Boagworld – User Experience Advice Advice on user experience design and digital strategy from Paul Boag Fri, 24 May 2019 13:08:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Advice on user experience design and digital strategy from Paul Boag Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean Advice on user experience design and digital strategy from Paul Boag Boagworld – User Experience Advice How to Collaborate in a Distributed Team Tue, 21 May 2019 11:00:34 +0000 0 <p>The biggest challenge for distributed teams lies in communication and collaboration. Fortunately, there are approaches that can help.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Collaborate in a Distributed Team</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> This post is sponsored by: Standuply

A reoccurring theme as I mentor digital team leads, both in agencies and in-house, is managing distributed teams. Some leaders are nervous about the whole idea, while others have embraced them only to face problems.

After 13 years of managing a distributed company, I can tell you categorically that managing remote teams is challenging.

Going in, many people think the biggest problem will be productivity. That people will slack off and work won’t get done. Not once have I seen that be the case. Instead, the problem lies in collaboration. It is hard to work effectively together when you are not working face to face.

Nothing beats the results you get from putting a group of people with diverse skills into a room together. That is especially true in the initial stages of a project when you are prototyping and setting direction.

However, despite the limitations of distributed teams, they are becoming increasingly popular and with good reason.

Why Even Consider a Distributed Team?

There are many advantages to building a distributed team from lower costs to boosting staff morale.

However, the biggest advantage of remote working is that you will be able to build a higher quality team. There are two reasons for this.

First, without the restrictions of geography, you will have a much larger pool of candidates. You can focus on hiring the right person, not just somebody within commuting distance.

Second, a lot of potential employees want the flexibility of remote working, especially among the newer generation of workers. That makes distributed teams attractive to many people.

Remote working is particularly appealing to the next generation of workers and has been shown to significantly improve stress levels and quality of life.

Another advantage of distributed teams is that you often find them more productive, especially when people are mainly working by themselves.

In this kind of environment interruptions are often much rarer and communication more considered. That enables a more focused working environment where people tend to get more done when working on tasks that need less collaboration.

However, for a distributed team to work well, this challenge of collaborative working has to be carefully managed, and that starts with clear and regular communication.

Clear, and Regular Communication Is Critical

One of the biggest problems of distributed working is a lack of visibility between different people’s work. Take a typical designer/developer working relationship.

In an office environment, it is not uncommon to hear heated discussions between designers and developers over the best approach. A designer will regularly comment on how a developer is implementing their design. Equally a developer will warn a designer against some decisions at an early stage because they are aware of the development costs.

These ongoing discussions about each other’s work avoid time-consuming mistakes and aids understanding of each others role.

The need to understand what your colleagues do cannot be under-estimated, and that only comes with contact. Take for example a salesperson. What exactly do they do all day? It is easy to devalue a role we do not understand, and that can lead to resentment.

Without daily contact with those in other roles it is easy to see them as the enemy.

Without rubbing shoulders with those in other roles and seeing them in action, it is easy to come to see them as the enemy, rather than a part of your team.

To combat these problems we need to ensure our distributed team has a clear view of each other’s work and understand what each other does.

That is where things like daily standups, retrospective meetings and more become invaluable. However, those casual interactions are just as important to team building. Never underestimate the importance of sharing silly jokes and pointless memes!

But how do you practically run standups remotely? How do you encourage a similar level of casual interaction and exposure to colleagues that you see in an office? The answer lies in having the right tools.

The Right Tools Are Essential

Fortunately, alongside the growth in distributed working has come an explosion of high-quality communication tools for these teams.

There are now collaboration tools for almost any role.

  • Designers have tools like Invision for collaborating on design with each other, developers and stakeholders.
  • Developers have web repositories like Git Hub for sharing and working on code.
  • Content specialists can make use of web apps like Gather Content for collating and writing content.
  • Sales teams have CRMs like Pipedrive for managing customer relationships.

The list goes on.

However, the stand out tool within many distributed team is Slack. Slack has shot to dominance as the primary communication tool for remote workers with over 8 million active users and 70,000 organizations actively paying for the service.

Slack has become the definitive communication tool for many distributed teams.

What makes slack such a crucial tool for distributed teams is its flexibility. No matter how your team communicates or interacts, it seems to be able to accommodate it, mainly thanks to the vast number of applications that integrate with it.

Take for example the daily standup. Standups are an excellent tool for:

  • Encouraging interaction between remote team members.
  • Increasing team members understanding of what colleagues do.
  • Removing obstacles that prevent people from getting work done.
  • Improve people’s view of the broader work the team is doing.

However, standups can quickly feel impossible with a distributed team. Even face-to-face they can become cumbersome if poorly managed.

Fortunately Slack can provide an excellent platform for managing digital standups. That is because the standups can be much more focused and run asynchronously, so avoiding cutting into people’s productivity and time zone issues.

Standuply integrates with Slack allowing for improved team communication.

Slack standups can be even better when supported by an app like Standuply. This application integrates with Slack and allows you to schedule and structure your standups automatically. It also allows people to respond to questions using video so improving the personal interactions missing from distributed teams.

However, I have to say that no clever app will entirely replace the visceral experience of face-to-face team events.

Face-To-Face Still Matters

Face-to-face meetings are always going to be necessary, even if you run a distributed team. They are not something that you should ignore.

As I wrote at the start of this article, some things are just better done in person, such as the initial collaboration required to set the direction of a project. Although it is possible to do this remotely, things will move faster in those early stages when they happen face-to-face.

However, although you could, in theory, skip in-person meetings for projects, you cannot afford to do that entirely for your team. Meeting in person is crucial for team building even if it only happens periodically.

If you look at any successful distributed company, they still regularly get together for team events. It is at these events that working relationships are cemented and company culture shaped.

In terms of how often that needs to happen. Well, that depends on how distributed your team is and the associated cost implications. The simple answer is that you need to bring the whole team together as often as you can. That is especially true when only some of your team works remotely.

A Distributed Team Is an All or Nothing Affair

Earlier I said I ran a remote team for 13 years. That is not to say the entire team worked remotely. We did have an office too. However, I would still call us a distributed company because if one person is working remotely, you have to treat it like everybody is.

It is all too easy for remote members of staff to feel like second class employees. They can be left out of the loop, unaware of what is happening in the broader business. They can also be frustrated in their work by poor communication from team members.

All of this means that if you decide to take on remote workers, you need to be structured in such a way that your entire working practices support this approach. There are no half measures with remote working.

Distributed Teams Are Both a Blessing and A Curse

I have seen a lot written on distributed teams that either paint it as a curse that destroys company culture or as a revolutionary disruption to existing business practices. The truth is that it is somewhere in between.

Like so many things distributed teams can be both good and bad. They help in some ways and hinder in others. Whether you adopt remote working is up to you.

However, if you do, then I would encourage you to think long and hard about the tools you put in place and in particular how you encourage excellent communication and collaboration.

If you get that right, then you can end up with a world class team that would be almost impossible to build otherwise.

Stock Photos from De Repente/Shutterstock

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The post How to Collaborate in a Distributed Team appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

The biggest challenge for distributed teams lies in communication and collaboration. Fortunately, there are approaches that can help. The biggest challenge for distributed teams lies in communication and collaboration. Fortunately, there are approaches that can help. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 8:55
Javascript Popups – How To Use Them for Long Term Success Tue, 07 May 2019 11:00:16 +0000 0 <p>So you are thinking of adding a javascript popup to your website. Before you do, think carefully about the consequences.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Javascript Popups – How To Use Them for Long Term Success</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> The web is riddled with javascript popups these days. The default response if we want users to do something is to show an overlay with some attention-grabbing call to action. However, this can come at a cost.

In this post, we will explore that cost and then break down when it is safe and not so safe to use popups.

The web is overwhelmed with Javascript Popups that come in all shapes and sizes.
The web is overwhelmed with Javascript Popups that come in all shapes and sizes as is demonstrated by the array of popups offered by OptinMonster.

The Consequences of using javascript popups badly

You only need to look at your analytics after installing a popup to see they work. They will increase your newsletter sign-ups, app downloads or whatever call to action you promote. But that isn’t the whole picture.

Like dark patterns, popups may improve things in the short term, but it can come at a long term cost. Your analytics do not show the level of irritation that popups can cause users. Anger that reduces their likelihood to return to your site regularly and which alienate some people entirely.

Of course, this kind of irritation is hard to track. There is not always a direct causal relationship between reduced dwell time, page views and return traffic, so people don’t realise that popups can be at least partly responsible.

However, if you run qualitative research such as usability testing, you will quickly see just how annoyed users can become when having to dismiss popups.

Not that every management team cares about alienating users. However, they should. In the long term, this can reduce lifetime value, word of mouth recommendations and repeat business.

Admittedly javascript popups will probably not do this alone, but together with other usability hurdles, it can contribute to overall cognitive load and frustration.

So when precisely should we avoid using Javascript popups?

When you should avoid using a javascript popup

Not all popups are bad. Everything has its place. However, the majority of popups I see online are nothing more than an irritant to most users.

The three biggest culprits are:

The three most pervasive types of javascript popups are a newsletter sign up overlays, requests to send push notifications and privacy messages.
The three most pervasive types of javascript popups are a newsletter sign up overlays, requests to send push notifications and privacy messages.

Like most popups these three culprits share specific characteristics that users find particularly annoying.

Javascript Popups Distract

For a start, they are a distraction from what the user is trying to achieve. Users rarely visit a website to signup for a newsletter, read a privacy policy or even download an app (they usually go to an App Store for that).

Javascript Popups Take Up Valuable Real Estate

Then there is the fact that javascript popups take up valuable screen real estate especially on mobile devices, often obscuring other more important screen elements.

Javascript Popups can be particularly damaging on mobile where screen real estate is limited and dismissing overlays can be difficult.
Javascript Popups can be particularly damaging on mobile where screen real estate is limited and dismissing overlays can be difficult.

