Book Review: UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy: What the heck is it and should you care?

These are the first things you should ask yourself before even thinking about buying this book. For many of you (particularly the old time UXers – you know who you are 😉) you have already been doing UX Strategy for most of your career and simply classing it as part of your work as a UX Professional. It’s all the stuff we do that’s more focussed on the business side. Things like discovery research to explore current user behaviour and needs, competitor analysis, user journey mapping, personas, crafting value propositions, testing them, storyboarding, creating early designs/prototypes and testing them iteratively. Jaime references Eric Reiss’ book ‘The lean startup’ several times throughout her book and the approach detailed in her book is very much in line with lean UX and building MVPs.

In fact, one could argue whether UX Strategy is just another term that’s been created for something that already exists. However, as the definition of UX changes and moves closer to a design discipline, we need a means of people recognising strategy as a key skill. Ironically, as the UX discipline has exploded, key skills like strategy which would ordinarily be part of an experience designers role, are much harder to find. So if UX Strategy needs to be split out into another pillar of UX to increase awareness and skills, then so be it.

So, how does Jaime define UX Strategy?

UX strategy is the process that should be started first, before the design or development of a digital product begins. It’s the vision of a solution that needs to be validated with real potential customers to prove that it’s desired in the marketplace. Although UX design encompasses numerous details such as visual design, content messaging, and how easy it is for a user to accomplish a task, UX strategy is the “Big Picture”. It is the high-level plan to achieve one or more business goals under conditions of uncertainty.

What is UX Strategy

In our opinion, a good UX Designer thinks about strategy as a natural part of their role – it’s what differentiates a UX Designer from a visual designer or a content designer. The UX Designer should always start with the bigger picture before any design takes place. Perhaps Jaime’s limited definition of UX Design is why she felt the need to write a book about UX Strategy – to increase awareness of these important UX skills.

Contents

  • What Is UX Strategy?
  • The Four Tenets of UX Strategy
  • Validating the Value Proposition
  • Conducting Competitive Research
  • Conducting Competitive Analysis
  • Storyboarding Value Innovation
  • Creating Prototypes for Experiments
  • Conducting Guerrilla User Research
  • Designing for Conversion
  • Strategists in the Wild
  • DĂŠnouement

UX Strategy Page Sample

Pros

This is a really interesting read and packed full of useful information and explanations. Jamie uses real examples as much as possible throughout the book and includes templates that you can download through her website too, which is really helpful for you to practise some of the tools in the book.

The book itself is really easy to read, detailed and practical – she breaks everything down into steps to follow. It also includes a lot of visual screenshots so you can really follow the key example she uses throughout the book (an Airbnb for weddings business) and practise the techniques for yourself. This is not a book full of waffle and theory!

You’ll come away with an understanding of the UX process for creating products, and will be able to use the tools to get started on the Strategy process.

Cons

We disagreed with several things within her book and at times too much was left open to interpretation. For example, with regards to user recruitment, she quickly references Nielsen’s 5 user recommendation, but most UX professionals now agree that this figure shouldn’t be used as a one and only rule. The reality is, it’s more complex and careful thought needs to be given to how many users are seen. If you are doing lots of quick iterations you could in theory go lower, or if you have lots of variables and are planning less iterative testing, you may need to go higher.

Jaime also advises guerrilla research in coffee shops, but her recruitment method takes 5-10 days to book people in which goes against many of the benefits of quick coffee shop research. This is a bit confusing – she may as well use a lab. There’s no mention of the hugely positive effects of multiple stakeholders observing the research (this can be a key part of UX Strategy). Her coffee shop approach enables just one client observer to be present, not to mention that the recordings can be incredibly poor (the audio in particular, due to all the background noise). If research is important to you, you will benefit from reading a more detailed book.

At the end of the book there are no references.

The graphics and illustrations look dated and aren’t particularly engaging.

Should you buy it?

If you’re new to UX, lack understanding of how UX fits into business or you want a high level overview of the whole process then this book will be useful for you to read. It would also be useful for anyone building digital products, such as business owners, entrepreneurs and product managers.

Note: All our reviews are independent, not sponsored and based only on our opinion

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

Is it time for forms to include gender diversity?

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

Form Example

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at some statistics:

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

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

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

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

So what can we address this within form design?

1 Use Mx

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

2 Remove your Gender field

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

3 Use ‘Other’ but use it with caution

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

Use ‘Other’ with caution

4 Change the field type

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

Change the field type

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

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

Payton Quinn, age 24

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

5 Make it optional

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

6 Provide reassurance of privacy

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

7 Consider using pronouns

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

Facebook

8 Watch your copy too!

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

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7 Tips to Craft Compelling Call-to-action Copy

Call to action (CTA) UX Design and Conversion

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

Psychology and persuasion

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

1 Use a verb

CTA UX Design Using Verbs

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

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

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

2 Use you or yours

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

3 Use me or my

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

4 Show value

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

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

5 Use a negative call to action

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

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

6 Add Free and consider surrounding text

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


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

7 Incentivise

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

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

Your next read:

How just one word can change your conversion

CTA UX Design - Black and Decker Button Conversion Test

Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion

 

24 Top UX Prototyping Tools with Downloadable Comparison Table

UX Prototyping Tools

The sheer amount of choice of UX prototyping tools can be pretty overwhelming, so here’s an overview of the top 24 tools, together with a FREE downloadable pdf table so that you can easily compare them.

