Enhance Your Website’s Usability by Creating a Heuristic and Unique Experience

Needing to Build a Website That Stands Out? Discover How Usability Heuristics and User Reports Are the Answer

We now live in the Experience Era, in which people assume quality assurance and make decisions based on their buying experience. Consumers expect and demand a positive and satisfying brand experience. If you do not provide them with a one-of-a-kind experience, they are more likely to purchase from another company. It will not matter how good what you are selling is.

Consumers are more informed than ever before. As a result, the market must reinvent itself. To successfully engage and retain customers in this age of ever-increasing expectations, businesses must apply digitization technologies to their business processes.

The product/service development process must reflect the agile, adaptable, and connected qualities that customers expect. And one way to do so is to combine user testing with usability heuristics.

Heuristics: learn its definition

One of the oldest and most well-known usability methodologies is also one of the simplest to implement, requiring only a UX analyst and some planning. Heuristic analysis is a type of “inspection” of usability. It entails user testing an interface to see if it adheres to predetermined principles known as heuristics.

Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, proposed in the 1950s that, while people strive to make rational decisions, human judgment is limited by cognitive constraints. Purely rational choices would involve weighing factors like potential costs and benefits.

However, people are constrained by the amount of time they have to decide as well as the amount of information available to them. Other factors, such as general intelligence and perception accuracy, also influence decision-making.

Two decades later, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, both also psychologists, presented their research on cognitive biases. They hypothesized that these biases influence how people think and make decisions.

Using heuristics methodologies

Heuristics are useful in problem-solving and decision-making. When we need a quick solution to a problem or make a decision, we usually turn to these mental shortcuts. Several theories have been proposed by psychologists as to why we rely on heuristics.

Attribute substitution, for instance, occurs when people replace complex and difficult questions with simpler ones that establish some relationship. Whereas with effort reduction heuristics people reduce their mental effort, which is referred to as “mental laziness.” Finally, considering the use of heuristics and the probabilities of getting it right or wrong, it has been determined these methods are more accurate than incorrect. To put it another way, we use heuristics because they are quick and cheap.

Nielsen and his 10 heuristics

Nielsen heuristics are widely used throughout the world, particularly by design and development teams in digital interface projects. And because brands are concerned with creating a fluid user journey, in which it is possible to navigate without having to think, the definition you have just learned could not make more sense.

A heuristic, according to the dictionary, is a method that leads to the invention, discovery, or solution of problems. So, in this case, it represents a common-sense rule with the goal of improving and shortening the user’s journey and experience.

Today, we owe a lot to all these psychologists the fact that we can easily interact with systems and have a good user experience. And although there are various heuristic methodologies, in 1990 Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich proposed that usability heuristics be considered in all interface development. Now, Nielsen’s ten heuristics are among the most well-known to date.

Below are their descriptions, as well as their importance.

Visibility of system status
The system should always provide users with instant feedback to inform them about what is happening on the webpage they are visiting.

•  Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the language its users are familiar with: use words, phrases, images, concepts, as well icons that represent actions.

•  User control and freedom
An “emergency exit” must be immediately available in case the user accidentally opens an undesirable page and wants to close it or return to a previous one.

•  Consistency and standards
The interface must be consistent, allowing the user to identify the aesthetic, interaction, and information patterns that exist in it.

•  Error prevention
This heuristic focuses on reducing error-prone circumstances. For instance, if a user has not finished a task and is leaving the page, the system can present a confirmation button to alert the user.

•  Recognition rather than recall
The user should have to recall as little as possible, thus significant objects, actions, and options should be visible. This helps the brain recognize patterns.

•  Flexibility and efficiency of use
Lay users need extensive information to execute tasks, but as they become more familiar with the interface, they need to be able to engage faster. Therefore, the interface must allow users to alter their actions based on their level of familiarity.

•  Aesthetic and minimalist design
The more information there is, the more likely is it that users abandon your website because it is too confusing. This is why the design should be minimalist and the content as direct as possible. Leave secondary information in the background.

•  Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
If something goes wrong, show the user what happened and how to fix it. Error notifications must be concise, objective, and close to the action that caused the error.

•  Help and documentation
Although documentation and help areas are rarely used, they should be there to enable users to solve problems independently, especially in interfaces with multiple options.

