New UX Book featuring Keep It Usable

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.

User Experience Design: Creating designs that users really love is now available on Amazon for just under £20 – well worth it.

User experience design book - Creating designs users really love By Gavin Allanwood and Peter Beare

“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.”
UX-User-Profiling-Chapter

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.

User Experience Machine

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.

88% of mobile shoppers have negative user experiences

Keep-It-Usable-Mobile-Shopping-UX

We’ve just read about some interesting research that was conducted in the US by Skava earlier this year that shows that although the number of consumers using smartphones to shop has increased to 71%, the user experience is still far behind consumer expectations and satisfaction is low. 88% of consumers who shop via mobile have had negative experiences.

Mobile shopping user experience issues

  • Navigation (51%)
    People find that websites are more difficult to navigate through their mobile device compared to desktop.
  • Small images (46%)
    Product images are too small for consumers to make a buying decision.
  • Security concerns (41%)
    Concerns regarding security still prevail. This particularly relates payments.
  • Checkout process (26%)
    Checkouts are still not being designed to be easy and simple to complete via mobile. This creates a major barrier to purchase.

Other consumer concerns

  • The costs of data usage.
  • Difficulty adding coupon / discount codes.
  • Mobile website speed.
  • Clicking the wrong buttons (less precision on mobile).

Consumers don’t return after a bad experience

  • 36% would abandon the purchase altogether.
  • 30% would never return to that particular retailer’s mobile website again after a negative experience.
  • 29% of smartphone owners claimed it would be 6 months or more before giving a retailer’s mobile website a second chance.
  • 33% would immediately go to a competitor.
“It isn’t just about putting a mobile website out there – it is about building an experience that is easy for customers to use and takes into consideration the unique attributes of mobile devices. Achieving significant conversion rates on mobile is possible. Amazon, a constant threat to traditional retailers, generated $4bn in sales through mobile last year.” Arish Ali, Skava

Many retailers are still failing to provide a satisfying user experience and are currently losing customers and market share to their competitors who create superior mobile experiences.

Would you like to work with us?

Keep It Usable have many years designing mobile user experience – we’re some of the most experienced mobile ux specialists in the UK. We even worked on James Bond’s mobile phone! If you need any advice with regards to your mobile ux, we’ll happily provide complimentary advice, send us a quick message now.

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

Manchester City Council named Best Government Website

Manchester City Council wins Prestigious Lovie Award for Best Government Site following research by Keep It Usable

AWARD WINNER! Named the best government site at the prestigious People’s Lovie Awards!

Manchester City Council’s website came top of a public vote as the best website in the government category, and judges also bestowed the website a silver award and shortlisted it in the ‘best home page’ category from a list of more than 1,500 entries from 20 European countries.

With the help of Keep It Usable, we’re proud to announce that Manchester City Council have won their first award for their innovative user-centric website.

‘Unsurpassed in its design and functionality, our new look site has become the benchmark of local government websites, making ease of use the main priority for our users in an era when the internet is  gearing increasingly towards tablets and smart phones.’

Following a review of how people asked for services, reported problems and paid bills, the site was redesigned to be wholly customer-centric. In particular, ensuring the top things people want to do are as easy and simple as they can possibly be.
Manchester City Council stated:

“The website was tested thoroughly by Manchester-based company, Keep It Usable. They asked ordinary local people from a range of backgrounds and ages to perform various tasks on different devices to see how easily they could do things.

The site was also tested by accessibility-experts and organisations representing blind or partially-sighted people to make sure it is useable by everyone.

Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “This is a fantastic achievement that gives testimony to the quality and success of the new website. That it has been judged by industry experts as one of Europe’s top government sites, while also being voted for by users of the website, is a huge accolade.

“Unsurpassed in its design and functionality, our new look site has become the benchmark of local government websites – making ease of use the main priority for our users in an era when the internet is gearing increasingly towards tablets and smart phones.”

Nik Roope, Executive Chair of IADAS, said: “The re-designed Manchester City Council website has excelled in its category, showing fantastic prowess in digital innovation and creativity. This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.”

Read the phenomenal user feedback the site received upon launch >>>

Lisa’s BBC Radio Appearance

bbc radio manchester

If you were up early this morning and listening to BBC Radio Manchester, you’ll have heard Lisa Duddington of Keep It Usable chatting with Allan Beswick.

Lisa was invited to appear on Allan’s show following her recent success at being shortlisted for 2 women in business awards, the award ceremony of which will be held next week.