Javascript Popups are often hard to dismiss

The worst culprit of all is the full-screen javascript popup that the user is unable to exit from without clicking a specific button they need to find. It is even becoming increasingly common to label these buttons in such a way as to discourage dismissing the popup. Psychological manipulation such as “No I don’t want this amazing deal” or “No, I am happy being ignorant”.

A growing number of websites resort to manipulative copy to stop people cancelling popup notifications.
A growing number of websites resort to manipulative copy to stop people cancelling popup notifications.

Do not misunderstand me. Not all popups are bad. There are times when they are precisely the right solution.

When javascript popups might be the right solution

Like most things in life, there is a time and place for javascript popups. I often use them myself. However, I do have one rule I live by when it comes to using javascript popups. I only use them if they are either triggered by the user or I am sure the user has finished whatever task they came to do.

For example, if I want to promote a newsletter or some other call to action, I wait until the user has either completed their main task (such as making a purchase) or until they go to leave the website (known as exit intent).

But javascript popups don’t just have to be used for promotional purposes. There are many more user-friendly reasons to embrace them.

Javascript Popups can remove complexity

One of the most common reasons I use javascript popups is to reduce complexity by hiding secondary information in a popup that is only displayed when the user requests that information. An excellent example of this is a popup that shows when a user requests information about a companies return policy during check out.

Javascript popups can be used to display additional information for those who wish to view it without adding complexity for others.
Javascript popups can be used to display additional information for those who wish to view it without adding complexity for others.

A javascript popup allows us to provide additional information to those who are interested without taking them out of the checkout. But it does so without distracting those who are not interested in that information.

Javascript popups can communicate critical information

Javascript popups can also be useful in informing users about critical information that they should not ignore. An example of this would be a declined credit card or validation error when a form is submitted.

A popup can be used to comminicate important information or actions that users must take. We are familiar with this apoproach from how our operating systems work.
A popup can be used to comminicate important information or actions that users must take. We are familiar with this apoproach from how our operating systems work.

Not that javascript popups are the only way of achieving these things. Often, a popup is not the best way of grabbing users attention.

Alternatives to Javascript popups

The problem is that users have learnt that most javascript popups are nothing but advertising or cookie notifications. As a result, they often close them without even fully processing what they say. That means if the information is essential, a javascript popup might not be the most sensible choice.

Often a well-designed call to action or message within the body of content can be just as powerful as a javascript popup. If surrounded with adequate negative space and designed to be eye-catching, an inline message can often perform as well as a javascript popup without being anywhere near as irritating.

Adding negative space around a call to action increases its visibility and reduces the need for a popup to grab attention.
Adding negative space around a call to action increases its visibility and reduces the need for a popup to grab attention.

That is especially true when the message makes use of subtle animation to draw attention. However, as with javascript popups themselves, it is easy for this to be done badly and become irritating.

In short, although javascript popups have their place, we often over-rely on them when other options are available that are just as eye-catching.

Javascript Popups are not all bad, but they are overused.

Javascript popups are the user interface equivalent of shouting at people. They get attention, but they annoy. A great orator doesn’t need to shout to get people’s attention, and a great designer doesn’t need to resort to javascript popups in most situations.

The reason javascript popups are so prevalent isn’t that they are the best solution or even work the best. They are popular because they are simple and require little skill. So next time you are tempted to resort to a javascript popup, ask yourself whether a more nuanced approach might do the job better.

The post Javascript Popups – How To Use Them for Long Term Success appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

So you are thinking of adding a javascript popup to your website. Before you do, think carefully about the consequences. So you are thinking of adding a javascript popup to your website. Before you do, think carefully about the consequences. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 6:47
How to Design a More Effortless User Experience Mon, 29 Apr 2019 23:00:00 +0000 0 <p>We are all aiming to make the experience of our users feel effortless, but is there more that we could be doing if we stopped to think about it?</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Design a More Effortless User Experience</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> This post contains affiliate links

We have made huge strides over the last few years in user experience design. There is an increasing acceptance that the key to business success in a digital world is to provide an outstanding customer experience. Companies understand that time poor customers are unwilling to put up with painful interactions and will abandon sites if the experience they provide is not effortless.

We have seen the rise of usability testing and user research. Books like “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug have gone from a plead on behalf of the customer to the mantra of most teams who are responsible for the user experience.

Don't Make Me Think has become a mantra for today's user experience designers.
Don’t Make Me Think has become a mantra for today’s user experience designers.

Yes, we still have our battles. Our clients and management can often be distracted by cost savings over long term growth. We still see short term conversion targets undermining long term customer retention.

But although we still find ourselves battling over the tactical implementation of user experience design best practice, most accept the need to prioritise the user experience.

So where does that leave us? Is our job done? Has the war been won?

Challenge the Existing Thinking

I would argue that we are only just getting started. Unfortunately, most of us who work in the field, do not necessarily realise just how much further we have to go. The experience we have created, even at its best, isn’t half as effortless as we like to think.

Take for example something as simple as logging into a website, app or system. As user experience designers we have fought hard to make the process more painless. We allow users to show their passwords and have streamlined the process of recovering the password. We have even battled with I.T. to persuade them that the password complexity they demand for security reasons, isn’t always necessary.

An increasing number of sites allow you to view your password, but why should users have to enter a password at all.
An increasing number of sites allow you to view your password, but why should users have to enter a password at all.

However, I don’t think we have begun to solve the password problem. After all, we expect the user to remember a password for a system that they might only occasionally use. Even if they do use the system daily, why should they have to prove their identity and why should it require so much data entry? These are all still pain points.

Our problem is that we accept certain premises without ever challenging them. For instance, we blindly agree that the user has to enter a password. But why? Slack doesn’t require me to do so. They send me a link to my email address that I click.

Slack avoids the need to enter a password at all by emailing the address with which you registered. However, you still need to check and respond to the email.
Slack avoids the need to enter a password at all by emailing the address with which you registered. However, you still need to check and respond to the email.

But even they require the user to take action. Why can’t the system “just know” I’m me? Why do I need to prove myself? Think how much of your life is wasted typing in passwords. Now times that by billions of people. How many lifetimes are spent on that alone!

Take for example my favourite feature about the Apple Watch. As I approach my Mac, it will automatically unlock it. Because I have previously opened my watch, Apple presumes that I am still me and so unlocks my Mac. Why couldn’t a website do a similar thing?

An Apple Watch will automatically unlock your mac without the need to take any action.
An Apple Watch will automatically unlock your mac without the need to take any action.

Adopt a Don’t Make Me Act Mindset

What makes the Apple watch example so powerful is it requires nothing from me as a user. I don’t need to do a thing. It moves us beyond “Don’t Make Me Think” to “Don’t Make Me Act”. It is a new era where the system predicts and responds to the user.

My Apple Watch does that with my health too. It doesn’t ask me to continually check my heart rate to make sure I have no problems. Instead, it monitors it periodically, without me needing to do anything.

My HP Tango printer is the same, as I mentioned in a recent post about Smart Homes. I don’t need to order ink when the printer runs low. It just orders it for me automatically, and it turns up at the door.

My printer no longer requires me to order ink when it runs low. It orders it automatically.
My printer no longer requires me to order ink when it runs low. It orders it automatically.

Or what about my budgeting software. Once upon a time, I had to enter each transaction manually. Then, later, I could manually import transactions from my bank account. These days, I don’t do anything. They merely appear, added automatically.

A User Experience Designer Would Prefer to Avoid the Interface

That is the difference between a user interface designer and a user experience designer. The former designs interfaces, while the latter seeks to avoid them entirely

Sure, sometimes there are limits in our technology that prevents that happening. But other times it is just because nobody has thought to do it. Take for example my Nissan Leaf. It shows me on the dashboard the speed limit for the road I am driving on. It also has a speed limiter that I can use to set a maximum speed. However, instead of automatically setting the limit to match the speed limit, I am required to adjust it manually.

A Nissan Leaf knows the speed limit, but cannot match the speed limiter to it automatically. That requires constant adjustment to the speed limiter by the driver.
A Nissan Leaf knows the speed limit, but cannot match the speed limiter to it automatically. That requires constant adjustment to the speed limiter by the driver.

Yes, sometimes this will need fancy sensors and smart machine learning, but not always. Sometimes it is just about having sensible defaults.

Set Some Sensible Defaults

For example, how about defaulting a country dropdown menu to the most common selection, rather than making every single user make a selection. That way, people from that country wouldn’t need to do a thing.

What about unsubscribing to emails? We get excited when a company makes it easy to unsubscribe in a single click. But why should the user have to unsubscribe at all, when companies know a user hasn’t even opened one of their emails in six months?! It wouldn’t take much to merely unsubscribe them and send them an automatic email with the option to resubscribe if they so wish.

We could improve the experience of users and the quality of our mailing lists by automatically unsubscribing inactive users.
We could improve the experience of users and the quality of our mailing lists by automatically unsubscribing inactive users.

Notice that in the country selection and unsubscribe examples I give the user a way of overriding the automated action. I am not suggesting you take control away from users. Some users want to do something different or just like control. I am saying that you should automate as much as possible for the majority of users who simply want to get on with their day.

What Can You Do to Eliminate User Actions?

I could go on, but I am sure you get the idea. So, here is my challenge for you. Look at your website, app or whatever and ask yourself what you could do to automate user actions.

Stock Photos from JpegPhotographer/Shutterstock

The post How to Design a More Effortless User Experience appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

We are all aiming to make the experience of our users feel effortless, but is there more that we could be doing if we stopped to think about it? We are all aiming to make the experience of our users feel effortless, but is there more that we could be doing if we stopped to think about it? Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 6:50
How to Use Psychology the Right Way to Improve Conversion Tue, 23 Apr 2019 11:00:05 +0000 0 <p>If we understand how people make decisions, we can improve both the user experience and conversion rate of our websites.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Use Psychology the Right Way to Improve Conversion</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> Whether you are seeking to improve the user experience or boost your conversion rate, you need to know your audience better. You need to get inside their heads.

The primary way you achieve this is through user research, a topic I have written about extensively in the past. But, a basic understanding of psychology doesn’t hurt either.

