Tag Archives: web user experience

10 ways ASOS convert visitors to buyers

21 Nov

Online fashion retailer ASOS has been in the news once again for another year of soaring success and at a time when other retailers are reporting another quarter of ‘difficult trading conditions’. Rob Bready, Product and Trading Director at ASOS attributed the success to the user experience of the website (and the free delivery)….

“It is very simple – the site is beautiful, easy to use and delivery is free”

10 ways Asos convert visitors to buyers
So this got us thinking. What is it exactly that makes Asos.com so easy to use? What can other online retailers learn from them that could help improve the user experience of their website and lead to better online conversions?

We put together the top 10 things that online retailers can learn from Asos
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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

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

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

3 useful UX lessons you can learn from getaheadofthegames.com

27 Jul

Olympic lane

If you live in the UK, you’ll be hard pressed to avoid The Olympics at the moment. One of the main talking points, certainly for Londoners is the traffic nightmare expected to jam the roads, underground, buses and trains. In anticipation, the powers that be have set up a website which is advertised to help people avoid traffic chaos: www.getaheadofthegames.com.

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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

Telegraph redesign is more user centred

18 Jul

As a keen photographer I love looking at images. I have a variety of sources to feed my need for regular photography inspiration: Flickr, 500px, twitter, blogs and so on. One of my favourite sources of inspiration is seeing the amazing photojournalism shots that show what’s been happening around the world.

As with all experiences on the web, some websites make life easy for users and some make reaching their goal a little more difficult. Often we find that this will depend on how much they have prioritised their business goals in comparison to their user goals.

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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 after-sales anti-complaints process

29 Jun

It’s a well known fact that us Brits hate to complain. Instead, we like to keep quiet, seethe internally, and then vote with our feet and never use the service again. But there are occasions where you know you need to complain to get something done about the poor experience you’ve had. You might need to get a refund, get an answer to a problem, or get someone to do something about your situation.

So you’re feeling angry, frustrated, and probably stressed that you now have another item to deal with on your growing to do list. Faced with the daunting task of having to contact a company to complain, the last thing you need is a tough time finding a way to complain. Enter the anti-complaint process. Where companies make it very hard for you to complain.

So how does a company employing the ‘anti-complaint process’ operate? It’s pretty simple really. The company offers several pathways which appear to lead you to somewhere to get help, but in reality they lead you to FAQs, a generic helpdesk email, or a generic phone number offering no option to speak with customer services or customer complaints.

The Comet complaints process

Consider the example I had recently where Comet had come to install a washing machine I purchased from them. During the installation a water pipe was damaged which caused a leak. We ended up with no running water (and no working washing machine). Naturally I wasn’t pleased so sought out a way to contact customer service or complaints on their website.

After finding a generic contact number to call I was routed through to the Installations team. Unfortunately they could not help me and said instead I would need to submit a complaint. I asked for the complaints team number but was told there wasn’t one and instead all complaints were done in a complaints section on the website.

 

 

Eventually I found an a way to enter a complaint but this was difficult to find as there was no ‘complaints’ section. It also gave very little confidence that the enquiry would be dealt with in a timely manner, or any information on what team the enquiry was even going to.

The Google Adwords complaints process

Another example I noticed recently was on the Google Adwords site. Our site was hacked and resulted in Google suspending our Adwords account until we cleared the problem and asked them to review. The process had taken 9 days with no feedback from Google so I wanted to escalate my issue to customer services or complaints to get a response. I called Google and was told that there was no customer services or customer complaints department to speak to, and again I had to complete the complaints form on the website.

Although I found the form eventually, had I not been told that there was a complaint form I would never have been able to find it.

In both examples the companies had made it difficult to make a complaint. It could be argued that they had simply prioritised other more common user journeys instead, however one of the common reasons to make contact with a company is to speak with customer services regarding a problem with an order or your account. In both examples these journeys were made difficult. Whether they were made deliberately difficult is up for debate. The sceptic in me believes they are: the harder it is to complain, the less complaints they receive, the less staff they need to deal with complaints, so the more money they save. But if they are by accident, it shows they place little value on the after sales customer experience.