Download my FREE 24 UX Tools Comparison Table >

Atomic

Atomic

Atomic
Description Powerful and scalable prototyping that lets you tackle complexity with confidence. Use simple interactions or advanced animation to bring your Sketch designs to life.
Verdict Create prototypes for web and mobile. The structure is similar to Sketch in that you create Pages and Artboards, which adds a level of familiarity to Sketch users.
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available
Link atomic.io

Axure RP

Axure

Axure
Description Create simple click-through diagrams or highly functional, rich prototypes with conditional logic, dynamic content, animations, math functions, and data-driven interactions without writing a single line of code.
Verdict Powerful tool that allowing detailed interaction to be prototyped for websites and apps. A fairly steep learning curve.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available on live prototypes via the web
Link axure.com

Balsamiq

Balsamiq
Balsamic
Description Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframing tool that helps you Work Faster & Smarter. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but using a computer.
Verdict Quick to learn and put together wireframe designs with ease.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win and web app
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available on live prototypes via the web app only
Link balsamiq.com

Easee

Easee

Description Easee is a web animation tool for designers. Create smooth animations that can be exported as CSS so that you can import them into your own web project.
Verdict Short learning curve to bring your designs to life.
App type Wab app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Unknown ATM
Link easee.design

Flinto

Flinto
Flinto

Description Flinto lets designers quickly make interactive prototypes of their mobile, desktop, or web apps.
Verdict Comprehensive app, allowing you to create anything from simple tap-through prototypes to comprehensive prototypes with impress interactions. Sketch images can be imported and transitions and user behaviours can be easily added.
App type Mac app and web app (Flinto Lite)
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback available in the tool and shared projects
Link flinto.com

Fluid

Fluid
Fluid

Description Easier web and mobile app prototyping for people who care about products
Verdict Powerful and easy to learn. Design or upload screens and add animated interactions
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Invite collaborators and stakeholders to review and comment on your prototypes
Link fluidui.com

Form

Form
Form

Description Build and customize native prototypes directly on device. Prototype with the latest material design components, touch ripples, and more.
Verdict Prototype mobile apps. Fair decent learning curve
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link relativewave.com/form/

Framer

Framer
Framer

Description Design the impossible with Framer. Start with simple code to bring your design to life. Test it on any device, iterate as you go and share easily for feedback. Pioneer new interaction patterns or create groundbreaking animation. No limits, no constraints.
Verdict A great tool for prototyping complex interaction designs and animations for mobile
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link framer.com/

Hype

Hype
Hype

Description Create beautiful HTML5 web content. Interactive web content and animations made with Tumult Hype work on desktops, smartphones and iPads. No coding required.
Verdict Uses a keyframe-based animation system, however this comes with a high learning curve. It’s a good tool for websites prototyping.
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link tumult.com/hype

Invision

Invision
Invision

Description The world’s leading prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform. Upload your design files and add animations, gestures, and transitions to transform your static screens into clickable, interactive prototypes.
Verdict Low learning curve and it is well supported int he community
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available with user testing
Link invisionapp.com

Justinmind

Justinmind
JustinMind

Description Justinmind provides the best solution to prototype web and mobile apps. You can define apps for Web, iOS, and Android in a few clicks, without writing a single line of code.
Verdict Can create sophisticated prototypes with great tools, however there is fairly decent learning curve. The Free version is very limiting.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Present your prototype and invite stakeholders to give feedback
Link justinmind.com

Keynotopia

Keynotopia
Keynotopia

Description Keynotopia transforms Keynote and PowerPoint into the best rapid prototyping tools for creating mobile, web and desktop app mockups
Verdict Low learning curve
App type Requires Keynote, Powerpoint or OpenOffice
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration No feedback tool provided
Link keynotopia.com

Marvel

Marvelapp
Marvel

Description Simple design, prototyping and collaboration. Create screens directly in Marvel or add your images from Sketch or Photoshop, then add gestures and transitions.
Verdict Create prototypes for the iPhone, iPad, Desktop, Apple TV, Apple Watch and Andrpoid
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Clients and colleagues can comment directly on each screen or drop annotations
Link marvelapp.com

MockFlow

Mockflow
Mockflow

Description MockFlow is an online design suite providing collaborative web services for creative designers and usability engineers
Verdict A good tool for wireframing websites. A fair learning curve.
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo
Collaboration Feedback tool available
Link mockflow.com

Mockingbird

Mockingbird
Mockingbird

Description Mock up an application and show what’s important: the idea, the information, the interaction
Verdict A good tool for wireframing websites
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo
Collaboration Clients and teammates can edit wireframes with you in real time
Link gomockingbird.com

Mockplus

Mockplus
Mockplus

Description Fast interaction, fast design, fast previewing and fast learn. No code or technical expertise required. Prototype design is easier than ever.
Verdict Great for websites and mobile apps. Fair learning curve
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link mockplus.com

Origami

Origami
Origami

Description Explore, iterate, and test your ideas. A new tool for designing modern interfaces. Copy anything from Sketch and paste native layers into Origami Studio. Then quickly adjust, add behavior and animate any layer property without going back.
Verdict Perfect for creating sophisticated mobile prototypes with realistic animations and interactions
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link origami.design

Principle

Principle
Principle

Description Principle makes it easy to design animated and interactive user interfaces. Whether you’re designing the flow of a multi-screen app, or new interactions and animations, Principle lets you create designs that look and feel amazing.
Verdict Quick to learn
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link principleformac.com

Proto.io

Proto.io
Proto.io

Description Create fully-interactive high-fidelity prototypes that look and work exactly like your app should. No coding required.
Verdict Easy to make a quick mock-up using the extensive library of ui elements and nice transitions are available. Quite a high learning curve.
App type Web app with players for iOS and Android
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Reviewer accounts are available for clients to give feedback
Link proto.io

UXpin

UXpin
Unpin

Description Speedy wireframing. Seamless transition from wireframes to mockups & prototypes. Fully collaborative across the entire UX design process.
Verdict Great for websites and mobile apps. Supported by a large community and extensive libraries.
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Easily to share prototypes with stakeholders and gather feedback
Link uxpin.com

Vectr

Vectr
Vectr

Description Vectr is a free graphics software used to create vector graphics easily and intuitively. It’s a simple yet powerful web and desktop cross-platform tool to bring your designs into reality.
Verdict Prototypes can be designed on the web or desktop app for Win and Mac and are kept in sync. Not as feature rich as other apps atm, however this will change.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Collaboration is on the roadmap
Link vectr.com

Webflow

Webflow
Webflow

Description Build dynamic, responsive websites without writing code. Launch with a click, and enjoy the fastest, most reliable hosting on the web. Or export clean, semantic code to hand off to your devs.
Verdict Webflow gives you the power to build websites your way — visually — while producing clean, standards-compliant HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that developers will love. The down side being a high learning curve.
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Shared projects (Team version only), no feedback through tool
Link webflow.com

Xcode

Xcode
Xcode

Description Xcode 8 includes everything you need to create amazing apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.
Verdict Perfect for cutting down on redundant work and misunderstandings when designing and developing mobile apps. Software engineers can immediately iterate the work of a designer. A pretty steep learning curve.
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link developer.apple.com/xcode/

XD

XD
XD

Description Go from idea to prototype faster with Experience Design CC, the first all-in-one cross-platform tool for designing and prototyping websites and mobile apps.
Verdict Easy to use and powerful
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available
Link adobe.com/uk/products/experience-design.html

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UX Prototyping Tools Comparison Table

Need help prototyping?

