As the world begins to come to terms with living alongside COVID-19 for at least the coming future, we take a look at how UX research will need to adapt to continue to get good results whilst keeping everyone safe.
Remote will be the new default
When lockdown began, we hope you were able to continue testing. If you did continue, you no doubt chose to go down the remote testing route as it was by far the safest method for both you and your participants. We expect that remote will continue to be the preferred method whilst the virus is around but that remote moderated will grow in popularity.
In-person research has returned but may not be face-to-face
For many research projects, remote testing won’t answer the key research questions, or it simply won’t be possible due to technical constraints. For example, one of our clients has highly confidential and sensitive gaming hardware that is tricky to setup because it’s still at the prototyping stage, so remote would not be suitable for their needs.
Now that people are able to return to work and to indoor environments, we have resumed in-person research here at Keep It Usable, in our Home UX Lab. However, it will look a little different and as you also resume your in-person research, there are several changes you’ll need to make and things you’ll need to consider across the whole research process.
We have resumed in-person research here at Keep It Usable
Ensuring and communicating safety
Ensuring a safe return to in-person testing is our priority at Keep It Usable. The health and safety of our clients, researchers, observers, participants, staff and anyone else within our facility is of the utmost importance. It is key not just to provide this safety, but also to communicate it well so that people feel reassured and are are less likely to worry about the environment they will be in.
Participant recruitment and screening
As you may be aware, the specialist user recruitment agency, I Need Users is part of our group of companies. We have been providing recruitment for many years and are very proud of our superb attendance rate (for most projects it’s 100%). But with COVID-19 we’ve had to make a few changes for in-person research:
Our updated screening process now includes additional questions relating to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, testing positive, contact with others and possible exposure to others who may test positive, and recent travel.
As there can be a period of time between being screened and the date of the research, all participants will be re-screened the day before your testing to ensure no new symptoms and changes have occurred.
When they arrive at the facility, they will be asked to confirm again.
We will also take extra time in the screening process to alleviate any concerns that participants may have about attending the research facility in-person. This will involve explaining the process, environment and setup so they feel safe to attend.
Face masks and social distancing
The official guidance on face masks and social distancing will apply within our facility. As these are changing on a weekly basis at the moment, these will continue to adapt in line with government guidelines. All participants and visitors must wear a mask when arriving and use the hand sanitiser when they enter the building.
Research lab changes
We are not currently recommending researchers sit alongside participants because it would go against the current government guidelines and the PPE required may be uncomfortable for the user (and you). It will also effect the audio quality for your observers and your recording.
Instead, we have several alternatives available, where you and the participant can be in different rooms but still be close by in case you need to pop into Home Lab to sort out any technical issues (wearing PPE of course).
New individual self-contained booths
An extra option that we now offer is the use of our individual self-contained work booths. These extra special booths contain a chair, desk, internet connection and lighting. They are perfect for individual tests! You may prefer for your participant to be sat in the booth or you might prefer them to be in our homely lab whilst you use the booth. Alternatively, your participant could be in our homely lab whilst you use the large observation room next door. We have many options that are all entirely flexible and we can help to advise on which setup will be best suited to your research needs.
In light of the new guidelines, our day-to-day processes have changed, including:
Participants to be kept separate whilst waiting for research.
Seating in the waiting area to be thoroughly cleaned after each use.
Schedule extra time between participants to enable cleaning.
Sanitisation of room and equipment between each participant.
Hands sanitised before handling anything.
Masks to be worn when interacting with visitors.
Social distancing to be maintained.
Only bottles of water to be made available to participants.
Snacks individually wrapped.
Anything used in the research should be disposed of if it cannot be sufficiently disinfected (such as post-its).
No cash payments to be made to users.
We’ve put together a handbook with all of the information you’ll need in order to carry out UX research in a COVID-19 world.
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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%.
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.
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?
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
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!
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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?
“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?
“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”
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.
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
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
“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
3 Find Pokemon
4 Flick a Pokeball to catch it
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.
“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.”
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’ ”
“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?
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.
Accessibility is defined as the matching of delivery of information and services with users’ individual needs and preferences in terms of intellectual and sensory engagement with resources containing that information or service, and their control of it. Accessibility is satisfied when there is a match regardless of culture, language or disabilities.
Why should you care about accessibility?
Since the online environment is an extension of the physical one, there is nothing more effective than a metaphor with the offline world to understand how crucial accessibility online can be for your business.
Imagine you are running a flower shop; the business is going pretty well, the shop is in a very good and central location, easily accessible from the main street. A lot of people visit it every day, attracted by the colourful window display with fresh flowers, the enticing aroma and your brilliant customer service. Inside the shop, flowers are tidily organised and labels with names and a clear description are provided. You tend to stay in the shop, ready to help your customers.
Now, think about the same flower shop, but imagine that in front of the main door there is a big step that prevents access for some of your customers. There’s no window to showcase your flowers and you turn off the light to save money. In the shop, no labels or descriptions are provided and flowers are randomly arranged. Moreover, you tend to stay in the back of the shop so your customers struggle to find you if they need help with something.
That’s exactly what happens when your website is not accessible.
