Why Marketing and UX Should Test Together

For many organizations, the sales and marketing team operate within a completely separate circle to the product development teams, but they are closely linked by the financial/budget calendars as well as the product release cycles. In the majority of cases the sales and marketing activities tend to dictate the initial business requirements and product specifications, if not the product sprint and release cycles.

Rather than proposing some radical concept or changing existing practices, here are some reasons why the UX practitioner should consider collaborating with the marketing department more closely so that the company gains the maximum benefit from its research activities and budget.

Completeness of research
Marketing research is aimed at understanding customer/user perceptions (i.e. their ‘wants’), which is an important component of the overall user experience. Complementing this is the user study and research on the customer experience of the products and services (i.e. their ‘needs’). When you can align the customer perceptions with their experiences then you will have a much better chance of meeting their expectations, or go one step further by exceeding them. Unfortunately, we often see business requirements created from market research and products designed based on user research as a result of the marketing department and the UX team failing to align their goals and objectives.

Efficient use of time and resources
In the current age of shrinking budgets and limited resources, it makes sense to streamline and maximize the resources available on hand. Creating two separate processes (and potentially using completely different tools) for conducting research within the company means having to duplicate the efforts of recruiting users, running research studies, not to mention the time and effort spent analyzing the results, managing the information and having extra personnel/staff to do the work as well as co-ordinating and scheduling the activities involved. It also means having people from the UX area chasing up data from marketing and vice versa rather than sharing and integrating the customer information knowledgebase.

Sharing/transfer of knowledge
A large number of UX researchers and designers are primarily focused on the observed or recorded behaviour and responses of users in the context of the product or service that they are trying to deliver. However, having access to information about user perceptions on a wider range of subject matter can reveal valuable insights about how to create better product or service for the user. Traditional marketing research techniques and consumer database contain a wealth of knowledge that UX researchers can tap into for creating better personas and user profiles. Conversely, a better grasp of user behaviour studies can also help the marketing team create surveys and studies that tailor to their target audience more than generic or standardized survey questions.

Last, but not least, in this day and age when many of the key business decisions are being driven by companies competing on the basis of understanding and delivering on customer expectations, isn’t it time for companies to start sharing a vision for what they want to achieve for their customers, rather than how to achieve KPIs that may or may not reflect if their customers are truly happy and satisfied? This means that marketing teams should not being seeing UX as a blackbox, and the UX teams should stop thinking about marketing research as secondary to the product design and development process.

Only by understanding the benefits and values of customer research and testing across the organization can research and testing activities create the maximum value. And that is the best reason for marketing and UX teams to start testing together.

 

Michael Lai is a freelancing and consulting UX architect specializing in infographic and data visualization design. He has worked and consulted in various industries (hospitality, retail, IT, science, and engineering just to name a few) and covered many UX related roles (including user research, copywriting, training, graphic design, business analysis, and information architecture) to make sure he understands the important UX issues first-hand.

UX Awards 2014 – Submit your best projects and get 15% off on us!

We’re extremely excited to announce our sponsorship of the 4th Annual International UXAwards, the premier awards for exceptional digital experience. This is the fourth year running that Loop11 has been a sponsor and a supporter of these great UX awards!

By honoring the most talented UX innovators, highlighting exceptional UX best practices and showcasing next-generation digital products, the “UXies” inspire technologists to create elegant, human-centered products that solve real customer problems.

This year, the UXies will be held from September 11-12, 2014 in sunny San Francisco, California. The 2014 UX judging panel is comprised of top UX thought leaders and practitioners from Etsy, Amazon, GE, LUXR, Facebook, HUGE and Frog.

Interested in submitting? The UXies welcome submissions from all levels, including agencies, companies, individuals and students. All prospective UXers are invited to enter online at UXAwards.org from May 1 to June 15, 2014. Be sure to use discount code “UXAwardsSupporter” to receive 15% off your entry!