The topic of focus for the interview was today’s news as well of course as some discussion of usability, research, tech and women in business.

Allan told Lisa of his own frustrations with websites:
“If I had control of the world… I would require all websites to operate the same way, because when you’re looking for something, looking for a product or a service or whatever, you go to one website, you’ve got to spend ten minutes, quarter of an hour trying to navigate it, you go to another one – it’s entirely different! What’s the point of that?…So many of them are counterintuitive”.
Lisa and Allan also discussed the importance of research, prototyping and usability in a world where you don’t get second chances with customers:
“Lisa: A lot of companies underestimate the amount of research and testing and prototyping that you need to do on anything, be it a hard product or a website or an iPhone app. You really do just need to spend quite a bit of time testing it and researching it with real people, people like yourself, to make sure that it is easy to use and it is going to be a success and that it does meet people’s needs and their wants… What we would do is we would go in and do the research for them so as opposed to just launching something and hoping people like it. We would do research beforehand to make sure that they do like it before you spend all that money on launching a product.

Allan: Because a customer driven away is a customer that never comes back…

Lisa: Exactly! And not only do they not come back but they tell thousands of people on social media not to come back.”
If you missed the show, you can still listen to Allan and Lisa on BBC Radio Manchester’s Allan Beswick show. Just fast forward to 44:30 and 1:17:35 to hear Lisa’s parts.

World Mental Health Day 2013

World Mental Health Day

Today is world mental health day and it is a crucial day to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues that can effect anyone at anytime.

We’ve been heavily involved in mental health for the last few years. It’s an area where having a good, simple user experience designed by specialist ux psychology designers is absolutely crucial. When someone is distressed, frustrated, stressed, angry, confused, the last thing they need is an interface that worsens their current mental state.

Qwell

Qwell Counselling - Mental health software application for adults

Qwell is a software application that we designed for Xenzone. The engaging user centred has ease of use at the forefront.
Aimed at adults, Qwell provides a safe, reassuring online therapy environment run by fully trained counsellors.

Read the Qwell Case Study >

Kooth

Following a successful launch of Qwell, we were invited to redesign the hugely successful Kooth. Kooth is an award winning online counselling platform for young people. It is commissioned throughout the UK and has helped tens of thousands of young people.

At the start of the project, we held workshops and focus groups with young people in schools and it was clear that the design of Kooth wasn’t engaging with the target audience. They knew what they liked, what they needed, what was cool and so with their input we designed a much more youthful, fun, simple, engaging platform that met with both their requirements and the clients.

Excitedly, our redesign of Kooth will be launched later this month. We can’t wait to show it to you and tell you all about it, so be sure to check back soon!

Guest Interview: On The Beach Head of Design

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

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

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

What does your typical day involve?

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

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

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

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

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

What tools do you work with?

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

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

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

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

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

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

On The Beach Tablet and Mobile websites

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite UX-related resources?

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

Would you like to work with us?

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

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

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

Online shopping

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

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

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

User tolerance times:

Gambling websites

4 minutes

Retailers

5 minutes

NHS

7 minutes

Banking

7 minutes

Telecoms

7 minutes

 

People go straight to your competitor!

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

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

A psychological explanation of why consumers love colour choice

iphone5c colours

Whenever colour choice is discussed with consumers, we have always seen a positive reaction

Apple have finally done it with the iPhone 5C! They’ve launched coloured handsets in keeping with their other famously colourful products. Will consumers like coloured phones? Will they appeal to the mainstream user?

For those of you who follow @usabilitygal on Twitter or have spoken to Lisa in the past, you’ll know that for years she’s been championing colour choice in mobile handsets and it’s been a bug bear that there is so little choice for consumers other than boring, dull colours such as black, dark grey, navy and white. Most people disagreed, their explanation being that a wide variety of colourful cases was all that consumers needed. Sell mobiles in monochrome colours and let people pimp them up if they so desired.

Unfortunately, this limited viewpoint relies on the consumer at the point of purchase having the imagination to envisage each mobile in a colourful case that they haven’t yet even begun to think about. Therefore, one of the major purchase factors is in fact colour.

We’ve conducted hundreds of research interviews and usability tests with mobile users which is why we’ve always been champions of colour choice and personalisation. That’s not to say that you should let people have free reign, people need boundaries and limits otherwise we’ll just see a repeat of MySpace in the 90s all over again!

