Archive for the ‘News’ Category
On Wednesday 24th May 2017, it was great to see the digital community come together to learn and be inspired by this year’s Camp Digital event in Manchester. Many great talks were given on topics of usability, design and accessibility, but the one session that stood out for me was the workshop I took part in, given by Molly Watt and Chris Bush, about using and understanding assistive technologies.
Chris Bush kicked the workshop off by giving us an insight into the vast number of people that suffer from a long-term illness or disability, equating to around 15% of the UK’s population. With this striking figure in mind, the question ‘Why design for inclusion?’ was proposed. To help us understand why, Chris introduced Molly Watt, who began by sharing her story on why she is so passionate about this subject.
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In their recent article ‘How to design ‘Applied filters’ (42% get it wrong)’ the Baymard Institute proposed essential features to make filters user friendly on desktop.
1. Ensure the user can easily find any currently applied filters
2. Make it clear which criteria the currently displayed product list is filtered by
3. Allow the user to easily deselect applied filters
4. Provide the user with additional context when selecting new filtering values
5. Help the user infer how much of a filter type’s ‘range’ is currently selected
As more customers are turning to mobile to browse and shop online, we think it is important to look at filters on mobile. In this article, we have looked at how filters are implemented on mobile across the e-commerce sector, considering if Baymard’s recommendations should be adopted for mobile.
This article will look at the following fashion websites: Topshop, Asos, Missguided, New Look and River Island, and compare them to the following grocery websites, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
SimpleUsability hosted a panel debate as part of the 2017 Leeds Digital Festival. Facilitated by Dr Lucy Buykx, one of our Senior UX Practitioners, and with a panel drawn from a variety of sectors, each at different UX adoption stages, the event drew a sizeable crowd keen to discuss, “Is UX research still too slow for agile?”
Shan Beerstecher, Digital Transformation Manager, Skipton Building Society
Adrian Berry, Product Owner, myhermes.co.uk, Hermes
Sophie Dennis, Lead User Researcher, NHS Digital
Phil Stevenson, Senior Digital Proposition Manager, TD Direct Investing
Lucy Buykx kicked off the event by explaining that at last year’s Leeds Digital Festival the same subject had proven incredibly popular, with attendees likening it to a therapy session for those trying to reconcile agile and user research. As agile is becoming more embedded in organisations, the topic is even more relevant hence the re-visit 12 months on.
The panellists got started by introducing themselves and sharing their experience and thoughts on whether UX research is too slow for agile.
First up was Sophie Dennis who has worked with the NHS since January 2017 and has a range of experience from previous roles within the public and private sectors. She’s had a variety of design research and delivery roles doing variations of agile. She said the challenge is introducing design and research together and how do to reduce the cycle time of design sprints.
Adrian Berry from Hermes stated his team are fairly mature in agile and that although UX is a relatively recent concept, they are now finding that UX and agile come together to help them with rapid prototyping. When testing, be open-minded as to what might come out, dismissing preconceptions is really important to eliminate any bias.
Shan Beerstecher from Skipton Building Society admitted they wouldn’t go as far as calling themselves agile yet and have only just brought in the concept of UX and UX design. She mentioned that agile can often jump a step and that sometimes you need to take a step back to pull out the user journey before making a prototype or an agile sprint plan.
Phil Stevenson from TD introduced the term ‘Agile revolution’ to the session but said he has been trained in traditional waterfall methods. They have only just started applying a UX function within the last 2 years with a “let’s see how you get on with this” approach. He went on to explain that often senior stakeholders or project owners think agile means ‘faster and cheaper” but actually, the experience of agile can be more like ‘frustration, confusion and anxiety.’
Tell us about a project where you have successfully integrated UX and what challenges you faced.
Adrian said Hermes are currently working on new functionality whereby labels can be printed in store as part of a ‘one parcel, one price’ simple proposition which Royal Mail don’t offer. To do this, they conducted rapid prototyping whereby they would spend 3 or 4 days coding, test and retain the learning. He emphasised the importance of being prepared to build something and be prepared to throw it away and retain the learning!