How to not lose your brand’s enchanting identity

“But if all websites are following the same formula, how will mine be remembered?”, you may ask. The answer is simple, and the solution is even simpler. For starters, designing a logical flow based on heuristics is different from using a formula. Actually, it can be described as following user experience principles.

What truly differentiates your product/service is claiming what no other brand can deliver the way you do. The heuristics’ sole purpose is to highlight the justification of the promises made by your brand.

However, it is normal not to get it right the first time. After all, we can only get some answers after watching users interact with our design. It is from the need to ensure that our website has been developed in the best feasible way that the user testing experience is born.

This means that, by testing your website, you will have reports from which to extract data that will show you exactly how your users will understand your promises.

Don’t have a user testing team? TestMate is here to become yours!
TestMate offers three types of services to ensure that you find one that meets your needs. With our Full Service User Testing, for example, you will not only have access to qualified testers, but you will also receive very easy-to-read reports and video analysis that will direct you towards strategies that will actually work, as they are based on the characteristics of those who want to buy from you.

For more information about our services and how they can assist you and your team, visit our service page, or book a free call.

UX Trends For 2021 and 2022

Ask anyone and they will probably tell you that 2021 passed in what felt like the blink of an eye. The global pandemic continued to significantly impact our lives, with a large amount of another year spent in lockdown. We were asked to shake up our routines yet again. We as a society spent more time indoors due to restrictions and once again turned to digital platforms as a solution to remote working, education, shopping, delivery of goods, socialisation and entertainment.

Along with a surge of users online, we saw a multitude of online businesses birthed in 2021. With the level of competitors at an all time high, UX Designers were forced to implement innovative design features and elements in order to deliver the best user design experiences and stand out from the sea of competition.

Here we will break down the top 5 UX trends influenced by the year that was 2021 and what UX Design elements we predict will be leading the way in 2022.

What UX trends do we predict for 2022?

As technology continues to evolve, so too has our use of devices and online platforms. User experience (UX) design has become one of the most dynamic and exciting design disciplines because of its ever-changing nature. Here are our top 5 trend predictions you need to keep your eyes on for 2022.

Dark Mode

Dark Mode refers to user interfaces that use a predominantly black colour scheme. For instance, using dark backgrounds and brightening up the design by making the text stand out against them. Dark Mode has long been used by companies like Apple, YouTube, and Google — but now, it seems to be gaining traction among both users and designers because they’re starting to see its benefits.

Dark mode has an elegant, stylish, and contemporary appearance. With so much time spent using our phones and laptops, this UX design trend has become an important part of the user experience. With time, we’ll predict to see more applications, websites, and products use dark modes, and more designer programs available to do so.

Image source: Spotify

 

Augmented and virtual reality

With the rise of social distancing due to COVID-19 and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg establishing his own “Metaverse” (a new digital world), VR/AR has become an increasingly popular topic among tech enthusiasts. Eventually, Testmate predicts this trend will be reflected in the 2022 user experience design by creating more immersive, personalised and unique alternatives for people to enjoy.

AR and VR oriented design aims to respond more directly to the user’s needs, taking their experience to an entirely new level. As a result, we’re going to see the rise of a whole new UX design set rules for all types of companies as they move away from screens centred user experiences.

Image source: Ink Hunter

 

Clean user interfaces

Over the last few years, creating clean applications with generic, flat design styles has become a popular trend. However, since we’re designing for 2022 — it’s never a bad idea to include some innovative updates. With a clean, easy-to-use interface, you provide customers with a satisfying user experience, which leads them to associate your company favourably with their own personal experiences. A smooth user experience and minimalism are key factors for achieving interest and engagement in a user and is why we predict to see a simplified approach to UX design in 2022.

Image source: Squarespace

 

Bold typography

Using bold typefaces in a UX design is an easy way to catch people’s eyes. Bold typefaces stand out from their surroundings and demand attention. However for it to be effective, it must be an essential component of the entire look. Websites using this strategy include popular sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Bold typography has become an integral part of our digital world, so we’re going to see its popularity increase even further in 2022, especially on landing pages.

