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.

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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.

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Increase your checkout conversion: 6 tips from real world user tests

Mobile eCommerce UX Conversion

Are you losing too many potential customers at the checkout stage? You’re not alone. According to recent research (Baymard 2016), more than 68% of users abandon an online purchase.

Why is that? Account creation, long and complicated checkout, hidden fees and security issues are popular reasons for abandonment.

Here at Keep It Usable, we’ve been conducting research with users for a long time and we regularly see the same issues, frustrations and concerns when purchasing online.

Below we’re sharing with you the top 6 things you can do that are fundamental for improving your checkout UX and conversion.

Tip 1: Ensure delivery info and costs are visible throughout

UX Checkout Abandonment Conversion

When customers have decided to buy something from your website, the next thing they want to know about is delivery. This can be split into two parts:

Delivery information: How long will it take to arrive? Can I get it by this date? Do they deliver to me?

Delivery cost: How much is it going to cost to deliver?

Customers assess the above information alongside the cost of buying the item to determine if it’s worth going ahead with the purchase from your site or if they need to compare the price on other sites. On many websites, delivery information is not easy to find! When it’s not on the product page, often people assume it will be on the basket page. If it’s not there, some continue to checkout to check for the info, others start to look for a delivery information page (often on the footer). It’s then when things start to get messy! They struggle to find the info, they struggle to get back to the item they were looking at and it disrupts the experience resulting in them being more likely to leave.

And some of you are really doing yourselves a disservice as you’re offering free delivery or free next day delivery if you spend a certain amount (which we know converts), but you’re not making this clear enough to users where it matters most – in the basket. Don’t assume that just because you have messaging elsewhere that you don’t need to keep confirming that message along the whole user journey.

Example: Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols clearly display delivery information in the basket, where users expect to see it. All the available options are clearly listed, and as opposed to needing to navigate to another page to see more detailed info (such as on asos.com), each option can be easily clicked to expand more delivery details.

Harvey Nichols eCommerce Checkout

Tip 2: Checkout as a guest is a must-have

(but persuade people to sign up at the end!)

One thing that we constantly observe is that people do not want to be forced to create an account in order to buy from you. Users expect to be able to checkout as a guest, especially for single item purchases.

Users become frustrated and annoyed when they are forced to create an account because

  • If this is their first purchase from your site, they don’t know if they’ll buy from you again so for them, it’s not worth the perceived effort of signing up.
  • They assume they will be sent marketing emails (in their words ‘spam’) and they don’t want them.
  • They believe it is time-consuming. Although often the time that it actually takes to checkout as a guest is pretty much the same as needed for signing up (mostly, the only additional information required to create an account is a password).

So, what can you do? The easiest solution is to persuade them to sign up after they’ve checked out as a guest. Simply present them with a password box to create an account.

You should also remember to tell them why they should sign up. What’s going to motivate them the most? The fact that they can track their order? Get a special discount off their next purchase? Buy future purchases more quickly and easily? If you conduct regular research with your customers you should know what will appeal to them the most, if not, ask them 🙂

Asos offer the option to ‘Continue to checkout’ or sing up using a social account. This is a clever idea – they know their target audience are active social networkers!

ASOS Checkout Conversion UX

 

Tip 3: Short and easy checkout process

During user testing we consistently observe that users feel overwhelmed when they get to a page with a lot of fields to fill out.

It boils down to two main issues:

  • The number of fields they’re required to complete.
  • They feel uncomfortable with the information they’re being asked to give.

We know that you want to know as much about your customers as possible, but this comes at a price – your conversion. The majority of the time, they don’t understand why they have to provide so many details, such as phone number, gender or other personal information just to buy a new pair of shoes or handbag.

Only present required fields and relevant information, in order to avoid giving the impression that the form is longer than it really is.