Phil has worked with his team at TD on the portfolio page, one of the most important pages in the TD user experience, critical for conversion success. He talked about his experience with agile whereby they followed a Google design sprint approach. They used every potential sort of data to get started creating personas, defining the user and identifying the problem to learn more out of the process. He said the real eureka moment for them is when you see someone going through a page they have designed, and getting stakeholders to view this research is critical.
However, he went on to say that the stage of testing and designing they did on the portfolio page took a long time and so did not meet stakeholder understandings of agile – “fast, iteration and cheap”. Despite this, he concluded that although the perception was that they were slow and that the work took a lot longer than anticipated, the end product was of an infinitely better quality than what might otherwise have been the case.
Shan then went on to talk about her experience of the ‘grid card problem’, whereby users need a grid card to log in to their account. She said the main challenge for her is communication within the team and having to go through 5 or 6 committees in order to get things approved, makes the length of a project far from agile. The challenge is to convince people to ‘STOP and think, does the customer even want this?’.
Sophie Dennis stated that she has experience with a “formalised agile” process, and that the aim was to bring research and design a lot closer. She supported Shan’s point that you need to ask the question ‘is there any value in this product’. The challenge is how to fit the ‘plan, do, analyse’ approach in a 2 week agile sprint window. She said a more efficient method may be to think ‘What do we need to learn now, and what do we need to learn within the next month or so?’
Where is agile and UX heading?
It appears that regardless of organisation, there are common themes regarding selling the value of agile and UX research within the team and with senior stakeholders.
As the session drew to a close, Lucy asked the panellists what their next steps are and where agile in UX is going. Shan said for them it’s about working out how to gather all of the data and customer insights they have and to make decisions more quickly and that the agile fight will continue!
At Hermes, Adrian believes it’s about bringing the connection between stakeholders and the customers closer because often stakeholders are aware of what customers do, but not why.
Sophie Dennis said at NHS Digital, the next step is to get methods spread more widely and scale up but the problem with healthcare is that everyone is a user, and therefore a highly subjective point of view.
Phil concluded the session by saying that UX isn’t the responsibility of one team, it’s about getting everyone to understand who the user is and all getting together to solve the problems.
In order to do this everyone, regardless of role, needs to see the benefit in it. But it’s sometimes hard to prove the value until you can say ‘look, here’s what we did, here’s the feedback, how about we do it again?’
Lucy concluded with a take home message that what we do in digital should not be about closing down choices but about opening them up.
Payment option overload? How card payments and a digital selection process affects the usability of vending machines.
Most of us use vending machines and like the simplicity of popping a bit of loose change into a machine to get that much needed bottle of Coke.
But, we have all experienced that level of frustration when you fall short of change or the machine doesn’t accept the only pound coin left in your purse. Contactless payments and Apple Pay are becoming more widely used, for example on car parking ticket machines.
More recently, vending machines are now also being redesigned complete with a card reader to bring them into the 21st century. So how could the inclusion of card payments and a digital selection process on vending machines improve the user experience?
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Six of the team at SimpleUsability attended #NUX5 on Friday 7th October at the Northern College of Music in Manchester, which featured seven inspirational speakers from around the world sharing a variety of different UX topics.
Instead of the usual note-taking, SimpleUsability decided to try a more creative approach to capture the key features of each talk: Sketchnoting. Sketchnoting involves taking notes in a visual form that helps bring the notes to life, and helps people to remember the talk afterwards. Sketchnotes are also fun to share. In this article we share our Sketchnotes that were taken at NUX5, with key summarised points to explain the take away message from each talk.
One press of a Wi-Fi connected button enables instant ordering of, for now, up to 40 brands through the launch of the ‘Dash’ service for Amazon Prime customers in the UK. Said to take the tedious out of shopping, following its success in the US, UK customers can now strategically place these push buttons in convenient locations just waiting for that product to run out.
