Archive for the ‘News’ Category
- 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.”
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“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.
In the light of the Heartbleed security discovery, thousands of people will be following advice to change their passwords on their favourite sites. However, while this may seem like a simple exercise, even some of the big names in social media and ecommerce make this standard user journey overly complicated.
Looking at seven of the websites identified as potential targets for the breach, we looked at how easy (or otherwise) the process of changing a password would be. The sites we focussed on were: Facebook, Yahoo!, Twitter, Google, Tumblr, eBay and Dropbox.
What we found overall was that sites made it difficult to understand how to get into account details, often as a result of using ambiguous icons. Sites also did not prioritise the password details from within account settings, and as a result it was difficult to find where to change the password amongst various other account options.
Facebook – Number of clicks to access: 3
Facebook falls down at the first hurdle, with an array of unclear icons, making it difficult for users to understand how to access their account settings.
However once the users have made it in their account settings, the ‘Edit’ option for the password details is clearly visible immediately on the page.
Overall findability score: 9/10 – Despite not being initially obvious which icons to select, once the user has found their account settings, they can see straightaway where to change their password.
Yahoo! – Number of clicks to access: 5
After clicking ‘Account settings’ from the Yahoo! homepage, users are taken to the Yahoo! profile landing page, rather than to their account details.
After clicking another ‘Account info’ link, and being prompted to sign in again, users are finally taken to a page where they can find a link to change their password, hidden amongst other account options.
Overall findability score: 2/10 – The journey to arrive at the account details page is far too complex, and may cause users to become lost along the way. Once users have accessed their account, change password is available on the page, but is still not clear or prioritised.
Twitter – Number of clicks to access: 3
While it is not initially clear which of the icons or options along the top relates to the users’ account, the use of the cog wheel icon implies that this is where the user can access settings or account details.
Upon arriving at the account settings page, the ‘Password’ option is clearly available from the left hand navigation, making it easy for users to quickly scan and find this option.
Overall findability score: 9/10 – While there is a little ambiguity in how to access account settings, users are able to quickly select the ‘Password’ option from the left hand navigation.
Google – Number of clicks to access: 4
Due to the distinction between Google+ and Gmail, as well as the inclusion of the ambiguous grid and bell icons, users may struggle to understand that they need to select their account profile image to access their global account settings.
Upon arriving at the account details page, the password information is hidden under the ‘Security’ tab at the top of the page, which is difficult to see at first glance. Additionally, the wording of ‘Security’ is not clear enough for users looking to change their password details.
Overall findability score: 4/10 – The ambiguity of how to access account settings form the homepage, in addition to hiding the option under the ambiguously named ‘security’ tab makes it difficult for users to navigate to change a password.
Tumblr – Number of clicks to access: 3
Users are presented with a number of icons on the Tumblr homepage, and it is not initially clear how users might be able to access their account. However, Tumblr has included a cog wheel icon, often understood to mean ‘settings’.
After clicking the cog wheel icon, users must then click on ‘Account’ at the right hand side of the page. This option is not immediately clear – and subtitled unhelpfully with ‘The essentials’. Upon clicking ‘Account’, the password field is able to be changed by clicking the pencil icon.
Overall findability score: 4/10 – Over reliance on icons makes it less clear where the user needs to click to access their account. In addition, the change password option is under a separate heading of ‘account’ after arriving on the settings page.
eBay – Number of clicks to access: 3
Upon arriving on eBay, it is relatively clear to click on the ‘Hi ’ option in the top left to open up account options. From here, the ‘Account settings’ option is self-explanatory.
After arriving on the ‘My account’ page, it is not clear where users need to click.
The ‘Personal information’ option on the right hand side takes users to the option to change their password.
Overall findability score: 6/10 – While it is very easy to understand how to access account details, the ‘Personal information’ option is not worded clearly to indicate that users can change vital information relating to their account.
Dropbox – Number of clicks to access: 4
From the main page on Dropbox, it is clearly indicated with an arrow that users need to click on the username in the top right to access options relating to the user account.
From the ‘Settings’ page, users must click into the ‘Security’ tab in order to access their password information. The wording of this option is straightforward, however users may be unsure which of the three tabs – ‘Profile’, ‘Account’ or ‘Security’ – they will find password information.
Overall findability score: 7/10 – Although it is very easy to get onto the ‘Settings’ page for an account, it is less clear which of the tabs on the page will allow the user to change their password, due to the general wording of the ‘Account’ and ‘Security’ tabs.
While the simple act of changing your password is a common objective for users, this analysis highlights that this is made needlessly complicated on a number of popular sites.
Of the sites we analysed, Facebook and Twitter came out on top, each scoring 9/10 for ease of changing a password. The worst sites in this review were Yahoo!, scoring only 2/10, and Google and Tumblr, who tied with 4/10.