Image source: Pest Stop Boys

 

Responsive designs

Every year, new screens come out, and with each new device comes a need for user experience (UX) designers to create designs that fit well into these different environments. Responsive web design (RWD) allows for websites to be viewed by different devices. A responsive web page adjusts its layout so that it fits whatever device or window size you’re using. It ensures a consistent look and feel regardless of which device you use. Regardless of whether you’re using responsive design tools, like EditorX, which automatically adapts their layout for different devices; or designing pages that look good no matter where they appear — it’s more important now in 2022 than ever to consider screen sizes.

Image source: Magic Lead

 

What were the UX trends in 2021?

 

Minimalistic UI

Minimalism has been one of the most popular trends for digital products since 2020. Minimalism allows companies to focus their attention on communicating the core messages of their brand rather than trying to distract consumers from them by adding unnecessary elements.

In an effort to engage consumers with discounts, subscriptions, cookie popups and various other notifications on a website, UX designers noticed these features can become overwhelming and exhaust a user’s attention. This is why a minimalist design approach became a leading trend in 2021. A clear and concise design with an emphasis on clarity of the business message, usability and navigation became the ‘it’ UX/UI trend and we predict to see this trend continue into 2022.

Image source: ETQ

 

Customised Experiences

User personalization was a leading trend in 2021. As the number of online services continues to grow, so too does their ability to provide unique experiences for every single person who uses them. The goal of a UX Designer in 2021 was to create designs and products that closed the gap between what a user expects or wants and what people actually experience. Personalization focuses mainly on things like localization (suggesting items based on location), demographic data (such as age and gender), and behavioural data (for example, data collected through cookies or web beacons). After gathering user data, UX designers designed experiences and journeys customized for each individual user. An example of customised experiences in 2021 was

Image source: Function Of Beauty

 

Continuity

2021 saw a demand to achieve a seamless user experience. UX Designers focused on creating a sense of continuity, from the homepage, browsing of products, checkout to delivery, 2021 was the year to highlight the customer journey across UX Designs. Through the rise of online businesses, it was clear that the only way to succeed and stand out against the competition was to perfect the user-centric focus with a consistent design throughout the entire experience. 2021 saw a rise of this trend via super apps, an app that provides third-party integration. For example, Uber which was initially a ride-sharing app integrated their food delivery services ‘UberEats’ whilst waiting for your ride. UX Design continuity helped each element with the natural progression of one another in terms of developing a more engaging user.

Image source: Nike

 

VUi

Creating great user experiences using voice commands has been an established practice for quite some time now, however, the demand for convenience in 2021 saw a surge in implementing VUi within UX Designs. Initially, user experience design for voice interactions focused primarily on screens; UX designers used them so they would be seen by people who were using their phones. That’s one reason why voice user interfaces (VUI) saw popularity in 2021 because of its ability to provide an excellent user experience if used correctly. 2021 saw an increase in the usage of voice applications because of the greater demand for creating a seamless interaction between the user and the application.

Image source: Apple

 

Interactive Designs

An interactive design is all about creating an experience that brings up an emotional response from the user. These designs help to bring a deeper connection to the product or website and build a positive interaction. Animated UX designs saw a surge in popularity for 2021 and helped connect emotions to a product. Animations gave UX designers the opportunity to tell a story and give life to a product. Animated designs encouraged engagement and helped simplify navigation when used correctly. It’s also important to mention that this trend saw a rise due to the accessibility of 5G technology as UX designers were less wary of implementing animations because of higher download speed accessibility to the majority of consumers.

Image source: Style Novels

In summary…

To ensure that brands and businesses across all industries have the tools they need to keep up with the new developments that will satisfy customers, we need to monitor current UX design trends.

User testing is one of the most important steps in the UX design process because it helps ensure that the final product meets its goals. Only with user research will you understand if a design trend will be effective for your platform.

But how do we know if these design trends are having the desired effect? That’s where user testing comes into play. Want to be sure a new UX design trend will work for you? Speak to the experts.

E-commerce Web Design Tips

Entering the world of e-commerce is an exciting step for any business, allowing you to reach new markets and customers, and COVID-19 has made online businesses even more popular. Yet if you’ve never run an e-commerce business before, it can be difficult to know what to do and where to start. Here are some of the best web design tips, to ensure you don’t make common mistakes and can provide your customers with a great user experience.