Our in house team of UX Design and Research Experts have unrivalled experienced with mobile prototyping design and research – our experience goes right back to the first ever smartphone don’t you know 😉

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Inspiration: Mockplus

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

Good user recruitment is crucial to the success of UX research

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

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

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

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

Participants

1 Participants are representative of your target users

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

2 Communicative participants

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

3 Motivated for the right reasons

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

4 Punctual and reliable participants

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

5 Increased research validity

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

The benefits of good UX user recruitment

Using a third party

6 Hiding your recruitment behind an agency has huge advantages!

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

7 Reliable service

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

8 Quick and flexible recruitment

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

9 Honesty in the process

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

10 Good understanding of UX and your needs

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

Do you want to benefit from good user recruitment?

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

You might also like:

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

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 major risks of poor user recruitment

1  No recruitment at all!

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

2  No-shows

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

3  Late-shows

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

4  Uncommunicative participants

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

5  Misinterpretation of your needs

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

6  Non-representative sample

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

7 Brand advocates and bias

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

8  Not enough time to recruit

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

9  Recruiting ‘experts’

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

10  People who just want the money

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

The solution

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

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

Need help or advice?

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

Other posts you may find interesting:

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

Will Singles Day be the new Black Friday?

Although Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in Britain, Europe and the US, the biggest day for online shopping worldwide is ‘Singles day’ in China.

Singles Day was created in China to celebrate single people. It’s held every year on the 11th November, 11.11, with the number 1 symbolising the single individual. This day has gradually become one of the biggest online shopping events i.n the world.

Alibaba Group made Singles Day synonymous with people treating themselves to gifts and last year they recorded sales of ÂŁ9.4 billion during the 24 hour event (The Guardian).

Alibaba’s Singles Day sales continue to climb every year, reaching this years record figure of $17.8 billion (£14 billion).

chinas_singles_day

In the last few years, several European brands have joined Singles Day. Dyson went on board in 2014 and Macy’s, Hugo Boss and United Biscuits joined the in 2015.

Waitrose entered the Chinese market in April this year, they said: “Singles Day is a big occasion for consumers and businesses in China and has the potential to give the products we offer more exposure and provide another opportunity to test demand for our brand.”

2016 Singles Day sales figure are four times that of worldwide Black Friday sales (source).

Interestingly, mobile devices play a large part in Singles Day’s success. Alibaba reported 82% of purchases had been made on mobile phones during Singles Day. “In contrast, many Black Friday opportunities are concentrated on the high street, which is not always convenient for those just wanting to shop from home, on their mobile or from more rural areas” Wing Chan, group marketing director of The Hut Group.

The exponential growth of mobile and the already observed shift online of British shoppers suggests that Black Friday will continue to grow online; this year 64% of purchases took place on mobile devices (22.7% on tablets, 41.7% on mobile), which is 16% more than the previous year (source).

This is a big opportunity for retailers in the UK and Europe. Investing and focusing your business growth on mobile clearly reflects customer’s current shopping behaviour and desires. Not only that but it can also convert more highly – on Black Friday, mobile optimised websites had a 30% increase in sales and a 25% higher average order value.

Need help optimising your website for mobile?

Let’s have a quick chat about what your first steps should be. Contact us now to arrange a convenient time.

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 ÂŁ2.3 million a minute, according to vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.

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

  • ÂŁ6.77 billion forecast to be spent over the Black Friday peak period (Monday 21 – Monday 28 November 2016)
  • ÂŁ1.27 billion to be spent on Black Friday (+16% higher than 2015)
  • ÂŁ3.45 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).

Get your FREE Mobile UX Checklist for World Usability Day

Happy World Usability Day!

We’re very excited today because it’s World Usability Day (and we are Keep It Usable after all). It’s a special day that aims to raise awareness of the importance of usability and educate people about what usability is. It brings together professionals and non-professionals throughout the world with one aim:

To ensure that technology helps people live to their full potential, and that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use in order to create a better world for all citizens everywhere

Usability unfortunately now gets overshadowed by it’s sexier cousin ‘UX’, however, we mustn’t forget that once upon a time (and not so long ago) the term UX didn’t exist at all, and in it’s place was good old ‘Usability’. Usability is still vitally critical to any design, so before we get on to your free mobile usability checklist, let’s have a quick look at usability…

What is usability and how’s it different from UX?

Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object such as a tool or device. In the digital context, usability is the degree to which a digital interface can be used by specified consumers to achieve objectives with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specific context of use.

Put simply, usability is how easy or difficult something is to use. Usability and UX are often used synonymously, but they are in fact different, so let’s have a quick look at how we can distinguish between the two… A simple way to think about it is to remember that user experience encompasses the whole experience a person (in this case referred to as a user) has with a brand’s digital components (it’s worth noting that the term Customer Experience is used to define offline touchpoints too). Usability is just one part that makes up this experience. Other aspects of UX could include things like the brand, marketing, customer service, live chat, content, pricing, visual design, etc. The User Experience honeycomb (Peter Morville) shown in the image below, illustrates usability as just one of seven parts of UX (read this post about what UX  is and the benefits).