Whenever colour choice is discussed with consumers, we have always seen a positive reaction, particularly with the female market. We feel that the female consumer has been hugely overlooked in the tech world and unless more women take board positions within tech companies, the only way companies will be able to adapt to the female consumers needs is to listen to them. Simply, conduct research.

So, why is having the choice to personalise a design through the use of colour so appealing to people?

Extension of the self

When people buy products that will be shown and used in public, there is an added social acceptance dimension in the purchase decision – what will other people think? This is where it becomes more difficult to predict human behaviour. People have a multitude of reasons for why they buy something, and if that product is both a high purchase price and something that a wide variety of people in both their current and future social circles will see, the decision becomes more complex, weighty and important.

The mobile becomes a reflection of you, your status in life, your personality, your desires… Knowing this, people will often choose a product that is not a reflection of who they are currently, but who they want to be in the future. It becomes a status symbol of their future self.

Colour helps this expression of themselves as we know through the many articles that have been written on colour psychology – is your personality a bold, confident red or a friendly, reserved blue? Are you a blue but want others to see you as a red so you purchase a red product? Whatever the reasons, people like a choice of colour and are often conscious of what that choice indicates to others about them.

Increased emotional attachment

Admit it, you have an emotional attachment to your mobile don’t you? Most people admit to feeling like a piece of them is missing when they are without their mobile. Increased personalisation increases the amount of human-device attachment that a person experiences. It becomes an expression and extension of themselves which brings with it an increased emotional bond.

Fun

Quite simply, having a colourful phone is more fun! Who wants to look at boring black all day long? Bring on bold, bright colours that make you feel alive, energetic, playful and happy 🙂

Choice and increased control

iyengar jam

Who doesn’t love choice! In studies it’s been shown that people love choice, well, they say they love choice ‘the more options the better!’ however in practise this isn’t the case at all. Famous studies that demonstrate the paradox of choice, such as, the jam experiment by Iyengar, prove that when given too much choice people actually don’t make a choice at all. Why? The crux of the issue is that people fear making the wrong choice. Lots of choices puts a lot of demand on the person to weigh up each choice, it’s pros, it’s cons, the implications of making the wrong choice, how they’ll feel if their choice is the wrong one, etc. Given a few choices, people are more likely to make a purchase, will feel more confident about their decision and happier afterwards.

Choice equals more control and a greater feeling of power. Providing more colours for the iPhone 5C is giving more control back to the consumer.

Need help or advice?

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

Other posts you may find interesting:

Understanding the user-centred approach to accessibility
Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion

Manchester Council launches award-winning site following research by Keep It Usable

Manchester-City-Council-Responsive-Website-Keepitusable

AWARD WINNER! Named the best government site at the prestigious People’s Lovie Awards!

The site came top of a public vote as the best website in the government category, and judges also bestowed the website a silver award and shortlisted it in the ‘best home page’ category from a list of more than 1,500 entries from 20 European countries.

 

Manchester Council recently launched a radically different, user-centred website following research with local residents by Manchester UX agency Keep It Usable. The result? An overwhelming success.

Releasing a new council website can be tricky – it’s hard to please everyone and people don’t always have a good opinion of their local council. Get it wrong and you can be facing a backlash from residents and councillors.

Council sites need to be user-focussed. Mobile use is growing phenomenally and it’s a trend we see with users during the research we do. The mobile phone is now the new PC. Some people tell us they don’t even turn their computer on, they do everything on their phone because it’s always with them. Knowing that mobile and tablet traffic will double in the next couple of years, the site has been designed responsively to support all devices.

Importantly, the site is designed around the top things that people want to do “Research showed us that 80 per cent of people visit the site to carry out specific tasks and the new site has been designed with this in mind…There is a financial aspect to this too. The more people access services online, the more it helps us to deliver those services more cost effectively.”

Manchester-City-Council-New-Website

“We’ve looked carefully at what residents actually use our website for and redesigned it with their needs in mind. It’s also been tested by real people who tell us that they find it refreshingly easy to use. The way people use the internet has changed dramatically, and as half of all visits to our website will be made using tablets and smart phones within a couple of years, we’ve made sure it can be used easily on these devices as well as more traditional computers. Having a well-designed website is therefore hugely beneficial,” commented Councillor Nigel Murphy, executive member for environment for Manchester City Council”.

