fashion and a highly multicultural centre.

What are the opportunities and potential barriers of having Starbucks in Italy?

The opportunities

  • The company announced that they will promote Starbucks as a place for business meetings as well as a cozy spot where to relax; an intimate coffee shop in the heart of the business area of Milan, where you can work or sip a coffee with friends.
  • Free WIFI will be the main attraction for Italian customers. There aren’t many places in Milan where you can find free and fast WIFI.
  • A hi-tech + coffee formula. Technology will be the key differentiator for Italian Starbucks. Along with free WIFI, customers will have access to a “Starbucks digital network” streaming movies and tv shows.

Potential barriers

  • Deeply rooted coffee culture. Italian customers have a strong bond with their habits, particularly when it comes to coffee and food.
  • There are thousands of coffee shops, bars and ‘caffetterias’ in Milan where you can enjoy a high quality espresso with a snack (biscuits or a pastry) and where you can simply read a newspaper with a good cappuccino.
  • Starbucks is expensive compared to the Italian coffee prices. In Italy, one espresso costs 1€ or even less.
  • For most of the time, “having a coffee” for Italians, means having a quick break, standing up at the counter. Particularly in the afternoon or after lunch. It is not the long sit down break that is common in other countries.
  • It is not common for Italian business consumers to sit in a coffee shop and work on the laptop or meet in a public space.


A traditional bar-caffetteria in Milan – Bar Zucca. People drinking a coffee at the counter.

The “Starbucks Italian situation” is a great example of the importance of how understanding customers is crucial in order to offer an efficient and successful product.

Moving into the Italian market is a huge risk for Starbucks, however by first opening in Milan, they will be able to take advantage of the large tourist market. It is the least risky option for them and a gentle step into the Italian market to test their acceptance of the longer coffee drinking customer experience.

If you need to understand or test in other markets, we can help. Get in touch with Keep It Usable >

A cash-less future? Insights from MoneyConf

Having just returned from MoneyConf, we’re feeling incredibly excited about the future of banking, currencies, payments and FinTech. The next 10 years will be a game changer for the banking and payments industries. It will also be a transformational time for consumers who will see the gradual disappearance of physical money, replaced with virtual wallets and mobile payments.

Banks – Innovate or fail

Banks Innovate or fail

However if you work in a bank, you may have more cause for concern than excitement. Where other industries are innovating, some banks have only just woken up to the importance of digital and many are already rapidly falling behind. It’s not surprising when you consider that their major sources of income are based on experiences that are poor for the customer. Yes there is a reason why they don’t warn you when you’re near to going into your overdraft or there’s a higher interest current account that they could switch you over to.

Figures from Harvard Business School predict that based on past statistics, only 8% of the banks around today will still be here in 10 years. Why? Because they will fail to innovate. Innovation doesn’t make the corporate agenda because in good times, ‘there’s no reason for innovation’ and in bad times ‘there’s no money for innovation’. New startups that are more focussed on building technology that helps customers and gives them a better experience will have increased adoption. If banks fail to innovate themselves, they’ll need to look to buying out some of the technology that startups are bringing to the table, or risk being left behind.

Financial services

Mobile will continue to grow

Mobile will continue to grow

However, customers still don’t trust mobile…

Customers still don't trust mobile

Need to focus on Omnichannel

Brands will need to focus even more on the whole customer journey across devices and the physical store.

Need to focus on Omnichannel

Virtual wallets are coming!

This is one we’ve been waiting for. No need to carry cash around with you anymore. No need to even carry cards with you anymore. Mobile payments have arrived and in 10 years time expect them to be fully mainstream. If you’re a purse manufacturer you may want to focus on handbags in the future!

Virtual wallets are coming!

The problem for merchants and consumers will be too much choice.

Too much choice

And customer education, as people aren’t familiar with wallets yet.

Customer education

Mobile payments using NFC

For physical retailers, the future of POS payments will be mobile payments using NFC to make the transaction quick and simple.

Mobile payments with NFC

Contactless payments have grown rapidly over the last few years, with massive growth last year that’s set to continue. With consumers growing used to this new behaviour (if you’re in London you’re even more familiar with contactless through your daily use of the tube) using NFC to pay via your mobile seems to be a natural next step. We can expect those technologies that work alongside the user’s existing learned behaviour to be adopted more quickly and potentially more successfully.

Contactless payments

Digital money is here

Bitcoin. Have you heard of it? Controversial but this digital currency could well be the future. Bitcoin was created in 2009 and behaves just as a physical currency does. It can be bought and sold, transferred to others, it can go up and down in value and it can be used to purchase goods. In the future, we may well be paying for things using Bitcoins.

How Bit coin Works

A cash-less future?

It looks like the future may well be one that doesn’t involve physical cash. Payments will be so easy to make virtually that we may find physical coins and notes gradually disappear. Future generations may only understand money in the form of digits. How do you feel about this?

With the increasing adoption of mobile wallets and mobile payments, we’ll also see the disappearance of card payments and with it, the need to own a wallet.

And beyond mobile payments, expect to see biometrics coming into effect. Can you imagine paying for your coffee using just a scan of your fingerprint? Or your eyes?

Will banks still exist or will peer 2 peer replace them? How will banks innovate to keep up with the rapid technology startups are bringing to the table?

One thing’s for sure, good user experience will prevail.