The 2014 awards showcase will also feature the UXies celebration and advanced UX training workshops. These will…

  • Showcase each winning product and celebrate the creators
  • Share UX practitioners’ creative processes and approaches
  • Reveal each expert judge’s evaluation process and perspective
  • Offer concentrated and advanced UX training and education from the judges and other invited expert speakers
  • Provide many informal opportunities to meet winners, judges, applicants, senior UX professionals, hiring companies and UX service providers

Check out the schedule and buy tickets - and be sure to use discount code “UXAwardsSupporter” for 15% off any ticket level!  Visit UXAwards.org for more information.

UXA2014Logo-XP

Education Powerhouse Quantifies User Happiness

Teach For All logo

Teach For All is a growing network of over 30 independent partner organizations with a shared vision of expanded educational opportunity in their countries. Each partner recruits and develops diverse leaders to commit two years to teach in their nations’ high-need classrooms and to work throughout their lives to increase opportunity for children. Teach For All works to accelerate partners’ progress and increase their impact through direct support, facilitating connections, accessing global resources, and leadership development.

The Goal

To create an efficient and intuitive global knowledge portal based on partner suggestions and feedback gathered from partner organization staff and Teach For All staff through the Loop11 remote usability testing platform.

The Brief

After developing a beta version of its new knowledge portal, Teach For All implemented a usability test created through Loop11 to gauge user experience on the newly launched site. Participants were asked to engage with the portal by completing a list of defined tasks.

The Action

With the success of over 30 global organizations in mind, Teach For All used remote usability testing to assess whether or not participants found the updated portal to be:

  • User friendly
  • Easy to navigate
  • Interactive

Observations

Loop11 enabled Teach For All to launch its user experience test to Teach For All and partner organization staff members around the world in such countries as Austria, Peru, Mexico and the USA. Participants were chosen for their ability to provide insight into the learnability, intuitiveness and efficiency of the new website.

The result was a diverse collection of observation data, allowing Teach For All to:

  • Quickly assess overall site performance
  • Quantify task performance rates
  • See personal and constructive participant feedback on site usability

The flexibility and efficiency of Loop11‘s testing platform helped Teach For All gain valuable insights into how users interacted with new site features, the desirability of internal application functionality and what content was most engaging.

Conclusion

With Loop11 remote usability testing, Teach For All quickly and effectively gained user experience insight from a global network of users. By measuring task completion rates, quantifying user experience and leveraging a global audience, Teach For All gained perspective on users that might otherwise have remained hidden.

This efficient, quantitative approach to user experience testing yielded a rich variety of user experience insights that enabled critical website and user experience optimizations.

Looking to Study Your User Happiness?

Loop11 helps you (and your users) get the most out of your digital assets. Simple and efficient, Loop11 provides real-time insight into user experience and website functionality without breaking the bank. Try Loop11 for free and experience for yourself the power of remote usability testing.

 

“You in UX” 2014 usability summit — Tweet and attend for free!

In our last post we talked about our sponsorship of You in UX 2014 and how Loop11 is providing some great deals for usability fans. So, what makes this event so special? We’ve got the details on why You in UX is revolutionary and why you should be interested.

Whether you’re a professional or just someone with a general interest in user experience, You in UX provides valuable presentations to enhance career development, critical business skills and more. By focusing on the importance of leadership and personal involvement in the field, You in UX encourages us to consider how we can leverage the future of UX and build meaningful business.

The You in UX global summit is hosting 40 talks from professionals across the UX spectrum. Featured presenters include (among many others): Dr. Genevieve Bell (Director of User Experience Research at Intel), Joey Benedek (Director, Product Manager at Blackberry), and Melanie Fitzgerald (Staff UX Research Lead at YouTube).

Don’t miss out on this great web-based opportunity (that’s right, you can attend every panel in your pajamas!). Looking to score a free ticket to the event? Tell us your #1 golden rule for UX/usability via Twitter, and be sure to include @Loop11 and #YouinUX in your tweet. We’ll choose the 6 best “golden rules” and give away 6 free tickets to the You in UX summit!

 for a chance to win 1 of 6 free tickets to the You in UX online conference.

Loop11 is a proud sponsor of “You in UX” 2014

We are proud to announce our sponsorship of the 2014 You in UX Global Career Summit, happening online from May 5-22. This premier event features 40 UX leaders presenting on opportunities for attendees looking to learn more about professional UX career development.