The new website was tested by groups of real people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Lisa Duddington, head of research for Keep It Usable, said: “Everyone was very positive about the new direction and it was evident that a well-designed council site improves people’s perception of the council and changes their behaviour. The site was so easy and quick to use that people who traditionally always called the council said they would now use the website.”

When the site went live we monitored responses on social networks and the result was overwhelmingly positive. Have a look at the comments below and be convinced that making your website user-centred is not an option, it’s a necessity.

Need help with usability testing?

Keep It Usable feature in The Guardian: How councils can keep up with changing online trends

Manchester Council: New look website puts residents first

The Drum: Manchester City Council launches new website following consumer research

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Manchester-City-Council-Tweets-2

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Content Strategy: Exclusive interview with Sara Wachter-Boettcher

This month, we’re focussing on the importance of Content Strategy. This coincides nicely with the launch of a new book titled ‘Content Everywhere’ by Sara Wacheter-Boettcher who is also the editor of A List Apart. We interviewed Sara to talk to you about her new book and explain exactly what content strategy is, how it fits into the User Experience (UX) process and why it’s important for you to have a content strategy.

Hi Sara! Please could you tell our readers about yourself and what you do

I’m an independent content strategist, the editor of A List Apart magazine, and a general loudmouth. Right now I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the heart of Amish country, because my husband has a visiting professorship here. Before that, I lived in Arizona, and before that, Oregon, which I still miss every day.

I work directly with clients or partner with agencies to solve complex content problems, and I spend a lot of time writing articles and speaking at conferences to help other web professionals deal with the complexities of content and how it affects their business.

Congratulations on your new book ‘Content Everywhere’. What is it about?

The idea for book came out of all the hubbub over mobile and responsive design that started in the summer of 2011. I had this realization: The problems that we already had with content—both with managing and maintaining it, and with users being able to find content that was relevant to them—were about to be exacerbated by mobile.

That’s because the way we’ve been conceiving of and creating web content has been in big, monolithic pages—and those pages just wouldn’t hold up against the onslaught of different devices and services that are coming. It just looked like big, broken blobs of stuff. Creating new, separate content for every new device wouldn’t work for long, either—there are just too many to keep up with. Instead, we need to make our content more flexible—more capable of being shifted and moved around however it’s needed—and that comes from structure.

When we break content down according to what it is and what it is trying to communicate, and store it in a way that respects its natural shape and flow, then we can do so much more with it: We can connect it to other content based on shared attributes and relationships. We can reformat and reflow it for different devices. We can mash it up with third parties’ data via an API. So that’s what the book is all about: Showing you how to break your content down and turn it into a flexible foundation, and then showing you all the different types of things that will allow you to do.

Who would benefit from reading your book?

It’s definitely a practitioner’s guide—a book for people who want to work hands-on with content. That includes people in content strategy, editorial, and writing roles, but it’s not limited to them. It’s also for people in IA and UX, who are often tasked with organizing and labeling information. The book helps you take those skills and apply them to a micro plane, within a single piece of content.

What I didn’t expect when I wrote the book was how many people from mobile design and development fields would pick it up because they want to really learn how to deal with content—and that’s been really exciting to see as well.

How does the role of content fit within UX? 

You can’t really have one without the other, I don’t think. If you’re trying to design an experience and you don’t think about the content, what exactly are you designing? And if you are thinking about content without thinking about the people who will ultimately read or use it, then what’s the point?

What’s interesting about content strategy work is that it both fits within and outside of typical UX roles, because content has to deal with so many other things: the people and workflows and departmental silos and skillsets inside an organization, the content management system, the relationship between groups like IT and marketing and their ability to communicate and get things done, the ongoing needs of the business and how much content will need to be produced in the long run to serve them. The list could go on.

What are the benefits for those companies that include content in their UX process? 

If you don’t think about content, you get delays. You get content that “breaks” the design. You get a beautiful interaction stuffed with defensive and condescending error messages. You get a system that works beautifully, but no one on staff who understands how to care for it—how to update the content effectively, what to do when content needs to archived, what sorts of content are appropriate for the experience in the first place. And so, the benefit of including content considerations in every project and every organization is that you can skip all that mess and wasted time and budget, and deliver something that fits the brand, resonates with users, and smooths the entire process—oftentimes with a lot fewer headaches.

 

Richard Ingram’s illustration shows ways in which a UX team might collaborate with a content strategist

How would user research feed into content strategy?

