Conducting user research is now something that most successful brands do to improve their user experience and ultimately their bottom line. However, there is still a lot more potential to increase revenue and profitability as many brands still don’t do enough user research. They are reactive and responsive to the demand for research as opposed to ingraining it within their process as an active continuous activity. In fact, recent research has shown that 58% of companies only conduct research on a quarterly or less frequent basis which is far from adequate if you want to be a leader in your market.
User research is not just about waiting until you have something to test. It should be a pro-active activity that provides regular insights into customer behaviour, psychology, process, interaction, expectations and keeps up with the fast changing pace of the digital world at the moment. The way customers shop is constantly adapting and you need to adapt too.
So why should i continuously carry out user research?
1 Understand your customers
Customer behaviour, attitudes and expectations adapt over time and with changes in technology. Conducting regular research enables you to keep informed of how customers perceive your brand and how they’re interacting and transacting with your business. Rather than waiting for changes to happen then reacting to them, you can identify early turning points and be the first to innovate to changes in your sector. This continuous learning enables you to keep all your user documentation such as user journeys and personas up to date so your team are not making decisions based on potentially out of date and no longer relevant insights.
2 Test hunches and hypotheses
Your team should always be coming up with hypotheses to explain data, current and future user behaviour. Some of these you’ll be testing through your split testing but for concept ideas you’ll need other ways to test these and gain user feedback. Assumptions should always be treated carefully – don’t base major decisions on hunches, make sure you have the evidence to back them up through user research. The type of user research you’ll need to conduct depends on what you want to find out – what’s your hypothesis? See 5 user tests every product manager should commission.
3 Benchmark KPIs against yourself and competitors
What do you use as your KPIs? For your online digital experiences you might be using metrics that include those found in the definition of usability ISO 9241-11.
These are: Efficiency: How long does it take to complete the task? If you’re an online retailer who sells dresses online, how long does it take a representative customer to find and select a red dress for an evening out?
Effectiveness: How do they accomplish the task? Do they complete it using the most optimal path or do they go around the houses, getting a little lost along the way? This is your effectiveness rating and it’s an important indicator of how easy and intuitive your tasks are to complete.
Satisfaction: How satisfied does the user feel after completing (or maybe they didn’t complete) the task? This is a self rated measure.
You’ll find correlation amongst the above three measures. If one scores low it’s likely the other metrics will score low too and all the above correlates with NPS scores. If you regularly run research to benchmark your user experience against yourself (to check the changes you’re hopefully constantly implementing to improve your conversion) and against competitors you’ll always know how you compare and where your strongest opportunities are.
4 Avoid costly rework
Or maybe the idea works but the implementation of it isn’t quite right, it’s not testing well and now there’s not enough time to fix it before launch. If only you’d run some user research on an early prototype! The earlier you can catch problems the better as that’s when it’s much cheaper and quicker to fix them. Some people think user research will add time and cost to their project but it really doesn’t, it slots in easily and quickly, and will save you a heck of a lot of rework later on.
5 Be more successful
By continuously conducting user research in your process, the team are constantly seeing their work from the user’s perspective. They’ll begin to think more like your customers and imagine them as they’re working on their UX designs, when they’re in meetings and when they’re coming up with new ideas. Rather than speaking of their own opinions and experience, they’ll begin to talk about what Alice said last week and this gives them a much more solid basis for coming up with innovative ideas and solutions that are born from user insights. These ideas have a much greater chance of being successful for your business.
What to do next
Commit to a regular schedule of user research and see the changes it makes to:
Your team morale
The understanding of your customers
The quality of new ideas generated
The cost savings you’ll make through less rework
The improvement in all your customer experiences
…and the business will benefit hugely from the increase in revenue.
“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.
How many times have you heard people complaining because the updated version of Facebook is awful? Every time there’s a change, it all kicks off again… everyone becomes angry and adamant they’ll never use Facebook again but then they get used to the change and forget all about it until next time. There’s even been a timeline created of all the Facebook backlashes.
Facebook is just one example we can all relate to, but there are many across the internet including many ecommerce websites and apps. But why is it that people are so reluctant to changes within websites, software and apps? This reluctance that users have towards change is called ‘Baby duck syndrome’.
Baby duck syndrome
But what do baby ducks have to do with users behaviour?
Well, the name comes from psychology and ethology (the study of animal behaviour). Konrad Lorenz, studied animal behaviour and he observed how new born ducks that leave their nest early, instinctively bond and ‘imprint’ with the first moving object they see (in Konrad’s case this happened to be him).
The same thing happens to people when they’re online. Users get used to and learn how to interact with a website or software in a certain way, this can take some time to do so they’ve also invested effort into doing this. Once they are familiar with the platform and like it, they struggle to change their habits. In general, people perceive the familiar as easier and more efficient and the unfamiliar less so; they have a tendency to “imprint” in the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to the first. Changes to the existing system will be perceived as less easy to use (even if they do actually make it easier) because they require some learning and therefore effort on the users behalf to get used to the new functionality.
This is not isolated to the digital environment either. In the offline world people are also reluctant to change – they feel safer when they can maintain a routine and an instinctive inner strength motivates them to stick with what they’ve learnt, with what they know, because it feels safer for them.
When a radical change is made to something already viewed as useful, but does not fundamentally change the experience, people rebel – and they rebel quickly.
The dilemma for ux designers and product owners
So, your dilemma is this… if you keep the same interface, users will be happy and feel comfortable, but the risk is that you end up stuck with an interface that doesn’t change with the times and gets stuck in the past. It may well have issues to do with the UI and interaction that need to adapt to improve the user experience. However, if you change it significantly, even if it’s for the better, your users are likely to rebel against the change and deem the previous version as better (even if you’ve tested and proved that it was actually worse).
Keeping your product updated is important, but so is keeping your users happy and providing them with an interface that’s easy and pleasant to use. Angry users and social media aren’t a good combination!
How to make changes with minimal upset to users
People need to feel reassured and supported. You need to provide assistance and to guide them through the transition phase.
Be there for your users, support and explain the nature of the changes, reassure them about how to do it. Don’t make your users feel forced or imposed, let the interface communicate with them rather than instructing them to make the change.