In this post, I want to share with you just a few of the many interesting little quirks of human behaviour that can have a profound impact on how we make decisions online.

In this post we will look at how:

You see, we are not the rational, intellectual beings that we like to believe. In truth, our evolutionary roots still drive much of our decision making.

We have Brains Stuck in the Past

We share a lot more in common with our animal cousins than we like to think. The most ancient part of our brain, often known as the reptilian or primal brain, still drives much of our behaviour.

This primal brain has many fascinating features that impact our behaviour even in today’s modern world. Characteristics that we need to be aware of when designing websites intended to encourage action.

Jump back a few hundred thousand years, and you will find that the primal brain was crucial in our survival. It helped us assess danger and controlled our “fight or flight” response.

What is interesting is how it assesses danger. One of the techniques it uses is to judge whether something is familiar or unfamiliar.

We Fear the Unfamiliar

Everyday things tend to be safe and predictable, while strange things are potentially dangerous and so treated with suspicion.

That has ramifications as we create our websites. By ensuring our sites feel familiar, it feels safe.

Creating familiarity is a tricky balancing act. We could use it as an excuse to copy the competition or well-known sites like Amazon. However, that is an oversimplification.

Embracing familiarity doesn’t just mean copying Amazon or your competition.

Equally, we could use it to suggest that we should never redesign our site. It is true that a website redesign can create a sense of unfamiliarity, but that is sometimes needed to help shift users attitudes towards a company.

Instead, if we do a redesign, we need to do so with care, ensuring that there is a sense of familiarity with what went before and with other related sites.

We can also create a sense of familiarity with the experience itself. If your site behaves a certain way at one point, it should do so everywhere. Nothing is more disconcerting to the primal brain than shifts in layout or changes in navigational labelling.

But the way the primal brain assesses threats isn’t the only unusual characteristic it has. There is another aspect of its desire for self-preservation we should note. That is its desire to horde.

We have a desire to horde

The primal brain evolved in a world of scarcity and despite the fact we now live in a world of plenty hasn’t moved on. That is why we feel the discomfort of loss, twice as intently as the pleasure of gain. The primal brain fears losing something.

Unfortunately, when we ask people to act on our websites, we are almost always asking them to give up something. That might be something very apparent such as money, or something more abstract like personal data. In either case, the primal brain will be reluctant. We will have to work hard to demonstrate the overwhelming value they will get in return if we are going to avoid an adverse reaction from the primal brain.

One way of doing this is to focus on the benefits our products and services provide, not just the features. Listing features require us to think and make the leap to how that will help us. The primal brain doesn’t make connections like that. However, if we focus on listing the benefits a product has, then the primal brain feels less of a sense of loss.

For example, the Apple website doesn’t merely list the specs of its Macs. It talks about what those Macs allow people to do. That makes the value more evident to our lizard brains.

Apple talk about features (12 hours of battery life) as well as the benefits (working as long as you do).

Fortunately, there is one aspect of the primal brain that works in our favour; it is abysmal at planning.

You can see this in toddlers who rely more heavily on their primal brains. Offer a toddler one candy bar now, or two in an hour and they will almost always take the immediate reward.

From our perspective, as those seeking to encourage action, we can use this lack of planning to our advantage by delaying the cost of acting. For example, if you allow pre-ordering on your site, do not take payment until the product is released. You could even delay payment on immediately available products through financing or some other payment scheme. The primal brain will be less concerned about a future fee.

We Fail to Consider the Future

A great example of this is the “save more tomorrow” campaign. Most people do not save enough for retirement, despite knowing they should. That is because the long-term gain of saving is too abstract for the primal brain when compared to the short term pain of losing the monthly payments.

The save more tomorrow campaign deals with this issue by encouraging people to sign up to start saving in the future. For example, people might commit to starting saving when they know they will next get a pay rise.

The results of this approach are dramatic, encouraging a considerable percentage of people to start saving. That is because the primal brain fails to respond to a possible future cost. It is just too abstract for it to process.

If you run a charity website, the potential of a “give more tomorrow” campaign is immediately apparent, as charitable giving is hard for the primal brain to swallow despite the fact the vast majority of us want to donate more.

But the primal brain is not the only aspect of our thinking we need to note. There is also the roles of system one and two.

If you are looking for a deeper dive into psychology, I highly recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

We Have Two Approaches to Decision Making

In the superb book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” we are introduced to two modes of thinking called system one and two.

The Intuitive, Instinctive System One

Most of us associate system one with unconscious thinking. The kind of thinking that is fast and automatic. It is autonomous and efficient, requiring very little energy or attention.

For example, system one is used to recall a fact like the capital of France or the answer to two plus two. It also allows you to make instinctual decisions based on very little information. Opinions like the trustworthiness of somebody you meet or whether you can safely overtake in a car.

At face value system one appears to have superpowers, but it is prone to error because it takes shortcuts to achieve its incredible results.

It tends to ignore any information that is not immediately available. Instead, it is more concerned with a believable story. For example, if I told you about a person called Jim and said he was quiet, studious and had fantastic attention to detail, you would almost certainly conclude he was more likely to be a librarian than a farmer.

That is understandable as the description fits our stereotype of a librarian. But what your system one is ignoring is the fact that there are 20 times more farmers than librarians. You made the assessment purely on what you knew and chose to ignore the fact you might not have all the information.

What this teaches us is that we do not need to overwhelm people with information to persuade them to act. The tendency to add more and more information to our sites in an attempt to convince does not help. Too much information is likely to overwhelm system one, and that will wake system two.

Deliberate, Analytical and Logical System Two

System two is what you would probably describe as your conscious mind. Although much slower than the system one, it is much less likely to make mistakes. It is more deliberate and analytical, enabling us to address more complex questions such as 28 times 6 or learning a new skill.

The drawbacks of system two are that it is slow and takes considerable energy when compared to system one. It is also much more details orientated and tends to be more suspicious.

That is a problem for us as we try to convince because people are more likely to over analyse the decision and ultimately fail to act. System two feels like too much effort for a task like using a website. It is also more hesitant, meaning it will be more reluctant to act.

One upside of system two is that because of the effort involved it doesn’t like to work for long. We use it sparingly and quickly shift reoccurring tasks from system two to system one, which is why we often talk about muscle memory when referring to things like driving or riding a bike. It is also why sites like Facebook or Amazon feel so intuitive. We have used them so much we can use them without waking system two.

You might be wondering at this point why you should care about system one and two. The answer is that far more of our thinking and decision making happens in system one than we might like to think. We want to believe ourselves rational decision makers, but we are not, and that impacts how we need to build our websites. Often times, we simply take the path of least resistance.

We Are Lazy Decision Makers

We make thousands of decisions every day. Most of those decisions are easy. They are decisions like whether you want a drink, which pair of socks to put on or whether to respond to that notification on your phone.

These types of decisions are primarily automatic and unconscious. In most cases, we aren’t even aware we have made them. These are handled almost exclusively by system one.

But more challenging decisions, such as which laptop to buy or where to eat out, are harder to answer and so have to be decided by conscious choice. These are decisions being made by system two.

The problem is that system two thinking is hard work and so we tend to avoid it. Instead of waking system two, system one will substitute a challenging decision with a simpler one.

For example, it regularly replaces a complicated question such as “is this person trustworthy” with a simpler one “does this person look like other trustworthy people I have met”.

That is why it is so hard to diet. Counting calories is hard and requires system two to be fully engaged. Instead system one simplifies the question of “which food would be most healthy to eat right now” to the simpler questions of “am I hungry” or “do I like this food”.

Of course, most of the choices we want people to make on our site are harder — decisions about making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

When faced with these kinds of decisions, if left to its own devices, system one will either substitute the choice of sign up for a newsletter with a question like “do I like getting spam?” or will give up entirely.

There are two things we can do to avoid this problem.

First, we can simplify the question for people by emphasising the positive benefits of signing up for the newsletter. For example, let’s say you sold sports equipment. If you ask people to “sign up for our newsletter”, they have to weigh the pros and cons of that decision. But if you say “sign up to start getting fitter”, system one can easily answer the question “would I like to be fitter”.

Second, if we cannot control how the question gets simplified, we can be sure to address that simplification or any other objections people might have. In other words, immediately alongside the call to action to signup for a newsletter, we should make it very clear how much the user can expect to hear from us. That way they will not be concerned about being spammed.

Do not make people hunt for answers to their concerns. Reassure at the point of conversion.

But there are other ways we can help people decide without having to think too hard. One of those ways is to make sure we consider their perceptions.

Our Preconceptions to Shape Our Decisions

Because we are inherently lazy, system one tends to ignore information not immediately at its disposal and instead creates a story that seems plausible based on what it knows. That means it can easily misinterpret what is going on as we jump to conclusions. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

I work a lot with universities. One of their goals is to encourage overseas student recruitment. In student interviews, we discovered that many of these students were discouraged from attending some institutions because they didn’t see any photos on the site containing students from their ethnic background. They, therefore, concluded that this wasn’t a place that ‘people like them’ went.

International students want to see people like them when visiting a University website. Imagery can prime users to draw the wrong conclusions.

They didn’t stop to ask themselves whether they had all of the facts. They made a judgement based on what was in front of them.

We can counterbalance these kinds of misconceptions by priming users to help shape their perception.

We can use priming in all kinds of ways to influence behaviour. For example, in experiments, supermarkets have found that if they play French music in the store, they increase the sale of French wine and reduce the sale of wine from other countries.

The principle of priming has some interesting ramifications for us as web designers, not all of which are particularly ethical. But we can use priming for good too. We can use it to prepare people for their experience in our app or website.

We have already talked about how photography can be used to prime a students perception, but our imagery is not the only tool at our disposal. Colour is another powerful priming tool because we associate different colours with different emotions and behaviours.

For example, at the most basic level, users in western countries will be less likely to click a red button to a green one because we have been conditioned to associate red with danger.

We can also use layout to prime users expectations. More significant, more prominent elements will be seen as more meaningful and so given more attention.

By making a call to action big you make it clear that it is important. You have primed people with the size.