Well, it’s really hard to connect with your users and get them to care if you don’t understand much about them. I personally work on user research as often as possible, conducting user interviews, synthesizing analytics data, observing users in action. If I’m not the one conducting the research, I want to hear as much as I can from those who are. The more you can empathize with users and understand what’s important to them, the better you can make your content resonate with them, and also the more you can avoid the lure of pretty-yet-meaningless marketing copy, which is shallow and useless.

Could you share one thing people reading this article can do right now to improve their content?

Just go look at it—really look at it. What are all the things you’re putting out there? Do they reflect the organization you want to be? Do they sound human and relatable? Can thou figure out why they’re there? How much are you publishing, anyway, and for whom? Every piece of content you put out there takes time, money, and resources away from your organization. Ask yourself whether it’s helping you reach your goals. Once you’ve taken a good, hard look, don’t get overwhelmed. You can tame the beast, but it’ll take some time. Do a little thing to start, and work from there. It will pay off in saved time, better experiences for users, and a lot more clarity about what you’re trying to accomplish.

Other than your book, are their any other online or offline resources you’d recommend to learn more about content?

The magazine I edit, A List Apart, publishes frequently about content, as does Contents. I’d also suggest some books. The foundational text is Content Strategy for the Web from Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. I’d also suggest Margot Bloomstein’s Content Strategy at Work, especially if you’re from a neighboring field and want to understand what focusing on content or working with someone who does can do for you as a designer, a project manager, etc. And finally, Karen McGrane’s new Content Strategy for Mobile is a great complement to my book, especially if you need to convince the powers that be to stop blowing budget on glittery mobile apps and actually make all your content mobile-ready.

Further info

Sara’s website: sarawb.com    Twitter: @sara_ann_marie

£13.29 Kindle £23.75 paperback View on Amazon.co.uk >>>

$20.08 Kindle $39.00 paperback View on Amazon.com >>>

 

Want to find out more about content strategy? Want to ask a question? Contact us

 

UX Book recommendations for new year

Avoid brain fuzz this christmas and get inspired!

How’s this year been? Good? Bad? Well however you’re feeling, we’ve got something guaranteed to put a smile on your face and keep your brain engaged over christmas – our favourite UX books! Our aim is to make sure you go back to work buzzing with ideas and inspiration to beat your competition! UX is one of the best ways you can attract customers whilst lowering your marketing spend (you can’t beat the power and free cost of word-of-mouth recommendations). It’s also incredibly interesting to learn about – it’s like dipping inside the user’s mind and seeing things clearly for the first time.

Keepitusable UX Book Collection

Photo: Lisa showcasing our vast collection of books at Keepitusable. We like learning!

So, to avoid getting brain fuzz over christmas and instead get a head full of inspiring ideas and solutions, we’re sharing with you our favourite UX books.

There’s still time to order these books on Amazon for christmas.

 

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Best book for: People who are fairly new to UX and would like a greater understanding.

don't make me think free book

 

Written in an engaging, light-hearted style, that is interesting and succinct, we highly recommend Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’. It’s a thin book, with helpful illustrations that highlight Krug’s main points.

UK Amazon price: £12.50 go to store >>>

US Amazon price: $25.10 go to store >>>

 

A Book Apart series

Best books for: All levels of designers

A book apart series

Each volume is a concise and fresh take on an important field in web design. Jeremy Keith’s HTML5 for Web Designers explores what the web’s new lingua franca means for working designer/developers. Dan Cederholm’s CSS3 for Web Designers shows how you can design for the experience layer today. Erin Kissane’s The Elements of Content Strategyexplains where content strategy came from, and how you can do it well. Ethan Marcotte’s Responsive Web Design demonstrates CSS techniques and design principles for crafting fluid, responsive websites. Aarron Walter’s Designing for Emotion will teach you how to you make your users fall in love with your site, while Luke Wroblewski’s Mobile First will make you a master of mobile, and improve your desktop designs, too. Last but not least, Mike Monteiro’s Design Is a Job will help you do your job better, while Karen McGrane’s Content Strategy for Mobile will teach you everything you need to get your content onto mobile devices (and more).

Special offer 30% off the whole collection means the prices are now:

$99  Paperbacks

$49  ebooks

$129 Paperbacks & ebooks

Go to store >>> 

 

100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People by Susan Weinschenk

Best book for: Beginners to intermediates who want to understand more of the psychology and reasoning behind design effects on the user.