If you take the risk to make changes to your website, app or software and if you are ready to upset you users, you should also be 100% sure that the changes you are introducing worth the risk.
Conduct user testing. Observe users using the new version of your website or software, take note of the feedback and keep the change process open and in continuous progression.
Lessen any fear of the change by making your users aware that these changes have been tested with them already and that you’re making the change for their benefit. Explain why.
Instead of changing everything at once, make a series of small incremental changes. This is what Facebook do now and for most users small changes go totally unnoticed, despite them leading to the same end result eventually.
Interact and listen to your users, tweeting, facebooking, reading forums and taking in their concerns and expectations.
Test your interface to gather concrete proof that your users will understand the improvement and finally embrace it.
Need help or advice?
Are you considering making changes to your website and are concerned about how your customers will react? We recommend
Have you ever noticed how you use the same small number of features in your favourite software? It’s capable of hundreds of functions, but have you ever actually used them all? How about your favourite website… do you look at every single page or do you generally just look at a small number of pages that most interest you? Do you use all the functionality on that page or do you just press the occasional ‘Like’ button?
This is the norm. You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule; we tend to use 20% of things 80% of the time. The principle is also used to mean that 20% of the effort will generate 80% of the results. It’s often the case that 20% of customers generate 80% or more of revenue for a company. It’s known as the Pareto Principle and it can be found in all aspects of our lives.
Let’s learn a bit more about it and how you can apply it to your UX and Conversion.
What is the Pareto Principle?
In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto noticed that every year, 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced approximately 80% of the peas. He found it very interesting and he observed that this proportion could be applied, in a larger scale, to economic society: 80% of land is owned by 20% of people.
If you think about it, this principle can be applied to most of your everyday life. We bet you tend to wear just 20% of your clothes 80% of the time and out of everything you own, you probably use just 20% of things regularly.
When you’re creating that company presentation in Powerpoint do you ever use all of the features or would you say it’s about 20%? Does 20% of your website generate the 80% of your income online?
What are the benefits of using the Pareto Principle psychology in UX?
Identify the top 20% of your current usability issues and feature gaps so you can fix them.
Keeping focus on the most essential aspects of your website ensures that most of your visitors can find what they need very quickly.
This in turn leads to higher conversion rates and more return customers for your brand.
A simpler, clean and straightforward user experience, free of distractions, barriers and frustrations.
We know that too much information can cause the inattentional blindness effect, leading users away from what they are really looking for on your website. If you want to avoid this and ensure a positive user experience, keep it simple and focus on those 20% of things that really matter for them.
The 20% of what you have left will be better quality and much more effective.
Applying Pareto to UX
In our experience in conducting research with users, we have evidenced that features that generate the majority of conversions are a minority of the functionality provided on a website or an app.
The 80/20 rule has a crucial effect on the user experience and ultimately on the effectiveness of the content or functionality of your website.
Knowing that, how can the 80/20 rule be applied to improve your UX and Conversion?
What are the 20% that users want the most? At the start of a project, consult users on the features you have in mind and get them to rank them and discuss their thoughts. You’ll soon discover the 20% of features that will appeal to 80% of your target users. Make these your MVP then develop from there in future iterations. Beware of feature creep.
Use analytics to determine the top 20% of things your users use the most.
Conduct user research on your top user journeys. What are the top 20% of things that 80% of people use your website, software or app for? Focus on these in user testing to get the most value and impact from your consumer research.
Prioritise the research results and focus your design and development resources on the 20% of issues that are causing 80% of users problems. The aim is to tackle the biggest barriers first.
De-clutter features or content that is not needed by your users. It’s just detracting from other things that are more effective.
Help 80% of users. Do 80% of people all choose the same option? If so, consider defaulting to that option.
Keep converting don’t stop. Keep focussing on the 20% of things that could make the biggest difference to your ongoing conversion.
Don’t invest too much time and money optimizing lesser-used functionality. Your investment is best spent in your top 20% instead.
Here is an example of the 80/20 rule on Amazon’s checkout process. As shown in the picture, the country in the form is pre-populated with United Kingdom. Since the United Kingdom is the most selected country while browsing from amazon.co.uk, they’ve made it the default selection, therefore saving time during checkout. One less thing to think about and choose has no doubt had a positive effect on their conversion of this page. People do not like completing forms so the less effort required from them, the more likely they are to complete the form and convert.
Below is Laterooms old Home page. Through analysing their data analytics and conducting multiple rounds of user testing, they discovered that most people don’t use or even look at most of the content on the page. 98.6% of users didn’t use the menu and 98.9% ignored their prominent popular destinations content.
The vast majority only used Search.
So, Laterooms decided to redesign their home page to focus on the main thing users do when they come to the website: Search. They aimed to remove distraction and clutter, emphasise the search feature, hide ancillary elements and boost credibility. This is a great example of how removing distraction from the page creates a highly focussed user journey and a lovely, clean UI. No colourful banner ads and no gimmicks. Of course they tested the new design with users and following great feedback, split tested the new design against the current version.
The new, simplified design (shown below) was the clear winner
Mobile first demonstrates Pareto
Luke Wroblewski has made a name for himself advocating a mobile first approach to design and build and it is certainly in line with the 80/20 rule. Luke observed how, most of the time in the design process, the desktop version of a website is the first to be developed and the mobile is often an afterthought. As such, the mobile experience suffers. The mobile first principle states that the design process should be the other way round: mobile should come first. Why?
In designing the mobile version of a website the focus has to be on the 20% of features and functionality that is most crucial for users, simply because there is limited space on small mobile screens. This makes it the most challenging user interface to design for and many companies are still struggling to find talented people and agencies like Keep It Usable that can create outstanding mobile user experiences.
Need help simplifying your user journeys or creating amazing mobile experiences?Arrange a call with one of our super friendly UX experts for complimentary, no-ties advice.
Personas are amazing! If you don’t have them or if you have them but don’t use them (what a waste!) then you’re missing out on a whole host of business benefits. Let’s have a quick look at these before we dive more into what personas are and how they fit into the design process…
Benefits of Personas
Company wide understanding of who your users are
Deep understanding of customer behaviour and needs
Stop everyone in your company from talking about themselves, their friends and family as the user(s)
More effective, focussed conversations and business meetings
Clearer and better decision making – focussed on user needs and goals
Greater empathy with the customer
Enables your design team and project managers to create much better products and services
Where did it all begin?
