Tag Archives: ecommerce

The Power of Perceived Usability – Why Good Graphic Design is Essential

25 Jun

The Power of Perceived Usability – Why Good Graphic Design is Essential

Attend any business development or marketing seminar and you’ll hear the term ‘perception is reality’. This refers to the general principle that what the customer perceives about your business, website, product, etc., is effectively what it is. No matter how you present your product as ecologically sound, your staff as friendly, your business practise as ethical; if customers perceive it differently, then the image you wish to present is an illusion. The only thing that matters is what customers perceive to be true.

This is why companies like McDonalds spend millions of pounds investing in various sports programmes, why they sponsor healthy eating initiatives, and why they advertise salads and wraps over their more popular but less healthy alternatives. McDonalds know that customers perceive them as unhealthy, so they are trying to change customer perceptions. Is it working? Ask around, what do people you know perceive about McDonalds? That will give you the reality. Read more

 

 

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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

The 6 ways AO.com improved online conversions

27 May

Appliances Online, or AO.com, as they are now known, have recently listed their shares on the London Stock Exchange and reached a staggering company value of almost £1.6bn.

 

AO Homepage

 

How has this business, that was virtually unheard of a few years ago, become the leading supplier of white goods in the UK, while previously big names like Comet no longer exist? According to Matthew Lawson, Head of Conversion at AO.com, one of the reasons for their growth was introducing a user centred design approach to the business.

 

AO quote Read more

 

 

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Oliver Gitsham

About Oliver Gitsham

Oli is a Senior User Experience Designer with 8 years experience of researching and designing digital user interfaces. Oli has just become a Dad for the first time so we're expecting some rants about buggy usability anytime now. Follow Oli on twitter @olivergitsham

Interactive Ecommerce Videos: Good UX or Gimmick?

29 Apr

Interactive Ecommerce Videos: Good UX or Gimmick?

When customers are comparing different products, we often find that product pages with videos give people more confidence in their purchase. It’s no surprise to see online retailers try to integrate more videos into their sites. In an attempt to convert more visitors to buyers, some brands have turned to interactive videos as a tool to inspire customers. So what’s the experience like from a user perspective? Does it add value? Or is it just a gimmick?

We reviewed some interactive videos which showcase a selection of products. Each product shown in the video has a clickable hotspot which allows users to click through to the product page and buy that product. Whilst this sounds like an excellent way to engage with consumers, we found the user experience to be clumsy and irritating. In this article we show some examples to demonstrate the user experience of each interactive video.
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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

How to turn social media engagement into ecommerce sales

18 Feb

We often receive requests from companies in need of UX advice, and thought this would be relevant to share with our readers. The founder of Isabel and I, a relatively new Australian clothing brand, got in touch asking how to convert a growing social media following into increased paying visitors to the ecommerce site. Her ultimate goal was to ‘convert likes into sales’.

We conducted a user experience audit of the site, where we place ourselves in the shoes of users and travel through the site attempting to complete common customer goals. During our audit we identified several areas where we felt the site would benefit from improvements to the user journey to increase conversions. After sending our report of Isabel and I, Aundrea the owner found our findings really useful. We wanted to share them on our blog in the hope that you would find them useful too.

 

Isabel and I

Aundrea Quote
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Jenny Coford

About Jenny Coford

Jenny is a Graphic Design graduate with a passion for communication, who joined our team in November 2013. She has been busy immersing herself in the world of UX, creating Axure prototypes and researching the latest digital trends to share with you. She has a real obsession with organisation, so can usually be found writing the next office to-do list. Follow Jenny on twitter @jennycoford

4 tips to increase conversions by improving your navigation and drop down menus

12 Dec

Choosing the right navigation can be a minefield. Before you know it you’ve accidentally stuffed every single option into one gigantic menu, overwhelmed your visitors and deterred them from purchasing from your site. A mega drop down menu has become the popular navigation choice for online retailers, such as House of Fraser, however as with any type of navigation it does have its drawbacks. Despite this, if designed properly these restraints can be overcome and can help to increase conversions and drive online sales.

4 tips to increase conversions by improving your navigation and drop down menus
Here are 4 top tips on how you can improve your mega drop down menus and start seeing results right away:
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Jenny Coford

About Jenny Coford

Jenny is a Graphic Design graduate with a passion for communication, who joined our team in November 2013. She has been busy immersing herself in the world of UX, creating Axure prototypes and researching the latest digital trends to share with you. She has a real obsession with organisation, so can usually be found writing the next office to-do list. Follow Jenny on twitter @jennycoford

A quick win to improve password entry

22 May

One of our clients is in the process of re-designing the registration process on their ecommerce website. She got in touch and asked our thoughts on whether she really needed to mask users’ input in the password field and display a repeat password field. This is a fairly common approach you’re probably already familiar with. Here’s an example of Skype’s registration using this approach:

 

Skype log in screenshot

Skype masks all passwords and asks users to re-enter the password to avoid user error

 

Her doubt arose after reading Jakob Nielsens’s Alertbox from June 2009 titled ‘Stop Password Masking’ which argues that usability suffers when users can only see a row of bullets in the password field and since there is “usually” nobody looking over their shoulder, security is not a good trade-off for poor usability .

Now, although we agree with Mr Nielsen that masking passwords can create usability issues (especially when entering long and complicated passwords), we feel that security is an important issue and with the massive growth of accessing websites on mobile devices in public places, it wasn’t something we could just dismiss.

So what’s the solution to password masking?

Users will always need an option to enter a password securely when there are other people nearby so we did some digging around and found Microsoft Windows 7 has a great solution to this problem. They found a good balance between security and usability.

The password input field is presented unmasked by default meaning users receive the visual feedback they require yet they have the control to enter the password more securely by selecting the checkbox to hide the characters.