The context in the UK
48% of the UK population could potentially have problems accessing your website:
Disability affects 19% of working age people in the UK
9% of the UK population have some form of colour blindness (1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women)
4% are visual impaired
12 million are over 60 years old; that is the 21% of the entire population
Disability on the internet includes things like:
Problems with sight
Problems using a mouse or keyboard
Problems with hearing
Problems with reading and understanding
But web accessibility also helps people who:
Have a slow internet connection
Have a small screen or unusual device
Can’t listen to sound at work
Use an old web browser or operating system
What are the benefits of having an accessible website?
Web accessibility protects your website against demographic changes and opens your business to everyone with an internet connection.
People with disabilities and special needs have spending power (disposable income of £50 billion per year) and the benefits of a website accessible to everybody are:
The website will be higher in the search engine: SEO and accessibility go hand-in-hand because websites that are inaccessible to users with disabilities are also inaccessible to search engines. One of the most powerful elements of SEO is creating machine-readable content. This is content that can be read by humans as well as assistive technologies, like screen readers.
You won’t incur legal fees: according to the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and Equality Act 2010 service providers must not discriminate against disabled people and an equal access to public or private services should be guaranteed
Increasing conversion: an accessible website will be more usable for all users not just for people with disabilities. Good usability and a positive user experience on your website will increase conversion.
Your brand will gain a positive image.
Which guidelines do you need to follow for developing an accessible website?
WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) defined in 2008 is an internationally adopted technical standard; the guidelines explain how to solve many of the problems that your users with disabilities face on the web. Although, WCAG 2.0 is not an all-inclusive list of issues that users with disabilities might face, they are internationally recognised standards.
WCAG 2.0 has 12 guidelines that are organised under 4 principles:
The principle of a website being perceivable is about the senses people use when browsing the web:
Provide text alternatives for non-text content
Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning
Make it easier for users to see and hear content
The actions people take when browsing:
Make all functionality available from a keyboard
Give users enough time to read and use content
Do not use content that causes seizures
Help users navigate and find content
Your website must use clear terms, have simple instructions and explain complex issues:
Make text readable and understandable
Make content appear and operate in predictable ways
Help users avoid and correct mistakes
A robust website is one that third-party technology (like web browsers and screen readers) can rely on. This minimises the risk of your users relying on technology that cannot correctly process your website:
Maximise compatibility with current and future user tools
WCAG 2.0 are organised into three levels of conformance:
Level A – the most basic web accessibility features
Level AA – deals with the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users
Level AAA – the highest (and most complex) level of web accessibility
Starting with Level A is a great way to make progress and begin helping out your users. Level AA is the standard many governments are using as this level targets the most common and most problematic issues for web users.
How can you test if your website is accessible?
In the WCAG 2.0 a list of universal guidelines are presented, but what we clearly know is that it can be difficult to universally define the usability of a website. A website or an interface that is usable for one person, might not be for someone else.
Some websites were found to perform extremely well in usability evaluations with disabled people, yet did not meet certain WCAG lines.
A holistic approach to accessibility is necessary to develop an accessible website. Experts claim that ‘the key measure of a digital system is whether it fits it’s context of use: whether the people for whom it is designed can use it with acceptable levels of usability, for the tasks that they need to do, in the social setting in which these tasks take place, using the technologies they have available.’
User requirements can be grouped into several categories, including:
The abilities (and disabilities) of the target users including perceptual, cognitive, motor, and linguistic abilities.
The tasks that need to be supported, group, social and cultural dynamics, communication patterns, environmental factors, and so on.
Such as availability of hardware and software and the availability of plug-ins.
For example, task success rates, task-completion times, satisfaction ratings, and quality of task output (e.g. comprehension outcomes in an e-learning environment).
These requirements have a cultural context in which they have to be considered in order to be meaningful. The holistic approach to accessibility is based on social inclusion rather than on the principle of universal accessibility.
A user-centred accessibility approach will entail both evaluating your website with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and testing the usability directly with disabled users. This approach emphasises the importance of the user and on satisfying his/her requirements.
In times of increasing complexity and reliance on technology, it is important to ensure that what is being gained is increased quality of life and that “by designing with the disabled in mind, we can create products that are better for everyone.” Inclusive Design
Need help or advice?
If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
References Sloan, D., Heath, A., Hamilton, F., Kelly, B., Petrie, H., & Phipps, L. (2006, May). Contextual web accessibility-maximizing the benefit of accessibility guidelines. In Proceedings of the 2006 international cross-disciplinary workshop on Web accessibility (W4A): Building the mobile web: rediscovering accessibility? (pp. 121-131) Ford M. & Nevile L, 2004, “Issues enabling support for Multi-locational Accessibility“, IDABC: Cross-border E-Government Services for Administrations, Businesses and Citizens Conference’, Brussels, February 2005.
Knowing your users and designing for them have a lot of benefits on your brand image, the engagement of your users and last but not least on your revenue as well as on the engagement of customers with the product.
1. Increase sales and market share (conversion)
The crucial reason for all businesses to invest in their UX is the value of the return. Successful companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple all invest in their customer experience and the evidence is in their huge success. To give you an idea, every £1 you spend on UX returns on average £100. Importantly, it’s also an investment that keeps paying for itself in the longer term, unlike acquisition costs.
From 1993 to 2004, the UK Design Council tracked share prices. They found that design-aware companies out-performed other companies by more than 200%.
Case Study: Netflights
One of our travel clients, Netflights, invested in the UX of their website. Over the space of a year, all of their KPIs increased significantly. This included their revenue increasing by an impressive 26%, and their customer satisfaction rate rising to 95%.