Common pitfalls on the sites included over-reliance on icons which are ambiguous and do not help users understand how to access their account settings. Additionally, most sites failed to prioritise the ‘Change password’ feature within the account settings, meaning users must hunt to find this option amongst other, less important choices.
|# Clicks to change password screen||Overall findability score|
March 2014 – Fashion ecommerce sites
Understanding, measuring and improving the customer experience is a pretty fundamental part of everything we do at SimpleUsability.
Whether we’re working on competitor/comparator testing at the start of a project, multi-platform testing across a number of devices, or an expert review, our research and the resulting recommendations help our clients to improve their customer experience and benefit from the associated commercial gains around improved conversion or internal cost savings.
Whilst usability or accessibility scales are common place, our intention with the Online Experience Index is to apply 30+ years of combined user experience knowledge to benchmark the overall user experience within specific ecommerce verticals and identify who is leading the way in delivering a powerful customer experience.
We report here a review of clothing retail websites Marks & Spencer, Hobbs, Karen Millen, French Connection, Boden, Oasis and Fat Face. Reviews were performed in the week of 10 March 2014.
- Most sites communicated their brand and purpose of website well
- The main navigation was clear and descriptive on most sites
- Few provided support for search or clearly indicated the order of search results
- Product pages were comprehensive and pricing clearly indicated
- Most sites supported customers through the checkout process well, however, few allowed users to make a purchase without setting up an account
In order to score each site’s overall experience rating, a panel of expert UX professionals assessed the site in the context of a core user journey of browsing and purchasing an item.
The examiners rated the site on over 120 key touchpoints, which were tailored to provide a thorough, representative picture of the user experience. These were systematically weighted to denote the relative importance of each individual aspect of the site, and were designed to span multiple facets of the user journey, including homepage, navigation, search and product pages, as well as the flow and usability of the checkout process. From this, an individual rating was able to be drawn up for each facet, based on the overall usability.
In order to emulate a naturalistic user experience, examiners conducted the review whilst undertaking the task of browsing for and selecting items for an outfit, and proceeded to purchase these items as a new customer to that online brand.
The Index, by facet
Considering each facet of the user journey in turn, we found a variation of design usability across the websites that is highlighted through their individual ratings. The following diagrams illustrate the best and worst individual ratings by facet of the user journey.
The homepage announces the brand identity and the purpose of the website. Most of the sites in this review did this well, with the identity in the header and purpose of the website clearly shown above the fold. One site, French Connection, did something different. Their identity is dropped to the footer where it might be missed by users familiar with finding the logo and identity in the header.
In general navigation was done well in these sites, using a top level menu in the header with drop downs for the sub categories. The labelling was clear and descriptive with few examples of jargon. All sites honoured the back-button and most made good use of breadcrumbs to help locate users and provide additional navigational routes.
Sites should, however, take care that navigation is clear and distinctive from other elements of the site. For example, the header on Hobbs crowds the main navigation menu with the search, basket and sign in elements that may overwhelm and confuse users. One site, Fat Face, used an innovative form of navigation that may confuse users new to the site.
All site provided a search function for users and on most sites this was easy to find in or close to the header. Few sites, however, offered search prompts to help users type in search terms and few offered suggestions for spelling mistakes or zero results sets.
In general search results were displayed in a similar layout to product listings, enabling users to interact with them in a familiar way. However, it was not always clear what order results were displayed in or how many results were available. French Connection, for example, displays a count of results much higher than the number of items displayed and obscures the function to sort the results under the Filter link so the casual user may be very confused.
Most sites provided well organised filters that enabled users to narrow their results within several categories. For some sites, for example Karen Millen and French Connection, features within the filters were displayed with very low contrast that may cause problems for users with visual impairments.
In general the sites broke down the process into several stages and clearly indicated the stages up front. Most also allowed users to move backwards and forwards in the stages to enable them to make changes. Few sites allowed users to make a purchase as a guest, so unlike buying from a high street store, the user was forced to set up an account with the site to make a purchase.
The Index visualisations
The following diagrams draw together the individual ratings to visualise, by retailer, the user experience across all facets of the user journey.
Total index score: 80%
Total index score: 78%
Total index score: 74%
Total index score: 81%
Total index score: 72%
Total index score: 83%
Marks & Spencer
Total index score: 86%
Watch out for our next online experience index which will have some new features including; persuasion centred design and scores based on the mobile experience.
We’ll be adapting our index to add sector specific questions and omit areas of the index that are not as relevant depending on the subject that we are reviewing.
Our plan is to target particular categories and topics moving forward. We’ll be looking at how well department stores are bringing multiple department shopping experience to end customers, and looking at specific categories such as shoes and younger fashion.