Your customer doesn’t want to fill out lots of information and they don’t understand why you want to know personal information. When asking for additional information, provide some help text to explain why this is required: for example, we know that people don’t like to leave their phone number, so at the side of the phone number field explain that they will receive text alerts when the order is dispatched. This will reassure people and motivate them to progress through the checkout.

Example from ASOS:

ASOS know their users dislike giving away their mobile number, so they give a clear reason that is focussed on the user benefit ‘delivery updates’.

Mobile UX

Tip 4: Provide information in the shopping basket

Giving customers the right information at the right time can minimise confusion, eliminate surprise, increase confidence and motivate them to complete the purchase.

When your users add a product to the basket, show them details about what they are buying, stock availability, delivery options, return policies, security indicators or payment options. Users should have immediate access to all of this key information directly from their shopping basket in order to reduce their anxiety and the frustration of not exactly knowing what to expect.

Example: Marks and Spencer

Marks & Spencer Basket Conversion

Tip 5: Make navigating your checkout easy and simple

It’s important not to assume that people go through your checkout in a linear manner. In reality, users navigate back and forth to previous steps to double check and edit information.

So, you need to make sure that during your usability testing you do a full test of your checkout navigation – how easy is it to go back to previous steps and edit information? Is it easy to do on mobile or do people skip back too far and lose the information they’ve already entered?

Accordion checkouts and the problem with mobile interaction

32% of checkouts are in the accordion style (Baymard, 2016). This approach is liked because it provides all the checkout steps in individual expanding and collapsing sections, presented on a single page. Having all the checkout steps in one page encourages users to review their information and lessens navigation.

It has also a positive impact on users’ perceived length of the whole checkout process: providing all the steps on one page, makes them feel that the checkout is shorter.

Although this approach is popular, accordion checkouts can cause major problems with mobile users. On desktop, users can simply click into each section of the accordion, however, on mobile users are most likely to use their back button to navigate back to previous sections but this causes them to go back a screen, resulting in them losing all of the information they have just entered and becoming very frustrated! At this point you’re likely to lose them to a competitor who provides a better checkout experience.

Example: Walmart

Walmart’s accordion provides a summary of each collapsed section with a simple ‘Edit’ button. The summary means users can easily see and double check their information without navigating back into the section.

Walmart checkout

 

Tip 6: Use trusted logos and symbols to convert

The average user’s perception of a website’s security is largely determined by their gut feeling, which is to a large extent the consequence of how visually secure the page looks. Basically, it’s all about looks! Authentication/security logos, such as ABTA and ATOL for travel websites or the VISA authentication logo for general e-commerce websites, provide users with the peace of mind that they will be protected. We also observed that users tend to feel safer when they can pay through Paypal because they know that they will be refunded if anything goes wrong.

People will also look out for a lock symbol either on the page or in the address bar – to them that means the page is secure.

ASOS is a well-known brand but nevertheless, they are very careful to reassure users throughout the whole checkout process. They provide a security logo even before users have started to enter their information. The logo is further reinforced by a note which reassures users that their personal data will never be used or posted on their behalf.

Example: Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols use the Norton logo and the accepted card logos to increase trust.

eCommerce Payment Card Types for Conversion UX

Example: Marks and Spencer

 Secure Checkout UX

Marks and Spencer go a step further by adding the lock symbol to their call-to-action button, and they’ve clearly thought about the persuasiveness of the copy too ‘Checkout securely’.

 

Need more help?

Need some expert help to increase your conversion? Want to understand your customers better and how they use your website across platforms so you can align your strategy with their needs, increase the effectiveness of your marketing and convert traffic better?

We’ve done so much user testing of websites and checkouts over the years for many brands, we know what works and what doesn’t work to convert traffic into loyal customers. We can also optimise your checkout across platforms – is your mobile experience not converting as well as it should?

Get in touch with us for a chat about your challenges and goals to reveal how we can help you to achieve them.