2. Decrease bounce rates
People bounce from your site for many reasons – do you know these reasons? Are you just guessing? During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible are identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.
3. Avoid project failure and costly redesign
Investing in a user centred design process is the most effective thing you can do to lessen your risk of project failure and redesign costs. If you include user testing throughout your design process, you can rest assured of validation in the design. This will result in 25% less rework and bug fixes post-launch. Why risk leaving that user validation to launch and having your project sink like a led balloon. Test sooner rather than later!
4. Increase business intelligence and ease decision making
If you understand your customers opinions and needs, you and everyone else in the business will be able to make better business decisions that are fully in line with your customers needs. The more user research you do, the more aligned you’ll be with your customers thinking.
5. Decrease your acquisition costs (advertising spend)
A good user experience is the best advertisement your business can have. “If a lot of people use that website then it means that it’s good”, we hear this hundreds of times during research. Nothing is as strong as a user that has had a good experience, suggesting to other users to use your brand. Social proof is a crucial factor for your business to be successful. And best of all, it’s FREE!
When your bounce rate decreases and you have more people coming to your site based on great customer reviews and a whole host of other positive side effects from your improved UX, you’ll spend less on your marketing channels but you’ll be converting more. This also has a longer term impact.
6. Increase basket size
Have you noticed how you spend more time on sites that you enjoy using? You buy more from them too. Through focussing on your customers and improving the design of your site, you’ll notice an increase in your average basket value. Focus on improving cross sells and up sells as part of your strategy to further increase basket size.
7. 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’. Of course offline reviews and word of mouth still exist, but online is where people have the most reach. Upset one person and thousands of people can read their review and decide not to buy from you. Through an increased understanding of customers needs and improving the website accordingly, we create a better experience that leads to better reviews.
8. Improve customer satisfaction and NPS score
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 product further 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’).
9. Decrease customer service and support costs
If your users can find the information they need on your site, they’ll be more happy and won’t need to contact your customer service staff for further help. We all know how frustrating it is when you can’t find something on a website and have to phone up a call centre, most likely waiting on hold for ages just to get a simple answer. We’ll tell you a secret, most people won’t do this. They’ll simply press the back button and go to your competitor. The problem is that you have no idea why this has happened, unless you do regular user testing.
10. Make your site / product reach it’s full potential
Apple didn’t invent the smartphone (we know because we part of the design team of the first Ericsson smartphone), and Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but what made those products so successful? The usability and good user experience were instrumental for their exponential growth and it can be the same for your business!
11. Increased customer retention
If a person enjoys using your website or product (if they have a good experience) they will come back in the future again and again… We hope you’re starting to understand that UX is not just a one off benefit. It keeps paying for itself over and over again.
12. Motivate your team
When your team can see the value of what they are building, so will your users.
Need help or advice?
If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
You’re very busy, in and out of meetings all day, managing projects and making decisions that will create a successful product. You’re managing expectations and dealing with multiple conflicting opinions from stakeholders, everyone has a different idea and vision – perhaps you rely on your gut instinct to make the final decision.
It’s great to have lots of ideas but how do you refine these to those that will really resonate with your users and be a huge success? How do you then build these into successful products? How do you validate ideas and evidence required changes? The answer is user testing.
1. Concept tests
The start of a project is the perfect time to begin research with your target users. Are you guilty of waiting until the build is complete before running your first user test? This is a very high risk strategy. We’ve been called into projects at the last minute to test before launch because concern sets in that perhaps the site/software/app actually isn’t all that great. The initial cost saving of not running any user research in the early stages is not worth it when you’re then faced with the overwhelming cost of redesign, development and additional time to launch, all resulting in potential lost sales.
2. SWOT competitor tests
Did you know you can run a full user test on all of your competitors? This enables you to understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your product from a user perspective. The biggest assumption you should avoid making is that they have a good UX. They may well do no user testing, they may not be very good at user testing, they may do it but not interpret and implement the required changes very well, you can’t assume they are better than you you need to find out for certain. You should also include your own site in competitor tests so you can discover how users compare you against them and where you are strong/weak in direct comparison.
3. Features and functionality tests
You have a long list of things you want in the UI. Your stakeholders have their own lists. You all disagree what should be in the UI and which features should take priority. How do you decide? What you need is a user test focussed on determining which functionality and features are important for the user. We use tools to determine what should be included, the priority of importance, user expectations of each feature, where it should be within the navigation structure and interface and much more.
4. Prototype tests
How much time do you spend sat in meetings debating what the UI should look like and where things should go? Forget it. It doesn’t matter what you think, you need to remember you are not your user. Ask your designers to mock up your early wireframes in a prototyping tool. This can then be tested with users. It’s quick, effective and provides you with the peace of mind that your design is progressing in the right direction. Of course, if users respond negatively to it, at least you’ve caught this at a very early stage where alternatives can be mocked up and tested easily.
5. Visual design tests
So you’ve been user testing at the early stages and everything’s gone well, there’s no need to test at the end is there? Wrong. You should always test after the visual design stage. Visual design forms part of the user experience and is crucial to get right. Poor readability, poor CTA contrast, copy, imagery and many other factors can all have a big influence on usability and conversion. Don’t invest in UX all the way up to this stage then blow it on the final hurdle.
The next step is simple. If you’re curious about any of the above and how user testing will help you to create a more successful product, contact our user testing experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
This month Keep It Usable spoke with Alex Genov who is Head of UX Research and Web Analytics at Zappos.
