Don’t make me think!
The number one most useful concept that I have learned and will apply in the future, is not to make online users think more than they have to. Layout and navigation should be obvious and sticking to standard conventions is the best bet. A website has only seconds to draw the user in and if they have to work too hard to acquire information for little or no benefit they will leave and more than likely they won’t be back. Patience is no virtue to online web users and this fact needs to be kept in perspective while creating a site.
Usability Trumps Design
This is a really important concept to keep in mind when designing a site. Although design is important to raise interest, promote a brand and evoke a feelings it is beneficial to think of the design as secondary to the actual use and goals of the site. There are examples where sites have been more focused on the visual pleasure that the purpose of the site has been overlooked. This can cause confusion and frustration for a user and if that’s the case the last thing they care about is how nice it looks. Being overly creative in design elements can lose potential customers and clients. A successful site must be both visually pleasing and user friendly and the balance of both is an art.
My Bad Habits
I know I have a lot of bad habits when I am online, for example I have no patience. I skim, I skip, I click, click away, I speed scroll…What I have learned is that these bad habits of not being able to focus on something for more than 3 seconds before changing my mind or being bored, are actually the majority of online users. This at first was shocking, then comforting. Im not alone! Knowing this makes it even more valuable to cater to users who don’t have the time or patience to spend reading long paragraphs of text or locating information. By being clear, concise and breaking up long text with headings, subheadings and highlighting strong points will draw in and keep a user longer.
This last week we had the opportunity to facilitate our own usability tests with a peer.
After all that we have studied through the course work, it was time to apply it. For me, the experience was fun, and although I felt prepared and organized, I was also a bit nervous. As a facilitator it is hard not to help and point the user in the right direction in order to complete tasks. In order to gain measurable results in a usability test there are many steps and preparedness that you must have prior to testing, its is art.
How to Test I recently read an article featured on Nomat that clearly identified the ways to facilitate and conduct a usability test. The introduction explains that although facilitating a usability test is not difficult there are differences between good and bad tests. These differences will have a direct affect on the validity and the effectiveness of your ending test results. Although not “difficult” the article encourages practice in testing and mastering the “art” may take years.
The ART The article lists and identifies very real circumstances in which you will run into while testing and explains how best to handle them. Starting with a well written prepared script to explain the process to the test participants. By explaining what is expected and getting to know the tester it will build a mutual trust.Clearly state boundaries and expectations. Deflect questions, resist the urge to lead the participant in any direction. Become comfortable in silence, as it is necessary to avoid cross talk or encouragement in either direction. And lastly listen to what the test participant says, repeat what they have said to make sure you have understood what it is they are trying to say.
This was a really good article and it stream line the most important and valuable information concerning usability testing in a very straight forward and supportive way.
Usability test facilitation: 6 key skills. (2014, October 08). Retrieved March 04, 2017, from http://www.nomat.com.au/usability-test-facilitation/
When conducting a usability test it is important to have a clear list of tasks for the user to execute. These tasks should be the same as what the site’s typical users would encounter. Then, you will need to clearly define the ways to measure the success of those tasks.
There are several ways that you can conduct a usability test moderated in person and moderated remote are two. The facilitator is often watching the test user as they perform the given tasks. The tester can speak aloud as they navigate the site and make decisions in order for the facilitator to understand the process in which the user is going through. The facilitator will note where the test user gets confused or chooses the wrong option due to labeling, design elements etc. This allows the facilitator to both see and hear the task completion.
In addition to the facilitator watching and taking notes there are also tools that can be utilized in web testing, such as eye tracking software. This type of tool helps to understand where the users are looking at the screen in comparison to where they click. They are similar but not the same. Data may also be collected by the number of clicks to complete a task or the time it takes to complete specific tasks.
The data taken from multiple users can then be assessed as a whole for example 4 out of 5 users were unable to locate the shopping cart. This would be an issue that would need to be addressed. It is important for the facilitator not to help or guide the user while testing.
There are dozens of ways to recruit test users, ask friends, co-workers or classmates. You could take out an ad on Craig’s List (or something similar) You could entice recruits with cash or a gift card… I would just beg my closest friends.
When the test users arrive I would explain that they are there to participate in testing a web site. Their purpose is to help identify problem areas within the site and that they are not being tested, the site is. The more honest and candid information they are able to provide about the experience, the better the site will become. And hey I’ll buy the pizza!
What do you do when you come to a dead end? What if you were a web designer who was dedicated to making a user friendly site for a client, who was unwilling to fix the issues that you find necessary to achieve the intended goals?
Do you turn back? Fight your way through it? Kick, scream and cry until someone hears you? Probably not. But what are the options to deal with a situation like this?
On one hand the client has hired you because they needed you and your expertise, they are paying you for a completed project. You pride yourself on the quality work you provide, this could potentially harm your reputation. At the very least leave a bad impression of the level of work you provide. One the other hand you could just drop it and move on and write it off as their problem, and this maybe the only option you are left with.