Branding

The first step is to work out how your e-commerce website design will reflect your branding. One of the benefits of many e-commerce platforms is their customizability, making it easy for businesses to offer their wares while keeping their brand identity front and centre. If your main strengths are in areas other than design and branding, it can be worthwhile to seek advice from professionals in these areas, who can guide you towards the best ways to make your brand and website stand out, while maintaining consistent branding.

Simplicity

Cluttered websites with lots of information, photos or links can make it difficult for users to navigate, particularly if they are vision-impaired or have other accessibility requirements. Rather than trying to cram in as much information as possible onto the main webpage, it’s best to divide things up and go for a more simple look, making it as minimalist and uncluttered as possible while still giving users the info they need. The Web Content Accessibility Guide (WCAG) can give you some excellent information on how to design e-commerce websites that can cater for people with different accessibility needs.

High-quality imagery

While almost everyone has access to a camera in their phone, using phone pics to advertise your products may come across as cheap and unprofessional. This is another area where gaining the services of a professional – in this case, a photographer – can make your business appear serious and professional, as well as allowing customers to get a clear idea of what your products look like.

Remember the user

Your e-commerce website has to satisfy your own needs and requirements for your business, although you always need to keep in mind how users will interact with it. If a website is too confusing, cluttered or doesn’t easily give users the information or access to products that they need, then they will very quickly leave and go to one of your competitors – and they likely will never tell you why they’ve gone somewhere else. 

This is where user testing can be exceptionally handy by having potential customers (not just you or your website designers) interact with the site and point out any potential issues. The last thing you want is for your brand new e-commerce website to go live but only then do you realise there are major issues keeping customers from buying from you.

Search/filter

If you only have a small inventory of products available, it’s possible you can live without a search or filter option. However, the greater the number of products, the more vital it becomes to allow users to easily find what they want. If, for example, you’re selling products that vary greatly in terms of colour, materials, dimensions or other criteria, give users the option to sort through your products so they can see which ones conform to their needs. Many websites with lots of products take the easy route and only have a basic search/filter option, so as stated above, always ‘remember the user’ and what could make their visit more productive and enjoyable.

Contact

Many large or medium businesses will have dedicated teams (sometimes employed externally) to deal with enquiries and issues, and some even bury their ‘contact us’ pages so users can’t easily get in contact with them. Don’t make it too difficult for potential customers to contact you but be honest about the process, that it might take you 24 hours or more to get back to them, for example. The more open and honest you are about wanting to help customers, the more likely they are to do business with you.

About

If you’re a small business operating out of your lounge room or garage, or a larger business with a small team, it pays to give customers some information on who you are, where you’re based, and why you’re in business. You don’t need to give out too much private information, but adding a personal touch can help customers know a bit more about the people behind the brand.

Popups

There is a reason popup blockers exist: popups can be incredibly distracting and take customers’ focus away from what they’re doing. While you may be incredibly keen to get potential customers to sign up for a newsletter or to show them any current specials or sales, try to limit the number and frequency of popups or look at different ways of giving the same information which isn’t as annoying such as with a banner. If you simply must include popups, make it easy to close them, such as by clicking the mouse cursor on a different part of the page, rather than needing to click on a small ‘x’ in the corner of the popup.

Mobile

With increasing numbers of people using their mobile phones to search the web and shop, it’s now absolutely vital that you test your website and e-commerce platform in mobile environments, to ascertain if there are any potential issues that will harm the user experience and stop people from doing business with you.

Stock levels

A handy tool that will help your customers and make less work for you is to show current stock levels for your products (as can be seen on websites such as eBay). This will allow users to know how much of a product they can buy, saving you the hassle of then having to contact them and refund money if they buy something which isn’t actually available.

Reviews

User reviews can be a handy way for potential customers to gauge the experiences of others in regard to your products. There are now plenty of external websites that offer this service, such as Google or Yelp, or you can choose to show some testimonials directly on your site. Be aware that not all reviews will be 100% honest, but if you have received many negative reviews on Google, for example, but only show positive reviews on your website, potential customers may be discouraged from dealing with you.

View cart button

Once customers have added products to the shopping cart, they need to be able to see what’s in there and make any necessary changes, such as regarding quantities. It also helps users keep track of how many items they have added to the cart if the number on the ‘view cart’ icon updates with each addition.

