Wow, that’s an interesting way to get the products in front of you!
Ok, I was using AVG AntiVirus FREE version to do a routine scan of my computer, and yes, no virus was found! And then, it asked me whether I wanted to analyze my computer’s performance. I thought, why not? So clicked “yes” and then saw the screen below after a few minutes.
Upon seeing this, if you were me, what would you do? Continue reading
Ever wonder the role of user experience in relation to business results? Read what the failed founder of Wasabi — the key competitor and the first mover relative to Mint.com — said about why Mint killed Wasabi:
I particularly like what the founder of Wasabi said:
“Focus on what really matters: making users happy with your product as quickly as you can, and helping them as much as you can after that. If you do those better than anyone else out there you’ll win.”
He talked about how Mint.com succeeded in giving users what they wanted whereas Wasabi failed to do so.
He also argued that good UI design alone was not enough to provide a great experience.
The key UX aspects we should pay attention, drawn from his article, are 1) instant gratification (I call that Adoptability in my VADU UX model), and 2) continue to provide value through useful features and good usability.
The lesson for executives: focus on both quick and long user experience and you’ll gain competitive advantage. And sacrifice user experience for short-term business gains at your own risk.
The lesson for UXers: try your best to align your UX strategy and design with the business model rather than improve UI for its own sake.
Ever wonder how to identify business areas you should improve based on customers’/users’ true needs rather than spend money on something that doesn’t matter to them? Looking at their end-to-end journey — across all touch points with your product/business — is a great way to start!
In my previous posts, I discussed why you should conduct lean UX research to induce great user experience through Agile development and how to do this. Some of you might be concerned with a lack of quality insight in lean UX research. I’ll address the concern in this post.
“Lean” Doesn’t Mean Poor Quality
In my last post, I discussed why you should conduct lean UX research in order to induce great user experience through Agile development process.
Here, I’ll explain how to conduct lean UX research in dealing with the tremendous timeline and planning pressure posed by the Agile process — that requires you to be creative and leverage alternative user research methods. Let me go through them one by one.
Conduct UX research to complement A/B tests
Given that a big part of the Agile process is test-and-learn – test here typically refers to A/B testing – we can conduct UX research to complement A/B testing. A typical way to do this is to conduct a usability study on the different variations currently being A/B tested. Given that the product is already live with the different variations, it’s very easy for us to test the product, as there’s no need to do prototyping or wireframing in preparing for the usability study.
Conducted in conjunction with A/B testing, the usability study can tell us “why” one variation is better than the other, and if a better solution outside of the variations tested exist.
At one point I was asked to conduct a usability study to evaluate the variations of a live-site A/B test in order to encourage users’ shopping behavior. Whereas the A/B test gave us some early indication of which design would fare better, I used the usability study to provide in-depth UI and content recommendations, pointing out solutions that exist outside of the four variations A/B tested. End result: combining insight from the UX research with data from the A/B test, I helped the client create an experience in which users were much more likely to go through the shopping flow, and we saw a truly dramatic lift in revenue as a result.
Agile software development process gained tremendous popularity recently, adopted by many companies to deliver high-quality products through iterative launch and testing.
In contrast to the traditional Water Fall model, in an Agile environment the design and development teams collaborate very closely and there is little step-by-step procedure or upfront planning – decisions are made and solutions are implemented on the fly, in a highly iterative and flexible manner.
However the lack of planning and lead time in the process apparently poses a major challenge to user experience research. Remember, UX research is supposed to bring a strategic perspective into software development, helping the product team understand the big picture and focus on the right things to work on based on user insights. But the making-decisions-on-the-fly mindset underlying the Agile process makes conducting UX research seemingly hard to do and unnecessary.
So here come the questions:
Is UX research even needed any more in an Agile environment?
If so, then how do we conduct UX research in this context?
The answer: Lean UX research – conducting research in a quick-but-not-dirty way.
Test-and-Learn is Not Enough – Garbage in, Garbage out
In order to see business opportunities through the lens of customer experience, it’s critical for business leaders to see customer experience through a cross-channel, end-to-end perspective. By looking at customer experience holistically through the so-called Customer Experience Ecosystem (CXE) analysis, we can quickly identify gaps and find solutions to improve customer experience.