There are all kinds of ways we can prime users, from the associations we make with our products, to the number of times the site features a product prominently.

For example, by associating your product with happy, smiling people you prime viewers on a subconscious level to expect the product to make them happy. Equally showing a product multiple times primes them to consider that product as significant.

Of course, this can be dangerous. Priming can set up false expectations too. If you prime people to think your product will deliver specific results and it fails to do so, then this can prove damaging to your reputation, and by extension, long term sales.

Before we wrap up this very long post, it would be remiss of me at this stage not to mention the influence of others on how we make decisions.

Others to influence our decisions

One of the substitutions we make all of the time when making complex decisions is to ask ourselves “what have other people done”. It is easier to rely on other people’s judgment than to make a considered, informed decision ourselves.

That is particularly true the more complex the choice is. For example, when faced with a series of very similar options, we tend to go with the decision we consider the most popular.

When facing too many options we tend to follow the crowd.

That is where ratings, reviews and testimonials become critical to our websites. These have a massive impact on our decisions and we can use that to give people confidence in the choice they make.

It is important to stress that the goal here is not to manipulate people into making a particular decision. As I have already said, that is ultimately damaging to business over the long term.

Instead, we are seeking to help somebody make a fast, informed decision that leaves them confident in their choice.

Time Undermines our Confidence in a Decision

We want people to make fast decisions, not because we want to rush them into buying, but because the longer they take to make that decision the less confidence they will have in it.

A lack of confidence will either lead users to abandon the decision entirely or to go into the decision primed to believe it is a wrong choice. That increases the likelihood of them being unhappy with the results of that decision.

Unhappy decisions are bad for business. They lead to more unsubscribes, more buyers remorse, more returns and more complaints. That is why it is so crucial to helping users make sound decisions they are confident in, and to do that we need to understand them much better. But, that is a subject for another post.

Stock Photos from TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

The post How to Use Psychology the Right Way to Improve Conversion appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

If we understand how people make decisions, we can improve both the user experience and conversion rate of our websites. If we understand how people make decisions, we can improve both the user experience and conversion rate of our websites. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 18:00
How to Measure Engagement on Your Website and Why Bother Tue, 16 Apr 2019 11:00:40 +0000 0 <p>When most people think of key performance indicators, they focus on measuring conversion, but we should also be measuring engagement.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Measure Engagement on Your Website and Why Bother</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> How are you tracking the success or otherwise of your site? The chances are you focus on conversion metrics. Maybe you also consider tracking usability. However, are you measuring engagement? If not, you should be.

Why You Should Measure Engagement

The problem with focusing on tracking conversion is that there can be a long gap between a change to your site and seeing that translate into improved conversion rates.

Take for example my case, a company can take well over a year from the point of first hearing about me to finally hiring me. That means tying a particular marketing initiative or interface improvement to better sales can be hard.

One option is to track a smaller point of conversion such as signing up to a newsletter, and indeed you should. However, it is also worth tracking other factors that ultimately lead to better conversion, metrics such as usability or engagement.

Engagement is a critical component in how likely a user is to take action on a website. The more engaged a user is with your content, the more influenced they are by it, and the more likely they are to act upon it.

Unfortunately, although tracking engagement it is relatively easy to get rapid feedback, that data cannot always be taken on face value.

The Problem with Measuring Engagement

A common metric that organisations measure when seeking to understand engagement is session duration. However, taken alone this can prove misleading. For example, is a long session an indication the user is engaged, or that they have just left the browser window open and gone to make a cup of tea?

Google Analytics measuring engagement through bounce rate and session duration.
Google Analytics highlight session duration and bounce rate, but that doesn’t necessarily tell us much about engagement.

A low bounce rate can also be a sign of good engagement, but it could equally mean a user is wandering a website lost and confused.

Even mentions on social media are not always a sign of positive engagement if those mentions are critical.

It is, therefore, necessary to treat any engagement metric with a critical eye. However, that does not mean we should give up. Indeed many engagement metrics are definitely worth paying attention to.

Metrics for Measuring Engagement

Let’s be realistic. There is no perfect metric, whether you measure conversion, usability or in this case engagement. However, there are many tools in our arsenal we can use to start building up a picture of engagement.

Let’s look at what is available to us and ask what works best in which circumstances.

Attention Minutes

One of my favourite metrics for measuring engagement is attention minutes (otherwise known as engaged time). In some ways, this is similar to session duration. However, unlike session duration, it only counts the time a user is actively engaging with a page.

The page has to be active (not sitting in the background somewhere) and the user has to be doing something on the page within a certain interval. That might be scrolling, clicking or watching a video.

Momently measuring engagement in the form of attention minutes.
I rely on a tool called Momently to help me track the users attention. It enables me to identify my most engaging posts.

Of course, even attention minutes are not perfect. A user could be desperately searching for relevant information, frustrated they cannot find what they want. However, typically users give up such efforts after about 10 to 20 seconds. So as long as they remain active beyond 20 seconds, you should only be capturing people who are truly engaged.

Unfortunately, not every analytics application can measure engagement using attention minutes. However, it is definitely worth installing one that does if you wish to track engagement.


If you cannot track attention minutes, your next best option in most cases for measuring engagement is interactions. In the average user session, how many times is the user interacting with the website?

Those interactions may be:

  • comments,
  • downloads,
  • shares,
  • clicks
  • or any other interaction you consider important enough to track.

Some of those interactions will be more valuable to you than others, so you might want to give a numerical weighting to certain ones.

Next, take this numerical score and divide it by the number of unique visits. That will give you a better indication of how engaging your content is without you skewing your data with fluctuations in traffic levels.

In some cases, it is also interesting to consider interaction depth. For example on this blog, I can judge engagement by the number of articles a user has looked at in a single session. When users go from one post to the next, it is a good sign they are finding my content engaging.

Google Analytics measuring engagement using pages per session.
Google Analytics makes it easy to see the number pages a user views in a session. Depending on your type of site this could be a valuable engagement metric.

Frequency Of Visits

One easy metric for measuring engagement is how frequently users are returning to your website. If they are visiting often it is a good indicator that they find the site useful.

There are a couple of views of this metric worth considering. First, you can look at how many times a user visits the site. The higher the number is, in most cases, the better.

Google Analytics measuring engagement through number of sessions per user.
Although Google Analytics makes it easy to see the number of sessions per user over a given period, it is much harder to calculate the number of days between visits.

However, you can also look at the average number of days between those visits. In this case, the relevancy of that data will vary.

For example, if you are updating the site hourly and yet users are only returning once a month then there may be a problem. However, if you update monthly then the user only returning once a month would make perfect sense.

In fact, the frequency of visits can be a tricky metric from which to gain real insights.

Although it is easy to track, the type of site will heavily influence the data. For example, a high frequency would be desirable for a site like this one. However, if a site was effectively brochureware, it might be perfectly fine if people only visit once or twice. That would be enough for the site to do its job.

Scroll depth

A better metric for measuring engagement and one I personally pay close attention to is scroll depth. How far down any particular page does the user scroll is a good indication of how useful they consider the page.

That means, as a metric it tends to be more useful in tracking the engagement of a particular page, rather than the site as a whole. However, it is also useful for optimising page design too as it helps you place calls to action in the best position.

Momently measuring engagement through scroll depth.
Momently makes it easy to see how much of a page users are viewing. This is useful for both measuring engagement and working out the optimal positioning of calls to action.

One of the nice things about tracking scroll depth is that there is no shortage of applications that allow you to track it. Its simplicity makes it a convenient indication of engagement. Just recognise that like all metrics it cannot be used in isolation as people may just as easily be scrolling because they cannot quickly spot what they are looking for.

Social Media Shares and Comments

Depending on your type of site and its audience, one of the best metrics for measuring engagement can be user comments and social media shares. That is particularly true if your website serves a role in content marketing. Users are inclined to comment on, and share, content they perceive as valuable.

Of course, they also comment on content they dislike as well, so it is important to track the sentiment of a comment or mention on social media, not just the number.

Social Mention measuring engagement through social media sentiment.
Social Mention will not only track the number of mentions on social media, but the sentiment too.

The Net Promoter Score

Finally, I could not write about measuring engagement without mentioning the net promoter score. That tried and tested surveying technique is ideal for ascertaining how likely somebody is to recommend a company, service or even website to another person using a simple 1-10 rating.

A score of six or below normally indicates that a user is a detractor and view the site negatively. Only a score of nine or ten indicates the user is actively engaged with the website.

Visualisation of the Net Promoter Score.
The Net Promoter Score is a well established tool for measuring satisfaction and engagement.

When measuring how engaging a website is it is important to focus on the site rather than the company in our survey. In other words, we should ask:

“On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend this website to your friends, family or business associates?”

Otherwise, results may be distorted by some other element of the customer’s experience with a company beyond the website itself.

However, even when asking the question in this way, users tend to be influenced by other factors so keep that in mind.

Beware Measuring Engagement With Any One Metric

As you can see, no metric is perfect for measuring engagement or indeed the overall effectiveness of a website. We need a range of metrics working together in areas such as engagement, conversion and usability to build up a complete picture of a site’s performance. Only then can we be confident that the improvements we are making to our site are having a positive impact.

Stock Photos from Sondem/Shutterstock

The post How to Measure Engagement on Your Website and Why Bother appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

When most people think of key performance indicators, they focus on measuring conversion, but we should also be measuring engagement. When most people think of key performance indicators, they focus on measuring conversion, but we should also be measuring engagement. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 8:28
A UX Disaster: Can We Solve the Cookie Crisis? Tue, 09 Apr 2019 11:00:00 +0000 0 <p>Cookie notification overlays are undermining usability (especially on mobile) while also wholly failing to secure improved privacy.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">A UX Disaster: Can We Solve the Cookie Crisis?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> Excuse the melodrama, but I am coming to believe that the European Commission is destroying the web one good intention at a time. Or more specifically their desire to protect our privacy online has resulted in unforeseen consequences in the form of an explosion of cookie and privacy overlays.

