The Psychology of choice: Why less is more

We’ve all been there… sat in a meeting with stakeholders as one person after another insists that their content needs adding to the user interface (often the Home page right? people will argue for days about that one). Or perhaps they’re all fighting for their preferred feature to go into a product, and before you know it, the biggest case of feature creep you’ve ever seen is being drawn on the whiteboard. Your vision of the clean, simple design and intuitive Apple-like user experience that you came into the meeting with has disappeared before your very eyes. Goodbye dream!

But wait! Did you know there is tested science that proves you are right to keep things clean and simple? By keeping options and choice limited, you are actually making it easier and more likely that the user will take action. Here’s why…

The jam experiment

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you come across two stalls selling jam. One stall is selling 24 different types of jam and the other is selling 6 types of jam.

Which stall would you be most likely to stop at and taste the jam?

When we present this experiment in our Psychology talks, we find most people say they would stop at the stall selling 24 types of jam. Some people think this is a trick question, but it isn’t. People LOVE choices. When we ask people in our research sessions about choices, they’ll always go for the larger amount. In the consumer’s head choice = control and they think the more choice, the better.

In the consumer’s head choice = control and they think the more choice, the better

Let’s go back to the jam stalls for a moment. You’ve stopped to taste the jams at both – the stall selling 24 types and the one selling 6 types, in fact, you’re not the only one – 60% of people stop at the stall selling the most jam.

How many jams did you taste at each stall?

You likely tasted the same amount of jams at each stall, despite one having many more types of jam.

Which stall are you most likely to buy from?

Most people think they would be most likely to buy a jar of jam from the stall selling 24, however, research has proved that you are much more likely to buy from the stall selling just 6 types of jam. These findings are from a research study that was conducted by Psychologists Iyengar et al. They found that when it came to buying the jam, 30% of people bought a jar at the stall that sold 6 types, but only 3% of people bought a jar at the stall selling 24 types.

Customers given too many choices are ten times less likely to buy!

Psychology and the Paradox of choice - Jam experiment results

Paradox of choice leads to choice paralysis

Why, when we’re given more options, are we less likely to choose? It’s because we suffer from ‘choice paralysis’. There are too many options for us to satisfactorily compare them and feel that we’re able to make an adequate choice.

More choice requires more time and effort (to go through and compare everything). This can lead to anxiety, stress, unhappiness, high expectations, regret and self-blame if a poor choice is made. It’s hard and it’s difficult to make a good decision when you’re overwhelmed with information and options. You can’t process it effectively.

Instead of the risk of making a poor choice, we choose not to make a choice at all. No action is taken when the cognitive effort to compare all the options is too great.

Too much choice = no choice at all

Psychology and the Paradox of choice - choice is paralysing

 

This goes against how most people think they will behave. This is another thing you should know – people are notoriously bad at predicting their own behaviour. That’s why you shouldn’t ask questions like “How likely would you be to purchase this product?” in your user testing sessions, or if you do, you should at least take the answer with a pinch of salt. There may be some qualitative insights to be gained by asking it if you follow up with a “why?” query, but that insight shouldn’t be treated as a valid response as to whether they would actually buy it or not.

High value and emotional purchases are the hardest to choose

Why is it so much more difficult to choose which car to buy or which holiday to go on than it is to choose which cereal to buy in the supermarket?

There are two major differences in the purchases.

1 Higher emotion

2 Higher cost

Anything that involves increased emotion and cost has increased risk when making a poor decision. After all, who wants to be responsible for ruining the annual family holiday by choosing a poor hotel? For most mums this is a major cause of anxiety and they will spend a phenomenal amount of time tracking down the perfect family holiday.

Barry Schwartz, a psychologist famous for his book ‘The paradox of choice’ states “When you have all these choices, you have an enormous problem gathering all the information to decide which is the right one. You start looking over your shoulder, thinking that if you’d made a different choice, you’d have done better. So there’s regret, which makes you less satisfied with what you have chosen, whether or not there’s good reason to have regrets. It’s easy to imagine there was a better option, even if there wasn’t really, because you can’t possibly examine all of them.”

Less choice = more satisfaction

An interesting finding from the jam study, is that of the people who bought a jar of jam, those who purchased from the smaller stall were much more satisifed.