Personas were introduced in 1998 by Alan Cooper.
At the time he was working on the design of new software and he interviewed some colleagues (possible future users of the software), to collect some ideas to implement in his project. That day, without even realising it, Cooper started to engage himself in a dialogue, play-acting as a project manager, inspired by one of the colleagues he interviewed that day.
Cooper found this play-acting technique was tremendously effective for solving design questions around functionality and interaction, allowing him to understand what was necessary or unnecessary from a user-centred point of view.
Since then, he used this technique to design all of his products, bearing in mind the benefits of thinking from the users point of view. Hypothetical user archetypes allowed him and his clients to better understand the end user in their projects.
What is the personas method?
Using Cooper’s own words:
“You tend to canvas the user community, collect their requests for functions, and then provide them a product containing all of those functions. I call this the sum of all desired features.”
Personas are narrations, stories about imagined characters; they are imagined and described in interaction with the product that is going to be developed (website, device, app, software etc.). Personas are defined in the early stages of the design process and they guide the project team throughout the product development process.
Defining personas is also essential for any consumer research involving the product. To canvas the profile of future users helps in the recruitment of a representative sample of the population for an effective and realistic UX testing session.
Why are personas so important to the design process?
The most important goal of personas is to create understanding and empathy with the end user(s).
If you want to design a successful product for people, first of all you need to understand them. Designing for everyone results in an unfocused goal that will dehumanise the profile of future users. The personas method allows you to draw not just a profile about gender and age, but to dig into the psychology of the imagined character in their interaction with the product.
The power of the narration that typified this method, allows us to create a story that introduces the product in the everyday life of the imagined character. The narration sets goals, creates visibility of problems and potential issues in the user-product relationship.
Personas are a crucial passage in the user-centred design process because they define expectations, concerns and motivations, helping design teams to understand how to design a product that will satisfy users needs and therefore be a success.
People are no longer passive users of a product or a service, but they are actively interacting with it; they are engaged in a ‘conversation’ in which both sides, user and product, are actively asking and responding. Defining personas during the design process helps your team to imagine that conversation.
When designing personas, the story needs to cover the following:
Demographic presentation of the character (age, gender etc.)
General traits (occupation, interests, hobbies etc.)
The scenario is very important for the effectiveness of personas.
Scenarios are imagined situations in which the character interacts with the product. Personas without scenarios have no value, so defining good scenarios is crucial.
The narration of an imagined scenario follows this structure:
Setting a problem, a situation
Describe the character’s reaction to the problem
Define the role of the product in this scenario (e.g. how does the character interact with the product in that situation? Why does the character use the product? With which aims? What are the character expectations of the product?)
Resolution of the situation
Remember, if you want your product to be successful, you have to design it bearing in mind who will use it.
1. Collection of data. In the first step, you collect as much information and knowledge about your users as possible. Data can come from many different sources, even from pre-existing knowledge in the organisation. A good starting point is user research to gather insight into your users.
2. Hypothesis. Based on the data collected in the first step, you create a general draft of the various kind of users, including in which ways users differ from one another.
3. Description of scenarios. You create scenarios that describe solutions; possible situations that could trigger the use of the product are described. Scenarios will be used to better imagine user interaction with the product. The story about how the character will use the product is the personas’ ultimate objective.
4. Description of personas. Preparation of a brief description of the typical user, paying attention to user needs, motivations, aspirations and values. It is very important that you add to the narration one of the scenarios created in the previous step. The ultimate aim at this stage is to generate a narration that creates an empathic bond between the imagined person and the reader.
5. Selection of 3-6 personas. The ideal number of personas is limited (too many and you’ll start to lose track of who’s who). At this stage, choose 3-6 descriptions that are the most representative of your typical users. Selecting a limited number of personas allows you to be more focused during the design of the product.
6. Dissemination of personas. It is important that personas defined during the process are shared with the whole project team to provide a shared understanding of your users / customers.
Keep It Usable’s independent research into the UK travel market provides insights into the current UK travel consumer and the opportunities that exist for travel companies to increase their success in 2016.
Our research, conducted in the UK with 264 holidaymakers, aged 20-70 years old, helps you to better understand current and future UK travel consumers: which are their favourite destinations, how often they travel, who do they go with, how do they book, who are their preferred brands and what are the growing trends to watch out for in 2016.
Need help or advice?
If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.
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.
We’re always keeping an eye on current and future trends so when we heard the FutureEverything festival was in town we just had to go.
“The FutureEverything festival brings people together to discover, share and experience new ideas for the future” exploring the meeting point between technology, digital culture, society, art and music in the digital era. It has been named by The Guardian as one of the ten best festival ideas in the world and although the expectations were very high, we didn’t leave disappointed at all.
Intelligence in the digital era
The theme of the morning was intelligence in the digital era. How are technology and artificial intelligence changing our brain? With the huge amount of data and information now available, how do we make sense of it? How we can use this information to make better decisions?
The first speaker of the morning was Nelly Ben Haroun (head of experience at WeTransfer, Wired fella, creator of ISO, international space orchestra and designer of experience at SETI), a french ball of energy that built her career around the ultimate goal to transform ideas into projects that engage all kinds of audiences and transform the impossible into the possible.
She has been defined a ‘social sculptor’ and a ‘fusion between Andy Warhol and Albert Einstein’. She transforms ideas into experiences with the ultimate aim to engage people. She designs in terms of scope, scale and method of engagement, exploiting art, design, music and architecture.
During her speech she celebrated the critical design approach as the way for creating innovative products and for turning over preconceptions about the role that products play in everyday life. “Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.” Dunno and Raby
In other words: “Think outside the box”.
How are smart tools changing our brain?
This was another big question debated during the conference.
Let’s think about our memory. It has changed a lot with the advent of technology, smartphones and the internet. How many phone numbers do you remember by heart? Can you even remember your own mobile number? Now, think back to 10 years ago, how many could you recall simply by memory? Could you remember your close friends and family but now you wouldn’t know their numbers? You’re not alone.