Alex shares with us some fascinating insights into the process they follow at Zappos, the research methods and UX tools they use, how they decide what to test with users vs what to MVT.
Alex also shares with us a conversion challenge his team faced and how they overcame it. We also learn about his background, what makes him tick and his top tips for you.
Hi Alex, could you tell us a little about yourself, your team and what you do for Zappos?
I am a customer research professional who applies his Social Psychology background and his passion for research, design, and innovation to the software industry. My professional goal is to help teams create remarkable products and services which make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable.
Currently I am leading UX Research and Web Analytics for the Zappos Family of Companies. My work includes both hands-on research for all the Zappos online properties as well as mentoring and team development.
In previous positions, I was responsible for research and usability of the products and services for companies like TurboTax (Intuit), State Farm Insurance, and the Active Network. I have over 15 years of relevant experience – 5 years of academic research and over 10 years of customer research in the software industry. I received a PhD in Experimental Social Psychology from Clark University. My areas of research include: defining and measuring emotions, individual differences, usability, and consumer segmentation.
During my academic career, I developed and taught college-level courses in Research Methods, Statistics, and Social Psychology. I have numerous presentations at professional conferences, several publications in peer-reviewed journals, and several patent applications.
What process do you follow?
The research team is part of the larger UX team. As a UX team we follow agile, cross-functional process which involves Design Thinking, rapid prototyping, concept testing, iterative and benchmark usability, and a variety of other methods along the creative and development product development journey.
How much research do you carry out with your users?
We do research along the full cycle of: problem definition —> idea generation —> interface design —> product release —> back to problem definition.
What types of research do you do and why?
We combine both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Qualitative for idea generation and to understand the “why”
Home visits / Contextual inquiry
Quantitative to understand the “what” and to quantify opportunities and issues
Surveys, including Market Segmentation
Choice-based conjoint studies
Which UX tools do you and your team use?
Survey authoring tools
Remote usability via WebEx
Online card sorting
A/B testing – internal platform
How much A/B and MVT testing do you carry out?
Lots. We do not release anything before A/B testing it.
How do you decide which changes you should research with users first vs which you should simply MVT?
In the idea generation stage and the concept development stage talking to customers and doing iterative research makes sense because it is cheap to start over and make changes until a good design is developed.
If the change has to do with actual customer behavior, we A/B test – actual behavior which ultimately leads to conversion is the best indicator of success. Asking people what they would or would not do is silly.
Could you give an example of a conversion barrier or challenge you have faced and what steps you took to overcome it?
We discovered some legacy “error” messages we were surfacing to costumers. Those were ominous-looking and had harsh and non-factual language, e.g. “Fix the following errors” when the customers had not done anything wrong. We redesigned the messages to be much more helpful and even apologetic on our part.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Continuing to learn about what makes people tick and how to create new experiences which positively affect the lives of millions of people. Breaking barriers and silos between Marketing Research, User Research, Web Analytics, and so on. Mentoring less experienced colleagues.
Could you share one of your top tips with our readers?
Break down barriers and silos between Marketing Research, User Research, Web Analytics, and so on. Those are based on archaic organizational structures and make no sense from the point of view of the customer.
If you were sitting down with your coffee on Saturday morning, reading the papers, you may have spotted Keep It Usable. We were featured in an article about a fantastic health app called Clintouch, which has been developed by Manchester University. We are proud to have worked on the design of the user interfaces for this now award-winning app that has subsequently made an appearance at 10 Downing Street to inform the future of how digital technology can improve the nations health.
Clintouch is one of the first apps being prescribed by doctors to patients to aid early intervention. Currently prescribed to patients with psychosis, the app could ultimately save the NHS millions by enabling earlier treatment before a patient becomes seriously ill.
This groundbreaking app has subsequently gone on to win an innovation award and is currently being trialled in NHS trusts in the UK.
Independent research that we conducted with users of health and wellbeing apps showed that there is a great deal of distrust and disengagement with health apps (caused by the quality of apps in the marketplace at the moment). Users want trustworthy apps that are easy to use and will do what they claim to do. Clintouch is hopefully the first of many apps that bridge the gap between patient and doctor and make a real difference to both the NHS an people’s lives.
There is a great deal of scope for health and wellbeing apps to improve our lives, cut NHS costs and improve the relationships we have with our doctors. However, it is crucial that these apps are designed by professionals in collaboration with health experts so they actually work and have a high level of efficacy, otherwise they just join the thousands of health apps already in the app store that are downloaded and never used.
Designed in collaboration with Keep It Usable, ClinTouch was recently the subject of a meeting hosted by David Cameron’s senior health policy advisor at 10 Downing Street, to consider the impact that digital technology could have in improving the nation’s health. ClinTouch is an easy to use app that provides an innovative new way of supporting people with psychosis, enabling early intervention and significant cost reductions for the NHS. This revolutionary digital intervention, developed by Manchester University empowers self-management for people with psychosis and reduces serious episodes occurring, improving the lives of individual patients and reducing NHS service costs, such as unplanned admissions and A&E presentations.
Significant cost savings for the NHS
Cost savings for the NHS are significant: Earlier intervention services in psychosis have the potential to save the NHS £119m over three years (Schizophrenia Commission Report). The ClinTouch mobile app is an end-to-end digital solution that improves communication and closes the information gap between patient and practitioner. This empowers service users to be more active in their care and recovery. This prevention is aided by utilising real-time data and alerting professionals of significant changes in their patient’s symptoms.