The summit is entirely webinar-based. Attendants have the option of viewing live sessions and participating in Q&A discussions with the presenters, or viewing the presentations at their own pace.

So what can you expect from Loop11? As a ‘Trail Blazer’ sponsor, we’re excited to be hosting a creative competition through You in UX’s Spark on This!—a daily mini-sweepstakes that features fun and exciting aspects of life as a UXer. The prize? One annual license to Loop11, valued at up to $9,900! We’re also giving away $350 (USD) worth of Loop11 projects to all summit attendees to leverage their online UX testing through our powerful platform.

If you’re interested in UX and looking for some career inspiration, You in UX has extended its early bird registration to April 18th, 2014. Followers of Loop11 can receive $40 off of the early bird registration price ($295) by using code: SPLOOP1114 when purchasing.

From all of us at the Loop11 team—we hope to see you there!

New book provides context for Loop11′s accessibility testing services

Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery recently wrote a book called A Web for Everyone that talks about the struggles people with disabilities encounter online and how modern web developers can help to lift this burden.

Quesenbery and Horton’s book brings web developers into the conversation by providing various examples that people with disabilities run into while interacting with modern technology – like Trevor, the Autistic boy with a high aptitude for technology who gets overwhelmed by a site that’s too complicated, or Jacob, the highly-intelligent paralegal who’s been blind since birth, or Maria, the community coordinator who prefers to look up information in Spanish.

These examples give a face to a statistic, they allow the web developers to see how large the population is, and the suggestions prove helpful to a company that doesn’t know what to do to help this population. The book also provides practical advice about how to do this through a slew of easy-to-read ideas and techniques.

Good news. You can get 20% off your purchase of A Web for Everyone with coupon code LOOP11.

This book matters because the global population of people with disabilities is growing every year. They have money and time to spend on your services, and they’re not going to spend that money if they’re overwhelmed by the roadblocks your site puts in front of them. Many companies are already trying to make their sites more accessible, so isn’t it time for you to do the same?

As Horton and Quesenbery mention, Loop11 has made modern usability testing affordable and accessible. We’ve recently expanded our efforts to include accessibility testing, and we’ve joined forces with Knowbility to provide a group of people with disabilities willing to be participants in usability tests.

If we can be of help to you with an accessibility testing project, get in touch with Loop11 today. 

 

Benefits of Online, Unmoderated User Testing

For most usability professionals lab-based research has been the only testing method they’d consider.  However, with the growth of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies online, unmoderated user testing (also known as remote unmoderated or asynchronous user testing) is gaining traction and being used not only as a compliment to, but in many cases as an alternative to traditional lab-based research.

UnModerated User Testing vs Moderated User TestingIn 1997 when the internet was relatively new to the non-technical public market researchers started experimenting with online surveying to replace the costly and time consuming telephone and mail surveys.  There was much resistance in the market research industry to online surveying, and it was often seen as a “cheap and dirty” way of conducting market research studies.  Despite benefits such as cost, speed and geographical reach, to name a few, many market researchers dismissed online surveying and chose not to offer it as methodology to clients.

Today, there is no doubt online surveying is a common tool in the suite of products offered by market researchers.  Clearly, they just needed time to understand the internet and online surveying to know how to get the most out of the new methodology.

Online user testing is in much the same place today as online surveying was in 1997; resisted by many and even dubbed a “voodoo measurement technique” by a very well respected user interface engineer.  We think he’ll eat his words, just like Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM did a while ago.

Those who have explored and experimented with online user testing are currently reaping the rewards.  In a recent study by the Usability Professionals Association online user testing experienced an 18% increase in usage by UPA members since 2007, while traditional usability testing experienced a 9% decline over the same period.

Online Unmoderated vs Online Moderated User Testing

There’s online, moderated testing and then there’s online, UNmoderated testing.  The key difference is that with online moderated testing the moderator uses a web-based service that allows users in faraway locations to participate in what is essentially, an online meeting.  The software has the ability to share viewing and control of a web browser that permits the moderator to view the user’s mouse movements and web pages they visit, facilitating discussion similar to that of a traditional lab-based usability test. A good visualisation of the approach can be found here.