In fact, I would argue (and I know this is more melodrama) that from the perspective of your average user, the cookie crisis is more damaging to their daily experience than the demise of net neutrality.

Yet you hear little or no organised resistance to the insanity of cookie notifications in the same way you do towards net neutrality. Instead, we have all just rolled over because the underlying intentions are good.

Let me be clear, they are good. People should have control over how much sites can track them and what information they can collect. What the European Commission is trying to achieve is admirable. However, as it currently stands they are not only failing, they are making things worse for the majority of people.

In this post, I want to explain why they are failing, how they are making things worse and then talk about possible fixes.

At this point it is probably worth saying that this article has been heavily inspired by a post written by Troy Hunt entitled, These Cookie Warning Shenanigans Have Got to Stop. I highly recommend you check that out.

As I understand it, the European Commission aims to empower people and put them in control of what data can be collected about them online. However, I think it is fairly clear at this point that displaying a cookie and privacy policy notification is not achieving that goal.

Many websites may be complying with the letter of the law, but they are certainly not complying with the spirit of it.

By overwhelming users with technobabble, legal jargon and a myriad of options, companies know damn well that users will not have the time or inclination to make informed decisions. Most users are simply clicking yes and moving on.

A collection of different cookie notifications.
The current approach to cookie notifications seems designed to overwhelm the user. There is no consistency of approach and nothing to guide users to make informed decisions. Not to mention it is devistating the user experience of nearly every website you visit.

But even if we were to imagine a magical world where users did make an effort to read every privacy policy and examine every cookie a site is using. Let us also assume that the users had degrees in computer science and law. Even then cookie notifications would fail to solve the problem for which they have been designed to address.

Sure, advertising networks currently mainly rely on cookies to track a user between sites. But that is not the only tool in their arsenal. There are other ways a user can be uniquely identified and tracked.

Screenshot from
Am I unique perfectly demonstrates how easy it is to track an individual without using cookies.

By combining various factors such as your browser version, operating system, language, resolution and other detectable characteristics it is perfectly possible to uniquely identify you and therefore track you across multiple sites.

However, it could be argued that doing something about these invasions of privacy is better than nothing. Unfortunately, the cost to the user experience is so high that this particular something is not our best option.

If you mainly access the web from within the European Union you will already be aware of the cost of cookie notifications to the user experience. But, if you are lucky enough to live elsewhere, let me give a sense of how bad things have got.

Techcrunch's privacy notification.
Few users are going to wade through privacy policies of manage their cookie options.

In his post on cookie notifications, Troy Hunt uses Techcrunch as an example of just how bad things can get. Their privacy policy runs at over 3000 words and it is a labyrinth of links before you can get anywhere near setting your privacy settings.

When you do finally get to the settings, you are confronted with 224 different ad networks that need configuring individually.

But that is not the worst part of the user experience. It is the fact that on every website you visit you are confronted with one or more overlays you have to close.

Each and every website involves closing at least one overlay before you can view the content. Also, it is not unusual to have to do this multiple times for each website over subsequent visits.

Now, this is annoying on a desktop. It feels like death by a thousand cuts. However, on a mobile device, it can make some sites unusable. I regularly encounter sites where you cannot close the overlay for some reason, or the overlay takes up so much real estate you cannot see the content of the site to decide whether you want to proceed or not.

In short, for mobile users, the web has become a huge game of whack-a-mole as cookie notification overlays spawn and need to be agreed to.

What then can we do about all of this?

There are no easy answers, and I am certainly not setting myself up as the person to solve what is a very complex issue. I am not a lawyer or particularly technical.

This is going to take smarter minds than me from many different disciplines including, but not limited to:

  • Advertisers.
  • Developers.
  • Lawyers.
  • Policy makers.
  • User Experience specialists.

That said, I do begin to see some possible ways forward that are at least worth exploring. In particular, I want to look at how we could solve this long term and what you can do immediately on your own website.

Let’s start with the a possible long term fix.

Potential Long Term Fixes

Unsurprisingly I found some alternatives to cookie notifications already being proposed. One that got my attention was Do Not Track, a standard created in the states that allowed users to specify their preferences at the browser level.

The idea only gained limited traction, in part because there was little incentive for websites to honour user preferences. However, I believe there might be potential in the underlying concept if properly implemented and if website owners could be properly motivated to implement it.

First, I would suggest that the choice of settings would need to be slightly less binary than it currently is. As it stands Do Not Track only offers to opt in or out of tracking. I am a great fan of simplicity, but if we want advertisers to respect it, and for websites who rely on advertising, to survive, it might be necessary to provide a little more flexibility.

Screenshot of Safari browser settings
If websites could be encouraged or forced to comply with user preferences at a browser level it would avoid the need for on screen notifications.

Second, and most importantly, website owners need to be motivated to implement it. Government mandate is one way, but I have little confidence in their ability to do so effectively.

Another solution would be for Google to weigh in. If they introduced Do Not Track compliance as a factor in their algorithm for ranking, most website owners would fall in line.

Admittedly, Google relies on advertising themselves. But, they also value performance and usability, which cross-domain tracking can impact.

However, even if we could not get a system such as Do Not Track to work, that doesn’t make cookie notifications the only option.

What about requiring website owners to display privacy and cookie information in a consistent standard, like That way browser manufacturers could build a way for users to look up privacy data into the browser so providing a consistent experience.

Mockup of in browser cookie notifications.
Some kind of in browser privacy notification would introduce some consistency to the user experience and free up valuable real estate.

Of course, these are possible long term solutions to a very complex issue. Even if a viable alternative was presented I don’t see the European Union changing its current recommendations anytime soon.

So what can we do as website owners in the meantime?

What You Can Do Now

The biggest problem with cookie legislation is that most organisations are intimidated by it. They are afraid of getting prosecuted and yet don’t really understand what the requirements are.

Part of the reason for this is that a lot of the legislation is open to interpretation. As I said, I am no lawyer and so not an expert on the subject. But, as with any legislation, the wording is crucial.

For example, cookie legislation requires that a site gets prior consent from the user to use cookies, but what does that mean? How do you have to get consent? What does prior mean in the context of a website? Although there is government advice, there is little definition in legislation.

Currys in the UK have decided that they can comply by using an inline message rather than an overlay that takes up valuable real estate on mobile devices

These are the kinds of decisions companies are having to make and on the whole, most organisations go with a ‘follow the crowd’ approach. If you do what a lot of others are doing surely, you won’t get in trouble.

That is understandable, but not all websites are the same and neither are all users. An overlay may indeed be necessary for some sites in some situations, but that doesn’t mean it is for yours.

For example, it may be perfectly acceptable to place the cookie notification inline, rather than as an overlay.

UK retailer Marks and Spencers seem to have concluded that they don’t need a cookie notification.

Also, it may be that your site doesn’t require a notification at all because the cookies you are using do not fall under the legislation. For example, if all you use cookies for is to enable necessary functionality and they don’t identify individual users, then a notification might not be necessary. That is why you don’t see a cookie notification on this site, but instead a plain language privacy policy.

It is also worth noting that it is improbable that a government body will prosecute a company for non-compliance without any warning. Instead, they will receive notification that they have not complied and that will give them time to rectify the issue.

Ultimately this is all about risk management. Companies need to balance the risks associated with non-compliance with the damage to user experience and by extension conversion rate.

The problem is that at the moment these decisions are being made almost exclusively by legal, and by their nature legal teams are going to be conservative. After all, they will be the ones fired if the company breaches regulations!

Instead, this needs to be a bigger discussion, not a decision made by legal alone. I would encourage you not to blindly accept the ‘rules’ laid down by legal but instead discuss it with them. Seek to understand the legislation wording better and work with them to explore different possible approaches. Nothing is ever as black and white in compliance as it first seems. There is a conversation to be had.

As Khoi Vinh explains, we need to put the same effort into creating a great user experience when designing privacy controls as goes into the rest of the interface. The Times newspaper does a surprisingly good job at this.

What the Future Holds

In many ways, the current situation around privacy reminds me of the early days of accessibility. To begin with, nobody knew what disability legislation really meant. Then people settled on implementing WAI Guidelines.

However, for a long time, this was nothing but a box-checking exercise. If it passed some WAI automated checker then you could call yourself compliant.

Today thinking has moved on and we know that just implementing the letter of some guidelines does not truly make an accessible experience.

I believe the same is true for privacy and cookies. We should focus on applying the spirit of the law rather than ass-covering. We should be seeking to empower users by being transparent, giving them control and asking for prior consent. That is far more productive than spamming them with overlays they cannot understand.

Stock Photos from Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

The post A UX Disaster: Can We Solve the Cookie Crisis? appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

Cookie notification overlays are undermining usability (especially on mobile) while also wholly failing to secure improved privacy. Cookie notification overlays are undermining usability (especially on mobile) while also wholly failing to secure improved privacy. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 12:01
Measuring Usability: What Metrics Should You Track? Tue, 02 Apr 2019 11:10:00 +0000 0 <p>When establishing the <a href="">key performance indicators</a> for any site, they should always include measuring usability.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Measuring Usability: What Metrics Should You Track?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> Measuring usability is often overlooked in favour of a focus on conversion. However, ignoring usability as a metric can have a significant impact on the long-term health of your business and ultimately will undermine users taking action.

Why You Should Be Measuring Usability

Usability underpins everything on a website. A website can be unattractive, un-engaging and even poorly written and it may still convert. However, if people cannot use a site, taking action becomes impossible.

Worst still, users have an extremely low frustration threshold when using a site. With so many competitors out there, why would a user struggle with a problematic website?

But good usability can provide a distinct business advantage too.

There is a reason why every Christmas I say to friends and families that they can have whatever they want as a gift, as long as I can order it from Amazon. I know Amazon, and so for me, it is easy to use.

My familiarity with Amazon makes me loyal to that site, and I am not alone. Users tend to be loyal to sites they find easy to use. That increases the customers lifetime value, allowing companies to pay more for customer acquisition so outperforming competitors in pay-per-click listings.