Our memory is changing: “Relying on digital storage is changing our memories: increasingly we recall how to find information, and forget the specifics.” claimed Lydia Nicholas, the second speaker of the day, researcher anthropologist at Nesta. So our brains are changing to focus on information retrieval, not on the information itself.
The plasticity of the human brain allows it to change throughout life and the digital environment in which we are living is affecting it all the time.
She claimed that: “We create tools but those tools re-create us as people.”
The longer term impact of smart tools and technology on our lives raises a lot of further questions that are difficult to answer: Who has the responsibility for it? Is the interpretation of big data biased, limited or discriminating? How are new technologies impacting our human rights?
What emerged from all the experiences shared during the conference is that we are humans creating tools for humans and this is an undeniable aspect to consider in the design process of a digital product. “Thinking outside the box” still means to design for an audience and with that audience in mind.
The talks emphasised the importance of knowing “The audience” for whom you are creating a product and the importance of engaging with them during the design process not taking anything for granted at any steps of the creation process.
User testing, aka usability testing, user research, UX testing… everyone’s talking about it, all the best companies are doing it, but what exactly is user testing? And why are your peers banging on about it so much?
Why is user testing important?
Because it will save you A LOT of money, make your projects more successful and make you look good for all those new customers you’ll convert at the end of it.
Increase your sales
Whether you’re responsible for e-commerce sales, online conversion or sales of a product there’s a common factor for those that go through regular user testing. They’re more successful, they experience higher and faster growth and the business works better as a whole because everyone understands the user.
Save time and money
A common misconception of user testing is that it will lengthen your design and build process, however, there’s no need for this to be the case. It runs in parallel with other activities. The one way to guarantee adding time and having to increase budget and that’s by not including any user testing in your project. Imagine getting to the end, only to realise that you missed out a crucial piece of the user journey and you’re going to have to rework everything.
Fail fast and fail often
If your new project isn’t going to resonate with customers you want to know that as soon as possible so that you can adapt it and re-test it until you get it right. The sooner you get this insight the better! How soon? You should start at the concept stage and you don’t even need any tangible designs to get your first, most important user feedback. Test everything with your target users.
Improve what you’ve got
Whatever stage you’re currently at (wireframes, prototypes, procrastination…) user testing will always be enlightening to improve what you already have. Identify the main issues, the strengths and opportunities for further enhancement.
Consumer insights, intelligence and evidence
You’re building for an end user, a human being so why wouldn’t you actually observe their behaviour, listen to their feedback and question their expectations? The insights you’ll come away with will help you across your whole business and the changes you’ll need to convince your teams to make will be clearly evidenced by the testing. When conducted by experts, user testing is a methodology and a science that produces behavioural and psychological evidence of the changes that are necessary to meet your customers needs.
When it comes to digital experiences, users are used to being able to do things quickly. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. In recent years we’ve seen big change in the customer mindset, they now expect things to be easy to use and they’re more aware of usability than ever before. Once upon a time people would blame themselves but now they are quick to blame a company for a poor experience with their website, app, software or product.
Usability is a necessary condition for survival and doing user testing is the solution to ensure your costumers with a positive and enjoyable user experience, which will in turn create more new and return customers.
What makes this harder for you is that people no longer read instruction guides and they’ll skip through your very helpful user interface overlays. We know, you put them there to be helpful, but we’re sorry to have to tell you that we see users skip these all the time. Then when they need the help they can’t find it!
There are many things to consider. You need to provide users with all information they need and to allow them to find it as quickly as possible. Most of them will not take the time to look through a website that is not usable. For this reason, ensuring your projects include user testing is a clever time and money saving activity your company would choose.
What is user testing?
User testing is an essential part of the UX design process. It typically consists of evaluating a product by researching it with your representative users (who we recruit). A product may be a physical product such as a kettle, a piece of software, an app, a website or other form of digital interface such as those found in retail stores. User testing when done best, takes the form of one-to-one interviews that are conducted face-to-face by a qualified UX researcher. This research method enables deep information to be gained about your users’ patterns of behaviour, preferences and opinions, in order to implement this feedback for a more successful product. Testing early during the design process allows you to prevent future re-design costs and to launch a user-friendly product. Testing doesn’t require a big sample of participants since the aim of the session is to gather qualitative data. Remote user testing tools are also available and are useful for backing up face-to-face with greater numbers, however they should not be used in isolation unless your budget really does constrict you.
In the user testing session, a wide range of testing tools can be involved. Each testing session is tailored on your objectives and the best user research technique is chosen according to your needs.
User testing will generally be task oriented. Tasks will be created in advance and the user will be asked to complete them whilst being questioned by a researcher who will analyse and question their behaviour in real-time. A good researcher will pick up on UX issues as and when they happen, and pursue a relevant line of questioning.
A user test may also include activities to inform structure and navigation, such as card sorting. Typical measures of usability may also be included, such as the SUS rating scale – the official measure of user satisfaction. This is a questionnaire that the user completes to give an overall satisfaction score.
After the testing sessions, our expert will analyse the findings thoroughly and they will provide you with a full range of design solutions.
Are you ready to grow?
User testing gives you deep psychological and behavioural insights from users that will improve not just your user interfaces and products, but also your business as a whole. The more you understand your users, the stronger and more successful you’ll become.
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. Read about our usability testing service:
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.
Have you noticed how similar websites look these days? Cover up the logo and can you really tell one from the other? How effective and identifiable is their brand once you cover up the logo? Is their identity getting lost online?
Walk down the high street and each brand has a clearly identifiable shop front. They each have their own unique style. So why is it that these very distinguishable brands have websites that all look very similar?
Of course this could just be our opinion so we decided to put 11 female fashion brands to the test to see if their target consumers (young females aged 18-24 in this case) could correctly identify online websites with their brand (logos removed and provided separately). We used a mix of well known and lesser known brands, high street and online brands. We also tested both desktop and mobile versions.
Try it for yourself…
Have a look at the following brands (notice how similar a lot of these look already?)
Which brand do you think the following website belongs to?
To make it a little easier, we’ll give you a clue, it’s either Topshop or River Island. Here’s a photo of their high street shop fronts to help you even more.
If you think the answer is River Island we can understand why. The website looks more consistent with the high street River Island shop front doesn’t it. However, the correct answer is actually Topshop.