Rich data and analytics
Through the app, users are prompted to record their symptoms and feelings. A unique and bespoke branch of questions then follows ensuring that each question asked is relevant with a graphical bank of user-friendly analytics immediately available for the patient to consider and review. This digital data-log can then be used to help identify any lifestyle or environmental triggers that prompt the onset of symptoms. ClinTouch has been built into an end-to-end system in two NHS mental health Trusts, with summary data accessible at clinical team desktops and streamed into e-healthcare records. If early warning signs for relapse occur, healthcare professionals can act to enable early intervention.
Have you ever wondered what the real difference is between remote unmoderated user testing (like usertesting.com and whatusersdo) and face-to-face user testing? Which method should you use, when and what for? There is a huge difference in these two techniques and the end results so let’s take a look at them both in greater depth.
Interviews conducted face-to-face with target users, often in a lab setting or in-context, for example in the person’s home to make them feel more at ease and uncover more realistic feedback and issues. The interviews are a two-way conversation guided by a trained researcher.
– Can be conducted at any stage of the design process, even before you have any UI in place. Gathering very early feedback will save time and cost later!
– Conducted by a researcher as a two way conversation, giving the opportunity to question answers given and behaviour observed.
– Very rich data. The opportunity to question users enables you to discover deep insights and more potential barriers to conversion.
– Greater team collaboration. When observing lab research, the team are together in an accompanying observation room. This increases design collaboration and buy-in for changes.
– See the user and their reactions. Face-to-face interviews use technology that can record the user as well as their interactions, so you can see their facial expressions and real time responses. This can make the videos much more powerful – it’s harder to ignore the feedback if you can see a real person and you know they’re just sat in the next room!
– Discover deeper problems and opportunities. The researcher can spend a portion of the interview understanding behaviour and underlying psychological motivations, these can often open up greater opportunities than just examining the UI in isolation.
– If a user stops thinking out loud (this is quite common), the researcher can prompt them or follow up with another question.
– Gain environmental, contextual and personality insights (if the research is conducted in context).
When should I use this method?
– You want to understand current user behaviour, needs, wants and concerns.
– You want feedback on early concept ideas, which you should pursue and why.
– You want to test sketches or lo-fidelity mockups.
– Throughout a project when you need to more deeply understand user behaviour and interaction.
– When you need to get stakeholder buy-in. They’re much more highly influenced when they’re sat in a room together, observing real people struggle to use their UI.
– If you want to benefit from the expertise of a UX researcher to run the session and to help recommend changes that will successfully engage users.
– When you need to establish rapport with users to encourage trust to discuss things they might not disclose if just speaking into a computer.
– If you want more authentic results.
– If the tasks and feedback will take longer than 15 minutes.
– Your research is only as good as the person conducting it. Face-to-face relies heavily on the research capabilities of the researcher. If someone with little experience runs research, there is a greater risk of them asking leading questions, not establishing rapport and missing key identifiers for insights to further pursue. They are also more likely to express interviewer bias – where they impose their beliefs and expectations subconsciously on the user and therefore influence their responses. It takes years of practice to conduct great user interviews but great interviews give better output.
– If your testing requires a large number of participants, face-to-face testing will quickly become very expensive. It works best for small scale, qualitative research (5-15 people).
– It generally takes longer than remote testing.
Remote unmoderated testing
Tasks and questions are planned in advance so that the user can complete them in a small amount of time (usually 15 minutes) in their own time at home. This is a one way method (no researcher involved) with users required to think aloud as they complete tasks.
– User is in their environment on their device (note: face-to-face can also be performed in context)
– Cheaper for collecting large samples.
– No researcher needed (note: this could also be seen as a negative)
When should I use this method?
– If you need very quick results.
– Your budget is too small for face-to-face.
– If you just need to test a small aspect of your UI, something that can be explored in 15 minutes.
– You need a larger number of responses to backup qualitative face-to-face research with greater significance.
– You aren’t researching difficult, complex flows or sensitive issues.
– You’re main focus is on identifying easy to find usability issues and not deeper problems, insights or psychological barriers to conversion.
– When your UI is higher fidelity.
– One way method, no active questioning. If the user misinterprets the question or gets stuck on something they can’t recover from, no one can put them back on track and help them. You also have to try and pre-empt the problem they might encounter in order to ask the right questions in the first place, this allows no chance to pursue interesting things they may do or say.
– Limited to around 15 minutes. This limits the amount of feedback you can gather and the depth of questioning. It can feel like the user’s just got themselves settled into the research and they’re giving some great feedback, then before you know it, the session has ended.
– Doesn’t record the user so you won’t get to see their facial reactions or body language.
– Higher risk of expert and money-motivated users. Some of the users may participate in many tests therefore becoming experts, others may be highly motivated by the payment and they’ll fly through the tasks without getting into the correct mindset.
– Users focussed on usability. As people sign up through the testing website, people are sometimes aware that the focus is on usability and user experience and you’ll hear them mention ‘usability’ and other terms a real consumer just wouldn’t pick up on.
– Thinking out loud can be quite a difficult skill to maintain. Once their cognitive resources are concentrated on the task in hand it’s easy to forget to think aloud. In face-to-face the interviewer can prompt them, but in remote, the user is on their own.