Like many, my bias towards buying from Amazon is down to the fact that it feels easy and familiar.

Customers will even pay a premium for a straighforward experience. That means if your website is easy to use you can potentially charge more!

How then do you know if your site is easy to use? How do you measure its usability?

Measure Your Site’s Overall Usability

There are many ways to measure a site’s usability. However, most of the options are relatively time-consuming to implement, which means that they do not happen regularly. That makes it hard to track the effectiveness of site improvements over time.

Pragmatically most organisations need a cheap, quick method of measuring usability and that is where the system usability scale comes in.

The System Usability Scale

The system usability scale is a simple survey that asks users to express their agreement with a series of statements. Participants rank each statement from one to five based on how much they agree or disagree with it. Five means they completely agree, while one means they strongly disagree.

The System Usability Scale is a simple survey for measuring perceived usability.

What statements you use is of course, entirely up to you, but ideally, you should have ten. A typical sample list of statements for a website might read:

  • I think that I would like to use this website frequently.
  • I found the website unnecessarily complex.
  • I thought the website was easy to use.
  • I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this website.
  • I found the various functions in this website were well integrated.
  • I thought there was too much inconsistency in this website.
  • I would imagine that most people would learn to use this website very quickly.
  • I found the website very cumbersome to use.
  • I felt very confident using the website.
  • I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with this website.

How to Calculate Your System Usability Scale

Notice how the above statements alternate between positive and negative statements. For example, the first statement is positive:

I think that I would like to use this website frequently.

While the second is negative:

I found the website unnecessarily complex.

For each positive statement take the users score and subtract one. So, a score of four would become three.

For each negative statement subtract the users score from five. So, if a user scored a statement as a five, then the final score would be zero.

Once you have a number for each statements, add these together and times the total by 2.5. That will give you a score out of 100.

Admittedly all of that mathematical gymnastics is a bit fiddly, but it does give you an easy rating out of 100 for measuring usability. A metric that allows you to track improvements over time.

How to Use the System Usability Scale

Once you have the hang of it, the system usability scale opens up a world of possibilities.

For a start, if you use the standard statements as outlined above, you can get a reasonable idea of how usable your site is compared to other systems in general.

The average system usability score is 68 and anything above 80 means you are in a very good place. However, anything under approximately 50 and you need to be prioritising usability fixes.

The average system usability score is 68 and anything below 50 should be of concern.

But, you can also use the system usability scale to compare your site to the competition by asking users to rank multiple sites.

Finally, you can use the system usability scale to rate a prototype against an existing site, or to compare multiple design approaches.

The Limitations of The System Usability Score

Although the system usability scale is an excellent way of measuring a site’s usability and by extension the impact of usability on conversion, it is not perfect.

The system usability scale suffers from two flaws.

First, it can only identify how good or bad the usability of a website is. It cannot diagnose why it is succeeding or failing.

Second, there is often a discrepancy between what a user says and reality. For example, somebody may describe a website as easy to use because they are familiar with it. Equally, they might say they will recommend that site to others in the moment of completing a survey, but not do it in reality.

These facts mean that we cannot only rely on the system usability scale. We also need to be measuring how users perform when completing critical tasks on a website.

How to Measure Usability of Critical Tasks

If you want users to complete a call to action on your website, taking that action has to be easy. But how do you know if signing up for your newsletter, buying a product or completing your contact form is, in fact, easy?

What Task Metrics to Measure

For that kind of specific action, the system usability scale will not help. We will need a different type of usability metric tied specifically to our calls to action. We will want to measure a series of factors. Factors such as:

  • The time it took the user to complete the action.
  • The number of users who simply failed to complete the task.
  • Whether the user was able to complete the call to action using the most direct route.
  • The average number of mistakes the user made when trying to complete the task.

Fortunately, these various metrics do not all have to be measured separately. We can ascertain all of those metrics by watching real users complete tasks.

How to Measure Task Metrics

You can track task metrics when running any facilitated usability test session as long as users are being asked to complete the appropriate tasks. However, because we are looking to gather quantitative data, testing with a more significant number of users is preferable as this reduces any one user skewing the metric with abnormal behaviour.

Because facilitated usability testing can be time-consuming, it may be preferable to carry out unfacilitated testing when seeking to establish metrics around critical tasks such as your calls to action.

In unfacilitated testing, the user is set a task to complete, and they then finish it without being directly observed or interacted with by a facilitator.

There are a number of tools that can help with unfacilitated testing of this nature.

One option is to use an application such as Lookback. Lookback allows you to carry out both facilitated and unfacilitated testing both in person and remotely.

A tool like Lookback allows unfacilitated testing and the ability to watch each session back as a video.

Lookback will allow you to send a link to a user which when clicked will set that user a task and ask them to complete the work while being recorded. The advantage of this approach is that you can see users completing the task in video format along with a commentary of them explaining what they are doing and thinking.

The drawback, however, is that you are left to calculate the metrics by watching each session and recording the number of misclicks or whatever other metrics that are of interest.

One solution to this problem is to use a tool like Maze. Maze doesn’t record videos of user sessions or allow you to see the user completing the task. However, it does provide detailed analytics in regards to what those users did. That makes it ideal for task metrics, while Lookback is better suited to qualitative testing.

Making Sure Measuring Usability Happens

Using the right tool for the job is of crucial importance if you are to integrate tracking usability metrics into your workflow. If gathering those metrics is not straightforward then you will stop doing it, and that is a dangerous road.

Our tendency is to focus on things we can see. If all we see are conversion numbers, then this will be the focus of the organisation. The result will be the adoption of short term techniques to improve conversion (dark patterns) at the cost of long term success.

If we start tracking usability, we not only ensure it gets the attention it deserves; over time we will also be able to demonstrate its value. We will be able to show that if we reduce the time it takes to complete a task, then there is a direct correlation with improvements in conversion.

Stock Photos from NicoElNino/Shutterstock

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When establishing the key performance indicators for any site, they should always include measuring usability. When establishing the key performance indicators for any site, they should always include measuring usability. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 9:41
The Smart Home Experience – Is This the Best We Can Do? Tue, 26 Mar 2019 12:00:00 +0000 0 <p>While design thinking has come to dominate the creation of websites and apps, it seems to have barely registered in the crafting of the smart home experience. </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Smart Home Experience – Is This the Best We Can Do?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> I was running a workshop on digital transformation for a group of CEO’s who represented a cross-section of consumer electronic brands. Companies that produced everything from fridges and microwaves to TVs and air conditioning units.

This fact proved somewhat ironic as the group struggled to work the air conditioning in our room with its fancy smart controller and failed to connect my laptop to the smart TV. They were a group of experts, flummoxed by the very technology they sell.

The experience that day spiked my interest and led to me delving into the world of smart devices in order to understand what is going on in the sector.

This research resulted in me buying and installing a large range of devices to test. Devices that include:

When my money eventually ran out, I had still barely scratched the surface of what is available. It seems everything from microwaves to kettles can be smart these days, and what I didn’t buy, I read about.

Smart Home Illustration
The sheer scale of the smart home sector is mind blowing and it feels like more categories of products are being added daily.

I have also spoken extensively with various smart device suppliers from brands such as British Gas to Morphy Richards.

So what was the conclusion of all this research? Well, in the majority of the situations, the user experience sucked!

The Problem with The Smart Home Experience

The number of issues I have encountered fitting, setting up and using smart home devices is frankly staggering.

Misleading Marketing

Devices are routinely advertised as not requiring a professional to install when this is blatantly not true. For example, my wife used to be a professional engineer but fitting Lightwave RF switches proved an almost insurmountable challenge.

Lightwave RF website showing how easy it is to install.
Many smart home products claim to be easy to install when the experience is anything but.

Compatibility Issues

Compatibility is also regularly a huge issue. Smart locks are a great example of this. It is almost impossible to discover whether a smart lock will fit your door and many U.S. locks are sold and marketed in Europe despite failing to conform with European standards.

Nuki Smart Lock Website
Nuki made a valiant effort to explain to me whether their lock would fit my door and I still couldn’t install it.

Truly Terrible Apps

One of the biggest pain points turned out to be the apps associated with these smart home devices. Even a quick look at app store reviews makes it obvious that the standard of associated apps is low. That is also born out by my personal experiences.

App store review for Yale Locks App
I found very few smart home apps that had positive reviews. As this reviewer suggested, traditional consumer electronic companies are not app developers.

To make matters worse, every device has its own app, leading to an overwhelming number of interfaces and options for consumers to battle with.

Poor Interoperability

Then there are the software challenges around getting these devices to talk to one another. Products are advertised as being compatible with services like Google Home, Alexa, Homekit or IFTTT. Although this is technically correct, it took all of my 23 years experience of working with technology to make this happen in many cases. How companies expect a normal homeowner to do this is beyond me.

For example, getting a SmartThing motion detector to control lights of any other system ultimately proved impossible, and I was forced to return it.

Cutting Corners With Instructions

A big part of the problem is that most of the instructions provided suck. Often instructions are nothing more than a few illustrations supposedly taking the user through setup. This has been done to avoid translation costs but leaves the instructions woefully inadequate. That is especially true when the instructions relate to assembly or installation.

Instructions for Velux Blinds.
Instructions are often wholly inadequate because companies have tried to avoid translation costs by relying solely on imagery.

Subpar Support

Don’t expect much help from calling technical support either. Routinely the people staffing these lines don’t have a deep enough understanding of the product or simply suggest you find a professional to help. A professional that in many cases they cannot recommend or help you source.

Poor Robustness

There is also no guarantee the devices will continue working even once they are set up. Devices typically recover poorly from power or connectivity outages and can require intermittent reboots.

Even the Google Home regularly fails to live up to what you would expect from the company. Their iOS app is painfully slow and unresponsive at times, while the home itself would regularly tell me it couldn’t connect to a light or other smart home device when it had successfully done so.

Blank screen on the Google Home App.
This is routinely the view I receive when using the Google Home app on iOS.

In short, the smart home experience is crying out to be fixed. But, before that can happen we need to understand why it is so bad in the first place.

