We’re proud to be sponsoring the User Experience Awards this year! The UX Awards honor exceptional user experience design in digital products and services, as well as their creators.
Submissions run from now until May 15 2013, with the final Awards taking place during NY Internet Week on May 21, 2013. Last year, several startups won awards alongside digital agencies, tech and media companies. There are also cash prizes of up to $1,000 for the Grand Prize. Follow @UXAwards for the latest info.
The event starts at 5:30 and is taking place in Tishman Auditorium at the Parsons School of Design in New York.
If you’re curious about prizes: there will be one Grand Prize, three Gold, three Silver and Bronze. The Grand Prize winner also receives $1000, while Gold winners receive $250. All winners also receive additional prizes from the show’s sponsors.
We’d love to see you there!
“Findability precedes usability in the alphabet and on the Web. You can’t use what you can’t find.”—Peter Morville, in Ambient Findability
Last month, CEO Toby Biddle recently posted a guest article with our friends at UX Matters on the topic of search engine findability. Testing the usability of your existing website is a given — but we can’t overlook how people find (or perhaps more importantly, fail to find) your site on the web. Studying how people use search engines and keywords to locate sites like yours is what search engine findability is all about.
In brief, the post discusses:
- The importance of search engine findability
- How usability testing can uncover important search engine findability information not visible via your web analytics package
- How to conduct a search engine findability test (learn about a Search Engine Findability Study we ran on our platform to explore which keywords were commonly used when searching for a credit card provider)
Check out the full article here on UX Matters.
We welcome and encourage anyone creating a landing page via Unbounce to give Loop11 a test drive; you’ll be surprised what usability insights you might glean from even a simple online usability study. And of course, you can’t beat the savings behind online, unmoderated user testing as compared to the cost of putting prospective users in a room with a computer and guiding them through your study.
A big thank you to the pioneering landing page moguls over at Unbounce.
Say you’re a very busy user experience professional. You have a usability project you want to run, but you’re squeezed for time. Maybe you’re just not sure where to start and could use some professional guidance to get the usability juices flowing. It’s for you folks that we’ve recently launched project design services.
That’s right: you can have us design your project and help you get rolling. This service is available to all customers for just $25 per question (with a $500 project minimum). It includes task scenario and question formation, project management and the expert guidance you need to get your Loop11 project up and running.
Here’s how it works:
1. Sign up for a Loop11 account.
2. Send us all the details about your project using this form
3. We’ll liaise with you and create and online usability project in your account
4. You send it out and collect responses!
Of course, if you simply have a question about usability testing, or a comment you’d like to share with us, we love receiving your feedback at email@example.com. We look forward to helping you design your ideal usability study!
We’re fired up to announce the launch of Online Usability 101: a video series that promises to make you knowledgeable about user testing. Designed for aspiring user testing pros, and really anyone who’s interested in a refresher on usability testing best practices, project ideas and smart tips, the 7-video series is complimentary.
What’s covered in the course, you ask?
1) What is Usability?
2) Why Usability is Important
3) When to Conduct Usability Testing
4) Deciding What to Test
5) Selecting Participants
6) Scripting and Launching the Test
7) Analyzing the Results
Have thoughts or feedback on the video series? We’d love to know! Tell us in the comments, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Usability testing for a website in the early stages of development, before design and functionality
has been fully implemented, is widely accepted as the most appropriate stage for evaluating a new
website design. Testing at this stage provides a cost effective option by reducing the risk of having to
make significant changes after programming has begun. Typically testing at this stage is undertaken
on a wireframe or prototype of the website.
Originally the term “wireframe” referred to a quickly-rendered 3D model showing the model’s
structure used while the model maker was working. They were much faster to work with than the
full rendering, and in the field of web design they still are. Website wireframes can have a wide
range of “fidelity”—from non-interactive sketches to fully-interactive website “prototypes”.
Website wireframes are constructed instead of designing final pages, in part, because:
• Wireframes are faster.