 

5 reasons to continuously conduct user research

Conducting user research is now something that most successful brands do to improve their user experience and ultimately their bottom line. However, there is still a lot more potential to increase revenue and profitability as many brands still don’t do enough user research. They are reactive and responsive to the demand for research as opposed to ingraining it within their process as an active continuous activity. In fact, recent research has shown that 58% of companies only conduct research on a quarterly or less frequent basis which is far from adequate if you want to be a leader in your market.
58% of companies only conduct research on a quarterly or less frequent basis

User research is not just about waiting until you have something to test. It should be a pro-active activity that provides regular insights into customer behaviour, psychology, process, interaction, expectations and keeps up with the fast changing pace of the digital world at the moment. The way customers shop is constantly adapting and you need to adapt too.

So why should i continuously carry out user research?

1 Understand your customers

Customer behaviour, attitudes and expectations adapt over time and with changes in technology. Conducting regular research enables you to keep informed of how customers perceive your brand and how they’re interacting and transacting with your business. Rather than waiting for changes to happen then reacting to them, you can identify early turning points and be the first to innovate to changes in your sector. This continuous learning enables you to keep all your user documentation such as user journeys and personas up to date so your team are not making decisions based on potentially out of date and no longer relevant insights.

2 Test hunches and hypotheses

Your team should always be coming up with hypotheses to explain data, current and future user behaviour. Some of these you’ll be testing through your split testing but for concept ideas you’ll need other ways to test these and gain user feedback. Assumptions should always be treated carefully – don’t base major decisions on hunches, make sure you have the evidence to back them up through user research. The type of user research you’ll need to conduct depends on what you want to find out – what’s your hypothesis? See 5 user tests every product manager should commission.

3 Benchmark KPIs against yourself and competitors

What do you use as your KPIs? For your online digital experiences you might be using metrics that include those found in the definition of usability ISO 9241-11.

These are:
Efficiency: How long does it take to complete the task? If you’re an online retailer who sells dresses online, how long does it take a representative customer to find and select a red dress for an evening out?

Effectiveness: How do they accomplish the task? Do they complete it using the most optimal path or do they go around the houses, getting a little lost along the way? This is your effectiveness rating and it’s an important indicator of how easy and intuitive your tasks are to complete.

Satisfaction: How satisfied does the user feel after completing (or maybe they didn’t complete) the task? This is a self rated measure.

You’ll find correlation amongst the above three measures. If one scores low it’s likely the other metrics will score low too and all the above correlates with NPS scores. If you regularly run research to benchmark your user experience against yourself (to check the changes you’re hopefully constantly implementing to improve your conversion) and against competitors you’ll always know how you compare and where your strongest opportunities are.

4 Avoid costly rework

There's nothing worse than leaving user research until just before launch, then finding out that your idea sucks!

Or maybe the idea works but the implementation of it isn’t quite right, it’s not testing well and now there’s not enough time to fix it before launch. If only you’d run some user research on an early prototype! The earlier you can catch problems the better as that’s when it’s much cheaper and quicker to fix them. Some people think user research will add time and cost to their project but it really doesn’t, it slots in easily and quickly, and will save you a heck of a lot of rework later on.

5 Be more successful

By continuously conducting user research in your process, the team are constantly seeing their work from the user’s perspective. They’ll begin to think more like your customers and imagine them as they’re working on their UX designs, when they’re in meetings and when they’re coming up with new ideas. Rather than speaking of their own opinions and experience, they’ll begin to talk about what Alice said last week and this gives them a much more solid basis for coming up with innovative ideas and solutions that are born from user insights. These ideas have a much greater chance of being successful for your business.

What to do next

Commit to a regular schedule of user research and see the changes it makes to:

  • Your team morale
  • The understanding of your customers
  • The quality of new ideas generated
  • The cost savings you’ll make through less rework
  • The improvement in all your customer experiences

…and the business will benefit hugely from the increase in revenue.

User research is a revenue generator and the key to your success

Need to rent a lab for your research?

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