Feel the fear and do it anyway!
Understandably it feels very comfortable doing remote testing. You are more in charge, you can control the tasks and questions and even the end videos – if one user is particularly scathing there may be the temptation to not show that video to the team.
However, if it’s the only method you use you will always be limiting yourself to the top level issues you can find based on the tasks and questions you define (do you see how you’re already biasing your own results with your own expectations?). There’s also the limitation of the 15 minute sessions, as well as your own ability to analyse this sessions appropriately and suggest recommendations that will give the most effective results.
If you’ve never tried face-to-face research we’d strongly advise you give it a go. Yes some of it might be uncomfortable to hear but mostly, it will be an eye opening and inspiring experience! You’ll feel more connected to your customers, you’ll feel more connected as team, and you’ll go away with tonnes of new ideas to make your user experience and conversion much better!
If you are in any doubt as to which method is right for you, or if you would like to find out more about how face-to-face could help you, feel free to get in touch and one of our experts will happily help you.
We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ve another award in our midst! This time it’s our founder, Lisa, who has been shortlisted for the North West Women in Business awards (WIBA) STEM category. STEM aims to recognise women who work in the traditionally male dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Lisa says “I’m very proud to be representing women in the STEM category. There’s still an under representation of women in the digital and tech scene. Certain sectors I work in are highly male dominated and I would love to see more women with the belief that they can enter these sectors.”
Best of luck Lisa!
We’d also like to give recognition to the amazing work of Ladies That UX. A group set up by Lizzie Dyson and Georgie Bottomley to support women who work in the UX field. Thank you for your continued support!
2015 is looking to be a really exciting year for innovation. We get excited by new technology and the challenges that brings, especially with regards to designing for challenging smaller screens – how you can engage users and showcase information without sacrificing the experience? Here are some technologies and trends we’d recommend keeping your eye on in 2015.
Wearables are becoming big business and the growing trend will continue to thrive in 2015, particularly in fitness, fashion and health. More affordable wearables are likely to hit the market and will bring wearables to the masses.
2. Apple watch
A handful of companies such as Google, Samsung and Sony have launched wearables in the form of watches. This year, will see the Apple watch hit the market which will disrupt and put smart watches on the map. This will have huge implications for how we communicate, interact and consume information. The potential is vast, particularly for connectivity and health.
3. Digital health
2015 will be the year that healthcare finally wakes up to digital! Wearables that can monitor everything from measuring steps in fitness to improving your hearing. Rings, hearing aids, headphones and much more will hit the market. Could we even see the first digital implant…?! There is already a digital pill.
4. Internet of things
From controlling lighting and heating, TVs, appliances and even connecting your body. We will use technology to increasingly monitor and intelligently improve our lives. The promise of major connectivity and intelligence is exciting and we expect to see this technology grow rapidly in 2015.
5. Major growth in mobile e-commerce
Mobile will be huge in 2015 and will continue to disrupt e-commerce. 8 in 10 smartphone users use their phones at some point during the purchase process and with mobile screens increasing in size, their popularity is projected to grow enormously in 2015, meaning users will consume even more data on mobile. Mobile growth is larger than tablet with 186% average growth in sales via mobile compared to 131% in tablet e-commerce. Read our e-commerce insights for 2015 >
6. Mobile wallets
2015 will be the year that contactless payment methods like NFC (near-field communications) really start to take off. Larger banks are likely to offer NFC payments via smartphone by the end of 2015 with 5% of NFC enabled mobiles being used to make contactless payments.
7. Omni-channel retail experience
The future of retail will be a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile devices, computers, physical stores, television, radio, mail, etc. Omni-channel retail represents an experiential change for the connected consumer as all touchpoints with a brand become one. Example: Customer browses products online then when they enter a physical store they get these products retargeted to them as ads or offers in-store. Read about how digital tools will change the in-store shopping experience >
With the rapidly changing technological landscape and continuing explosion of digital into more and more products, it has never been so important to focus on user needs, psychology and behaviour. Great usability will no longer be a nice-to-have, it will be mandatory in order to create a successful product. There’s never been a more important time to Keep It Usable.
Do you use one way mirror labs? Do you value research that gets you the best results? Then you might want to re-consider using one way mirrors. Here’s why…
Talking to users is fascinating! It’s something we absolutely love doing despite having conducted thousands of them! When it comes to location, you can test almost anywhere but there’s one place that we advise against, and that’s one way mirror labs.
What is a one way mirror lab?
A one way mirror lab (also known as two way) consists of two adjoining rooms with a mirror between them. One room is used to interview people and the mirror functions as a normal mirror from this side. On the other side of the mirror is the observation room where people watch the research taking place, from this side the mirror behaves as a window, enabling the observers to secretly observe what’s happening in the research room.
The negative consequences for research
We’ve used this setup many times and sat on both sides of the mirror. These are the problems:
As a researcher you are ethically bound to tell the participant that there are observers behind the mirror. However, there is a problem with this and it’s called the Ironic Process Theory or the White Bear Principle. It refers to the human tendency to continue to think about something after being told not to think about it. For example, if someone says to you ‘don’t think about a pink elephant’, it’s the first thing you’ll picture in your head.