So, when we’re given too much choice, we’re also much less happy with the final choice we make. It’s because we’re still wondering if we made the right decision. With just 6 jams, it was easy to taste them all and feel confident about our purchase decision, but it’s unlikely we tasted all 24 jams so we leave with our purchase still wondering if there was a better tasting jam that we would have been more happy with. We’re more likely to suffer buyers remorse.

Apple website

Less is more on the Apple website

Image: It couldn’t be clearer what Apple want the user to do when they come to their website!

In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2015, researchers analysed 99 studies on choice. They found four criteria that motivate consumers to buy:

1 When people want to make a quick and easy choice

2 When the product is complex (so fewer choices help the consumer make a decision)

3 When it’s difficult to compare alternatives

4 When consumers don’t have clear preferences

Just think of Google

The Google search screen is the best example of how limiting choice results in a great user experience. There is only one thing you can do – it couldn’t be any easier! Whenever you’re struggling within your designs, think about this design, how logical it is, how streamlined the user journey begins, how purposeful the design is to make the user take action.

The simplicity of google search

The simplicity of google search

Psychology in UX: What you can do

1. Focus on the user experience and user journey as opposed to the number of clicks

The 3 click rule is ancient now. All it does it surfaces most content closer to the first step, resulting in a busy home page that is harder to choose from.

2. Declutter, declutter, declutter!

Conduct some major housekeeping and be ruthless with your content. Does it really need to sit on that page? Does it need to be so big? Can you cutdown on the text? Does your primary call-to-action stand out the most?

3. Use white space

Make sure that the content on your pages are able to breathe. Give them space and they’ll stand out more. It will be easier for the user to know to select them.

4. Reduce cognitive load by breaking larger tasks into smaller chunks

Remind users of key information and make it really easy to find, as opposed to making them rely on their memory to remember key information on previous pages.

5. Improve the ability to make good decisions

If your website sells lots of products, like Asos, where you have a lot of choice, you may be thinking how on earth can I deal with the issue of choice paralysis. You won’t be able to fully. But you can make it easier for the user by fully understanding the user journey from their perspective – conduct research and user testing to understand what information they’re looking for and at which moments. What do they need to help them to find the right product for their needs? How can you translate these requirements into an intuitive and logical design?

Conduct research and user testing to understand what information your customers are looking for and at which moments

UX professionals need to remind stakeholders that adding too much into the user interface, requiring too many steps in the user journey, giving the user too many options to choose from only serves to make the user experience more difficult, not easier for the end user.

So, the next time you’re in a meeting and people are trying to feature creep, tell them about the paradox of choice and that there’s proven, scientific logic to keep choice limited.

Learn more psychology

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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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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).

Free Generation Z Shopping Report Download

You need to understand how young people shop if you’re going to convince them to buy from your brand.

Generation Z make up 10% of UK population (aged 16 to 24) and they’re of great interest to marketers, UXers and conversion specialists because Gen Z are the first generation to be born and raised in the digital age.

So, how does this effect their shopping behaviour?

How do they feel about shopping in a physical shop versus shopping online? How do they shop? Is there a difference in what they buy online versus offline? What concerns do they have and what does shopping mean to them? How does their shopping behaviour differ to previous generations and how should you engage with them as consumers? Which is their platform of choice for shopping and how do they prefer to be contacted by companies?

We discovered all this and much more!

Suitable for: Marketers, UX designers, Customer Experience, Product Managers, Conversion Optimisers, Brands targetting Generation Z

Just press the button to go to the site to download the full 20 page report for free.

UK Travel Report 2016 – Infographic


Keep It Usable’s independent research into the UK travel market provides insights into the current UK travel consumer and the opportunities that exist for travel companies to increase their success in 2016.

Our research, conducted in the UK with 264 holidaymakers, aged 20-70 years old, helps you to better understand current and future UK travel consumers: which are their favourite destinations, how often they travel, who do they go with, how do they book, who are their preferred brands and what are the growing trends to watch out for in 2016.

Need help or advice?

If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Other posts you may find interesting:

UK Travel Report 2016
Understanding the user-centred approach to accessibility

Are fashion brands losing their identities online? A research study by Keep It Usable

Have you noticed how similar websites look these days? Cover up the logo and can you really tell one from the other? How effective and identifiable is their brand once you cover up the logo? Is their identity getting lost online?

Walk down the high street and each brand has a clearly identifiable shop front. They each have their own unique style. So why is it that these very distinguishable brands have websites that all look very similar?