So, nowadays, UX is used to describe the overarching process and interaction with the product, whilst usability is more about whether a task can be achieved in a satisfactory and timely manner. In fact, if we look at the international usability standard ISO 9241, it defines usability solely as efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. Norman and Nielsen take the definition a little further, saying that “usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use”, and that it is defined by 5 components:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can people recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use?

Usability is crucial to your success

For most companies, checking their usability is a basic hygiene factor for survival. Users have no patience to put up with bad user interfaces or hard to use products, they no longer try to work it out themselves, they head off to your competitor who does what you do but they do it simpler, easier and quicker. If you don’t provide good usability you’re effectively sending your customers to your competitors. If those customers came to you through PPC, congratulations, you’ve also paid money to send those lost customers to your competition! A small investment in usability testing pays off massively in both the short and long term.

What are the benefits of usability testing?

Conducting usability testing will:

  • Increase sales and conversion: your user interfaces will be more effective at selling your products/service and therefore will increase your sales.
  • Improve credibility and trust in the brand: good UX is associated with increased brand appeal and positive brand associations.
  • Decrease bounce rates: people bounce for many reasons. During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible will be identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
  • Avoid costly redesign: testing the product in the early stages of the design process and identifying usability issues at the earliest stage will avoid redesign costs later on and lost revenue.
  • Improve user satisfaction: a satisfying user experience is related to positive emotions due to the fulfilment of fundamental psychological human needs: self-esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness (Self-determination Theory, Deci & Ryan). Moreover, the feeling of satisfaction gathered during a positive user experience, will create an emotional and affective bond between users and your brand, as well as a sense of engagement and motivation to use your brand in the future (for more about how to engage with your customers emotions, take a look at ‘How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences’).

So, how do you test usability?

Usability testing
Typically, usability is measured relative to users’ performance on a given set of test tasks. The most basic measures of usability are based on the following metrics:

  • Success rate (whether users can perform the task at all)
  • Task completion time
  • Error rate
  • Users’ subjective satisfaction

So, you’re basically measuring whether people can complete a task, how long it takes them, how many errors they make (and their classification), and how satisfied people feel after completing (or failing to complete) the task. It is crucial to recruit a representative sample of your target users in your usability test. The recruitment process should screen and select the people that could be your users/customers. There is no point testing the usability of, for instance, your ecommerce website with people that would never buy the products you sell. For this reason, it’s crucial to define personas that will lead the screening process to recruit the sample of users that fit your demographics (to read more about personas and how to create them, check out this post).

When to usability test…

Usability plays a role in each stage of the design process. Testing the usability of your interface or your industrial design with your users should be an ongoing process, that starts from the early phases of concept ideation, through to final launch. It’s worth considering that people’s behaviour, attitudes, needs and expectations change over time and so should your product / service so it’s good practise to run regular usability tests to continuously implement and improve your designs.

  • Test your current design. If you have a design in place currently, test it first to identify what you should keep or emphasise, and the barriers and obstacles that give users problems.
  • Test your competitors to gather insights about their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for you.
  • Conduct user testing on prototypes. You don’t need to spend too much time designing prototypes, they can be lo-fidelity because you will need to change them based on your usability test results.
  • Develop the most successful prototype idea, informing the design of the interface with the findings gathered from continuous testing throughout the design process to refine the design.
  • Test your final design before launch to capture any new issues that may have entered through the visual design process.
  • Keep testing. Keeping your interfaces updated requires design changes – these should be tested to ensure you’re not creating new problems.

Mobile usability: Your biggest opportunity awaits!

Smartphones are now the core of our daily lives and are in the pockets of 66% of UK adults. 90% of 16-24 year olds own one, but don’t discount the older generation! 55-64 year olds are also joining the smartphone revolution, with ownership in this age group more than doubling since 2012, from 19% to 50% (keep an eye out in the new year for our latest Baby Boomers mobile shopping experience research or email us to request a free copy when it launches). Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report indicates that a third (33%) of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online.

Mobile is where consumer growth is

The rise of mobile is a predicted and inevitable trend so it is crucial for your website or app to be easy to use from the smaller screen of a smartphone. Not only will mobile growth continue, but we’ll also see mobile usage increase too. It’s something we’re noticing in our own consumer research: Users feel more comfortable browsing and purchasing on mobile devices as time progresses and they become more and more used to smartphones. We’re seeing this in the older generation too – do not discount them!

Get your FREE 50 point Mobile UX Checklist!

FREE Mobile UX checklist
To celebrate World Usability Day and to encourage you to take advantage of the continued growth in mobile, we’re giving away copies of a 50 point mobile ux checklist! Download it and you will find a set of useful guidelines to check your mobile user experience.

Get my FREE Mobile UX Checklist >

Need help?

Our Usability Experts and UX researchers have unrivalled experienced with mobile usability testing – our experience goes right back to the first ever smartphone don’t you know 😉

Email us now for your complimentary initial consultation.

8 ways to convert high value purchases online

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

Why are high ticket purchase decisions different?

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

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

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

The fragmented but shortening customer journey

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

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

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

Rational and irrational decision making

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

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

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

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

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

8 ways to convert high ticket consumers online

1. Focus on mobile customer experience

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

Mobile shopping CX

2 Limit choice

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

3 Have a clear call to action on each page

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

4 Use video

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

5 Personalisation

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

6 Post purchase experience

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

7 Giving meaningful context

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

Context matters

8 Utilise Virtual Reality

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

Virtual reality

Other posts you may find interesting:

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

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.

Creating meaningful experiences: an Introduction to User Experience design

“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good design fits our needs so well that the design is invisible.” Don Norman 

What is UX?

‘An experience is a story, emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action.’ (Hassenzahl 2010, pp. 8)

Each person has their own definition of User Experience (UX) so it can be difficult for newcomers to understand what is meant by the term UX. UX refers to the experience a person has and who they feel when interfacing with a system.

Technologies have become progressively more complex as the industry advances and they are embedded into people’s everyday life to such an extent that our experiences are mostly created and shaped through digital devices. What used to be a one-way medium has evolved into a very rich and interactive experience and from this arises the importance to not just test the product but to test the interaction between users and the product. Users’ needs are always changing as they continually evolve their expectation, so continuously testing the user experience of your product is vital to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.