Windows 7 password masking toggle

Windows 7 provides an unmasked field with the option to mask characters

 

This solution not only gives users the choice to decide on the level of security they require but also removes the need for a confirm password field so the risk of user errors is reduced. Our client is now redesigning the registration process with a single password field with a checkbox to toggle visibility of the characters.

 

 

 

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Oliver Gitsham

About Oliver Gitsham

Oli is a Senior User Experience Designer with 8 years experience of researching and designing digital user interfaces. Oli has just become a Dad for the first time so we're expecting some rants about buggy usability anytime now. Follow Oli on twitter @olivergitsham

Augmented reality – good experience or gimmick?

24 Nov

Tesco recently released details of a new feature to their online offering. This feature allows users to view a product in 3D, using augmented reality, as if they are holding it in their hands. Sounds great huh?

The objective here is to help online shoppers make a buying decision. The example Tesco gives is of a busy mum who is looking to buy a new TV, and needs to ensure it will fit well in the living room, and will have enough ports for her kids’ gaming machines.

However, there are a number of flaws with the process that result in a poor user experience:

  • Firstly, there is a process:
    • Accept Active X
    • Download and install a plug-in
    • Accept the licence
    • Have a ‘marker’ to hand – or print one out
    • Ensure I have a webcam, and it is on
    • Hold up the marker to the webcam
  • Finally, I can look at something. However, the 3d image is poor quality
  • Holding it in the palm of your hand does not really allow you to envisage how it will look in your living room

So let’s look at some of these:

You have to download a plug in to your machine

Users are now familiar with shopping online, using websites without the need to download external software to run. By including a requirement to download something Tesco has added a step in the process that users are not expecting, and many are likely to be uncomfortable with.

You need to have a specific physical item in your hand

Now the user has downloaded the plug-in they now have to have a physical item in their hand. This can be something you already own, but if not you can print this out. This is another stage in the process that users are unfamiliar with. The perceived hassle for an unknown gain plays a big part in usability. Forms are normally the biggest culprit, but we imagine that this step will prove too much for most users.

The 3d image is poor quality

So now the user has gotten through the process they are now ready to view the product in the palm of their hand. Disappointingly, the quality of the product graphics is poor and doesn’t really do the product justice. The user can’t really imagine a TV sitting in the corner of the living room when it is sat in the palm of their hand. Ok, the user can look at the ports on the back of the TV, but they may be left wanting a quality image of the TV to validate the pixelated version they’re looking at.

So, what do users need?

When we’ve tested retail websites the product information pages are often key to the user making a buying decision. Imagery is often poor, leaving users guessing or unsure. At this point many users will leave the site and try elsewhere until they are satisfied enough to buy it (from a different website).

This new augmented reality feature from Tesco is clearly looking to solve this problem. But the user research we’ve done has shown that by simply providing images of the product from different angles, with an option to enlarge the image, works perfectly for users. 3D images with rotations and video are sometimes available too and with better image quality than the augmented reality solution.

I’m very interested to see how successful this is, but it looks to me that gimmick and technology has been prioritised ahead of usability and the user experience.  Is this trying to solve a problem that already has a perfectly acceptable solution?

 

 

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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

Are purchase decisions harder when shopping online?

8 Oct

Are purchase decisions harder when shopping online?

 
A long time ago, I could go into a sports shop, look along the line of trainers, pick one I liked that was the right size, colour and price, pay for it and go. Recently, inspired by a growing waistline and a bundle of thirty-mumble-mumble-mumble-th birthday vouchers, I tried the same thing on Amazon – only to run into a wall of purchasing doubt.

The same brands, colours and sizes were all present. Tick boxes and drop-down menus made it easy to choose exactly what I wanted thanks to Amazon’s intuitive design. Yet, every time my cursor neared the Add to Basket button, doubt and hesitation struck. What if that one negative review means I will have wasted my money? Was that really the best price? Is there another product like this one but just a little better for the same price that has all positive reviews? Before I know it I’m trawling through more product pages with doubt growing even stronger and the chance of a quick and easy purchase has vanished.

 

Some purchase decisions rely more on reviews than others

Not all purchases online are harder, it just depends on what you’re buying. I can buy books, DVDs and games online without a thought, knowing that the price is cheap, delivery will be fast and it takes a lot of the donkey work out of buying presents.

But, go beyond these modern staples of life, and things suddenly get a lot trickier. Reviews mean more when people actually use something, be it a bike, tent, shoe or cleaning product. Reviews also come into play more when you’re unsure about what to buy, do I need one of these to fix my specific problem or should I get one of those? At that point four stars suddenly look less than perfect, three stars positively average and don’t even think about something with a two-star rating. You might not even look behind the rating to find there are only two jokey or caustic reviews from users who, possibly, brought the wrong product for them anyway.

Conflicting customer reviews

Negative reviews can counteract positive ones causing doubt in a purchase decision

 

Does online shopping force us to focus on the detail?

Comparisons between products can also get in the way of a buying decision. Anything complex such as a laptop can see endless variations between "similar" models, that confuse and confound someone who just wants to "do Facebook and email." Does offering users all this extra information with reviews, product descriptions, videos and price comparisons really make shopping easier? Or is it making us focus more on the detail too much? What should be a happy moment when you buy that new gadget is now one which is anxiety filled and doubt ridden, even after it arrives at your door.

A lot of ecommerce sites have copied each other assuming that adding product reviews and more information is the way to get more sales. But, if anything, it is possible that the more data available at the time of purchase, the more likely people are to compare data, focus on the detail and start their quest for the perfect product elsewhere on the web.

Perhaps online stores should encourage users to reduce their focus on data (but continue to provide this information) and instead attempt to influence a more emotional purchase decision.

 

What do you think? Are users being over informed?

 

 

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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