What Is Causing the Smart Home Crisis

The heart of the crisis in the smart home experience is that most of the companies producing these devices just do not have an appropriate user-centric culture.

In most cases, these are traditional consumer electronics companies who have felt compelled by the market to move into the smart home sector. They have seen digital disruption in other fields and attempted to respond quickly to companies like Google, Amazon and Nest.

The problem is that although these companies have recognised the need to adapt they don’t tend to have the clarity of vision, culture or expertise to make it happen successfully.

That lack of skillset manifests itself in four main ways.

Starting from the wrong premise

I got the distinct impression from my research that most smart home devices began life with companies looking at their existing product range and asking which they could add a ‘smart’ component too.

For me, this is exemplified by Samsung’s Family Hub where the company had essentially bolted a tablet to the front of a fridge. What problem exactly is this solving? Yes, people do tend to stick things onto fridges, but simply making that electronic does not make it better by default.

Samsung Family Hub
Bolting a tablet on the front of a fridge does not make a smart device because it does not address a user need or pain point.

This Frankenstein approach of combining existing products with new technology fails to address a real user need or pain point.

Taking an engineering driven approach

The fact that most companies seem to adopt this Frankenstein approach is hardly surprising as in most of my conversations with consumer electronics companies this kind of ‘innovation’ is being driven by engineering teams. Teams with little knowledge of user experience principles or even market research.

This is also perfectly demonstrated by most of the interfaces associated with these products, whether built into the device itself or as an associated smartphone app.

Most of these interfaces are like stepping back in time. They are making all the same mistakes as the early mobile phones or even the old fashion VCR. They are heavy on features and consequently incredibly hard to use.

Example of a poorly designed smart home thermostat interface.
Most smart home devices are still heavy on functionality and the result is an overwhelmingly complicated experience.

Take that air conditioning unit I mentioned in the workshop I was running. We could clearly see it had functions for doing everything from scheduling to responding to the ambient temperature in the room. But, none of us could work out how to simply set the temperature at that moment.

Maintaining a traditional project working methodology

Then there is how most of the smart home products were developed. Based on my research they were run as traditional projects linearly progressing from conception and specification through build before finally being given a shiny interface at the end.

There is little prototyping, iteration and most importantly little testing with real users. They are essentially working blind.

Also, in line with traditional project management methodology, there is little long term ownership over these products post-launch. Once live the only real updates seem to be around the app and squashing any associated bugs. There is no monitoring and ongoing evolution of the product and the associated experience.

Lack of Cross Silo Collaboration

Finally, there is a complete lack of joined up thinking associated with these smart home products and no consideration of the end-to-end experience. That is mainly because of the siloed nature of these more traditional companies.

It seems that a product is often created by engineering largely in isolation, sold by marketing and supported by a customer service team. There seems little evidence of these departments working together to create a pleasurable and integrated experience.

However, as with everything, there were a few outliers and it is worth looking at these in more depth.

A Few Shining Examples of Things Done Differently

Fortunately, not all was doom and gloom in the smart home space. There were one or two experiences that show just how pleasurable and helpful smart home devices could be.

The Nest Thermostat

The installation and use of the Nest Thermostat is a great example of this. In my tests, I bought and installed a Nest Thermostat E and was blown away at the experience from beginning to end.

For a start, the Nest website provided me with detailed information answering every question I had about the product and its installation. Even before I ordered I felt confident that I would be able to install this device and that it would do what I wanted.

Nest E Website.
From the very first moment Nest demonstrates an understanding of user questions, concerns and needs.

When the Nest arrived the unboxing experience was reminiscent of an Apple product, leaving the user with the impression they had purchased a quality product. This was in stark contrast to many of my other purchases that seemed to have been shipped straight from China in a cardboard box.

The help installing the product was almost laughably good. The level of detail in the instructions verge on patronising at points but left no room for error. They provide stickers for labelling cables, a detailed video guide and even a wizard for identifying your particular system.

The instructions with the Nest E were clear and available even before purchase.

Yes, they had the obligatory Nest App, which admittedly was well designed. However, after installation, I have barely opened it again. The interface on the Nest itself is simplicity personified, and its tight integration with Google Home makes the app feel redundant after the installation.

Talking of Google Home installation, this is impressive too. Instead of you requiring some magic combination of command words and temperature settings, you can simply tell it that you are cold and it will turn up the temperature. This is in stark contrast to fighting with the air conditioning in the workshop meeting room.

Of course, you would expect this kind of ease of use from a startup, now owned by Google and founded by Apple employees. But I encountered another delightful experience that surprised me more.

The HP Tango X

Smart printers have been around for a while and generally speaking they are fairly poor. They consist of adding internet connectivity to solve problems that nobody has ever had. They allow you to do things like ‘print remotely’ which I struggle to think of a situation outside of certain work environments where this would be helpful.

HP Tango X
While other printer manufacturers bolt on smart functionality without any real focus, HP have solved a real user problem and created a new revenue stream.

However, the HP Tango X is different because it solves a real user pain point with printers and that is running out of ink. With the HP Tango you can subscribe to their ink subscription service for a small monthly fee, and whenever you run low on ink the printer will notify HP who will send you a new cartridge before you run out.

Sure it was impressive that they had solved a real user pain point with technology, but that is a pretty low bar. What really impressed me was the fact that they had done so at zero effort on my behalf, while securing a new revenue stream for HP.

Think about it for a moment. I didn’t have to open an app or use an interface. Instead, a new ink cartridge turned up at my door exactly when I needed it. I did nothing and the interface was invisible. As Golden Krishna says in his book: The Best Interface is No Interface.

Then there was the fact that HP had secured a regular revenue stream from their customers for this convenience.

Like most people, before this printer, I bought cheap knock off versions of printer ink. That was revenue HP was losing out on, but with this service, they both improved my experience and regained that lost revenue. Genius!

HP Instant Ink Service
HP had secured a regular revenue stream previously unavailable to them thanks to introducing a smart device.

There were other glimmers of good experience beyond the two examples above. However, all too often they were then undermined by some other aspect of the experience. That is the problem with creating a great user experience. It has to encompass the whole experience otherwise one bad element can taint the whole thing.

How then can we make things better? How can we create a truly great smart home experience?

How to Fix the Smart Home Experience

The answer to the smart home challenge lies in all the same areas that digital services have been struggling with for years. The smart home sector needs to learn from these mistakes and adopt some of the best practice that is now emerging.

I apologise, but this is where all of the buzzwords come in. Smart Home manufacturers need to be adopting design thinking, Lean UX and agile working practices. They need to be prototyping, testing and iterating their way to solutions, rather than just skipping to the final product.

However, most of all they need to be working collaboratively across silos to start solving these problems. Marketers, designers, developers, engineers and customer support staff all need to unite around a user-centric approach focused exclusively on addressing user pain points, rather than just pushing an also-ran product to market.

What Does the Future Hold?

Fortunately, I have hope that it will happen, because it has happened before. Almost all new technology goes through this cycle.

In the early days the aim is just to get a working product to market. Prices are high and the experience is poor, but it is enough to win over early adopters.

Next, the sector starts competing on features, and as a result, products often become bloated and hard to use.

In time the technology becomes cheaper to produce and companies start competing on price. But in the long term that is unsustainable, so eventually it becomes about creating the best experience.

At the moment, smart home products are still in the early days. Some products are just coming to market. Others are becoming bloated with features, and still, others are mature enough to be competing on price (have you seen the price of smart plugs these days!).

However, smart home manufacturers cannot afford to be complacent. They need to start focusing on improving that experience and providing the convenience that consumers will pay a premium for.

Stock Photos from elenabsl/Shutterstock

The post The Smart Home Experience – Is This the Best We Can Do? appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

While design thinking has come to dominate the creation of websites and apps, it seems to have barely registered in the crafting of the smart home experience. While design thinking has come to dominate the creation of websites and apps, it seems to have barely registered in the crafting of the smart home experience. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 15:28
Are You Frustrated That Others Don’t Value Your Expertise? Fri, 22 Mar 2019 12:00:00 +0000 0 <p>We cannot change how other people perceive us, but we can change how we behave, and that is the secret to gaining the respect of our colleagues.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Are You Frustrated That Others Don’t Value Your Expertise?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> A reoccurring complaint I hear from digital professionals is that their colleagues do not appreciate their expertise. Things are improving, but many digital teams still feel like they are seen as implementors, rather than leaders.

I get so frustrated that my colleagues don't take what I do seriously.

Although I sympathise with this feeling, I have also encountered a number of teams who have overcompensated as a result and ended up alienating colleagues.

We Have Come a Long Way

As digital professionals, we have come a long way over the last 25 years. We have moved from the wild west of web design to a mature industry with many specialisms and a deep understanding of how human and technology interact online.

Today’s digital professionals have become experts in technology, psychology, design, marketing, sociology, copywriting and many other areas.

But it is important to remember that to deliver effective digital services we have to work with other stakeholders, and they have their expertise as well.

We Are Not the Only Experts in The Room

They are experts in the business, products and yes, often even the very audience we are trying to reach. They often have years of experience on us, experience, which despite what we may think, is deeply relevant to today’s business reality.

Too often in our desire to be taken seriously, we end up doing so by trivialising the contribution of others. We dismiss stakeholders as people who need managing or educating. We paint them as out of date, or ignorant about the changes digital has introduced.

Show Your Stakeholders Respect

Ultimately, if we want to be respected by colleagues for our expertise, we need to show them respect for their expertise in return. We need to be willing to be flexible in our working practices to accommodate what they bring to the table.

We need to go into every project intending to learn first and teach second. If we don’t, we may still succeed in creating a great user experience, but we will fail utterly in meeting business needs or building something that is sustainable over the long term.

That is because, even if we had all the answers, which we don’t, we would alienate colleagues and in all likelihood, they will undermine anything we achieve.

Learn from The Mistakes of Others

A good case in point is the Government Digital Service here in the UK. Heralded as a poster child for a great user experience and digital transformation it is a beloved case study among digital professionals. website
Even the UK Government Digital Service have made mistakes in how it has worked with others in government. That cost them considerable good will.