Working in UX requires many skills, below is just a small subset.

UX design disciplines

What is UX design?

UX design is the process of enhancing the end user satisfaction with a product or service as well as increasing business KPIs (if you have a great UX designer they’ll deliver both). In simple words, UX design is about how to create technology that can fit human needs, solve problems and make life simpler.

The more you understand your users the better you can design a product that is attractive and meaningful. User-centred design (that aligns your design to your users needs) will ensure the design of a successful product and an enjoyable user experience.

A UX designer will ensure a product logically flows from one step to the next. UX design experts study and evaluate the ease of use of the product, the perception of the value of the interface, the efficiency in performing tasks coupled with business needs.

The checkout process of an e-commerce website is frequently evaluated in terms of the user experience because it’s often a major jumping off point when customers are transacting. Testing how easy and pleasant users purchasing something on the website can be utilised to identify the challenges and obstacles that users face.

As human beings, we are all different. What works for one person might have the opposite effect on another. For this reason the aim of UX is to design for specific user groups (personas) experiences, promote certain behaviours and habits; user experiences will be different and unique for every product. The design process must be tailored to goals, values, needs and expectations related to a specific product.

What’s the difference between UX and usability?

There is some confusion around UX and usability; they are often used synonymously, however in reality, usability is a part of UX.

UX addresses to how the user feels when using an interface; it is more related to the overarching process and interaction with the product, whilst usability is about whether a task can be achieved in a satisfactory time and manner. In fact, according to ISO 9241, usability is purely regarded as efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.

Whereas UX entails everything that effects how a person interacts with something and can include a whole variety of psychological and social factors; social proof, trust, emotions, frustrations and satisfaction. Usability is just one part of UX.

Which research methods are involved in UX?

The methods for researching UX are numerous and they are strictly related to the nature of the research and the final aims of the testing. Each research is tailored to which aspects of the interface is to be evaluated.

Some of the research methods in UX are:

  • One-to-one interviews: gather deep insights from real time behaviour, interaction, personal experiences, opinions and perceptions.
  • Focus Group: this group research method allows the researcher to investigate behavioural patterns and the influence of group interaction.
  • Concept Testing: testing a concept directly with users allows designers to understand expectations about the product and to transform early ideas into more solid concepts that have been adapted for user needs.
  • Card Sorting: used to inform structure and categorisations based on how users perceive them to be. Utilises understanding of the users mental model.
  • Usability testing: is a research method to evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction of a product based on empirical evidence.
  • Diary study: this technique gathers deep information about feelings, habits and behaviours across a period of time.

Is the setting of the research important?

The setting of the research is very important – a poor environment can undermine the validity of the test. As in psychology, the success of research is also based on the environment in which it has been run. A comfortable, cosy and natural environment will help users feel relaxed and behave naturally, as if they were in their natural setting: their own home. Keep It Usable pioneered the home style UX lab – our Home UX Lab has a living room design and cosy, relaxed feel to put people at ease and gather deeper insights so you get more value from your UX research / Usability testing.

Keep It Usable Home UX Lab

What are the benefits for your brand?

Knowing your users and designing for them has a lot of benefits for your brand image, the engagement of your users and on your revenue.

UX design deals with users emotions and feelings and it has long term effects as well as immediate ones. For example, a simple improvement in the checkout process of a website can massively increase the revenue and, at the same time, it will grow loyalty resulting in repeat customers and referrals. If users find the product useful, pleasant and easy to use they will return and use it not just once but whenever they need it.

A positive user experience will make users wonder how they could live without your product!

  • Increase sales and conversion: your user interfaces will be more effective at selling your products and therefore will increase your sales.
  • Improve credibility and trust in the brand: good UX is associated with increased brand appeal and positive brand associations.
  • Decrease bounce rates: people bounce for many reasons. During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible will be identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
  • Increase visibility (no. of new and return visitors): UX experts are not only looking to increase new customer conversion, but they’re also focussed on improving retention and longer term conversion.
  • Avoid costly redesign: testing the product in the early stages of the design process will avoid redesign costs later and lost revenue.
  • Increase business intelligence and ease decision making: If you understand your customers opinions and needs, everyone in the business will be able to make better business decisions that are more in line with your customers needs. The more user research you do, the more aligned you’ll be with your customers thinking.
  • Better reviews: Online reviews are read by everyone, they’re the word of mouth of the internet and they are trusted because they come from ‘people like me’. Through an increased understanding of customer needs and improving accordingly, you will create a better experience that leads to better reviews.
  • Improve user satisfaction: a satisfying customer experience is related to positive emotions due to the fulfilment of fundamental psychological human needs: self-esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness (Self-determination Theory, Deci & Ryan). Moreover, the feeling of satisfaction gathered during a positive user experience, will create an emotional and affective bond between users and your brand, as well as a sense of engagement and motivation to use your brand in the future (for more about how to engage with your customers emotions, take a look at ‘How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences’).

In the digital era, a website is often the first point of contact that costumers have with your brand. We have evidenced in our research, that first impressions have a big impact on user behaviour and their decision making process. It takes just a few seconds for users to judge if your brand is worth their time; remember that a bad user experience will put them off, undermining their trust in your company and compromising future use of your brand.

Help!

Would you like to evaluate and measure the UX of your website or product?

Do you need help improving your online sales and conversion?

Would you like to understand your customer behaviour and opinions, discovering the whys behind your data?

Do you need to get your business thinking from the customers perspective so you can make informed, strategic decisions to increase sales?

Do you want to improve the quality of your customer research so you get deeper insights and more true-to-life behaviour?

Contact our UX and Conversion experts >

 

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?

Other posts you may find interesting:

What is User Testing?
5 user tests every Product Manager should commission

10 Reasons from real users: Why is Pokemon Go so addictive?

“Addictive, stupidly addictive. It’s making me feel like I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality which I didn’t think I did before. It’s bad, don’t do it kids!”