100 things every designer needs to know free book

Gain quick tips to improve your user interface design based on psychology and understanding how people can be influenced by design.Another slim book but packed full of tips to increase engagement of interfaces based on psychology and previous research findings. Written by psychologist Dr Susan Weinschenk, this is one of Lisa’s favourite books. Great for understanding the subtleties of design that can impact the end user.
UK Amazon price: £12.34 go to store >>>

US Amazon price: $17.39 go to store >>>

 

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell

Best book for: Designers

universal principles of design free book

We like books that have a lot of succinct, useful content and this is one. A great book full of all the principles you need to know to design for people. It’s a great reference tool that every designer should have on their bookshelf to dip in and out of. It covers all kinds of design principles – from those used in digital interface design to physical product design.

UK Amazon price: £12.15 go to store >>>

US Amazon price: $18.10 go to store >>>

 

ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever by Jason Fried

Best book for: Business owners and creatives

ReWork by Jason Fields

Although, not strictly a UX book, we love this book so much we had to recommend it to you!

Written by the creators of Basecamp, 37 Signals. This book will change the way you think about business and how you do business. They question the status quo, do things differently and they’ve been an incredible success. Our copy is full of post-its! Buy this book!

UK Amazon price: £4.74 go to store >>>

US Amazon price: $13.98 go to store >>>

 

Happy reading! 🙂

Behaviour modelling: How to make dogs drive cars and users click buttons

Who would have thought that dogs could be taught to drive cars or that double the amount of users would click a button just through a simple design tweak.

Behaviour is fascinating. Not only can we research, analyse and understand behaviour, it is possible to then actively and deliberately change it. It isn’t easy or quick but if you get it right the results can be incredible. But human behaviour has deep, complex motivations and meanings which is why it’s vitally important to have at least one person involved in your project who has a solid background in psychology.

A good starting point for understanding behaviour is the work of BJ Fogg. His behaviour model states that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behaviour does not occur, it means that at least one of these key elements is missing.

Dogs driving cars

Take a look at the following video, yes they really are dogs driving cars!

In the video of cars being driven by dogs we can clearly see all three elements that cause the desired behaviour. The dog’s motivation is to get a treat and please it’s trainer. It has the ability to press the buttons. And the trigger is the command given by the trainer. If any of these elements were missing the trigger would fail.

BJ Fogg’s behaviour model

Motivation + Ability + Trigger = Success or Failure

BJ Fogg Behaviour model

Making people click buttons

Enticing users to click buttons is a lot more difficult but it follows the same principles of people having the motivation to click to the next step, the ability and the trigger. The only certain way to know which is not being fulfilled is to conduct user research and if you have the budget include eye tracking as eye movements are directly linked to the brain and can tell the researcher more detailed information about what’s really going on inside the user’s head. It allows the analyst to know precisely where the user is looking (what grabs their attention and interest that should/shouldn’t be), for how long and in what order. Don’t confuse this kind of research with basic usability testing. This kind of behavioural insight research needs highly qualified specialist researchers who understand and can successfully analyse and interpret human behaviour with interfaces.  Contact professionals.

The researcher will identify what is stopping the desired behaviour from occurring. For example, if you have very high traffic on a page but not many people converting, the researcher would investigate the underlying causes. It could be that a vital piece of information required by the user in their decision making process to buy from you is missing or that the process of purchasing from you doesn’t meet their expectations based on similar experiences with competitors.

Psychological buying process

Psychological needs of buyers

The best ux designers understand psychology. We use research findings to identify and add psychological triggers and persuasive elements that are needed to convert people into buyers. UX design should never be confused with traditional design.  It is only by understanding the user completely that we create designs that work. Once we understand and then meet the user’s psychological needs and desires, we can turn them into a buyer (see above diagram).

Speak to our specialist expert

Are there pages of your website or software that should be getting more clicks?

Would your product benefit from user research, behavioural analysis and insight?

persuasive design expert

If you’d like to chat to an expert in behavioural research and persuasive design, ask for Lisa via our contact form. She has many years experience helping brands, conducting research and analysing behaviour. Lisa is qualified up to MSc level and is highly respected within usability / user experience.

Why I work in User Experience / UX

 

This is a special insight post by Lisa on what motivated her to study and pursue a career User experience / Usability.

user experience designer Lisa DuddingtonFor some people, making an impact in the world means being famous or stopping world poverty but for me it’s about making all our lives a little easier.

