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User Research

Researching with service users is the only way to truly improve your service to meet the needs of the people who will use it. There are a variety of tools and techniques and we will share our experience in which tool to use when.

A/B Testing and why making assumptions in UX is a dangerous game

18 Dec

Between projects we like to set up A/B testing experiments on our website which test theories and ideas that come up during client work. Our latest experiment focused on how to encourage users to download a free guide by testing the differences between a large call to action box versus a smaller one. Rather than worry too much about getting the design and styling right, first we wanted to test out which would generate the most conversions and then adopt an ongoing agile approach to eventually lead us to the right solution.

Which test do you think would convert better?

In true ‘which test won’ style, take a look at these two pages and take a stab at which test you think would convert better (the winner will be revealed later in the article):
A/B Testing and why making assumptions in UX is a dangerous game
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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

What’s on your bookshelf?

7 Nov

Here at Experience Solutions we love our books. We like to keep a couple of shelves well stocked with books, new and old, that we can turn to for inspiration in any aspect of our world. Our shelves are full of advice whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out. Usability and user experience are the common topics, and come in many forms. Business development, self-improvement, finances. We’ve got it covered somewhere. Conversion rate optimisation is influenced by knowledge from all these books (and more). There is nothing better than on the job training, but a good book helps you to understand from the beginning, and refine when you get to the top.

 

What's on your bookshelf?

Recently we came across this great article by Shane Snow called “You are what you read: 14 thought leaders share their bookshelves”, who invited friends and people he admired to send him photographs of their bookshelves. Shane then extended the invite to Thought Leaders. Here at Experience Solutions we found this fascinating to see what people choose to read to inspire them. As a result we snapped a couple of shots of our book shelves and asked a couple of our fellow digital friends to share their bookshelves too. Enjoy!
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Ali Carmichael

About Ali Carmichael

Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael

3 ways to stop driving customers crazy with online quote forms

16 Oct

3 ways to stop driving customers crazy with online quote forms
a n i. Y. via photopin cc

Stop driving your customers crazy by forcing them to fill in endless forms before they’ve had a chance to decide what they need. As a financial services provider, if you are doing this it’s likely you are missing out on conversions. Why? Because customers don’t always understand which product they need, there are often complex concepts they need to digest in order to make a decision and they are being bombarded with difficult questions that they hadn’t even considered!
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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Rethinking UX: A must have ebook

19 Aug

Rethinking UX ebook cover

 

At the beginning of the year we wrote an article on improving your website usability tests for Smashing Magazine. So we were delighted when we found out they wanted to include our article in their new ebook ‘Rethinking UX’. The book is packed full of advice from the top thinkers and leaders in the industry and provides practical advice based on personal experiences of the experts.
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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Stop waiting for the perfect time to run usability tests

30 Jul

No one is perfect, that's why pencils have erasers

 

“Perfectionism is the enemy of progress”. This is a quote I’ve found to be very true throughout my life. Whenever I hear it or read it, I remember to stop trying to do everything perfectly and focus on getting things done once they are good enough. Once I start focusing on good enough, my to do list shortens, I’m meeting deadlines, and generally feeling like I’m getting somewhere again. So when I see clients doing the same thing I try to encourage them to focus on progress rather than perfection.
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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Free or low cost UX courses you can complete online

4 Oct

Online User Experience Courses

As with any topic in the field of interactive media, it’s tough to know where to start if you want to learn more about user experience (UX). Many of our clients find our newsletter and blog useful, they might read other blogs and read the occasional book but rarely get the time or budget to attend formal training (either with us or elsewhere). Many of the organisations and charities we work with are finding less training budget available each year and are struggling to find viable learning opportunities.

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Insight from usability testing – how to get more online donations

6 Sep

When usability testing charity websites we see the same user need being unfulfilled time and again. Before making a decision to donate, volunteer, or fundraise for you, users need to know where the money goes.

They’ve heard about charities eating up all the money themselves and only a small amount getting to the people who need it. They want to know your charity isn’t like that. But you also know that users aren’t going to read your AGM notes and won’t invest time reading about your financial structure. So what do you do? In this article we’ll show you some of the sites doing it well and give you some inspiration on how to fix your site to generate more online donations.

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Crazy Egg – Our Review

21 Feb

What is it?