However, even they made mistakes. To achieve what they did within the UK Government, they had to push hard. In doing so, they alienated some other parts of government and have had to work hard to repair this damage. They may have a great reputation in the wider community, but that is not always reflected as well internally.

Don’t make their mistake. Put stakeholder relationships and internal communication at the top of your agenda. Spend as much time listening as speaking. Work collaboratively even if that means working slightly slower. In the long term, it will save time and ensure the sustainability of your digital services.

Stock Photos from ViDi Studio/Shutterstock

The post Are You Frustrated That Others Don’t Value Your Expertise? appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

We cannot change how other people perceive us, but we can change how we behave, and that is the secret to gaining the respect of our colleagues. We cannot change how other people perceive us, but we can change how we behave, and that is the secret to gaining the respect of our colleagues. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 3:29
Website Conversion: How To Measure Your Conversion Rate Tue, 12 Mar 2019 12:00:00 +0000 0 <p>We are all worried about improving our website conversion rate. But to do so, we need to know how to measure website conversion accurately.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Website Conversion: How To Measure Your Conversion Rate</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Boagworld - User Experience Advice</a>.</p> Almost every site has some point of website conversion, a thing they wants users to do. That might be to buy an item online, make contact, complete a form or download something. Whatever that thing is, we need to be able to measure it to know whether our sites have been successful or not.

Measuring your conversion rate can appear deceptively simple. However, even the most basic call to action can be harder to track than you might expect.

For example, what should we be measuring and how do we know whether the numbers we get back are good or bad?

In this post, I want to look at three common website conversion points and break down exactly what you should be measuring and how to judge success. These are:

  • An ecommerce transaction.
  • A user making contact.
  • A user initiating a download.

Let us begin with the simplest of the three, a download call to action.

Measuring Your Download Website Conversion Rate

Whether it is downloading a PDF ebook or a piece of software, surely tracking downloads is straightforward? Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case.

For a start, just because somebody downloads something doesn’t mean they do anything with it. That ebook may sit unread on a user’s file system until they eventually delete it. Equally, those who download apps, often delete them after trying it for only a few minutes.

Although not always possible, in an ideal world, you want to be tracking usage not just downloads. Perhaps your ebook has a call to action of its own that you can track or maybe you can add monitoring software to your app.

Tools like UXCam allow you to track the usage of your downloaded app.

Then there is the question of who is downloading. Is your download getting into the right hands? Are you reaching the right audience? That is why marketers sometimes ask for a little bit of information on a person before they can download. Of course, this creates a usability hurdle, and so a balance has to be struck.

Finally, there is the question of where the users downloading have come from. As I say in my post on key performance indicators, we need to be able to track the referral path a user took to get to the download. For example, if most people downloading have come from a particular Facebook Ad, you want to know that, so you can focus your marketing budget there.

But knowing the referrer doesn’t just need to apply to an outside source like Facebook. It is also useful to know where users who download something have been in the site. That helps you analyse whether some pages are working better than others and help you optimise accordingly.

The same is true for any conversion point. For example, it is just as important to know which referral source lead to users being most likely to contact you.

Tracking Users Who Make Contact

Referral sources are not the only thing to consider when users make contact.

For a start, we need to think about how people are contacting you. Sure, it is easy to track users who contact you through a web form. But what about those who phone or email? These are conversions generated through the website too and so need to be counted.

Fortunately this is easily addressed by using a unique telephone number and email address on the website. However, you do need to keep track of people who use these channels.

We also need to measure not just the quantity of enquiries, but the quality too.

I once worked with a marketing team who were measured on the number of leads they generated. They were so obsessed with this metric that they didn’t notice, or indeed care, that most of the leads they were sending to the sales team were rubbish.

All they succeeded in doing was generating a lot of extra work for the sales team as they had to follow up and qualify all of those leads.

The problem with tracking quality is that it needs human interaction to track successfully. Somebody needs to make a judgement call about the lead and record its quality in a way that can be reported on later.

Some websites try to qualify leads when they are submitted online. However, this almost always results in asking the user additional questions that ultimately reduces the conversion rate or drives people just to pick up the phone instead.

There is no magic solution to this problem, although a good customer relationship management system can help. However, even if you have to manually track a lead through your company it is work worth doing.

A good CRM system like Pipedrive allows you to track a website lead all the way to the point of conversion.

Without that information, you will never discover whether one referral source attracts better customers than another, or be able to estimate the profitability of online campaigns.

Being able to track a user from initial contact to a signed contract opens up a world of possibilities, not least of which is the ability to calculate a financial value to your conversion rate.

Being able to associate a monetary value to a conversion makes a huge difference because it justifies investment in the website and other digital channels. That is why ecommerce sites typically see higher levels of investment.

Calculating Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

In some ways tracking ecommerce is the easiest, but the plethora of data available also allows you to dive into much more detail than you would with other types of conversion. That can prove overwhelming.

So let’s take a look at some of the website conversion metrics you could be tracking.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

A common drop off point on any ecommerce site is the shopping cart. User’s add items and yet never progress to purchase. That makes it a useful metrics to track, because it allows you to test various methods of incentivising people to progress to checkout.

If you don’t track shopping cart abandonment you cannot know whether your ‘improvements’ have the desired result.

Checkout Abandonment

Even if people progress beyond the shopping cart, there is no guarantee they will make it to the end of the checkout process. There are numerous reasons why users might bail on the purchase from frustrations over data entry to not having a payment method to hand.

To identify these problems and experiment with possible solutions it is necessary to track behaviour at each step of this process.

Knowing where users abandon the checkout process allows you to identify points to optimise

Conversion by Referral Source

Users will reach your website through different channels. Some will be organic such as search engines and back links, while others will be paid such as Facebook Ads or sponsored posts.

Whatever the case it is important to know which of these referral sources have a better chance of conversion. Knowing this will enable you to focus money and time on building these referral sources over those which perform less well.

One under performing channel can pull down your entire conversion rate

New vs. Returning Visitor Conversion Rate

Not only do different referral sources convert at different rates, so do different types of users. For example, it is good to be able to compare new vs returning customers and how they convert differently.

It could be that discounts for first-time buyers are boosting new user purchases at the cost of suppressing returning visitors. Or maybe loyal, returning customers are masking the fact that your website is inferior at attracting and converting new people.

It is only possible to discover these problems and fix them if you can segment these audiences and compare their conversion rate.

Value per Visitor

Value per visitor allows you to see how much revenue your site generates for every person who visits the website. It is calculated by taking the sites total revenue and dividing it by the number of visitors.

As a website conversion metric it is useful for seeing the overall performance of your website. However, it is particularly useful for calculating how much you can spend on paid acquisition through Facebook or Google advertising.

It can also be useful for judging the quality of visitors coming to your website. A low value per visitor could be a sign that you are targeting the wrong type of people.

Average Order Value

A point will come when your website conversion rate begins to stagnate as you have fixed the glaring issues around conversion. At this point, you can either focus on driving more traffic to the site or encouraging each person who does buy, to spend more money.

By tracking the average order value you can see exactly how much each person is spending and seek to improve this metric through up-selling and cross-selling on your site.

When you track your average order value you can tell if your attempts to upsell are working.

Lifetime Order Value

The lifetime order value is one of those website conversion metrics that can be hard to calculate but provides a lot of value.

For a start, it will allow you to understand better how much you can afford to pay for customer acquisition. If you know that a customer will spend a considerable amount over their entire purchasing history, you can afford to make a loss on their first transaction by overspending on acquiring them.

Second, tracking your lifetime order value justifies expenditure on customer retention by providing an outstanding customer experience. Customer experience is a major influencing factor in how much customers ultimately spend with a company.

Cost and Profit per Website Conversion

Finally, every ecommerce merchant should be tracking cost per website conversion. It is crucial that organisations know how much it costs to win business.

The cost per website conversion figure should also be more than the obvious costs of advertising. It should also factor in the costs of running the website itself. Admittedly these figures might have to be an estimate, but measuring something is better than measuring nothing.

Also, if you know the cost per conversion, you can guesstimate the profit per conversion. That is the amount of profit made on each order and will be based on the average profit made on a sale, minus the cost of conversion.

Once again this will probably be an educated guess as the margins on a sale will vary wildly based on many different factors. However, thinking about profit per conversion, prevents you over investing in your website and advertising channels.

There is so much more to say about the various metrics you could measure, but there are ample good articles online about how to calculate these values and other alternatives. What is more important to take away is the critical role metrics play in conversion rate optimisation.

However, there is one last question I want to address – how do you know if you are performing well? Against what exactly are you measuring success?

What Should I Be Measuring Against?

A common question I hear is “what is the average conversion rate?” I am sure this is a question that could be answered, but the answer would be meaningless even if you were comparing similar products.

Imagine for a moment you knew the conversion rate of your closest competitors website. It would either leave you feeling despondent because your rate was lower, content because it was on par with yours or overjoyed because you were ahead of the game. But how does any of that help?

You either end up being complacent, or conclude your whole website is rubbish and needs replacing. Neither scenario is helpful.

When it comes to conversion rate optimisation you should always be seeking to incrementally improve things. That means the only person you need to measure yourself against is yourself.

Stop worrying about what the average is or what your competition is doing and instead focus on improving your metrics overtime. You will never be done, but that is the point. You can always improve and you cannot afford to stand still.

Why Website Conversion Metrics Matter

Website conversion metrics matter because without tracking them you will have no motivation to improve. But more than that you will not know whether your improvements are making a difference. We can only improve what we measure and until you realise that, investment in your website will be a stab in the dark and not sustainable.

Stock Photos from Yeti studio/Shutterstock

The post Website Conversion: How To Measure Your Conversion Rate appeared first on Boagworld - User Experience Advice.

We are all worried about improving our website conversion rate. But to do so, we need to know how to measure website conversion accurately. We are all worried about improving our website conversion rate. But to do so, we need to know how to measure website conversion accurately. Boagworld – User Experience Advice clean 12:50