• Information architecture and design phases can happen in parallel.
• Wireframes force viewers to focus on the content, not the visual design.
Perhaps the most important benefit of wireframes, particularly interactive HTML wireframes like
those created using ProtoShare, is the way they lend themselves to ongoing user testing. Because of
their interactivity, HTML wireframes can easily be used to conduct early-stage usability testing.
Here’s how you can quickly and easily conduct usability testing with your ProtoShare prototypes
We worked with one of ProtoShare’s customers, Artonic, who have been planning a redesign of their
own website. They created a clickable prototype of their new website design using ProtoShare.
Once the clickable prototype was created and all the pages were linked together, we came up with a
number of appropriate tasks in order to test the prototype and then we created a project in Loop11.
Here’s how to do that in Loop11:
Loop11 has a simple 5-step process for creating a usability project. Step 1 requires you to enter some
basic details about your project, including a public title, a working title, language (there are over 40
languages you can run your projects in) and introduction text for your participants.
Step 2 is the crux of a usability project; it’s where you enter the tasks you want your participants to
perform and any follow-up questions you might have for them.
To create a task you need a task name, which simply helps you differentiate one task from another
later, and the specific task scenario that you want participants to perform.
Importantly, so Loop11 can generate the metrics that help you understand how usable your
prototype is you need to enter a URL where you want your participants to commence the task
(the start URL) and then a success URL(s) which is the page of your prototype that you want to see
your participants navigate to for a specific task. These URLs come directly from your ProtoShare
prototype and just need to be copied and pasted in the appropriate fields in Loop 11.
The remaining steps in Loop11 are pretty straightforward so we haven’t covered them here.
When preparing your wireframes the level of functionality and interaction you build into them depends on the comprehensiveness of the testing you want to do. Wireframes with minimal functionality (like the Artonic wireframe) provide good feedback on site structure, labelling, and select usability issues while high-fidelity, fully clickable and functional prototypes with indicative or actual content are ideal for replicating natural browsing and all aspects of usability can be tested. One thing we like so much about ProtoShare is that you have the flexibility to build in as much interactivity in a prototype as you need—from very low-fidelity to very high-fidelity.
The final launched project in Loop11, including some additional tasks and questions we didn’t cover can be viewed here: [http://www.loop11.com/usability-test/16803/introduction/]. If you conduct the evaluation as a real life participant we’ll generate some useful results and can discuss the analysis of results in a future post.
Want to know how you should appear in search results, where to place your most important information when trying to improve your website for conversions, and how to draw attention to your products in advertising? Then you will want to check out these valuable lessons from popular eye tracking studies.
How You Need to Be Listed in Search Results
Photo Credit: Fabio Premoli on Flickr
SEOmoz, one of the leading SEO blogs, published an eye tracking study on Google searches for local pizza shops, how to make pizza, pizza making tools, and major pizza chains. Quick lessons to be learned from this study include the following.
• You want to be at the top of search results when the results will be primarily text based without local results.
• If the search is for local-based businesses, you want to be in the top five to ten places that come up in the local search results area.
• If the search is on a how to topic, you will want to have video that appears in the first page of search results as videos usually stand out more with their thumbnails.
• If you are a retailer, you will want to make sure your products are included in Google Shopping so that your product images appear in search results.
• If you are a large brand with local shops, you will dominate the top area of search results with additional links to pages beyond your homepage as well as local search results, both of which will get lots of attention from searchers.
Where to Place Your High Conversion Elements
Photo Credit: Michael Sauers on Flickr
In our recent post on how to improve your website for conversions, we mentioned that your conversion goals should be prominently displayed throughout your website. What you can learn from eye tracking case studies on websites is where to put high converting elements like your mailing list sign up form, buy now buttons, and any other thing that you want visitors to find on your website immediately when they arrive.