Of course this could just be our opinion so we decided to put 11 female fashion brands to the test to see if their target consumers (young females aged 18-24 in this case) could correctly identify online websites with their brand (logos removed and provided separately). We used a mix of well known and lesser known brands, high street and online brands. We also tested both desktop and mobile versions.

Try it for yourself…

Have a look at the following brands (notice how similar a lot of these look already?)

fashion brands

Which brand do you think the following website belongs to?

Desktop Brand

To make it a little easier, we’ll give you a clue, it’s either Topshop or River Island. Here’s a photo of their high street shop fronts to help you even more.

River Island / Top Shop

If you think the answer is River Island we can understand why. The website looks more consistent with the high street River Island shop front doesn’t it. However, the correct answer is actually Topshop.

Did you find that difficult? Well, unsurprisingly, so did the people we interviewed. The Topshop logo was correctly matched to the website just 21% of the time (so only 1 in 5 attempted matches were correct).

“I don’t know why I don’t recognise Topshop, I’m confused.”

Everyone found matching the brands to the websites much more difficult than they anticipated (they thought it was going to be really easy) and they struggled to match the brand with the correct website, even if they were a regular shopper and therefore very familiar with the brand.

And the winner is… Very

Very was the winner of our online brand identity research, closely followed by Asos and Zara. Look at their websites and you’ll see why. They each have a very distinct look and feel, their brand identity is carried through the whole user interface through the font, use of colour, imagery used, layout and style.

Very website

Findings

Those brands with the lowest scores included Forever 21, Missguided, Miss Selfridge and Glamorous. Interestingly, three of these brands scored higher on mobile than desktop which could be a sign of their younger audience being very mobile heavy consumers.

The research confirmed the initial hypothesis that brand identity is being diluted online and that as far as consumers are concerned, the brands are easy to confuse with one another and are relying too heavily on their logo as their sole differentiator against their competitors.

An interesting association that we discovered was that participants viewed websites with similar layouts as selling cheaper and poorer quality products. The layout affected their impression about the quality and the uniqueness of the product sold.

For the target consumers of brands tested in this research, quality is one of the most important factors for making the decision to buy an item online. A poor and cheaply perceived layout or bad usability of the website can affect the impression of the product’s quality and undermine the overall image of the brand.

Brands that scored the more correct matches tended to have a stronger identity on desktop than mobile. The market predictions for 2016 forecast that mobile will play a bigger and bigger role in the e-commerce market and fashion brands should be aware that the income of mobile traffic will have a strong impact on their business.

Moreover, the 2016 trend in retail will be the omnichannel approach to shopping; that is a continuous and smooth shopping journey through different channels, online and offline. It is crucial that high street brands create a strong brand identity on all their digital platforms to create a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. The aim will be to provide costumers with a frictionless, continuous shopping experience.

Discover even more insights in the presentation below and if you need to improve or test your fashion website in order to increase your conversion, we can help! Contact us

View on Slideshare

2016 insights every travel company needs to know

The UK travel consumer is changing every year. Keep It Usable’s independent research into the UK travel market provides insights into the current UK travel consumer and the opportunities that exist for travel companies to increase their success in 2016. Our research, conducted in the UK with 264 holidaymakers, aged 20-70 years old, helps you to better understand current and future UK travel consumers: which are their favourite destinations, how often they travel, who do they go with, how do they book, who are their preferred brands and what are the growing trends to watch out for in 2016.

The recession seems long forgotten, as over half (65%) of people now go on holiday abroad multiples times per year. Europe continues to be the most popular destination, followed by the USA. The most popular country that the UK travel consumer likes to visit is still Spain.

Travel in 2016

In 2016 we’ll see the continued rise of the solo traveller. A significant number of participants declared that they have travelled alone at least once in the last 12 months. The solo traveller trend is not just popular amongst the young traveller though, we also found the over 50s emerging as a key solo traveller segment.

Mobile

Mobile in travel eCommerceMobile is increasingly crucial for companies to get right. There’s a continuing increase in mobile use within the whole travel experience. From browsing, booking, through to using the mobile whilst on holiday, there is a need for digital marketers to engage the customer through every mobile part of the user journey.

Experiences

We’re seeing an increasing interest in experiences and a willingness to pay more for them. Travel companies will find themselves needing to move more towards selling experiences rather than continuing to focus primarily on price.  Driven by the use of social media and the fear of missing out, people are becoming more and more experience-hungry.