Many users will forget about the mirror. There are other users who will interview ok but afterwards they will admit to feeling watched (which in turn will have influenced their answers). Finally, some people simply do not interview well with one way mirrors. They may appear nervous, glance at the mirror throughout, whisper some answers to you because they don’t want the people behind the mirror to hear any negative feedback, etc. And the mirror is a difficult thing for people to get over once they have a problem with it, because it’s such a huge object in the room and therefore a constant reminder.
Positively biased responses
If you knew there were a group of people watching you behind a mirror wouldn’t you be more inclined to give positive responses and to withhold negative opinions? It’s natural for people to do this, particularly if they are new to research – they’ll be inclined to want to please you.
Your observers need to be relatively quiet. I’ve seen labs provide headphones so that observers can turn audio volume up without sound leaking into the testing suite.
When two rooms are next to each other, it’s impossible to soundproof them completely. If the observers next door get quite loud, or turn the volume up, the sound can leak into the adjoining room. Imagine if they laugh and the user hears this (yes this has happened). In some labs, the doors don’t close quietly either – this then becomes another reminder to the participant that there are people watching them.
One way mirror labs almost always have cameras that can be controlled in the observation room. These aren’t always silent though. You can be in the middle of a really interesting insight with the participant opening up to you, when all of a sudden you hear the dreaded buzz of the camera . Off-putting to say the least and yet another reminder to the user that they are being watched.
Dark, uninspiring observation room where no one speaks
Observation rooms in labs are awful places really. There are no windows and therefore no natural light, the lights have to be turned off (otherwise you can see straight through the mirror) so it’s a dark, dull, uninspiring room to be sat in all day. In one way mirror labs sometimes the observers can be much quieter than in labs without a mirror, because they can see how close the participant is to them. This isn’t conducive to team working and problem solving.
The issue is these are great setups for observing research, especially focus groups, not UX research. If you have a team of designers observing research, the one thing they’re guaranteed to want to do is sketch, but how do they do that well when they’re sat in a dark room? It’s not an environment that encourages team collaboration, makes a team feel energised, inspired and creative. Conversation and teamworking should be encouraged – now’s the perfect time for the team to get together in one place, collaborate and get to work on designs.
Ironically, no one really observes what’s happening through the mirror!
We spend most of our time watching the TV screens, which give us consistent detail, clarity and control. The glass, for all its glamour, doesn’t always fulfil its worth.
In UX research, the most important interaction to focus on is that between the user and what’s being tested, and in this regard you can’t see anything through the mirror, the detail is through the cameras pointing at what the user is doing. Therefore, the majority of the time, observers are focussed on the tv screen – where the action is. Compare it to UX design…if you want the users attention to focus on something you might give it a more central position, make it bigger, put everything else around it. So when the UI is the most important thing for people to observe, why do labs show this on a small tv screen and give the highest visual prominence in the room to the mirror? It’s crazy!
The alternative, better solution is to use two rooms that have all the same technology to record and observe the user and their interaction but in the observation room, there are TV screens and no mirror. GDS (Government Digital Services) also use this setup which you can see here. Without a mirror, you’ll get better insights from your more relaxed users and the observation room can now be a creative haven. You can turn up the lights, have natural daylight (windows), have dynamic team discussions and work together on sketches and ideas.
It suddenly becomes an exciting and inspiring workshop to turn user feedback into better designs! And this, is the whole purpose of user research.
We built our own pioneering homely research lab
At Keep It Usable, we’ve designed our own lab from the ground up. We understand the importance of a natural environment to get the best out of user research / usability testing, somewhere that is comfortable and cosy, as if the user were in their natural setting at home.
Meet Home UX Lab
We’ve 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 research.
Happy World Usability Day! Yes today is that time of year when all usability practitioners reflect on another year of helping businesses to improve their user experience and making the lives of everyday people better. It’s a day when we can reflect on the improvements we’ve brought to the world. We’re a little like silent heroes, busily working away to make the average persons day a little easier and less frustrating, without them ever realising who we are, just how much we fight for good design on their behalf or the end difference we make to their lives. Great design is invisible.
History of usability
This year is a particularly special anniversary for usability because as a discipline, the origins of usability and user experience are grounded in industrial efficiency during the world wars and of course the year 2014 marks the 100 year commemoration of the first world war. It was during war time that the value of human factors and ergonomics was recognised as a great way to create more efficient and effective soldiers, i.e. better killing machines. Our usability predecessors spent their days working on the battleground, ensuring that soldiers could get on with their daily tasks in the most optimal manner. What kinds of things did they do? Well, their work involved much more focus on human factors and ergonomics, taking into account the effects of workload, fatigue, physical task design, mental workload, teamwork, environmental effects.
It was during the second world war, that practitioners expanded their focus to aircraft and how through more intuitive design of airplane cockpits, pilot error could be greatly reduced.
Usability as we know it, didn’t really come into effect until the 1980s but it always struggled to gain recognition and respect. The term User Experience helped raise awareness of usability into the mainstream and the last 5 years have seen a phenomenal increase. What was once a highly skilled profession of human factors and usability engineers is now fragmented. However, the benefits are that usability finally has achieved the aim we all had many years ago of raising the awareness of its importance and those of us who have been around a while no longer have to fight our corner like we used to have to, which is a brilliant achievement! That in itself is worth raising a glass to. We did it!
We’re going to end this post with a look at the new Sainsburys Christmas advert which recreates the Christmas truce that happened during World War One (and that has just blown the annual John Lewis advert completely out of the water!).