In contrast, online unmoderated testing is usually done ‘asynchronously’.  That is, first the researcher designs and initiates a study; the participants perform the tasks in their natural context, at home (or the office) using their own computer; then, once all the participants have completed the tasks, the researcher gathers and analyses the data.  In this approach there is no need for a moderator to be present during the testing. 

Benefits of Online, Unmoderated Testing

There are a lot of great reasons to do some online, unmoderated testing on your website.  Here are a few of the key benefits:

Get quantitative usability metrics
Perhaps the most important benefit of unmoderated testing is that it allows for the collection of quantitative usability metrics; in other words, statistics.  Traditional lab-based testing often consists of between 5 to 8 participants; perhaps double that if you have a bigger research budget.  With such a small sample size it would be wrong to attempt to calculate percentages to assist in reporting, such as the percentage of participants who completed a task successfully or the average time it took to complete a task.  The larger sample sizes that are possible with online testing make the calculation of these and many other usability metrics entirely possible, and these metrics can deliver significantly greater insights into the usability of a website than ever before.

If you run some online testing in conjunction with lab-based testing you’ll get the chance to validate your lab findings to ensure they are a valid and true representation of your websites’ user experience.

Conduct benchmarking studies

Because online testing allows for the collection of quantitative usability metrics it becomes very easy and practical to measure how one website performs against competing websites or other versions of the same website.  This can be particularly valuable if you are redesigning your website and have prepared wireframes of a new design.  Pit them against each other to ensure the new design performs better on those key tasks your site visitors come for.

Test with ‘hard-to-get’ participants

If the target audience of your website is senior business executives, doctors, lawyers or brain surgeons then getting them into your lab for testing can be very difficult and very expensive if you’re offering incentives.  But getting these people to do a 5 to 10 minutes online user test in the comfort of their own office is a much more realistic proposition.

Similarly, if you want to test your website for accessibility by doing testing with people who use assistive technologies (screen readers, electronic pointing devices, alternative keyboards, etc) you’ll never be able to replicate everyone’s unique set-up in your own labs.  Here’s a great opportunity for online testing to step in and take over.

Test with an international audience

Similar to the above point, if your website has an international audience and you want to ensure it can account for any cultural differences that might exist, lab-based testing around the globe is guaranteed to blow your budget…if you had one big enough to begin with.

Online testing easily allows you to recruit participants anywhere in the world.  And if you don’t have a database of your own there are a slew of market research panels that will provide participants that fit your specific criteria.

The ‘Test early, Test often’ principal becomes a reality

With all the different web-based tools around these days that can assist in user research the cost of doing usability testing is always going to be much cheaper than the lab-based alternative.  And once you’ve run a few online studies you’ll be able to run them much faster than anything you can do in a lab.

It follows that if it’s faster and cheaper, you can now conduct more user testing studies more frequently with your currently budget.  For years they’ve said, “Test early, test often”, but how many of us have honestly been able to do that?  Now, it’s become a reality.

Below is an excellent example of a systematic and thorough usability testing process (thanks Grundyhome.com).  There are eight stages of testing in total.  If you use Loop11 for all the stages of task testing, Survey Monkey for the surveys, Optimal Sort for card sorting and Treejack for the IA testing you could do all of this for around $2,500.

Usability Testing Process

For those who want to read more about online user testing there are two books I recommend reading:

[New feature] Now, you can customize the participant interface

We’re excited to announce a new Loop11 feature that’s now available to all users.

When you set up your next usability test, you’ll notice you can now customize the interface participants see. You may upload a logo as well as choose primary and secondary colors for the text and buttons participants will use during the usability study.

For instance, if Amazon were to run a usability test today, rather than the previously standard green background and Loop11 branding, the participant interface can be customized to look like this:

  Amazon 1

 Amazon 2

The customization feature can be configured in Step 1 of the project creation process. When setting up your usability test, you will now be able to “Create a new theme,” as pictured below.

 

 Amazon 3

 

Each account may have several different themes, and each theme enables you to add a custom logo and define six unique colors and attributes, as seen below.

 

Amazon 4

 

We’re excited to hear your feedback as you experiment with this feature, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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