Archive for the ‘News’ Category
As the election date looms, the political parties of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are locked in a fierce battle of wills to gather support and win the favour of the public.
In an increasingly digital world, websites and social media pages are becoming the major touchpoints between the parties and the people, so it is critical to provide a user-friendly and engaging online presence. As such, we decided to turn a critical eye to the web experience of the major players in this years’ elections.
Looking at the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP, we assessed and analysed the websites for each party on their usability and overall user experience. At this stage in the year, visitors to the site may be looking to connect with the party, or contribute to the campaign; the tasks we tested the sites on included:
- Signing up for news updates
- Registering to volunteer with campaigns
- Connecting on social media
- Donating money to the party
- Joining or becoming a party member
By utilising our leading Online Experience Index, we were able to score each site on multiple facets of the user journey – including:
- Homepage & Design
- Flow & Layout
- Form & Errors
The Index allowed us to rate the site on various aspects, with points being awarded for usability, and penalised where changes could be made to improve the experience. These individual ratings were weighted to give more credit to more vital site requirements, thus allowing us to quantify the overall usability of each facet of the site to compare between the parties.
NOVEMBER 2014 – Mobile phone provider sites
With the Online Experience Index, we aim to identify which ecommerce sites are leading the way in providing a powerful customer experience.
In May we reviewed appliance e-commerce sites and found variation in the levels of usability between the sites, as well as identifying some recurring trends and issues.
Following on from our review of appliance retail websites using our Online Experience Index, this report reviews the websites of five mobile phone providers: Three, EE, O2, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone. Reviews were performed in the week of 4th November 2014.
In addition to the main Index, we have also included scores for accessibility, and persuasion, emotion and trust (PET) techniques, to explore a broader scope of the online experience.
- Most websites presented their brand and purpose well, although there was room for improvement in navigation around the website.
- As expected for this sector which needs personal and banking information to purchase, the checkout process was lengthy and websites varied in how well they communicated what information was needed and why.
- Filters were generally well implemented for selecting phones, featuring a comprehensive range of criteria.
- Most websites offered a search function with search suggestions but there was room for improvement in presentation of search results.
- Use of PET techniques was low, with only two websites implementing several techniques in areas of social proof and trust.
- The holy grail – engaging content which drives sales
- We discuss examples from Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Winsor & Newton
The idea of combining content with commerce isn’t entirely new – almost every major high-street fashion retailer has some kind of editorial section of their site to feature the new trends. But recently, retailers have been finding more innovative ways of merging content and commerce to provide a more engaging customer experience.
At the 2014 Internet Retailing Conference, Waitrose showcased how they’re doing this. Alex Murray, Waitrose’s Web & Multichannel Development Manager said, “People don’t want to buy food – they want a nice meal.” It’s this concept that has inspired Waitrose to not only sell products to customers, but to help customers create the experience they’re looking to get through buying those products.
> Read more
Forget technologies like iBeacon and Oculus Rift, speakers at the 2014 Internet Retailing Conference were focused on more practical forms of innovation, notably around delivery and collection services. B&Q, Zalando, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Tesco and M&S all had something to say about this area.
Mark Lewis of John Lewis explained why it’s just as important as ever to be thinking about the delivery options made available to customers:
“Customers are finding that their online bit of their experience is pretty good now, but actually what happens after you leave the site or after you click the button to buy, is perhaps a bigger driver of how you feel about the overall experience.”
> Read more
“Our customers don’t think about ‘I shop at retail’, or ‘I shop online’… they just look at a brand.” – Mike Durbridge, B&Q.
“Customers no longer think about shopping in terms of multiple channels. For them, the whole shopping experience should be absolutely seamless and it should be absolutely holistic.” – Simon Belsham, Tesco.
“They shop with the brand. They don’t shop with any one channel.” – Mark Lewis, John Lewis.
We heard this idea echoed a lot at the 2014 Internet Retailing Conference, with speakers going on to talk about the user experience as ‘Multichannel’ or, more often, ‘Omnichannel’.
These terms became the buzzwords of IRC2014, but after listening to so many retailers talking about this, a few questions came to mind:
- What are the differences between the two?
- Do retailers understand the differences or are they jumping on the omni-channel bandwagon?
- Most importantly, what does this mean for the users?
We’re delighted that our client Aviva was recently recognised as Online Company of the Year 2014 in the FT Adviser Online Service Awards.