Google report

Google reports that travellers spend an average of 55 minutes to book a hotel and flights, visiting 17 websites and that they click four different search ads per travel search. 90% of these travellers use more than one device during the booking process. Our research confirmed this trend and highlights the importance of providing travellers with a pleasant and efficient online experience whilst they are booking their holidays, in order to increase the likelihood of your site being the one to convert the UK travel consumer.

Discover even more insights in the presentation below and if you are interested to know more about how to increase the conversion of your website, Contact us, we can help you!

View on Slideshare

Karen Millen’s Black Friday UX Faux-pas

It’s Black Friday, you wake up, grab your mobile by your bed and have a quick look at your favourite sites to see if there are any bargains to be had before christmas. Going round the shops is for losers, you’re going to be the first one to get the bargains and all in the comfort of your own bed before you’ve even started work. Win!

One of your favourite stores is Karen Millen and you’re excited to see they’ve joined in with Black Friday. It’s promoted on the Home page, however, you nearly missed it because it doesn’t have the usual Black Friday branding and looks just like a normal ad. But you spotted it and that’s what counts.

karen millen black friday

You eagerly click on the ‘Shop now’ text (you do this carefully because it’s very small on your mobile) and land on a page full of items. The large ‘25% off’ text on each item immediately grabs your attention. Fantastic! 25% off!

karen_millen_uxAt first you’re confused. It appears there are are only two jumpers in the Black Friday sale so you go to press the back button but you happen to catch the screen with your finger and the page scrolls slightly. You notice there are actually more items hiding further down the page!

You see a jumper you like so you look at the price and it says £75.00. You look back at the 25% off text and wonder if that means the price is already discounted or not…. There’s no other price on the item (you’re used to seeing a before and after price) and the price isn’t in a different colour so it looks like it might still be the full price. Is it really in the sale?

Hmm… you decide to click on it to have a closer look at the jumper and to see if there’s any sign of a sale price on the next screen. Maybe they just missed it off the previous page. But now it looks worse… the 25% off text has now gone completely and there’s just the one price of £75.00. It doesn’t look like it’s in the sale at all.

karen_millen_black_friday

You’re confused. You like the jumper but don’t know if it’s reduced or not. Is is reduced? Is the £75.00 the reduced price or the full price? You don’t want to risk it so you leave and go to River Island instead.

river_island_home_black_friday

Aha! That’s more like it! River Island screams the magic words 50% OFF as soon as you land on their home page. It doesn’t actually say if it’s a Black Friday sale but who cares, it’s a whopping 50% off and that’s good enough for you!

river_island_black_fridayYou eagerly press to see the items in the sale and land on a page full of cool stuff to wear. It’s really clear to you that these are all sale items because you can see the original prices which are crossed out and replaced with new prices that are also red so you know they’re in the sale. Whoop! Let’s get sales shopping!

Keep It Usable.

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!

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.

8 Technology trends you need to know for 2015

2015 is looking to be a really exciting year for innovation.  We get excited by new technology and the challenges that brings, especially with regards to designing for challenging smaller screens – how you can engage users and showcase information without sacrificing the experience? Here are some technologies and trends we’d recommend keeping your eye on in 2015.

1. Wearables

Wearables are becoming big business and the growing trend will continue to thrive in 2015, particularly in fitness, fashion and health.  More affordable wearables are likely to hit the market and will bring wearables to the masses.

Keep-It-Usable-Wearable-Tech-Nike-Fuelband

2. Apple watch

A handful of companies such as Google, Samsung and Sony have launched wearables in the form of watches.  This year, will see the Apple watch hit the market which will disrupt and put smart watches on the map.  This will have huge implications for how we communicate, interact and consume information.  The potential is vast, particularly for connectivity and health.

Apple-Watch-sport

3. Digital health

2015 will be the year that healthcare finally wakes up to digital!  Wearables that can monitor everything from measuring steps in fitness to improving your hearing.  Rings, hearing aids, headphones and much more will hit the market.  Could we even see the first digital implant…?! There is already a digital pill.

Health-Wearables

4. Internet of things

From controlling lighting and heating, TVs, appliances and even connecting your body. We will use technology to increasingly monitor and intelligently improve our lives.  The promise of major connectivity and intelligence is exciting and we expect to see this technology grow rapidly in 2015.