You can imagine the customer stories that this would solve. The convenience of never running out of key products that are, quite frankly, not exciting to shop for. But what does that mean for the user experience of grocery shopping in general, and will it open up a shift in behaviour and customer expectations for the main grocery home shopping brands in the UK?
New brand struggle
Singular brand button for re-order may make us less susceptible to new product launches and new brands emerging on the market. How will new products to
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The official ‘Rio 2016’, Olympics app is only rated 1.5 stars in the Apple App Store, with 59/70 ratings giving 1 star. The majority of problems with the app are issues with bugs causing the app to crash and not provide updated results. However, there are also reviews about bad user experiences and these could be due to poor design. This article will discuss how the app could have improved the users’ experiences of the games helping fans to keep up with the events, time differences, and medals won with ease.
After downloading the app, there’s a friendly ‘Hello’ and instruction to ‘Choose your language’. With ‘English’ preselected, it’s quick to get started. Although it seems like it will be a quick process, there is no indication of how many steps there are, or how long it will take. ‘Next’, in the bottom right allows you to move forward through the process. The app continues to preselect options and clearly shows the time difference between the selected country and Rio. Preselecting responses based on a users’ location helps them quickly move through the process without making unnecessary choices.
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Caroline Jarrett, a form specialist and noted author, met the team at SimpleUsability on Thursday 11th August and gave a very insightful talk about how to design better forms for users.
Caroline got interested in form design, and the impact of poor form design, while troubleshooting optical character recognition (OCR) problems while scanning incoming forms. The problem was, people didn’t understand what the form was asking, or it didn’t fit their situation, so they didn’t fill in the form in the ‘right way’. Caroline realised that form design was behind the problem and that good form design was important whatever the media. She now focuses on how to design online forms and surveys, so that people can fill them in correctly; ensuring good language, content and interaction design.
Surprising people is never good.
states Caroline, as the discussion moved forward onto certain features of forms, in particular accordion forms. Lucy Buykx, a Senior UX practitioner from SimpleUsability, said that she has seen some accordions which take users through the form process nicely. However, Caroline discourages the use of accordion forms, stating;
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In our role as User Experience Practitioners we know a lot about the advantages of using eye-tracking in usability research, but we are always learning.
This article covers a few of the things we have observed during our usability research using eye-tracking, and shows just a few of the benefits that eye-tracking can bring to your user research.
1. Making things bigger and bolder doesn’t always work
You may have been to usability sessions and heard users say things like “Oh, I didn’t see that. If it was bigger I’d probably have noticed it.”, or you may have heard “It just needs to be bigger and bolder, make it flashy!” While feedback is useful, it’s important to remember that ultimately what people say they do, or what they say will influence them may not be true when they actually sit in front of a website. Feedback like this is opinion based, and shouldn’t be taken literally.
Instead, listen to the users’ feedback and consider it in context to what the observed behaviour shows. While users may say that making something bigger and bolder would grab their attention, our specialist eye-tracking has revealed, that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it takes re-thinking the position or content of a call to action to get your users to engage with it, it doesn’t have to be a flashing neon sign.
The eye-tracking shows how the user missed the large banner at the top of the page, and instead was drawn to the content underneath.
2. Consider how buttons display visual hierarchy
While you may wish to try and incorporate company colours as much as possible on a website, it is important to consider the consequences of these actions.
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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have today published their final report, which highlights changes needed to ensure customers are not paying more than they should and can benefit from all services.
“Open Banking will enable personal customers and small businesses to share their data securely with other banks and with third parties, enabling them to manage their accounts with multiple providers through a single digital ‘app’, to take more control of their funds.”
Amongst other measures, one huge change from this is that all banks have to implement open banking by 2018. As a UX Practitioner many questions come to mind:
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