Customers who have paid for a service should be happy with their experience. In our research we find that users place equal importance on the after sales experience as the pre-sales experience. When things go wrong, if customers are forced to work hard to even talk to someone they will feel cheated and unimportant. If a company is unable to allow users to speak to someone directly using a complaints number, then the least they should do is allow users to access complaints contact forms easily on their website.

The John Lewis complaints process

As you might imagine with their great reputation for customer service, John Lewis offer a very good example of how to do this properly.

 

 

 

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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

A UX perspective on Horizontal scrolling

12 Dec

BBC horizontal navigation

I was talking to someone the other day about the new BBC homepage which employs a way to navigate through content from left to right. I thought it was well implemented, and knowing the BBC they would have user tested it thoroughly before making the call.

Anyway, the conversation swiftly moved on to horizontal scrolling and how as a ‘usability dude’ I must hate anything with a horizontal scroll bar. I tried to  explain that most of us ‘usability’ people are not against unconventional design, but we just like to see it implemented for the right reasons (because it fits with the user goal) and not for the wrong reasons (because the designer likes it and wants back slaps from peers).

 

Vertical scrolling, Yes. Horizontal scrolling, No.

In a talk, Jakob Nielsen once demonstrated his thoughts on horizontal scrolling by nodding his head up and down saying, "vertical scrolling, yes", then, shaking his head left and right saying, "horizontal scrolling, no".  A clever way to make a point, but digital design is never as simple as just following a rule or guideline from a so called ‘guru’. There are of course situations where a design works perfectly well going against conventions (which are typically outdated anyway). So we ask: When should you use horizontal scrolling?

Of course there’s no easy answer to that question. But when understanding the context of use and the goals users have when using the site it can become easier to decide whether to use horizontal scrolling or not.

 

When using horizontal scrolling can be beneficial to users

Although it’s not something we would always recommend, these examples may suit horizontal scrolling if you are keen on using it:

  • Displaying a variety of visual images i.e. a photography site or design portfolio
  • Displaying information in a large visual area that is not easy to see at a glance – i.e. think of a map or Google’s street map which employs horizontal scrolling to good effect
  • Displaying discreet sections or slides of information – Tablets and smartphone apps employ the notion of swiping and when this is used to move from one screen from left to right it can work really well and feel completely natural. Similarly applications such as Slideshare work well in the horizontal plane (although it is arguable that this constitutes scrolling)
  • Displaying a large catalogue of products or items where scrolling horizontally could display different product categories

 

Why you should be careful in using it

  • Most mice have a vertical scrolling wheel, few have an easy way to scroll horizontally. This means most users have to manually operate the scroll mechanism. This is slowly changing with smart mice like the Apple Magic Mouse but may still take some time before they’re mainstream. In fact if you consider physical ergonomics, it’s much easier to move a finger up and down, than it is left to right. Thumbs and hands on the other hand are much more adept at a horizontal scrolling motion, so this type of navigation is likely to depend on innovations in gesture interfaces
  • The experience of scrolling horizontally on some sites makes the screen judder and can have that headache inducing feel to the experience
  • Controlling the speed of the scroll can be problematic, with some content whizzing past and others taking forever. Giving users the right amount of control can be difficult to get right
  • We’re so used to reading left to right within the confines of a page where we make our way slowly downwards, introducing a horizontal scroll could break a fairly rigid western convention so should be used with care when reading is a core part of the user journey

 

Examples around the web

Interestingly Abercrombie, Hollister, and Superdry have made the decision to move away from horizontal scrolling to vertical. Shopstyle on the other hand have employed horizontal scrolling well on their site.

Like all new functionality, it should be thought through carefully and of course tested with users before taking the plunge.

Here’s some examples from around the web that we’ve found using horizontal scrolling in some way:

What do you think? Do you have any good examples to share?

 

 

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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