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4 mistakes to avoid on your next digital project

March 16, 2017 14:36 by Alaina Roberts

4 mistakes to avoid on your next digital project CCO Public Domain
Here are a few genuine mistakes we have seen companies make when embarking on their digital journeys. Our hope is that you don’t make them too!
1. Believing you don’t need a specialist web designer
Whilst a branding agency might be great at creating a visual identity to communicate your positioning and values, and a packaging designer can ensure that your product stands out on crowded shelf space, don’t be mistaken into thinking they have the right skills to design for the web.
Designing for the web is a complex specialism that goes beyond consumers looking at something that provokes an emotional response. With web design you are creating an entire experience. A two-way interaction that requires actions to be taken and goals to be achieved, and if the experience is not enjoyable, your user gives up and visits your competition instead.
A website needs to do much more than just look nice if it is to produce the best results. A skilled digital designer can take your brand guidelines or existing identity and translate that into the online environment.
Site structure, navigation, the content and how it flows across the site as well as the calls to action are all vital elements that are carefully considered by a specialist web designer who understand the importance of user experience. The most effective solutions would be based on user experience research and insights.
Just as you wouldn’t expect your GP to do heart surgery, ensure you are using the right expert for the job to get the best results.
2. Forgetting the user
If you were going to launch a new product in the marketplace, would you invest thousands of pounds in it without researching it with your target audience first? Surely that would be crazy? Spending all that money without knowing first hand whether it meets the needs of the people you want to buy it.
Unfortunately there are so many companies that overlook the value of research when it comes to developing their website and other digital products. Understanding who your users are, their goals, needs, wants, frustrations and pain points means that you can create a solution that is easy and enjoyable for them to use. If doing a task is easy, they are more likely to repeat it, and if that task is buying from you, then the benefits should be clear.
It is so easy to make assumptions about the users and end up just developing a site that fulfils the needs of the business, but if the user is ignored, the site will struggle to reach its potential.
User interviews and workshops are examples of effective User Experience (UX) research techniques that can help to provide insight for the development of a user-centred websites, apps, intranets and portals. From building User Personas to crafting user journeys, the insight gained from user research can be used to optimise the entire customer experience both online and offline.
Investment in user research should be a no-brainer if you want to ensure the best results for your site.
3. Not allowing enough time to scope at the start
Once a decision has been made to invest in a new website or digital experience, the pressure is often turned on and stakeholders want to get the ball rolling.
However, spending enough time at the beginning of the project to properly scope and agree the requirements will ensure that the entire process runs more smoothly. We have found the most effective way to kick-start each web project is with a stakeholder workshop. Bringing together key representatives from the business, from decision makers to selected customer-facing staff and systematically working through important aspects of the project will produce a better scoping document.
Discussing the business challenges can help prioritise the requirements for the end product. Occasionally, we find that in these exploratory sessions we uncover other business opportunities or improvements that fall beyond the scope of the web project, for example changes to operational procedures to increase efficiency.
In addition to looking at the business, it is important to consider the consumers. Identifying the end users and their goals can help identify gaps in knowledge about them that can then be filled by subsequent research.
The benefit of these sessions is that everyone agrees the objectives, requirements and priorities for the project, avoiding issues being flagged later in the process. The outcomes from the workshop discussions are then collated and form the project scoping document. Once the full scope has been defined, it is much easier for a digital agency to confirm quotes and timings for delivery.
4. Being unrealistic
When it comes to web projects, you need to prioritise what is important to your business. If you continually change your requirements, it will affect your deadline and your budget. If you want an all-singing, all-dancing website on a shoestring, you will likely be disappointed.
Originally published on 8th March 2017 by Alaina Roberts at DotLabel.

Tags: Digital, Digital Marketing, Website, Branding, User experience

Categories: Digital Marketing

Why Marketers must focus on user experience

February 9, 2017 15:36 by Alaina Roberts

Why Marketers must focus on user experience Created by McConnors

By making user experience (UX) your top priority when designing your customers’ online experience, you could reap rewards from 2:1 up to 100:1 on your investment (Forrester Research). With such compelling rewards, it is easy to see why marketers are looking to UX tools and techniques to help improve user engagement and increase revenue.


While UX is a long established principle, in the last few years more attention is being paid to the subject beyond simply designing a user-friendly interface. In this article we look at what UX is, why it is important and offer a peek into some UX techniques that could help you improve your digital experiences to increase user engagement, loyalty, and ultimately revenue.
 
What is the user experience?


User experience is about creating moments of delight for a user. It is the point when you meet or even exceed expectations and the customer thinks to themselves, “that was easy!” The key elements of UX for marketers, UX experts and stakeholders to understand are the ‘user’, their ‘goals’, ‘tasks’, ‘journeys’ and ‘scenarios’. Let’s take a look at a fictional example, in which a watchmaker is seeking new customers online:


Users – who are they, what are their values, preferences, abilities and limitations? Our watchmaker has built a profile that says a typical use is 28, male, tech savvy, fashion conscious, influenced by peers, and will pay more for high quality products.
Goals – what is the user trying to achieve at the end of their experience? In this case, the answer is simple: they want to have a new watch.
Tasks – what needs to be done to achieve the goal? The user needs to research prices and read reviews, before finding a store or website to buy their new watch.
Journeys – These are the routes that the user takes to achieve their tasks e.g. using a website’s online search function, looking at related items, and reading independent reviews.
Scenarios – The context in which users undertake their tasks, goals and journeys. Do they need to replace a broken watch or are they treating themselves to a luxury purchase?