Benefits of CXE analysis:
- Making the experience sticky
- Improving conversion/reducing drop-off
- Increasing repeat visits
- Enhancing long-term customer loyalty Continue reading
For entrepreneurs and product managers, developing new products and uncovering new markets pose great challenges, as they are in an uncharted territory with little guidance. That’s why it is particularly important to gather customer feedback to explore, validate, and improve the product vision and direction at a very early stage. However, I’ve seen many times entrepreneurs and product managers dived into UI design and coding without first evaluating the concept, the single most important step of customer validation.
Continue to read the full step-by-step guide.
In my previous posts, I discussed the four elements of user experience — how they are constructed, how they are different from one another, etc. I’d like to call this framework VADU model, because it stands for Value, Adoptability, Desirability, and Usability. Here, I’m discussing the practical application of the model in relation to business planning. The model can help companies with:
- Identify UX priorities based on business model
- Evaluating and improving UX in alignment with business
- Develop KPIs based on UX priorities
Read on: More Than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience, Part III
© Frank Guo 2013. All rights reserved.
Here is Part II of my three-part series published on UX Matters, which describes the different aspects of user experience and how we can develop better products based on the framework: More Than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience, Part II
© Frank Guo 2012. All rights reserved.
Whereas user experience and usability have been used almost interchangeably in many occasions, through my conversations with many product-design professionals, I’ve found that “usability” is being increasingly used in a narrow context, in which it specifically refers to the ease of task completion and is closely associated with a “testing” connotation. On the other hand, “user experience” is used by practitioners in much broader contexts, referring to things ranging from ease of use to user engagement to visual appeal, and therefore I believe is a better term in capturing all the psychological and behavioral elements of user interactions with products. Please check out my article on UX Matters, More Than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience, Part I
© Frank Guo 2012. All rights reserved.
High information density is not always bad – the key is how you do it
Many of us who are involved in UI design are very sensitive to information density. Granted, too much information crammed together is typically a bad thing for users to scan, read, and absorb the information. However, if we take care of other aspects that impact scanning and reading behavior, information density alone shouldn’t kill user experience. Continue reading
Don’t worry about the number of clicks, so long as those are easy clicks
In Part 1 of the series I talked about don’t be afraid of using long pages. As with long pages, many designers are too concerned with the number of clicks. I’ve even seen practice that uses number of clicks as a measure of usability – the more the clicks, the worse the usability. Well, not necessarily. It all depends on the context in which the clicks happen. Continue reading
There are many common beliefs about UX design, which are unfortunately based on casual and inaccurate observation. On the other hand, through systematically planned and conducted user research, one can see that these cannot not be further from the truth. I’d like to single out a few such design beliefs. These are ideas that meet two conditions. First, they are believed by many product development professionals, and second, they are backed up by little user data. These ideas, such as long pages are bad for users to discover information, are not completely wrong. They’re just too simplified and, if applied indiscriminately, would undermine engagement and task completion. Whereas experienced designers might already realize the problems of these ideas, still many more do firmly believe them. When I debunk these myths, I will try to show that they’re just half truth and they don’t fully account for the complexity of user experience, and that there are better alternatives of achieving your design objectives.
Part I. Don’t worry about long pages, so long as users know to scroll down
Many designers are too concerned with page length. I heard much too often “the page is too long, users won’t scroll down.” Not necessarily the case. Based on hundreds of user interviews I conducted, user behavior is guided by expectation and contextual cues. Say, if you are on Amazon.com, and you are reading user reviews of the item. That’s a long list of reviews there. But you will keep scrolling down despite the page length. Why? Because you expect to see more when scrolling down, you know for sure that there’s more content down below. On the other hand, if you are on a webpage where there is no indication of what is waiting for you below the fold, you’re less inclined to scroll down. Also, if there is a large block of horizontal content right above the fold, you might think that block of content might be the end of the page and won’t scroll down further. I’ve observed this kind of behavior repeatedly through many eyetracking studies conducted on different types of webpages.
If you have to name one measure of customer experience that has ubiquitous acceptance among senior executives, it’s NPS, short for Net Promoter Score, a well-studied and indeed very simple way to measure customer loyalty to a brand. Lots of research has shown a strong correlation of NPS and revenue growth.
What’s the Problem, Then?
On the other hand, having conducted customer experience surveys for many years, I’ve found NPS to be a poor and misleading measure of online, mobile, and social media experience. Furthermore, whereas NPS is a great tool to help the company focus on customer loyalty through an easy-to-understand concept, it offers very little help when it comes to developing customer experience solutions. Continue reading