Let’s say that you want to improve conversions from your blog. Web Distortion listed 8 eye tracking studies from popular blogs to show where the hot spots were. Aside from the content itself, most eyes were drawn to the headers, particularly the right side of the headers where banner ads appeared or where the main navigation was located. Then they were drawn to right-hand sidebars.
How to Draw Attention to Your Products in Advertising
Photo Credit: Think Eye Tracking
If you’re using advertisements in print or online to get more visitors to your website, you’ll want to make sure that your product and it’s message is getting people’s attention. There are lots of subtle ways to make sure this happens. In this eye tracking case study by Think Eye Tracking, all it took was a simple change of having the model look toward the product instead of looking toward the camera.
Have you ever reviewed or conducted an eye tracking case study? What other valuable insights have you learend?
Traditionally, one of the big issues people have with usability testing is the large investment of time and money to conduct a proper study. Unmoderated (or remote) usability testing offers an alternative method that is cheaper and easier to run.
Jeff Sauro over at MeasuringUsability.com outlines 10 important things to know about remote usability testing in his most recent blog post.
Here’s a quick breakdown of his post:
It’s growing in popularity. In a survey of User Experience professionals, 23% of respondents (an increase of 28% from 2009) now use unmoderated testing.
Recruiting is much easier. Panel companies (like Cint!) make it simpler for companies to find qualified panelists.
A combination of survey and usability study. Tasks and traditional survey questions help to confirm or reject our hypotheses about our customers.
Much more metrics. Enough usability testing metrics are available now to make you the Nate Silver of your industry.
User video simulates the lab pretty well. You can observe panelists just like you would in a lab.
Setup of usability testing is much faster. In one comparative usability evaluation, the average setup time of unmoderated sessions took about half the time for moderated testing.
It’s more efficient than being in the lab. In the same usability evaluation above, the unmoderated testing team was able to collect data on 26x more users than the lab-based team.
Data collected is very comparable to lab data. MeasuringUsability.com found that overall ease, task completion and task-level difficulty was similar to testing in the lab. It will never be exactly the same as face-to-face testing. But it gets pretty close.
Task completion can (and needs to) be verified. You can validate whether a user has completed a task by a) Asking them a question that can only be answered if the task was completed or b) Set up a trackable URL that shows the user completed the task.
More users = more statistical precision. Since it’s easier and faster to test more users, this larger sample size can help you detect smaller differences and get you more statistically significant results.
Anything to add? Comment below!
Once you have learned how to improve your website for conversions, your next job is to ensure that all of the people who make it to your shopping cart actually complete their purchase. Your online shopping cart can make or break the deal – here’s how to improve user experience so yours seals the deal as many times as possible.
Set up analytics to find problems early on.
It’s never too early to set up analytics to find user experience problems early on, especially when it comes to shopping carts. Once you have set up Google Analytics, you can create goals using a sales funnel. This will track visitors throughout their shopping cart experience and produce the following report.
Now you can quickly see where people exit the shopping cart the most. This is a key piece of information when you are looking to find problems with user experience. In the above case, people are exiting after adding a product to the cart which suggests that this screen has some kind of user experience issue.
Avoid common user experience faux pas.
Think about your own experiences with shopping carts – the things that have frustrated you the most when making an online purchase. You will want to make sure your shopping cart does not drive your customers away because it does the following.
- • Makes people go through a complex registration process or forcing them to login. There’s nothing worse than wanting to make a quick purchase, not remembering whether you have an account, then filling out a new registration just to find that you already do have an account that needs to be completely updated. Allow for guest checkout instead to let first time customers buy without any hassles or repeat customers buy without having to remember details. Include an option to register for faster convenience for those how are interested.
- • Logs out of sessions too quickly and doesn’t remember where the user was during the process when logging back in. While security is important, if someone gets logged out and has to start all over with their purchase, they may get frustrated and give up.
- • Does not allow customers to confirm items in the shopping cart or change quantities throughout the purchase.