This is how one 32 year old described his use of Pokemon Go. In less than a month, it’s become the most successful mobile game in history. It’s already overtaken Tinder and is rumoured to have now reached Twitter growth proportions. Usage time has already beaten other social media apps.

Usage Time: Pokemon GO vs Social Media Apps, US Android App Data: July 8th 2016 : Data by SimilarWeb

Walking around, you’ll find Pokemon catchers of all ages and genders, often in small groups with big smiles on their faces. It seems to appeal to everyone.

But what is it that makes this particular game so addictive? We went out to hunt down Pokemon Go users in Media City, Manchester, to discover what makes the user experience so addictive.

10 Reasons why Pokemon Go is SO addictive?

1 Nostalgia

“I used to play Pokemon when I was younger so it’s just the nostalgia of it I guess and I like that this is the first generation as well so it’s the generation that I know the most”

pokemon_pikachu_misty_pok_m

A crucial factor that has a big role in the game’s success is nostalgia. The game is a real blast from the past. Fans that embraced Pokémon during their childhood in the 1990s are once again indulging in their old obsession. Nostalgia, is a powerful force in luring users to a new but familiar experience (let’s look at what’s popular in the cinema right now.… Ghostbusters… Batman vs Superman…). The adults that once loved the cartoon or played the video game on their game boy, now have the opportunity to re-live those old feelings that make them feel good. To the cries of “gotta catch’em all” people feel happy, they associate the words with their carefree youthful days of no responsibility and lots of fun.

“The only way to deliver fun is to have players feel confident, give them a sense of exploration and connect them socially to others – on those three very important counts, the game looks like it’s succeeded” said Andrew Przybylski, psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Studies on nostalgia show it increases optimism, inspiration, boosts creativity, and pro-social behaviour. Pokemon Go reminds you of the fun things you used to do and the people you used to do it with but it also helps you look forward to more fun times in the future.

2 Meet new people

“I’ve met a few people, it is quite sociable. I was talking to a woman with a dog and she was playing Pokemon at the same time so we were comparing notes, so it is making people interact a bit more I think”

We all have in common the desire to be socially connected and to belong to a group – this is clearly seen with social media. But why?

Throughout our lives, we all go through a complex identity construction process that entails a continuous practice and experience of the self, a role playing and a negotiation with other identities in order to define who we are.

In this regard, sharing and socialising, it is necessary to find the inner self; social media is a unique stage to do this. It offers the opportunity to experience the self in many different ways than in the offline world – through images, videos, avatar, status etc – and in a context where we feel more in control of our actions and of other people’s feedback.

In the same way, Pokemon Go gives you control of the interaction; it has the flexibility to let you play alone, or with other people. The anonymity and the de-individuation that typifies our society makes it challenging to interact and connect with other people in the offline world. The game offers the opportunity to connect with others over a common interest, making it a more spontaneous, low risk interaction.

“Just randomly having little bits of chats about Pokemon, looking at what kinds of Pokemon they’ve got”

Twitter is full of stories about Pokemon Go‘s impact on anxiety and depression, with thousands of people praising the game for getting them out of the house and making it easier for them to interact with friends and strangers.

PokemonGo_anxiety

3 Enhance existing relationships

“Everybody in the office is playing. I think it encourages people to chat to other people. It’s brought us two closer”

Playing Pokemon Go is not just giving people the opportunity to make new friendships, it’s also strengthening existing relationships. A couple of co-workers told us how they’ve become much closer since playing the game together (we caught them playing it on a lunch time walk together), and one mum who was sat with her family told us that the reason she had started playing it was to get closer to her two sons and to enhance their relationship. It was something to talk and laugh about with them, it was something new that she had in common with them.

“My experiences have been very positive. I play it on the bus to work instead of spending that time on social media and comparing my life to all my friends. In the evenings I take my three younger brothers for a walk in the local country park “pokemon hunting”. We’re spending at least an hour, often longer, out there. Only yesterday we spotted and watched fox cubs playing, bats flying over a field catching bugs and sat quietly to watch some rabbits.”

4 Augmented reality

Pokemon Augmented Reality

There’s been a lot of talk about augmented reality and although it’s out there, many apps still do a poor job of creating an engaging experience. It’s often more of a marketing gimmick than a true enhancement to the user experience. Pokemon Go embeds augmented reality very successfully – they’ve turned it into the main feature of the game. Augmented reality is ingrained into the user experience and makes the characters feel more alive. It’s successfully bridged the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

5 Easy to play

Pokemon Mobile App Screens
“It’s a pretty simple game”

“I think it’s pretty intuitive”

The game is really simple and easy to get started, there are no barriers to use. It doesn’t require expensive equipment, you just need a smartphone with a camera and GPS. Crucially, these are technologies that users are already very familiar with. They feel easy. It also doesn’t require much learning. There are no instructions to read and the game is pretty simple to understand, especially if you’re already familiar with Pokemon. In fact all you need to do is:

1 Go outside

2 Walk

3 Find Pokemon

4 Flick a Pokeball to catch it

Repeat

6 Achievement

Achievement is another key factor of the Pokemon Go success.

Achievement and motivation are two strictly related concepts. People need to feel motivated in order to act, and motivation is boosted by achievements. The self-confidence that arises from the achievement of a goal – catching a Pikachu – motivates people to play more and more…and Pokemon Go players are indeed very motivated, to the point of catching Pokemon whilst their wife is giving birth!

The achievement experience is the fundamental mechanism of the entire Pokemon Go game. And it’s such an easy goal to achieve, that you can’t stop yourself. The ease with which the reward comes every time your phone buzzes, alerting you that a Pokemon is nearby, is very basic psychological conditioning.

7 Exercise

“It’s getting everyone out walking. It’s an excuse to get out of the house.”

Catching Pokemon means you have to get out and about, in effect, you have to exercise. It’s well documented that exercise has a positive effect on both the mind and body and that many people find it highly addictive.