Congratulations to all at Aviva for their work and particularly Senior Platform Development Manager, Dave Roberts, who has kindly credited SimpleUsability’s behavioural research as a contributory factor.
Dave comments: “The work done by SimpleUsability greatly helped with the development of our new website and gave us unique insight into how financial advisers would work online. It was very important to get independent research at key points in the development process to verify our thinking and plans.
Many thanks to the team at Simple Usability for all their help and hard work with this.”
JUNE 2014 – Appliance ecommerce sites
With the Online Experience Index, we aim to identify which ecommerce sites are leading the way in providing a powerful customer experience.
In March we reviewed fashion e-commerce sites and found variation in the levels of usability between the sites, as well as identifying some recurring trends and issues.
Following on from March’s review of clothing retail websites, this report reviews the websites of four retailers of appliances: Appliances Online, Appliances Direct, Currys and Argos. Reviews were performed in the week of 19th May 2014.
In addition to the main Index, we have also included scores for accessibility, mobile and persuasion, emotion and trust (PET) techniques, to explore a broader scope of the online experience.
As expected in this mature, competitive sector, sites featured relevant and engaging content with detailed product information.
- There is room for improvement in the checkout, where forms need to improve.
- One retailer failed to have a mobile friendly site, and another had a site that annoyingly jumped between mobile and desktop layouts.
- Filters were generally well-implemented, featuring a comprehensive range of criteria.
- Shipping costs were communicated well on all sites, within the main user journey.
- All retailers used a range of PET techniques without overwhelming the customer.
We take huge pride in innovating and evolving our services in line with tech advances and client requirements, so when ASDA’s mobile innovation team approached us to gain insight into users’ experience of the new shopping list feature on the Grocery app, it was a great opportunity to combine two our proven methodologies, beMobile & beInstore.
The app can be used when planning their grocery shop and when actually shopping in-store. The feature allows users to create a shopping list, with added products automatically categorised by department.
There are a number of methods for adding products to the lists, such as a text search, a voice search and a bar code scanner. Users can tick products off their list when in store as well as add to their list as they shop, allowing them to keep a running total of the overall cost of their in store shop.
The focus of BeMobile is on the usability issues associated with mobile screen sizes, such as the size of selectable areas and gesture ambiguity. BeInstore’s attention, on the other hand, is focused towards customers’ in store experiences and their interactions with shelves, point of sale and packaging. Despite their obvious differences, both of these methodologies have two commonalities; they are both facilitated with use of the eye-tracking glasses, and they both, include in-depth retrospective interviews to gather participant’s feedback.
We ran one and a half hour sessions with participants who were recruited specifically due to their varying grocery shopping habits, use of apps and mixed behaviours in terms of how they prepare for their grocery shopping. Sessions began in our makeshift lab in the ASDA in store café, where participants used the app to create a shopping list for the shop they planned to conduct as part of the session.
We then sent participants into store to conduct their grocery shop, using the list created on the app in any way they wished. Back in the café, we conducted in-depth retrospective interviews by playing back participants eye tracking footage from both parts of the session to them as a prompt for them to verbalise their experiences.
Using our HD eye tracking glasses, we were able to precisely observe the participants’ view of the screen:
The sessions revealed numerous key findings about the feature’s ease of use when creating lists, such as uncovering difficulties with the process of actually adding products to a list and participants confidence as to whether products had been successfully added. Participants’ comments about the experience of using the app while shopping also provided valuable insight about how to improve the app with the in store environment in mind. We were also able to gather thought-provoking insight into participant’s expectations and understanding of the feature and the ways in which they see themselves using it to help facilitate their grocery shopping in the future. The ability to use the app to keep a running total of how much their in store shop would cost upon arriving at checkout was seen by participants as one of the main benefits of using the app to facilitate an in store shop.
Commenting on the project, Hannah Wallwork, Mobile Product Manager at ASDA, said: “SimpleUsability worked together with us to construct a unique methodology that combined lab based tasks with in store sessions, allowing us to gather powerful insights without the additional expense involved in running separate lab and in store sessions. The video evidence and recommendations allowed us to make immediate changes to improve overall usability of the app whilst fuelling further development around usage, positioning and functionality.”
Here, she recalls her first year in the UX Practitioner role. For anyone considering a career in behavioural research, we hope that this gives some insight into what’s involved and specifically what it’s like to work at SimpleUsability.