Keep-It-Usable-Internet-Of-Things-Philips-Hue

5. Major growth in mobile e-commerce

Mobile will be huge in 2015 and will continue to disrupt e-commerce.  8 in 10 smartphone users use their phones at some point during the purchase process and with mobile screens increasing in size, their popularity is projected to grow enormously in 2015, meaning users will consume even more data on mobile.  Mobile growth is larger than tablet with 186% average growth in sales via mobile compared to 131% in tablet e-commerce.  Read our e-commerce insights for 2015 >

Keep-It-Usable-Mobile-Shopping

6. Mobile wallets

2015 will be the year that contactless payment methods like NFC (near-field communications) really start to take off.  Larger banks are likely to offer NFC payments via smartphone by the end of 2015 with 5% of NFC enabled mobiles being used to make contactless payments.

Apple-Pay

7. Omni-channel retail experience

The future of retail will be a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile devices, computers, physical stores, television, radio, mail, etc. Omni-channel retail represents an experiential change for the connected consumer as all touchpoints with a brand become one. Example: Customer browses products online then when they enter a physical store they get these products retargeted to them as ads or offers in-store. Read about how digital tools will change the in-store shopping experience >

Keep-It-Usable-Omni-Channel-Retail-Experience

8. Usability

With the rapidly changing technological landscape and continuing explosion of digital into more and more products, it has never been so important to focus on user needs, psychology and behaviour.  Great usability will no longer be a nice-to-have, it will be mandatory in order to create a successful product. There’s never been a more important time to Keep It Usable.

Keep-It-Usable-Mobile-UX

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

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

The future of payments now

Rob Harper, Paypal

paypal mobile

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

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

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

average_moible_payment_process

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

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

Driving performance through paid media optimisation and rich content

Michel Koch, Maplin, and Emmanuel Arendarczyk, NetBooster

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

“The customer first, always”

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

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

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

maplin_youtube_results

Customer engagement trends – how to stay ahead in 2015

Steven Ledgerwood and Saima Alibhai, Emarsys

customer_engagement

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

3 key trends of 2015

1. Understanding customer behaviour

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

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

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

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

2. Multichannel personalisation

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

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

market_segmentation

Focus on what people are doing RIGHT NOW.

3. Automate! Automate! Automate!

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

website_visitors_not_converting

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

How digital tools will change the in-store shopping experience

Juha Mattson, Walkbase

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

retail_store_engagement

There are two levels of analysis: crowds and individuals.

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

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

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

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

online_offline_marketing

The game changing opportunities in omni-channel retail:

1. Measurability of physical stores

2. Online-offline integration

3. In-store engagement

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

Panel debate

Liam Patterson of TopLAD and Osvaldo Spadano of Elastera

ecommerce_expo_panel_debate

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

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

Listen to the customer

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

Osvaldo was particularly passionate about talking to customers:

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

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

Beware of feature creep

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

I’ll conclude this post with advice from Osvaldo:

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

 

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

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

The future of e-commerce: Generation Z

generation_z_technology_devices

The next up and coming wave of consumers are called generation Z. Born between the mid 1990s and 2010, these young people have been brought up with the internet and social networks. They are ‘Digital Natives’ and as a marketer or product owner you will need to approach this generation of consumer very differently. So, let’s learn more about them…

Who are Generation Z?

Right now they are aged between 4 and 19 years old.
They currently make up more than a quarter of the US population and this is still growing.
They spend nearly every waking hour online. 46% are connected 10+ hours per day!
They influence household purchases. You can’t just advertise to parents – Gen Z are major influencers of their parents decision making.
Tech savvy and heavy users of mobile. They’ve grown up in a digital world.
Always connected, especially to social networking channels.
High online spenders.

Prefer to shop online

Gen Z have been brought up with the internet and they prefer to buy just about everything online as opposed to offline. 20% of girls aged 12 and under regularly visit online shopping sites. The ability to easily make purchases online and delivering the right product information at the right time will be key.

Despite having very low incomes (think pocket money) Gen Z spend much more of their share of income online compared to previous generations. When this germination grows older and their income increases, they will drive major e-commerce growth.

Born to share

Gen Z have the ability to impact your brand via social like no generation before. They’ve been born and raised in a world of social websites. If they don’t like your website or product, they won’t call you, they’ll put it online so their connected web of contacts can see. They’re more likely to communicate with brands via social media and will be more demanding, they’ll tell you exactly how they feel. 77% will vent frustration of poor service over social media and expect an immediate response and resolution.

