When we think back, HMA has been pushing the boundaries of the possible for over 18 years – with a focus on releasing potential without creating new problems.
Whatever trends come and go in marketing, I always understood that Marketing is about putting the market (i.e. the customer) at the heart of an organisation; that the quickest route to success was fulfilling customer need; a simple process of keeping in touch through research or direct feedback was enough.
Digital trends are always evolving; as technology progresses, new ideas catch on and old ones fall by the wayside. Websites have to keep up with demanding user expectations…but not every change that’s made can be called an improvement. As a redesign becomes necessary, it’s easy to botch the User Experience.
The concept of User Experience is fundamentally about making a Website or App easy to use, valuable and effective for visitors, through better insight. A user-centered approach aims to optimise how users can, want, or need to use the website or app rather than forcing the users to change their behaviour to accommodate the organisations, often disjointed, approach.
Let’s get back to basics; here are some simple User Experience 101 techniques that will reap greater understanding and commercial rewards.
- “We have lots of high-value content but users can’t find it.”
Card Sorting is great when you have lots of content that you need to categorise and organise. Card Sorting is particularly useful for defining the way users may navigate through a Website or App, how people group items, what’s important and what is not, so you maximise the probability of users being able to find items. It also identifies items that are likely to be difficult because of terminology that is likely to be misunderstood. Try it, it’s easy and cheap to conduct and gives ‘real people’ insight.
- “We are starting from the beginning and want to get it right.”
User Scenarios are appropriate whenever you need to get under the skin of a Website or App’s service from a user’s perspective. They help everyone understand the user and their needs. They are particularly useful when you need to remove lack of knowledge or assumptions to open up design possibilities, or when you need to ensure that other constraints do not override the basic need for usability. Scenarios describe interactions, can be understood by people who do not have any technical background, and look at who the user is, what they are trying to achieve, how they might go about out and what do they need to complete their goal.
- “We need to improve conversion rates for a key bit of functionality.”
Usability Testing is a clever technique for ensuring that intended users can carry out the intended tasks efficiently, effectively and satisfactorily. It does this by watching them do it and reporting back on the constraints. Usability testing can be carried out at various stages of the design process. Observers should ideally be in a separate observation room, so they don’t influence outcomes but get to see the ‘real world’ usability challenges.
In the fifteen years that I have been working with blue-chip brands, no single issue has affected the bottom-line more than poor user experience. Often, an investment has been made in a redesign, without adequate thought about the user, due to time or budget constraints. The profit that can fall out from a small improvement over the long-term greatly outweighs the small short-term investment in getting it right.