- • Signs customers up for a mailing list without their permission. While this may not affect the first purchase, it could affect the customer’s likelihood to return for future purchases.
Test your shopping cart on multiple platforms.
Maybe the issue with your shopping cart only happens on a particular browser or platform such as a mobile device. Be sure to test your shopping cart from start to finish from a variety of platforms including PC desktops plus all associated browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari), Mac desktops plus all associated browsers, a tablet (such as the iPad), and smartphones including the Android and iPhone.
Run usability tests on your shopping cart.
If you can’t find usability issues on your own, try running usability tests on your shopping cart with a test audience. Sometimes it takes someone not as familiar with your shopping cart to find the problems.
Boost the customer’s confidence in your brand throughout the process.
Sometimes it’s not a functionality issue that hurts your shopping cart’s user experience, but rather a confidence issue. Customers need to be reassured throughout the online shopping process that they are going to receive exactly what they want where they want it.
Help assure your customer by including the following throughout the shopping cart.
- • Proof that your site is secure and trustworthy. This can include displaying badges to indicate a money back guarantee, an easy return process, a strong rating with the Better Business Burea, and a high customer satisfaction rating with sites like Bizrate.
- • A phone number or live chat that people can use during the checkout process.
- • A quick summary of the items ordered so they do not have to back out of the checkout process to confirm their selections.
- • A reminder that they can review their order once more before their credit card is charged.
- • An order confirmation screen that includes items to be ordered, shipping and billing addresses chosen, and the last four digts of their credit card or payment method.
What are some other things you would suggest on how to improve user experience with a shopping cart? Please share in the comments!
When it comes to your business website, your goal should go beyond just traffic – your goal should be to take your visitors and turn them into conversions. Once you have defined your conversion goals (which could include signing up for a mailing list, submitting a contact form, downloading a whitepaper, or purchasing a product), your next step is to make sure your website is designed to increase conversions. This allows you to gain the maximum ROI (return on investment) for all of your online marketing campaigns. The following are five tips on how to improve your website for conversions.
1. Make sure that your conversion goal is prominently displayed throughout your website.
Remember that traffic doesn’t just enter your website through the homepage. If you want to ensure that your website is exposing visitors to your main conversion goals, be sure that those goals are prominently placed throughout your website. For example, if your main conversion goal is to get people to call your 1-800 number, then that number should be posted in your website’s header – not just on your contact page.
2. Create landing pages for specific conversion goals without a lot of other distractions.
This is especially important if you do any online advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc.). You don’t want to advertise your latest product and then have visitors click through to your homepage where they may or may not find the link to that product. Instead, you’ll want a landing page on your website devoted to the product you’re advertising. This way, you can convert more of your traffic from ads, social shares, or other links for that specific conversion goal.
3. Try out tools that help boost conversions.
There are lots of great tools out there that can help you boost conversions. One of the latest is Hellobar, a simple script you can install on your site that adds a red bar at the top of each page. This bar draws your visitors attention to anything you want with a simple sentence and button to click. Several top blogs on conversion are starting to use Hellobar to draw attention to their latest products, services, webinars, eBook downloads, or other pages. Try it on yours to see if you get more attention to some of your landing pages.
4. Don’t forget to optimize your blog for conversions.
When we talk about optimizing your website for conversions, this includes your blog as well. There are lots of great ways to add your conversion goals to your blog, from banners and opt-in forms in the sidebar to specific calls to action in the footer of your posts. The reason this is so important is because more people are likely to share your blog content than your sales pages. So instead of getting social traffic direct to your landing pages, you’ll be getting traffic to your blog content. Hence your blog content needs to be as optimized as possible for conversions to get the best results.
5. Test different options to see what works best for conversions.
When it comes to testing, you should expect to do both usability testing as well as split testing to see what conversion elements work the best for your website. Something as simple as changing the wording of your mailing list opt-in page or product sales page could make a huge difference when it comes to converting your visitors into mailing list subscribers or customers.