Crazy Egg is an online tool that monitors individual pages from your website, giving you a breakdown of where different visitors have clicked and on which part of the screen. There is also some more basic analytics data available on which pages have been viewed most frequently, and where your visitors have come from using different visual displays.

All you have to do is insert a small bit of code into the html of the page you want it to monitor, and sit back and relax. The site does it all for you from then on providing live results as it tracks the progress and every click that visitors make on the chosen pages.
 

What are its advantages?

Simple steps to set it up. Probably the best advantage of Crazy Egg is that it’s easy to setup on any website providing you have access to the site’s code. In just three steps you can set up Crazy Egg to monitor as many pages of your site as you wish (With a free account you can monitor up to 4 pages. To monitor more you have to upgrade to a paid account but prices start at as low as $9 for 10 pages which is peanuts really).

Five different and interactive ways of viewing the results. Crazy Egg provides you with an array of different ways of viewing the results; each has their own uses and will cater to different peoples’ preferences of viewing information.

 

The four different visual views the Crazy Egg provides; (from left to right) heatmap,
scrollmap, confetti, overlay

 
Now all the different views certainly look eye catching and interesting, but the one that we think is the most informative and useful is the confetti visual which displays all the clicks in a colour coded fashion giving you the option to filter which clicks from which external sources you want to see displayed on the page. The other views certainly have their uses too and collectively provide back up evidence to support theories drawn from the overall information gathered. For example, the scroll map in conjunction with the heat or confetti map can give you a good gauge as to where the most focused part of the page is and whether users are clicking on your call to action buttons within those areas.

 

List view

The list view is the last of the different states and displays a table of the items
clicked on within the page

 
Exportable reports of your results. Crazy Egg allows you to export a report of your results which is good for sharing and bringing them to meetings. The different views also allow for an interesting display of information (not the normal pie or bar charts). A slight limitation of this however, is the fact that it merely exports a ‘screenshot’ of your snapshot in the visual that you viewing it in when you click export report.

Crazy Egg data can aid design decisions. The information that Crazy Egg provides about your website pages can prove helpful when discovering what elements of your website need to change – to be moved or altered aesthetically to enhance their use. As I mentioned earlier, the accuracy and specificity of Crazy Egg is really where its advantage over other analytic tools such as Google Analytics lies. In allowing you to see exactly where your users are trying to click, or more importantly where they aren’t trying to click, it allows you to make informed conclusions of where potential areas of improvement are within the site. Finding out what improvements, however, requires more research than Crazy Egg can provide.
 

What are its limitations?

Despite many claims it is not a usability tool. Don’t let the reviews fool you. It can be helpful in allowing you to spot a problem such as a button that does not get used, but it doesn’t give you any other information as to why people aren’t clicking on that button. You can make assumptions from the data that Crazy Egg gives you but each assumption you make could create yet another problem. Still, once the problem is spotted, these questions can easily be resolved by investing in a proper usability test of the site.

The confetti visitor box doesn’t move off the snapshot. When viewing the confetti results there is a little black box that lists the different visitor information for you in one area. However, the box is within the captured shot or ‘screenshot’ of your page, and so at no point can you see the whole page on its own. I realise you can minimise the box but even then I found it distracting. This might just be a pernickety personal irritation but I found it quite frustrating when trying to see the spread of clicks across the page.

 

The information on each type of visitor is displayed in the box above which cannot leave the screen

 
You can only compare two ‘snapshots’ via the heatmap view. Crazy Egg allows you to compare two or more page results within the site; though you can only compare them within the heatmap view. This can become tiresome especially if you wanted to see the comparison of specific clicks between pages.
 

The comparison feature on Crazy Egg only allows for a comparison of the heatmap view

 

When we recommend using it

We would recommend using it if you want to gain an insight into what your users are doing, in a very basic form, when they come onto your site – i.e. what links are being used and which seem to be ignored. This can help in making design decisions to improve your users’ interactions with your site. However each of these decisions still includes a large element of guess work which is why user testing is always a thorough technique to be used in conjunction with site analytics to ensure that you know exactly what needs to be changed, why, and what it needs to be changed to.

 

 

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Samantha Harvey

About Samantha Harvey

Sam recently graduated from Visual Communication. She joined our team in April 2011 and has been conducting user research and has been making sure our user interfaces follow good design principles. She's keen to point out our poor selection of fonts... er I mean typography (sorry Sam). Follow Samantha on twitter @samharvey_ux