Keep It Usable is an active supporter of the Royal British Legion. If you would like to help please get in touch with Lisa.
We’re excited to announce that we’ve made it as a finalist in the DADI Awards Usability category for our redesign of KOOTH.com.
Katy Thomson of The Drum told us:
We received over 550 entries this year so getting through to this stage really is a huge achievement. Your work has impressed the panel! You should be very proud of you and your team’s hard work.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with KOOTH, it’s the UKs most successful online mental health platform for young people. KOOTH.com provides online counselling to 10,000 young people with potentially life-threatening issues such as self harm and suicide through to everyday worries at school or home.
Like many pieces of software, it had been designed originally by experts, in mental health and IT. They had a very successful online service and were clearly incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their service. They care greatly for their end users and recognise the importance of an easy to use and visually engaging platform, so, having heard of Keep It Usable and our reputation, they commissioned us to redesign KOOTH to make it easier to use not just for young people, but also for their counsellors.
So far, the team have had lots of positive feedback from young people so this is a huge step in increasing the appeal KOOTH has with the target audience as well as increasing engagement with the platform to encourage return use and word-of-mouth referrals.
The results have been phenomenal.
The KOOTH team have also had lots more enquiries and contract wins following the redesign. Feedback from customers and potential customers has been incredibly positive. As well as the UX and visual redesign, KOOTH now incorporates advanced reporting tools that make commissioners lives much easier so they now have the confidence that young people will use the platform and they can easily see the impact and results for their region.
Of course, there’s a huge monetary return on their investment in UX for the KOOTH team. The time saved with the redesigned chat views provides much added value to service users and commissioners based on increased efficiency and effectiveness. The increased appeal to young people should see increased word-of-mouth referrals and increased return use. With the KOOTH team, we wanted to advance the current site to create a place that felt even more young person friendly and remove any existing usability concerns. With new combined chat and case note views, the young person gets even more quality counsellor time. We envisage that with the redesigned and streamlined backend (in collaboration with the team), that less money will be spent on re-training and supporting counsellors in how to use the system.
KOOTH has always been an amazing service for young people, but together, with our combined expertise, we’ve refreshed KOOTH to maintain it’s position as the leader in online mental health for young people and set a very high benchmark.
We produce user experiences that make people sit up and take notice, that ruffle the feathers of your competitors and attract more customers to your brand. We don’t talk the talk, we walk the walk. Have a look for yourself:
Shortlisted: Best User ExperienceBig Chip 2014 (winner announced in July)
– Estimated 5 fold return on investment in just 1 year.
– Increased sales and dramatic increase in enquiries.
– Added value to service users of £300,000 per year.
– Increased staff satisfaction and decreased training costs.
“We’re delighted with our work and our partnership with Keep It Usable”
Used by young people throughout the UK, Kooth was already a hugely successful online counselling platform however it was in desperate need of an overhaul. We conducted focus groups and workshops in schools to uncover insights that enabled us to complete a successful redesign of the frontend UI that youngpeople now love!
We also overhauled the backend system UX for counsellors as they struggled to use the existing complex interface and it was costing the company in re-training and lost productivity. We increased efficiency and user satisfaction – combining multiple views into one to decrease navigation whilst in a counselling session. It meant their clients also received more value for money due to the extra time counsellors were able to spend counselling.
Netflight’s focus on their mobile, tablet and desktop user experience is key to their commercial success. Taking an iterative research and design approach enables us to create ideas and assess our designs with their target audience in the most effective and efficient process. We also go above the standard usability benchmark by applying PET (persuasion, emotion, trust) principles to increase positive user engagement and satisfaction.
Shortlisted: Best public sector websiteBig Chip 2014 (winner announced in July)
Winner: Best public sector website UX UK Awards
Winner: Best government website People’s Lovie Awards
Winner: Best home page People’s Lovie Awards
There’s a new UX book on the scene and guess what, it features us!
We’ve been getting a bit of a name for ourselves within the UX scene based on the quality of our work and our passion for all things UX. So when Peter Beare and Gavin Allanwood gained approval to create a new UX book they invited us to take part. The book covers an overview of the whole User Experience process, from research with users (our section – chapter 2) through to design and build.
It’s a book that you can easily dip in and out of and is particularly beneficial to those new to UX who need a higher level understanding of the process, tools and techniques that are used to create a good user experience.
“By putting people at the centre of interactive design, user experience (UX) techniques are now right at the heart of digital media design and development. As a designer, you need to create work that will impact positively on everyone who is exposed to it. Whether it s passive and immutable or interactive and dynamic, the success of your design will depend largely on how well the user experience is constructed.
User Experience Design shows how researching and understanding users expectations and motivations can help you develop effective, targeted designs. The authors explore the use of scenarios, personas and prototyping in idea development, and will help you get the most out of the latest tools and techniques to produce interactive designs that users will love.
With practical projects to get you started, and stunning examples from some of today s most innovative studios, this is an essential introduction to modern UXD.”
We particularly like the layout and style of the book as there is an emphasis on imagery and real world case studies that makes the content really easy to consume and particularly engaging.
Below, you’ll see our user experience machine poster. If you’d like an electronic copy of this, you’re more than welcome to download a copy. We also have a few printed copies – if you’d like one just get in touch.
Look out for our next book!
We’ve also been invited to appear in another ux book out later this year, so keep your eyes peeled for that one, which will have a more academic slant.