“It’s getting everyone to go to parks and stuff so that’s pretty cool”

Dr. John Grohol is an expert in technology’s impact on human behavior and mental health, he says. “The research is really, really clear on this, that the more you exercise, the more it would help decrease feelings of depression,” he says. “It actually works as an anti-depressant and it has a really, pretty strong effect. It’s probably one of the most beneficial things a person with depression can do.”

PokemonGo_depression

Plus, walking around also helps people’s physical health – lose weight and get fitter. All these feel good factors contribute to the addiction.

“Our bosses kids are into it, so he has the excuse of saying ‘do you want to come on a walk and we’ll go and catch some Pokemon’ ”

8 Fun

Pokemon Mobile Outdoors

“It’s simple and it’s fun. You just plod along, it’s something to do on your lunch breaks”

It’s a game and it’s fun to play. You could go for a walk to the park or you could go hunt Pokemon at the park, which you’ll likely find much more fun to do and you’ll probably bump into other players whilst you’re there.

9 Variable reward model

Slot machines are so addictive because they give intermittent variable rewards. Social networks are addictive for the same reason. Pokemon Go uses the same reward model. Variable rewards are one of the most powerful tools to ‘hook’ users. Research shows that our feel good hormone, dopamine, surges when the brain anticipates a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a hunting state that activates the parts of the brain associated with want and desire.

The rewards in Pokemon Go aren’t predictable and as you chase that Pokemon there’s also the fear of not catching it: the psychological ‘fear of missing out’ (fomo) coupled with the excitement of the anticipation of catching that Pokemon. It’s the anticipation that often gives us the biggest dopamine hit.

10 Post brexit escapism

The timing of the launch of Pokemon Go couldn’t have been any better. In the UK, half of us still are depressed about brexit, there’s real uncertainty and fear of what’s to come and in the world there’s been numerous terror attacks. A little escapism is much welcomed! Where Brexit divided the UK as a nation, Pokemon Go is bringing us back together.

How do users want to improve Pokemon Go?

Pokemon-Loading-Mobile
Whilst chatting with Pokemon Go users, we also found out what’s annoying them the most – server issues! Everyone said this was the most frustrating issue with the game at the moment. The gyms also seemed to be a little confusing for some people who didn’t really know what they were supposed to do. Younger people wanted more features, more Pokemon and greater access to gyms.

Will the addiction continue?

Analysing the psychology behind the game mechanics and the user experience, we don’t see any reason for the current addiction to decline.

Need help to create an engaging gaming app user experience?

Our UX experts specialise in psychology and designing engaging mobile user experiences that create a sense of flow. Our expertise in mobile interface and experience design goes back to the first ever Ericsson smartphone, so your mobile app is in the safest of hands with us.

Email us now at hello@keepitusable.com for your complimentary initial consultation.

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Baby duck syndrome: Why users hate change and what you can do about it
Using the Pareto Principle to improve your user experience

Baby duck syndrome: Why users hate change and what you can do about it

How many times have you heard people complaining because the updated version of Facebook is awful? Every time there’s a change, it all kicks off again… everyone becomes angry and adamant they’ll never use Facebook again but then they get used to the change and forget all about it until next time. There’s even been a timeline created of all the Facebook backlashes.

Facebook is just one example we can all relate to, but there are many across the internet including many ecommerce websites and apps. But why is it that people are so reluctant to changes within websites, software and apps? This reluctance that users have towards change is called ‘Baby duck syndrome’.

Baby duck syndrome

But what do baby ducks have to do with users behaviour?

Well, the name comes from psychology and ethology (the study of animal behaviour). Konrad Lorenz, studied animal behaviour and he observed how new born ducks that leave their nest early, instinctively bond and ‘imprint’ with the first moving object they see (in Konrad’s case this happened to be him).

The same thing happens to people when they’re online. Users get used to and learn how to interact with a website or software in a certain way, this can take some time to do so they’ve also invested effort into doing this. Once they are familiar with the platform and like it, they struggle to change their habits. In general, people perceive the familiar as easier and more efficient and the unfamiliar less so; they have a tendency to “imprint” in the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to the first. Changes to the existing system will be perceived as less easy to use (even if they do actually make it easier) because they require some learning and therefore effort on the users behalf to get used to the new functionality.

This is not isolated to the digital environment either. In the offline world people are also reluctant to change – they feel safer when they can maintain a routine and an instinctive inner strength motivates them to stick with what they’ve learnt, with what they know, because it feels safer for them.

When a radical change is made to something already viewed as useful, but does not fundamentally change the experience, people rebel – and they rebel quickly.

The dilemma for ux designers and product owners

So, your dilemma is this… if you keep the same interface, users will be happy and feel comfortable, but the risk is that you end up stuck with an interface that doesn’t change with the times and gets stuck in the past. It may well have issues to do with the UI and interaction that need to adapt to improve the user experience. However, if you change it significantly, even if it’s for the better, your users are likely to rebel against the change and deem the previous version as better (even if you’ve tested and proved that it was actually worse).

Keeping your product updated is important, but so is keeping your users happy and providing them with an interface that’s easy and pleasant to use. Angry users and social media aren’t a good combination!

How to make changes with minimal upset to users

  • People need to feel reassured and supported. You need to provide assistance and to guide them through the transition phase.
  • Be there for your users, support and explain the nature of the changes, reassure them about how to do it. Don’t make your users feel forced or imposed, let the interface communicate with them rather than instructing them to make the change.

If you take the risk to make changes to your website, app or software and if you are ready to upset you users, you should also be 100% sure that the changes you are introducing worth the risk.

  • Conduct user testing. Observe users using the new version of your website or software, take note of the feedback and keep the change process open and in continuous progression.
  • Lessen any fear of the change by making your users aware that these changes have been tested with them already and that you’re making the change for their benefit. Explain why.
  • Instead of changing everything at once, make a series of small incremental changes. This is what Facebook do now and for most users small changes go totally unnoticed, despite them leading to the same end result eventually.
  • Interact and listen to your users, tweeting, facebooking, reading forums and taking in their concerns and expectations.
  • Test your interface to gather concrete proof that your users will understand the improvement and finally embrace it.