This morning I was explaining to a lovely gentleman on the phone what I do for a living and how we help businesses. Afterwards it led to a discussion between Ricardo and I on why we chose to go into user experience. Our paths are very different. This is mine.

When I was a teenager I remember being very frustrated with products and computers. Back in the 90s you had to read instruction booklets, there was no escaping them. You had little chance of getting anything to work without first suffering a long read of an overly complex instruction manual. The out-of-the-box experience was horrendous. The excitement of your new purchase swiftly dulled by a sense of utter helplessness, confusion and hours spent on the phone to customer service reps who were just as clueless as you were.

Perhaps because I was young, I recall not being frustrated at myself for not understanding how to use products, instead my frustration was very much directed towards the companies designing these difficult to use products. To me, I could see simple solutions, common sense changes that could have made the whole experience so much easier! I couldn’t believe that large brand names who surely must employ very intelligent people could miss such obvious problems!

I just want to make people’s lives easier

This is where my passion for user experience originates. My aim has always been to make life easier for everyday people. People shouldn’t have to think about how to use a product, they should just be able to use it. The product should be a means to an end and something that is a joy to use, not an obstacle that causes unnecessary frustration and wastes your time.

Can you imagine how much time and frustration we’d all save if you could just pick up and use anything without having to think about how to use it?

We only live once so why should we waste our time working out how to do things, let’s just do them!

For me it’s very much an added bonus that my aim in life also has massive financial benefits for businesses. It means that I can get paid to pursue my quest to make everything in life easy, simple and intuitive. It’s partly why I love working on all types of interfaces and products. The more things I can change for people and the more impact I can have on their everyday lives, the better!

I’m a bit like a superhero for everyday people

I guess I’m a bit like a superhero for everyday people, making life better for them without them ever realising. They’ll go about their daily lives without ever knowing that somewhere I’m working away and fighting battles so that it’s easier for them to do their online shopping, it’s quicker for them to use their systems at work so they can get more done and feel happier, it’s easier to record their favourite programmes on tv, use their mobile phone…

For some people, making an impact in the world means being famous or stopping world poverty but for me it’s about making all our lives a little easier, because we only live once so why should we waste our time working out how to do things, let’s just do them!

iPad Mini Usability and User Experience

 

With the launch of the iPad Mini you may be wondering whether you should buy one, especially if you already own an iPad. What are the usability and ux benefits to you?

So, let’s have a look at what a smaller screen size means to your user experience.

 

One-handed usability

Using the iPad requires two hands – why use two when you can use one? The smaller hardware of the Mini now brings one-handed use to the iPad. It also opens up the range of postures you can adopt whilst using it as holding the device becomes easier and more flexible.

Apple iPad Mini

 

Portability

Although the iPad looks like it should be portable, in reality it’s not ideal. It’s slightly too large to fit comfortably in many bags (particularly ladies handbags) and it’s also fairly weighty which means carrying it around all day can become a real pain in the neck (literally). You have to make a choice whether you really want to take it to the coffee shop because you can’t just slip it into your pocket like you can a mobile phone. The iPad Mini should take away some of this cognitive decision making process as it will have increased portability.

 

Great for public transport

Do you take your iPad on the tube? It’s more likely you’ll take your Kindle due to the portability factors above, as well as needing one hand free to hold onto the rail. With the launch of the Mini, it’s likely we’ll see increased use of iPads (Mini versions) on the tube, bus, airplanes, etc.

public transport

 

Child friendly

Touchscreens appeal to children in a big way. With their glossy screens, bright colours, big buttons and direct touch interface, the interaction is natural for youngsters (not to mention pets!). But do you trust your child with your iPad? Or is too expensive and too heavy? The iPad Mini could open the doors to increased use of the Mini with children. We could see an increase in educational apps as more and more parents invest in this cheaper and smaller, more child friendly version of the iPad for their children.

 

Better User Experience for certain apps

Some apps are just a bit fiddly when shrunk down to mobile, yet are too big and not ideal to use on a large device. The iPad Mini offers the perfect screen size and hardware for apps such as maps and navigation, where pinching and zooming on a mobile can be frustrating and difficult, but carrying a full sized iPad around is cumbersome.

 

The Fun Factor

The Mini will have all the benefits of the iPad in a smaller, more portable format. This means it’s ideal for playing games and taking with you to meet friends. This is a use case the iPad misses out on a lot. Sitting in a coffee shop, showing things like photos and websites to friends and generally becoming a more social product that you don’t just use by yourself but interact with together is incredibly powerful.