Listening and fast response will be key to managing this generation online. And to encourage this generation of sharers to share your content, you’ll need to ensure the content you create will be something Gen Z will enjoy – a fun brand voice, engaging content and incentives for sharing.

Traditional advertising won’t be as effective

A Forbes study claims that 57% of Zs saying they would rather save money than spend it immediately: “After seeing their parents lose jobs and their older siblings move back home, this generation will avoid debt. They’ll find the best deals and will expect to test out products physically or virtually before they buy.”

Gen Z will research everything themselves, turning to online reviews, bloggers and product experts to learn about products. Do you have a brand advocacy strategy? You will need to. By harnessing people who love your brand, and encouraging or incentivizing them to share their opinions online, you’ll provide a source of authentic information that Gen Z is likelier to trust.

Multi-screening and multi-tasking are the norm

They multi-task across at least 5 screens daily. “They suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) more than millenials, so being culturally connected is critical” researchers from Sparks and Honey wrote.

Mobile internet preferred

According to a survey by Ericsson, 58% of Gen Z prefer surfing the web on their mobile as opposed to watching TV.

High tech – Even the youngest age group (9-11 years) shows advanced technology adoption and mobile internet usage similar to their older brothers and sisters. 31% of US children aged 6-12 wanted an iPad over any other electronic device for christmas in 2010 (followed by a computer 29%, and iPod touch 29%) – gone are the days of wanting lego!

Respond more greatly to visual stimuli

A Wikia study shows that 54% visit YouTube multiple times a day. Visual sharing sites like Instagram and Snapchat are also huge avenues of communication for teens.

Marketers will need to start communicating visually to a diverse audience, across multiple screens.

Prefer simple, short, interactive content

Gen Z have the lowest attention span and they prefer media that is simple to use and interactive as opposed to passive TV. Getting and keeping their attention will be challenging though as they like to communicate in bite sizes. Easy to use and simpler platforms appeal to this generation.

Addicted to social networking

Many children now feel that social networking is more important than other aspects of their life, including their family. According to a study by the University of Maryland, 79% of children showed symptoms of distress when they were kept away from social networking devices.

Goodbye Facebook, hello Instagram

Every year, the amount of Gen Z leaving Facebook grows. 25% of 13-17 year olds left Facebook in 2014. They prefer visual platforms; the numbers joining Instagram grew from just 12% in 2012 to 23% in 2013. They also prefer incognito media platforms such as Snapchat, Secret and Whisper.

They want to change the world

60% of Gen Z want to have an impact on the world (compare this to 39% of Gen Y). 1 in 4 of those aged 16 or over currently volunteer. Globally, teens and their families, are changing their purchasing behaviour towards choosing environmentally responsible products and companies.

Not brand loyal

The products themselves and their quality are more important to Generation Z than brand names. Expect these consumers to switch to competitors much more quickly.

Obese

By 2027 most of the grown up Gen Zers will be obese (77.9% of males and 61.8% of females). 66% of kids aged 6-11 say online gaming is their main source of entertainment, so obesity comes as little surprise.

generation_z_interests

Some of the above slides are courtesy of Sparks and Honey. If you would like to read more about Generation Z we would recommend reading their full report: Sparks and Honey on Slideshare.

25% of shoppers plan to spend more this Christmas

Following our recent article The biggest mobile Christmas yet! Are you ready? new research with shoppers shows that 37% of shoppers expect to do more online shopping this Christmas than they did last year and 25% expect to spend more this Christmas, compared to 2012. We expect this in part to be due to a rise in consumer confidence over recent months.

Food retailers aren’t set to have as large an increase in online shopping as when it comes to the big Christmas food shop, 71% of shoppers say they’ll visit a physical store to carry out the task. Only 14% say they will do their Christmas food shop online.

Younger shoppers are the most willing to spend this Christmas with 45% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 25-31 year olds planning to spend more this year.Don’t get too excited for 2014 just yet…

“While we expect a better Christmas for retailers this year, it would be  premature to pop the Champagne corks.  Granted, consumer confidence has increased substantially during the past 6 months, but we anticipate that for many a reality check will set in once credit card bills start to land on shoppers’ door mats in January.”

This research was conducted in the form of a survey to 1,000 respondents by Savvy Marketing. As such, qualitative data in the form of reasons for the above statistics are missing. If you have any thoughts or explanations for the above, tweet us @keepitusable and we’ll retweet your opinions.