Need help or advice?

Are you considering making changes to your website and are concerned about how your customers will react? We recommend

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Using Pareto Principle psychology to improve your user experience

Have you ever noticed how you use the same small number of features in your favourite software? It’s capable of hundreds of functions, but have you ever actually used them all? How about your favourite website… do you look at every single page or do you generally just look at a small number of pages that most interest you? Do you use all the functionality on that page or do you just press the occasional ‘Like’ button?

80/20 rule

This is the norm. You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule; we tend to use 20% of things 80% of the time. The principle is also used to mean that 20% of the effort will generate 80% of the results. It’s often the case that 20% of customers generate 80% or more of revenue for a company. It’s known as the Pareto Principle and it can be found in all aspects of our lives.

Let’s learn a bit more about it and how you can apply it to your UX and Conversion.

What is the Pareto Principle?

In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto noticed that every year, 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced approximately 80% of the peas. He found it very interesting and he observed that this proportion could be applied, in a larger scale, to economic society: 80% of land is owned by 20% of people.

Pareto Principle 80-20 Rule
If you think about it, this principle can be applied to most of your everyday life. We bet you tend to wear just 20% of your clothes 80% of the time and out of everything you own, you probably use just 20% of things regularly.

When you’re creating that company presentation in Powerpoint do you ever use all of the features or would you say it’s about 20%? Does 20% of your website generate the 80% of your income online?

What are the benefits of using the Pareto Principle psychology in UX?

  • Identify the top 20% of your current usability issues and feature gaps so you can fix them.
  • Keeping focus on the most essential aspects of your website ensures that most of your visitors can find what they need very quickly.
  • This in turn leads to higher conversion rates and more return customers for your brand.
  • A simpler, clean and straightforward user experience, free of distractions, barriers and frustrations.
  • We know that too much information can cause the inattentional blindness effect, leading users away from what they are really looking for on your website. If you want to avoid this and ensure a positive user experience, keep it simple and focus on those 20% of things that really matter for them.
  • The 20% of what you have left will be better quality and much more effective.

Applying Pareto to UX

In our experience in conducting research with users, we have evidenced that features that generate the majority of conversions are a minority of the functionality provided on a website or an app.

The 80/20 rule has a crucial effect on the user experience and ultimately on the effectiveness of the content or functionality of your website.

Knowing that, how can the 80/20 rule be applied to improve your UX and Conversion?

  • What are the 20% that users want the most? At the start of a project, consult users on the features you have in mind and get them to rank them and discuss their thoughts. You’ll soon discover the 20% of features that will appeal to 80% of your target users. Make these your MVP then develop from there in future iterations. Beware of feature creep.
  • Use analytics to determine the top 20% of things your users use the most.
  • Conduct user research on your top user journeys. What are the top 20% of things that 80% of people use your website, software or app for? Focus on these in user testing to get the most value and impact from your consumer research.
  • Prioritise the research results and focus your design and development resources on the 20% of issues that are causing 80% of users problems. The aim is to tackle the biggest barriers first.
  • De-clutter features or content that is not needed by your users. It’s just detracting from other things that are more effective.
  • Help 80% of users. Do 80% of people all choose the same option? If so, consider defaulting to that option.
  • Keep converting don’t stop. Keep focussing on the 20% of things that could make the biggest difference to your ongoing conversion.
  • Don’t invest too much time and money optimizing lesser-used functionality. Your investment is best spent in your top 20% instead.

Example: Amazon

Here is an example of the 80/20 rule on Amazon’s checkout process. As shown in the picture, the country in the form is pre-populated with United Kingdom. Since the United Kingdom is the most selected country while browsing from amazon.co.uk, they’ve made it the default selection, therefore saving time during checkout. One less thing to think about and choose has no doubt had a positive effect on their conversion of this page. People do not like completing forms so the less effort required from them, the more likely they are to complete the form and convert.

Example: Laterooms

Below is Laterooms old Home page. Through analysing their data analytics and conducting multiple rounds of user testing, they discovered that most people don’t use or even look at most of the content on the page. 98.6% of users didn’t use the menu and 98.9% ignored their prominent popular destinations content.

The vast majority only used Search.

So, Laterooms decided to redesign their home page to focus on the main thing users do when they come to the website: Search. They aimed to remove distraction and clutter, emphasise the search feature, hide ancillary elements and boost credibility. This is a great example of how removing distraction from the page creates a highly focussed user journey and a lovely, clean UI. No colourful banner ads and no gimmicks. Of course they tested the new design with users and following great feedback, split tested the new design against the current version.

The new, simplified design (shown below) was the clear winner

Mobile first demonstrates Pareto

Luke Wroblewski has made a name for himself advocating a mobile first approach to design and build and it is certainly in line with the 80/20 rule. Luke observed how, most of the time in the design process, the desktop version of a website is the first to be developed and the mobile is often an afterthought. As such, the mobile experience suffers. The mobile first principle states that the design process should be the other way round: mobile should come first. Why?

In designing the mobile version of a website the focus has to be on the 20% of features and functionality that is most crucial for users, simply because there is limited space on small mobile screens. This makes it the most challenging user interface to design for and many companies are still struggling to find talented people and agencies like Keep It Usable that can create outstanding mobile user experiences.

Need help simplifying your user journeys or creating amazing mobile experiences? Arrange a call with one of our super friendly UX experts for complimentary, no-ties advice.

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Personas: Why is it important to understand your users?

Personas: Why is it important to understand your users?

Persona example 1

Image credit: Xtensio

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

Benefits of Personas

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

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

Where did it all begin?

Personas were introduced in 1998 by Alan Cooper.

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

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

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

What is the personas method?

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

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

Why are personas so important to the design process?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Designing personas

The story

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

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

Collection of data when designing personas

The scenario

The scenario is very important for the effectiveness of personas.

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

The narration of an imagined scenario follows this structure:

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

Personas design-process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example persona

Here’s an example of a completed persona:

Persona example 2

Image credit: Xtensio

Need help or advice?

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

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