This sort of detailed understanding of who, when, why, what, where and how a customer buys a watch is critically important for a retailer commissioning a website geared towards selling watches. The world of UX can be a complex one, with many facets to explore and understand it can be useful to have a UX expert assist with this.
 
Why is the user experience important?


It is estimated that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator and with 88% of online consumers not returning to a site after a ‘bad experience’, it is easy to see why marketers should make UX a priority.


“Simply improving customer journeys has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.”McKinsey


When you read that 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they're more likely to buy a site's product or service- (Think with Google), it becomes clear that customers’ digital experiences have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line.
 
Top UX techniques you can use for your digital experience


Here is just a peek into some UX techniques that can help you improve your digital conversion rates.


1. User personas
User personas are a key tool in your UX arsenal. These fictional representations of your real customers are designed to identify needs, motivations, attitudes and goals to help craft tailored experiences and journeys to help increase engagement and ultimately revenue. To create your user personas nothing beats speaking directly with your customers, either through focus groups or over the phone, to provide valuable insight. Your sales team should also be able to provide useful information to help build up the profiles. This valuable insight about what your customers love and hate, where they spend their time online, which social networks they use, who influences their decisions and where they look for information, is of enormous use beyond simply creating a website or mobile app that converts. This information can also help you with product development, prospecting, messaging and overall marketing strategy.
2. User testing
The best way to understand what users think of your digital experience is to watch them in action! Observing 6-12 real consumers undertaking set tasks, such as researching or buying a product, can uncover up to 85% of hidden UX issues. Heat map technology, eye tracking software, verbal feedback and body language can reveal where users get lost, stuck or frustrated on your site, app or web-based platform. User testing can be done to review the existing usability of a digital experience and also at the post development stage. By undertaking this research you can test whether the user interactions are as expected, and make iterative improvements to optimise the experience. Undertaking this vital exercise will provide invaluable insight to help revolutionise the performance of your site or web-based application.
3. Customisation of the online experience
There is an online population of over 1.8 billion users, and the same experience will not please all of them. It is now possible to customise different parts of your website to provide a much more tailored experience. E-commerce sites like Amazon, Missguided and Homebase all analyse user behaviour and offer suggestions in line with them. Streaming sites like Netflix and Spotify also offer a similar service. You can even use automated personalisation software to address returning website visitors by name.
 
How to improve UX? A case study

Apple’s smooth omni-channel experience Apple has led an innovative approach to their product development and they have seamlessly integrated this with a highly engaging and consistent customer experience. A well-designed user experience is the key to a higher conversion rate and an increase in brand loyalty.

Apple offers a smooth omni-channel experience from a consumer’s first awareness of the brand, to the moment the product arrives and all the way through to post-purchase and beyond. For example, one of the contributing factors to their success has been the gradual introduction of feature iterations, allowing them to bring consumers along their evolution journey. Unlike, for example Microsoft’s approach with Windows 8, when the impact of such a dramatic change left many users frustrated because it ignored all of the intuitive expectations which users had learned from previous iterations of the operating system.

Another examples of how Apple has improved their UX includes revolutionising the tedious task of redeeming iTunes vouchers. Rather than typing a long complicated code on a mobile keypad, you can now simply point the camera and it auto-recognises the required information to activate the credits.

Finally, the introduction of the Airpods caused quite a stir at their launch. Using existing technology in new ways to delight the user experience, the wireless headphones have optical and motion sensors to detect when they are in your ears and help prolong battery life. Their functions include simple actions to make and take calls, change a song, adjust volume and activate Siri. Voice-activation technology is also a growing trend that Apple have now extended to their desktops.
Understanding the user expectations, implementing existing technology in new ways and evolving new technology demonstrates how Apple put the users at the heart of the experience and helps place the brand ahead of its market equivalents.
 
Getting ready to put UX first

Armed with a thorough understanding of your users and their intentions will enable a project to successfully flow through the various stages, from planning the structure and process flows, to the content and design. When visitors arrive at your site or web-based application, the design needs to hold the attention of your audience and provide clear paths for their journey.
By taking a research-based approach, you can discover your users’ habits, patterns, wants and needs. This will enable you to design and develop your website or mobile application based on data, not assumptions, to maximise your conversion rate.
Here we have just scratched the surface on creating a positive user experience. It’s a multifaceted operation that can only be completed through truly understanding your prospective customers and their needs.

Originally published on 18 October 2016 by Alaina Roberts at DotLabel.

Tags: User experience, Website, Customer experience, Journey, User persona

Categories: Digital Marketing