“I first heard about the User Experience Practitioner vacancy at SimpleUsability when I was busy working on the last pieces of assignments during my final year at university. At that point I hadn’t yet started applying for any graduate jobs, but felt that my time to find a suitable job was running out. I didn’t want an ordinary job; I wanted something different, something that I would enjoy doing every day of my post-graduate life. And when I stumbled upon this job, I knew. I knew that was the one. I knew that I needed to get it, whatever it took me.
I came from a psychology background, and I was always fascinated by anything where psychology could be applied. I completed the Psychology of Design module during my time at the University of Leeds and I loved it. The idea of using psychological principles to create better, more user-friendly products absorbed me. I had never even thought that such a job was available for graduates, never mind at a behavioural research consultancy using state of art eye-tracking methodology. So, of course I had to get it!
Since joining SimpleUsability in May 2013 I have never regretted that, and I still get extremely excited when a new project comes in. It’s a great place to work, and I don’t just mean our new incredible offices that we moved into just before Christmas. It’s the people that I work with, and the relaxing, friendly atmosphere. Even though I had to quickly get up to speed with the unique user testing methodology we use here, the team was always there to offer support with anything that I needed.
Teamwork is highly valued at SimpleUsability, perhaps not surprisingly, as it’s an integral part of pretty much everything that we do here. It’s also great to see our team grow continuously, because it’s an opportunity to meet even more like-minded people, who are passionate about user experience and research.
During this last year with the company, I have learnt a lot about user experience, user-centred design, usability testing, as well as eye tracking and how it could be used in the research. As a person who really enjoys conducting research and analysing data, I love the approach that SimpleUsability takes when working on any project. There is a lot of attention paid to every detail of the research, which is made evident through our bespoke in-house recruitment, carefully chosen methodology, high quality preparation for each project and superb training of the practitioners.
Take, for example, our post-task retrospective recall methodology that we use for our eye-tracking studies. Practitioners use carefully shaped tasks to let users do what they normally do on the websites while recording their eye gaze patterns. This allows us to observe real, non-interrupted behaviours that people naturally exhibit. The retrospective recall then ensures that practitioners ask only relevant questions when guiding users through the recording of their gaze replay. The wording of tasks and questions is designed to prevent leading users, so that their performance and answers are not biased by anything that the practitioner says. This approach to conducting the testing and taking into account all those little things resonates with me well, as this is exactly how I imagine carrying out scientific research which yields credible results. And SimpleUsability doesn’t just stop at this; there is a lot of care involved in the every aspect of the project’s timeline.
Although we do serious work as a consultancy, we are also always up for some fun! The time at SimpleUsability flies very fast, and this is because we try to make the most of it. Christmas party karaoke and a 10K charity run are some of those great moments that will be hard to forget, as well as collective drawing on the massive blackboards that we have in the new office corridor and our grand office move itself (several days of carrying stuff across the road!) followed by the fizz’n’gin party for our clients.
When you also know that your work benefits a lot of other people as they come to use websites, apps or advertising that you have helped to improve, it does make your day at work feel even better.
So, SimpleUsability has definitely changed the way I see work. It is that perfect job I was looking for to start my graduate career, allowing me to learn loads of new things whilst still using my Psychology degree knowledge and having fun on a day to day basis.”
Join SimpleUsability on Tuesday 17th June for a half day training session on mobile accessibility testing.
Jon Gibbins, Technical Director at DigInclusion, one of the UK’s leading accessibility consultancies, will present an introduction on testing standards for mobile platforms with some additional specific testing tips on iOS and Android platforms.
Jon will explore what tests are needed in addition to WCAG 2.0 guidelines and will discuss Ideas on UX personas to bring to life the testing results.
Who is the course suitable for?
The course is open to individuals from any type of organisation.
Attendees will know what tests are affected by mobile technology and the additional considerations separating this from standard desktop testing, for example, how to take screen shots or demonstrating issues identified for reporting.
This course will not go into detailed coded solutions but basic coding knowledge would be advantageous.
When? Tuesday 17th June, from 9am to 1pm
Where? SimpleUsability, 1st Floor, Marshall Mills, Leeds, LS11 9YJ
Cost £95 + VAT
How to book
There are only 12 places available. Please email email@example.com or call on 0113 350 8155 if you have any questions or would like to book.
More about DigInclusion
DigInclusion is about making the best use of digital technology, either directly or indirectly, to improve the lives and life chances of all citizens, particularly the most disadvantaged, and the places in which they live.