Did you find that difficult? Well, unsurprisingly, so did the people we interviewed. The Topshop logo was correctly matched to the website just 21% of the time (so only 1 in 5 attempted matches were correct).
“I don’t know why I don’t recognise Topshop, I’m confused.”
Everyone found matching the brands to the websites much more difficult than they anticipated (they thought it was going to be really easy) and they struggled to match the brand with the correct website, even if they were a regular shopper and therefore very familiar with the brand.
And the winner is… Very
Very was the winner of our online brand identity research, closely followed by Asos and Zara. Look at their websites and you’ll see why. They each have a very distinct look and feel, their brand identity is carried through the whole user interface through the font, use of colour, imagery used, layout and style.
Those brands with the lowest scores included Forever 21, Missguided, Miss Selfridge and Glamorous. Interestingly, three of these brands scored higher on mobile than desktop which could be a sign of their younger audience being very mobile heavy consumers.
The research confirmed the initial hypothesis that brand identity is being diluted online and that as far as consumers are concerned, the brands are easy to confuse with one another and are relying too heavily on their logo as their sole differentiator against their competitors.
An interesting association that we discovered was that participants viewed websites with similar layouts as selling cheaper and poorer quality products. The layout affected their impression about the quality and the uniqueness of the product sold.
For the target consumers of brands tested in this research, quality is one of the most important factors for making the decision to buy an item online. A poor and cheaply perceived layout or bad usability of the website can affect the impression of the product’s quality and undermine the overall image of the brand.
Brands that scored the more correct matches tended to have a stronger identity on desktop than mobile. The market predictions for 2016 forecast that mobile will play a bigger and bigger role in the e-commerce market and fashion brands should be aware that the income of mobile traffic will have a strong impact on their business.
Moreover, the 2016 trend in retail will be the omnichannel approach to shopping; that is a continuous and smooth shopping journey through different channels, online and offline. It is crucial that high street brands create a strong brand identity on all their digital platforms to create a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. The aim will be to provide costumers with a frictionless, continuous shopping experience.
Discover even more insights in the presentation below and if you need to improve or test your fashion website in order to increase your conversion, we can help! Contact us
The UK travel consumer is changing every year. Keep It Usable’s independent research into the UK travel market provides insights into the current UK travel consumer and the opportunities that exist for travel companies to increase their success in 2016. Our research, conducted in the UK with 264 holidaymakers, aged 20-70 years old, helps you to better understand current and future UK travel consumers: which are their favourite destinations, how often they travel, who do they go with, how do they book, who are their preferred brands and what are the growing trends to watch out for in 2016.
The recession seems long forgotten, as over half (65%) of people now go on holiday abroad multiples times per year. Europe continues to be the most popular destination, followed by the USA. The most popular country that the UK travel consumer likes to visit is still Spain.
Travel in 2016
In 2016 we’ll see the continued rise of the solo traveller. A significant number of participants declared that they have travelled alone at least once in the last 12 months. The solo traveller trend is not just popular amongst the young traveller though, we also found the over 50s emerging as a key solo traveller segment.
Mobile is increasingly crucial for companies to get right. There’s a continuing increase in mobile use within the whole travel experience. From browsing, booking, through to using the mobile whilst on holiday, there is a need for digital marketers to engage the customer through every mobile part of the user journey.
We’re seeing an increasing interest in experiences and a willingness to pay more for them. Travel companies will find themselves needing to move more towards selling experiences rather than continuing to focus primarily on price. Driven by the use of social media and the fear of missing out, people are becoming more and more experience-hungry.
Google reports that travellers spend an average of 55 minutes to book a hotel and flights, visiting 17 websites and that they click four different search ads per travel search. 90% of these travellers use more than one device during the booking process. Our research confirmed this trend and highlights the importance of providing travellers with a pleasant and efficient online experience whilst they are booking their holidays, in order to increase the likelihood of your site being the one to convert the UK travel consumer.
Discover even more insights in the presentation below and if you are interested to know more about how to increase the conversion of your website, Contact us, we can help you!
It’s nearly Christmas! How are people shopping for the perfect gifts? We decided to chat to shoppers about their christmas shopping for 2015. We were interested in understanding how people are shopping for Christmas; how they’re doing their research, organising their ideas and deciding where, when, what and how to buy. Are they shopping online or offline and why? So we spoke with christmas shoppers and here’s what they told us.
Christmas Shopper Profiles
The people we spoke with fell into one of three broad categories:
Offline (high street) christmas shoppers
Online christmas shoppers
Online-offline christmas shoppers
They are driven and inspired by different factors and christmas shopping is a completely different experience for each of them. Let’s look a bit more closely…
Offline christmas shoppers
These people love and enjoy the experience of shopping for Christmas! For them, it’s an opportunity to share time with friends and family. They love walking round the shops and markets, taking in the atmosphere and being inspired by the window displays. They enjoy window-shopping and they love the christmas spirit that is present in the high-street.
Online christmas shoppers
Online christmas shoppers are more time and gifts focused. They want to find the perfect gift for their friends and family and they see buying it online as easier and more efficient, in their eyes it saves them time and hassle. Moreover, most of the online christmas shoppers live farther from a city centre and don’t have easy access to a large variety of shops. In general, they aren’t big fans of shopping in the high-street and much less during the christmas holiday season. Online they can avoid the crowded shops and long waiting lines. Convenience is key.
Online-offline christmas shoppers
Fifty-fifty christmas shoppers do their christmas shopping both online and in the high street. They are price and gifts focused and they will follow the best deal, whether this is online or offline – they have no preference.
Have they started their christmas shopping? How is it going so far?
When do you think people start and finish their christmas shopping? Most of the christmas shoppers we spoke with had already started their christmas present shopping, and many had bought most of their gifts already. Most people had begun to look for gift ideas and inspiration at least two months ago, in October. Some had even finished all of their shopping by the end of November!
Super organised shoppers confessed that they bought their first presents at the end of July/beginning of August. If you really want the ‘wow effect’ they said you need to start early.
For personalised and unique gifts, people would rather buy gifts far ahead or online.
“Everything looks so similar in the high street during Christmas.”