Guest Interview: On The Beach Head of Design

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

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

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

What does your typical day involve?

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

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

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

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

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

What tools do you work with?

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

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

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

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

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

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

On The Beach Tablet and Mobile websites

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite UX-related resources?

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

Fritz on Twitter: @fritzvonrunte

Would you like to work with us?

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

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

New research: Half of consumers abandon online purchases during validation stage

Online shopping

“It is vital for online retail outlets to make sure the transaction process is as fast and simple as possible.”

A staggering half of consumers are abandoning online purchases during the validation stage due to the lengthy time it can take, new research by Experian has found.

Retailers are losing a staggering £2.3 billion when their online sites require users to spend more than 5 minutes going through identity and security procedures.

User tolerance times:

Gambling websites

4 minutes

Retailers

5 minutes

NHS

7 minutes

Banking

7 minutes

Telecoms

7 minutes

 

People go straight to your competitor!

Nearly half (47%) of users abandon a transaction in favour of a competitor site, 20% simply gave up and just 17% tried again later. That’s why it’s so important to spend time getting your experience as good as it can be.

Nick Mothershaw, director of identity and fraud at Experian, said: “Our research shows that retail businesses are at risk of losing out on trade as thousands of consumers are taking their custom elsewhere. It is therefore vital for online retail outlets to make sure the transaction process is as fast and simple as possible, without compromising the level of site security, in order not to miss out on business.”

Persuasion within design: Use it or lose it

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

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

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

What is persuasive design?

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

Amazon: Masters of persuasive design

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

Imagery

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

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

The power of FREE

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

Power of free

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

Social proof: Reviews

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

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

Encouraging cross-sells and exploration

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

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 10.31.38

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

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 10.32.11

Further information and advice

Lisa Duddington

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

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

 

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How customers REALLY shop using Smartphones

Mobile on the goGoing mobile has become a business imperative.

New research has unveiled the way customers really use devices and highlights the importance Smartphones play in researching and purchasing may have previously been underrated.

The research shows that context and the user’s aims play a major role in the choice of device. Convenience is also an important factor. Understandably, the Smartphone is the device users reach for time and time again, even if the experience is better on a PC or tablet – their mobile is always within reach.

 

Many times we turn to the screen that is closest

 

Context drives device choice

 

Smartphones have by far the highest usage for daily interactions with digital media. However, the interaction doesn’t end there. People now use different devices either at the same time or sequentially in what we call ‘multi-screening’.

 

There are two modes of multi screening

 

So how does this effect online shopping behaviour? It is not as straight forward as a simple path from browse to purchase. Consumers flick between devices, using them for different purposes, depending on the context they’re in as well as the time they have available.

We often move from one screen to another when shopping

 

Most consumers (by a large majority) actually begin their shopping experience on their smartphone. They then continue the same shopping experience on their PC/laptop.

 

Consumers take a multi-device path to purchase

 

Why would so many users not continue to purchase your product on their phone?

– Context. If they’re on the bus or on-the-go it may just be inconvenient.

– Time. When people are bored and want to kill some time they’ll start browsing using their phone. This ‘pecking’ behaviour is often done in short bursts.

– Content. Most mobile sites are slimmed down versions of the PC version. Users know this and may postpone their purchase until they can get to a PC to read more about the product and see larger images, read reviews, etc.

– Ease of purchasing. Many sites still have overly long and complex checkout processes, requiring registration and card payment details. These forms are easier and faster to complete on a PC with less frustrating input errors.

– Trust. Some people are still wary of purchasing through a mobile device.


Smartphones are the most frequent companion devices during simultaneous usage

 

The user’s purpose has a large part to play in which device they use. Think about your business. Does it drive users to interact with your website via a particular device? Looking at the following slide we can see that for activities such as searching for information and browsing the web, users prefer to reach for their Smartphone. However, if they are planning a holiday they are less likely to use their phone. If you think about, planning a holiday takes a fair amount of time and research. It is a more complex use case that involves looking at multiple sites, information search, reading reviews, sharing details with friends and looking at large images.

 

Smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities

In summary, smartphones are the backbone of our daily media interactions. They have the highest number of user interactions per day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens.

Businesses need to consider:

– Adjusting conversion goals to account for the differences in end user goals when using each device.

– Tailoring the user experience to each device to account for the differences in how users shop.

Going mobile has become a business imperative.

Read the original research by Google