 

Increased Emotional Attachment

We already know that people become emotionally attached to their mobiles and one reason for this is they carry their mobile with them almost everywhere they go. With increased portability, there is an increased likelihood of emotional attachment with the Mini.

Need help with iPad Mini design or research? We can help. Contact us

 

The growing importance of tablet E-commerce UX

As iPhone shoppers decrease, the amount of people now shopping e-commerce sites on tablets has grown rapidly to 54.9%. Not only has iPad usage increased, but the average conversion rate is also 22.5% higher (visitors convert at 3% as opposed to 2.8% for websites overall). iPhone conversion is much lower, at only 1%.

Average Order Values – iPad wins 

aov_-_mobile_vs_non-mobile

 

Increase in traffic from tablets

In just one year, traffic from tablets has increased 348%. The fastest growing demographics are both young and old consumers and they are used in environments that may explain their higher conversion:

– 96% in the living room

– 94% in the bedroom

– 75% in the home office

– 70% on the porch

These are environments where people feel more relaxed, have more privacy and more time to make a purchase which may explain the higher conversion.

It’s time to focus on your tablet user experience

With increased traffic from tablets and increasing conversion, it’s time to think about improving your tablet user experience and usability. If you haven’t done so, we would highly recommend analysing/benchmarking your current tablet user experience via user research or eye tracking so you can then work on redesigning the main tasks of your site to increase your conversion. Basket and checkout areas are particularly troublesome on tablet devices and are a good area to focus improvements.

source: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/10385-mobile-traffic-on-e-commerce-sites-doubles-in-nine-months

 

5 Useful Lies to Tell User Research Participants

shh photoWithin the User Experience and Usability community there is a hugely popular, well-respected website called UX Booth. Lisa recently wrote an article for them where she shares some of her most effective insider research tips for how to increase the validity of research by encouraging more honest responses from participants whilst also helping them feel at ease during research.

One of the ways Lisa achieves this is by using a few little white lies during the research interview. She says “Thinking back, I don’t think I was ever taught these lies. Some of them just make logical sense, such as, telling the user you aren’t involved in the project in any way. After all, we all know that if someone knows you’ve created something, the last thing they want to do is tell you all of it’s faults and failings! It’s human nature. Other white lies I’ve created myself over the hundreds of interviews I’ve conducted, learning techniques that work well (as well as those that don’t), with the aim to increase trust and encourage more open, honest feedback from research participants.”

Read the full article 5 Useful Lies to Tell User Research Participants

Keepitusable win prestigious business award

 

The judges agreed Keepitusable have massive potential and were strong competition for our category winners.

UX business award Keepitusable

Co-founders Lisa and Ricardo with Dragons Den presenter, Evan Davis

Keepitusable are incredibly happy to announce that we have won a business award for being a ‘Rising Star’. The award celebrates young and upcoming companies who have shown growth, achievements, passion and amazing potential.

This year saw a record number and quality of entries and as the youngest company to be shortlisted, we are proud to have won an award.

We work hard to ensure we maintain our reputation for high quality user experience research and design to help companies to improve their bottom line whilst also achieving happier customers. Too many agencies cut corners to save on time and cost. We always ensure our very best researchers and designers work with all our clients so they get quality work and see results that will make a difference.

We make no qualms about working 7 days a week so we can be more flexible to meet your deadlines – we love what we do!

It’s this dedication, commitment to high quality and 100% client satisfaction that makes us proud to be Keepitusable.

The people shortlisted for these awards make such a great contribution to this city that it is absolutely right that they receive recognition for the fantastic work they do. Choosing the finalists has been even more difficult than in previous years and all who entered should be proud of their achievements to date.

BBC Home Page User Research and Redesign Slides

We recently took part in the BBC Connected Studios event to work on future home page design concepts.

As a User Experience (UX) and Usability agency, it won’t surprise you to know the first thing we did was to conduct user research. This enabled us to understand how people actually use the BBC home page at the moment, uncover their existing behaviours and context of use. We then used this information to inform our concept ideas for future BBC home page iterations. Once we had created wireframe concepts, we discussed these with a separate group of users in an audience focus group held at the BBC Media City office.

Below is an overview of our user research findings and concept design ideas.

BBC Home Page User Research by Keepitusable