Even the late shoppers seem to have a christmas shopping strategy. They started looking for ideas around mid November and now they clearly have in mind what they want, even if they haven’t yet bought the gifts.
Where do christmas shoppers find inspiration for their gifts?
For Christmas lovers nothing can ever replace shopping in the high street. They feel excited and can’t wait for the christmas season to start! They enjoy christmas shopping with their friends and family, for them it’s an enjoyable experience.
They told us that they enjoy the atmosphere, the lights, the smell of mulled wine and cinnamon.
“Christmas shopping is fun, why would I stay at home on my own looking for presents online when I can do it with my friends?”
Those shoppers that love looking for christmas gifts in the high street, also seemed to be the ones without a clear idea of what to buy. They are driven by emotions and they look to be inspired by window displays. They describe christmas shopping as an ‘unmissable experience’ and they claim that it’s easier to find gift ideas in the high street than online.
“I love christmas markets! I haven’t decided what to buy yet, but I’m looking for something around… there are lots of christmas things.”
For the online christmas shoppers (particularly young people) their first port of call is Google to look for inspiration. Once they’ve decided what they want to buy, they search for the specific product on various shopping websites. Amazon and eBay are the most popular because of their good deals, short delivery times and competitive prices.
Shopping online also enables people to better ponder their choices, theirs is a more considered purchase.
“If you go into town you don’t have any guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for, and it can be a waste of time.”
“I don’t want to spend money on presents that I don’t really want to buy.”
How do they choose the perfect gift online?
When browsing christmas gifts online, many people said they take screenshots of the products they might want to buy or take notes on their mobile about prices and details.
Others, simply open several tabs at the same time on their laptop, so they can easily compare products and prices.
“I just leave the product open on chrome, that’s how I remember what I’ve looked for before.”
They also explained that even if they haven’t decided whether to buy the product or not, they will add it to the basket of the website so that they can save the product and find it easily. In doing this, they have more time to think about it before before making the final decision. In effect, they’re using their basket as a shopping list to shortlist the things they like.
Reviews were also seen as a positive of shopping online. Reading other users comments and experiences helps shoppers to choose what to buy and what not to buy!
Sharing inspiration is also an activity carried out online. Social media is used for communicating and sharing gift ideas with friends and family.
“I send the link of the product to my sisters in messenger. We’re looking for a present for our mum, and through Facebook it’s easy to share our ideas with each other.”
The online shoppers said they don’t like packed, crowded and messy shops during christmas season. The chaos of the high street disorientates them and in the quietness of their home they can be more focused and more easily find the perfect gift for their friends and family.
…and the online-offline christmas shoppers?
For the online-offline christmas shoppers, the most important thing for them is finding the best deal!
They have a careful and methodical strategy. They move fluidly from searching presents online and in the high street, they compare prices both online and in store, they already have in mind most of the gifts they want to buy, but they are also open to appealing offers. These are our classic showroomers.
In a way, the online-offline shoppers summarise what all christmas shoppers have in common: they are all driven (some more than others) by price and convenience.
All of our shoppers said that price is very important; for some it is crucial, for others it is important but not that important that it prevents them from christmas shopping in the high street. Planning and budgeting is important. In this regard, lists are used to organise, control and manage christmas expenses.
“I plan what to buy, otherwise I’d spend a lot”
“I have a list of people, presents and prices…so I can control what I’ve spent so far”
Showrooming: The future of Christmas shopping
Our research supports that christmas shopping is moving in the direction of exploiting online and in-store shopping.
“Showrooming” appears to be the new way of shopping, not just at Christmas.
Using their mobile phones while shopping in high street shops, browsing and comparing products in store and online at the same time is an effective strategy to find the best price whilst directly experiencing the product and enjoying the christmas atmosphere that only shopping with friends in the high-street can bring without any stress or anxiety.
The shopping experience is becoming a more rounded experience, moving across offline and online spaces as determined by context and need. Our mobiles are now an extension of our shopping experience and it will be the responsibility of retailers offer their costumers a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas experience, that supports customers whether they’re shopping in-store, online or both.
It’s Black Friday, you wake up, grab your mobile by your bed and have a quick look at your favourite sites to see if there are any bargains to be had before christmas. Going round the shops is for losers, you’re going to be the first one to get the bargains and all in the comfort of your own bed before you’ve even started work. Win!
One of your favourite stores is Karen Millen and you’re excited to see they’ve joined in with Black Friday. It’s promoted on the Home page, however, you nearly missed it because it doesn’t have the usual Black Friday branding and looks just like a normal ad. But you spotted it and that’s what counts.
You eagerly click on the ‘Shop now’ text (you do this carefully because it’s very small on your mobile) and land on a page full of items. The large ‘25% off’ text on each item immediately grabs your attention. Fantastic! 25% off!
At first you’re confused. It appears there are are only two jumpers in the Black Friday sale so you go to press the back button but you happen to catch the screen with your finger and the page scrolls slightly. You notice there are actually more items hiding further down the page!
You see a jumper you like so you look at the price and it says £75.00. You look back at the 25% off text and wonder if that means the price is already discounted or not…. There’s no other price on the item (you’re used to seeing a before and after price) and the price isn’t in a different colour so it looks like it might still be the full price. Is it really in the sale?
Hmm… you decide to click on it to have a closer look at the jumper and to see if there’s any sign of a sale price on the next screen. Maybe they just missed it off the previous page. But now it looks worse… the 25% off text has now gone completely and there’s just the one price of £75.00. It doesn’t look like it’s in the sale at all.
You’re confused. You like the jumper but don’t know if it’s reduced or not. Is is reduced? Is the £75.00 the reduced price or the full price? You don’t want to risk it so you leave and go to River Island instead.
Aha! That’s more like it! River Island screams the magic words 50% OFF as soon as you land on their home page. It doesn’t actually say if it’s a Black Friday sale but who cares, it’s a whopping 50% off and that’s good enough for you!
You eagerly press to see the items in the sale and land on a page full of cool stuff to wear. It’s really clear to you that these are all sale items because you can see the original prices which are crossed out and replaced with new prices that are also red so you know they’re in the sale. Whoop! Let’s get sales shopping!