Explain and remind your client that the project is important to both of you. The client hired you because they had an ultimate goal that they wanted to achieve for their business website. To leave it “unfinished” or neglecting to resolve fixable issues that you are both aware of does not leave either of you in a positive or competent position. This would be a good time to mention the importance of a clearly outlined contract that you and the client have agreed upon prior to starting any work. A contract binds both of you to the responsibilities and expectations that have been agreed for a specific project. It will protect both you and your client not to mention the project that you both have a common interest in making successful.
Attracting, gaining and keeping clients its kinda important. Let’s face it, clients and customers are the life of your business and it depends on them, heavily. I have chosen to look at the e-commerce business based in Seattle, Zulily.
Zulily is known for their minimal marketing efforts. You won’t see commercials on T.V. or billboard ads while driving cross country. Instead you will see them almost daily in your news feed on social media mainly Facebook. I suppose this approach has been successful to their business because this is the route they still take.
Zulily is using social media to attract their target market women and mothers between 25-45 years old. Zulily spends their marketing efforts and budget, marketing to past customers. By sending e-mail newsletters daily to notify them of the newest sales and items available. This is great use of e-mail newsletters but not an efficient way to gain new customers.
When you visit the Zulily site you are required to start an account by entering your e-mail address. This is not a very good way to gain new customers, most people don’t like having to provide information without getting something out of it. I would suggest that the Zulily allow users to browse first and possibly require an e-mail address at check-out instead.
If they were to continue requiring the e-mail in order to enter the site they should offer an incentive to do so. My suggestion would be to have an option to provide email and when you do you receive $5.00 off your first purchase.
Additionally, Zulily has a referral page, where you can send an invite to a friend, so they can check out the site. I think they should also implement some sort of incentive to do so, for example you and your friend get free shipping on $50.00 purchase.
I believe by making it worth while they will gain customers and loyalty. People will feel like they got something out of it and will be more likely to refer friends and make more purchases. Unfortunately I believe they are missing out on potential customers because they are asking customers to give them something for nothing. Its a turn off.
Zulily’s got style, you can’t deny it. If you don’t know of them you surely will! They have an impressive marketing strategy that is working to build their growing brand. Zulily is based out of Seattle, Washington. They do not have a personal brand and instead they sell other brands to a target market of women and mothers. Including clothing, accessories, baby and children items, as well as items for the home.
Zulily is made of humans, and they want you to know that. Instead of spending a large portion of the marketing budget on ads, they prefer to connect directly with their customers through e-mail, offering that day’s deals and flash sales. They find this to be more personal and effective in their overall marketing efforts. In this article they explain as introducing yourself to a stranger and exchanging phone numbers and making plans to meet up later. This is the concept that they implement when reaching out through e-mail. Those that are signed up receive notice and best deals first.
Zulily believes strongly in the brand they have created. From marketing to employees they live and “breathe” the brand. They focus on having fun and spreading that carefree attitude in the name of Zulily. On the Zulily site there is a link to their blog, where they offer tips, and style advice, as well as post pictures of happy Zulily customers and families. You can also find information explaining that they at Zulily are partnering with local Seattle children’s cancer research efforts. A charitable organization like this, is something that Zulily’s customers can find comfort in and also support the cause.
Zulily, unlike other companies does not have a shelved stock of items waiting to be shipped out. Instead Zulily features a number of specific hand picked brands and items marketing them accordingly. How they stay consistent in their own brand, is by taking their own photos of each and every product they offer on their site. By doing this they maintain consistency to their own Zulily style and it promotes the brand’s quality.
Do you remember how much fun it was to run through a corn maze? Running and weaving this way and that way. Then with excitement (because you knew you were on the right track) you would turn one way just to come to a dead end. You’d squeal and laugh and run in the opposite direction to find your way back. This was fun! I still have fun in the fall running through the tall corn stalks with my son. But I’m not talking about a fun corn maze, Pumpkin.
Back to Start
What’s not fun, and pretty frustrating is when you are navigating through a site in search of a specific location on “said” site and you are following all the signs that say this way… that way… Clicking with confidence just to make that last click to not a dead end… BUT worse! Back to where you started! Oh, I feel so tricked. The time, the patience, to not even get a consolation prize. Now I won’t say which exact sites I run into this most often, but I will give you a hint. They are government sites. These! Where you expect to get the answers you need. (I don’t just hang out on these sites for fun people) I’m on a mission. I want answers. NoGo. What would be really great, instead of leading me down a rabbit hole to nowhere; would be to simply give me a message that says I can’t have what I want. “Your search does not exist.” An error message or possibly offer an alternate suggestion, or better yet a direct line to a contact.
Don’t Get Me Started
Do you ever land on a site and just as you are getting acquainted with the site’s main page within 20 seconds a big pop-up box lands in front of everything and demands that you enter your e-mail and start an account? What? I don’t even to get to browse? I can’t window shop? I am literally being blocked at the door by a bully bouncer. Arms crossed, he doesn’t have time for my excuses, I’m not getting in until I give him my ID. Or in this case my e-mail address and a super secret password of my choosing. I have a solution for sites that do this, just don’t. No one wants to be forced to commit to anything, I’ll join your fancy club when I’m good and ready, but first show me the goods.