This year, online sales over the 24-hour Black Friday period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history (last year they were £810m). £3.5bn in sales are expected over the whole weekend. For retailers, Black Friday is a huge sales opportunity but also creates pressure to keep up with the Joneses and discount items to an uncomfortable level. Combine this with the instore chaos we saw in the UK last year and it’s a pretty crazy time!
For Americans, Black Friday symbolises the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season. They take the Friday after Thanksgiving off from work, taking advantage of the long weekend to start their Christmas shopping.
Although Black Friday is still not very popular in Europe, in the UK it has very quickly become the biggest shopping day of the year, even beating Boxing Day.
The figures speak for themselves…
In 2014, UK consumers spent £810m online on Black Friday and they are expected to spend even more this year. According to IMRG & Experian, online sales will reach £1.07bn. If that prediction is correct, online sales will reach a record in the UK’s online retailing history, exceeding for the first time £1bn in just 24 hours.
The Centre for Retail Research estimates that in total (combining online and in store shopping) British people will spend £1.39Bn in just one day, this is 32% more than the previous year.
Living in suburban or residential locations; they don’t have easy access to shops
Regular consumers of content on mobile devices
Compare this with Boxing Day shoppers who are more likely to be younger and live in urban city centres.
Their demographic profile has important implications for retailers. For example, considering that the most Black Friday shoppers don’t live in the city centre and don’t have easy access to shops, attention should be put in to planning and optimising the delivery service or in communicating details about deals, coupons, opening times, etc, through social media, to enable costumers to plan and organise their shopping.
How are Black Friday customers shopping?
(Simpson L., Taylor L., O’Rourke K. and Shaw K. (2011). An Analysis of Consumer Behaviour on Black Friday, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 1 No.1)
They already have a specific product in mind
They buy particularly electronic media items
More willing to buy gift items rather then items for themselves
This year, consumers will be even more aware about the convenience of buying on Black Friday and shops will be even more crowded than last year, lines outside will be longer and tension will grow faster among the more competitive ones.
Last year, Black Friday was definitely a success, but retailers weren’t ready to deal with, quite frankly, the chaos that ensued amongst consumers, to the point that some of them have decided not to take part again this year. One of the most surprising retailers not taking part this year is American owned Asda, who will instead offer discounts spread across November and December.
Why is Black Friday more aggressive than other UK sales days
Last year, the situation got so chaotic that Telegraph renamed the day as “The Black and Blue Friday”. People queued in the cold outside shops for hours, then running and fighting their way to the product they wanted. But it’s not like this on Boxing Day or any other sale day in the UK…
So, what’s transformed the decent and respectable UK shopper into a merciless shopping, fighting machine? Frustration can be a reasonable answer.
A lot of psychologists tried to find explanations and causes of aggressive behaviours and the Frustration-Aggression Theory (Dollard, Neal, Miller, at al. 1939; Berkowitz, 1969) is one of the hypothesis proposed to explain the phenomenon. The authors support the idea that when people perceive that they are being prevented from achieving a goal, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression and violence. The closer you get to a goal, the greater the excitement and expectation and consequently the more frustrated you get by being stopped.
The theory doesn’t suggest that frustration always lead to aggression, but in some particular circumstances can boost aggressive behaviours.
Black Friday might be one of those above mentioned circumstances.
Sales psychology: Why sales drive shoppers
Psychologists say that the allure of a bargain speaks to our human nature. Limited-time offers and last chance buys trigger the fear of scarcity and Fear of loss that drive us to buy. It makes us buy things we don’t really need, simply because we might not have the opportunity to buy them so cheaply again. IT’s how you end up with boxes of shoes in the cupboard that you never wear but you thought were an absolute bargain at the time you bought them with 70% off!
“People truly want to get a good deal, and so they might be less rational… when they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal, the decision-making is emotional” Kenneth Manning, professor at Colorado State University.
Did you know that sales drive our competitive spirit? We want to tell other about the great deal we got and we hope ours was better than theirs (even if we didn’t really need the item in the first place!). People treat it as a personal accomplishment to boast about.
Sales also have a positive affect our brain chemistry. In 2007, Stanford researchers discovered that when subjects shopping for clothes saw a sale price, the brain’s pleasure centre lit up. Sales, in other words, make us happy.
The sales environment also triggers consumers to part with their cash: “We are classically conditioned to hear this music, see these lights, even the experience of the shorter days and associate it with spending and shopping,” says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist
So, be ready, 2015 Black Friday is just around the corner (27th November) and we hope and wish will be a good one, for both shoppers and retailers!
Starbucks is coming to Italy in February. You might think this isn’t a big deal but for the Italian market it really is! Italian’s are precious about their coffee and their drinking habits differ greatly to those of the US and UK. The whole customer experience is different, which is why the opening of Starbucks in Italy is so controversial…
First of all, it’s interesting to know that Starbucks has an ancient bond with Italy; originally, Starbucks sold only coffee beans, but after a journey to Italy, the owner had the idea to recreate and export “caffetteria-style shops”.
Italian coffee drinking behaviour
From an Italian point of view (Yes, I’m Italian), coffee is not just a drink: it’s a ritual, a chit chat with the barista, it’s the best end after a good meal, it’s the perfect “good morning”, it’s a pleasant and quick break, but above all, it has to be short, black, bitter and served in a small ceramic cup (very hot).
Typically, an Italian will enter the coffee shop, simply ask for a coffee (which is an espresso – this is the standard drink), stand up at the counter, drink the coffee which takes just a few minutes, then leave.
You can see that both the drink and the behaviour differ a lotfrom the typical Starbucks experience.
In this scenario, will Italian consumers appreciate Starbucks Americano, Latte or Frapuccino? Will they buy coffee served in the famous cardboard cup? How will they reply to the renowned question “stay in or takeaway”?
In Naples, the south of Italy, the “coffee ritual” is even stronger than in the north. There’s a popular tradition called “caffè sospeso”, literally translated as “pending coffee”. It’s rooted into the Naples’ working-class culture, and basically consists of having an espresso but paying for two, leaving one on the counter, ready for the next costumer, as a symbol of good luck and an act of “charity”.
Will the Italian consumers pay for a “frappucino sospeso” or a “pending latte”? What will happen?
Image taken from “La banda degli onesti”. Totò, a famous Italian comedian and actor, drinking a coffee at the counter.
Italy’s La Stampa newspaper wrote: “We thought we had everything in Italy, but it turns out we lacked one thing: American coffee”.
Coffee for Italians is part of their culture, their behaviour, a national identity and habit; and Starbucks knows it. Even more important, Starbucks have had to really know Italian customers before making the decision to open a branch in Italy. It’s no coincidence that the first Italian Starbucks will open in Milan, the most international city in Italy, heart of Italian business, fashion and a highly multicultural centre.
What are the opportunities and potential barriers of having Starbucks in Italy?
The company announced that they will promote Starbucks as a place for business meetings as well as a cozy spot where to relax; an intimate coffee shop in the heart of the business area of Milan, where you can work or sip a coffee with friends.
Free WIFI will be the main attraction for Italian customers. There aren’t many places in Milan where you can find free and fast WIFI.
A hi-tech + coffee formula. Technology will be the key differentiator for Italian Starbucks. Along with free WIFI, customers will have access to a “Starbucks digital network” streaming movies and tv shows.
Deeply rooted coffee culture. Italian customers have a strong bond with their habits, particularly when it comes to coffee and food.
There are thousands of coffee shops, bars and ‘caffetterias’ in Milan where you can enjoy a high quality espresso with a snack (biscuits or a pastry) and where you can simply read a newspaper with a good cappuccino.
Starbucks is expensive compared to the Italian coffee prices. In Italy, one espresso costs 1€ or even less.
For most of the time, “having a coffee” for Italians, means having a quick break, standing up at the counter. Particularly in the afternoon or after lunch. It is not the long sit down break that is common in other countries.
It is not common for Italian business consumers to sit in a coffee shop and work on the laptop or meet in a public space.
A traditional bar-caffetteria in Milan – Bar Zucca. People drinking a coffee at the counter.
The “Starbucks Italian situation” is a great example of the importance of how understanding customers is crucial in order to offer an efficient and successful product.
Moving into the Italian market is a huge risk for Starbucks, however by first opening in Milan, they will be able to take advantage of the large tourist market. It is the least risky option for them and a gentle step into the Italian market to test their acceptance of the longer coffee drinking customer experience.
We’re very proud to announce that we’ve won the WIBA award for best online/digital business in the North West! WIBA stands for women in business awards and representing Keep It Usable was our founder, Lisa Duddington.
“I’m incredibly proud of Keep It Usable and everything we continue to achieve.
Right from the beginning, huge brands were trusting us with their projects and it’s testament to our knowledge, passion and skill. As for women in business and male dominated industries? I say go for it! Yes I’m often the only woman in a room full of techy guys but it doesn’t bother me one bit, my opinion is respected because I know what I’m talking about and being a woman brings the advantage of seeing things a bit differently, especially in terms of the customer.”
We are now a finalist in the national wiba awards which will be held next month.
The photo below shows all the North West winners. Congratulations and best of luck to everyone!
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.
Layout, images, colours, fonts are equally important in order to provide users with a pleasant online experience and increase the conversion rate of a website. The design of a website is crucial, but it’s not the only factor that we should take into consideration.
Users should be guided and helped in making a purchase decision on a website; they need to have enough information in order to make an informed decision and the navigation has to flow smoothly. But, is that enough?
Changing just one word can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.
Choosing the right way to say something is fundamental, particularly if the aim is to prompt users to take an action, like buying your products or creating an account.
Choosing the right word(s)
Unfortunately there is no universal answer or solutions.
Since words acquire meanings only when considered in context, knowing which words are better then others, means knowing the context, observing users moving and behaving in that context and constantly putting yourself in their shoes.
It is very important to keep testing, particularly in relation to CTA buttons, as shown in the following case studies.
Understanding your customer’s psychology, behaviour and intention is the secret to effective CTA copy.
Example: ‘Buy now’ vs ‘Shop now’
Dewalt.com have a ‘Buy Now’ CTA button on their product pages. Some of the team thought that changing the wording to something less committal like ‘Shop Now’ might encourage greater click throughs. Others on the team thought the wording change could imply a longer purchase process. So they decided to test both variations to see which resulted in greater conversion.
Current CTA: ‘Buy now’. May imply a faster and shorter process to purchase.
Variation: ‘Shop now’. May imply less commitment and therefore encourage more clicks.
17% more users clicked on ‘Buy Now’ rather than ‘Shop Now’.
The small variation in text had a huge impact on the final result. This represented a six-figure difference in the online sales of the product.
The next action is clearer with ‘Buy now’, it is very obvious that the user’s intention is to purchase. ‘Shop now’ could be mistaken for continuing to look at more shops, it is less specific regarding the action and more ambiguous.
Example: ‘Find a retailer’ vs ‘Where to Buy’ vs ‘Nearby Retailers’
Current CTA: ‘Find a retailer’. Concern that this may be mistaken for online retailers only.
Variation 1: ‘Where to buy’. The team felt this version was more direct and may imply less work for the visitor.
Variation 2: ‘Nearby retailer’. Related to a physical and geographical location and therefore may make it clearer that this indicates physical retail stores
4.1% more users clicked on ‘Nearby retailer’ compared to the two alternatives.
The button more clearly indicates physical shops where the user can buy the product as it relates to a geographical location, while the others two options could be mistaken as solely relating to online stores.
How 2 Words Lifted Insound’s Checkout Funnel Conversion to 54%
Following the launch of a redesign, Insound found that conversion was underperforming. It was believed that this was due to the length of the checkout process and the vague wording throughout.
Current CTA: ‘Continue’. Logical description of the button, continues to the next step.
Variation 1: ‘Review order’. Describes what’s going on and reassures that the process is not completed yet, i.e. there’s still time to change your mind.
Variation 2: ‘Submit’. Based on the one-step check out process.
Variation 3: ‘Almost done’. Informs that the process is almost complete.
‘Review order’ was the winner with a 39.4% click rate.
It is explanatory and reassuring at the same time, clearly indicating to the user that they still have time to back out should they need to but also allows them to see an overview of their order and associated information to double check everything before proceeding.
As can be seen, small adjustments to your CTA copy can make a big difference conversion. It’s always worth testing alternatives to see which performs better.