Simple checkout

Once a customer has decided on what they want to purchase, make the checkout process as simple as possible. Many e-commerce platforms do all this work for you, while others will allow you to customise the process. One potential bugbear is the need for customers to create an account before they complete the checkout, which can add an unnecessary layer of complexity and annoyance, particularly if they’re not likely to be repeat customers.

Data

Finally, as eager as you may be to have new customers sign up for your newsletter, allow them to opt-in for this by checking a box, rather than needing to check a box to opt-out. Being surreptitiously subscribed to a newsletter can even be against the law, such as with the European Union’s Global Data Privacy Rules (GDPR). In Australia, privacy laws can require businesses to state what personal information they will hold, collect, use and disclose about their customers, so be upfront about how you will handle this information and make sure you’re operating well within the laws.

These are some of the e-commerce web design tips that we have for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help with user testing or to improve your website to increase your sales.

What is meant by website usability?

Website usability refers to the many ways in which a website can be presented and formatted, as well as its background functions and capabilities, so that a user can interact with it easily. How usable your website is will often make the difference between someone becoming a new customer or going to a competitor. Here are a few tips for improving your website’s usability.

Layout

It’s always a good idea to choose a simple layout where all information and links are presented clearly and consistently or are separated into different, logical sections. If visitors are distracted by images which are too large or lots of different fonts and font sizes, with little idea on what to click, it can be difficult for users to get the information they need and have a positive experience on your website.

Legibility

The colour of a background and the text on it can make a big difference to how easy it is to read the content on a website. There’s a reason why many websites will have black text on a white background, as it’s much easier to read than white text on a black or other dark background. Legibility also extends to the fonts you choose; most will be relatively simple as the most important thing is the ease of reading, rather than style. While it might look cool to have a logo which looks like calligraphy, for presenting a lot of information, simplicity is always best.

Consistency

If you look at most news websites (such as https://www.theage.com.au/), you’ll see that they tend to present information in a consistent manner: bolded headlines above a short summary of the article in regular, unformatted text, and sometimes with a story theme (‘Melbourne’, ‘Coronavirus pandemic’ etc) in text above the headline. It then becomes easy to know what to click on as all the formatting is consistent. If you start turning some of the unformatted text into clickable links or make other, inconsistent changes, users will get frustrated by your site.

Errors

When a new page is uploaded or updated, it’s always a great idea to check that it doesn’t have any errors, either in the formatting or loading. Users will rarely contact the site owner to advise them that their site doesn’t work, so you need to do this work yourself.

Links

Like with errors, check that links actually go to where they should. You also may periodically need to check old links to see that the site they link to is still active, either on an external website or your own.

Graphics

You’ve probably experienced being on a website and waiting for what seems like forever for a graphic to load, because someone has inserted the full-size photo onto the page, rather than a thumbnail. This can severely hamper a website’s usability, so always make sure to use thumbnails where possible.

Speed

Related to the above, how quickly a website loads will impact its usability greatly, not just in relation to the graphics but the website as a whole. Internet hosting is cheaper than ever, so hosting the website on a fast server with quick load times will improve the user experience.

Mobile

Given the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones, you have to assume that many potential customers will visit your website from their mobile phones. Always ensure that you check to make sure your website loads properly on mobile phones, with all menus functioning and all graphics loading. Again, potential customers will quickly get annoyed if there are problems (and most won’t send you an email to tell you), so do this work beforehand to make sure your website is usable.

Testmate is an industry leader in usability testing. To receive an obligation free quote, get in touch today.

What is a user-friendly website?

Spend any time on the internet and you’ll likely see the term “user-friendly” pop up in relation to a website. But what exactly does it mean and how can you make your own website more user friendly? Here we’ll explain all the ins and outs.

Put simply, a website is user friendly if it is easy to navigate, performs as it should, and does not create any issues for the reader. There are many aspects relating to how websites can be more user friendly and what will separate an easy-to-use website from one that people will try their best to avoid.

Navigation

User-friendly websites make it easy for you to know how to find things, with clear titles directing you to different parts of the website, and information laid out in a logical manner so that it is quick and easy to find what you’re looking for. If you have lots of menu items, rather than presenting each of them on the page, you can use drop-down menus to reduce the clutter.

Aesthetics

Speaking of clutter, how a website looks can greatly determine how user friendly it is. If you have, for example, a white background with yellow text on it, it can be very difficult to read. It can also be distracting if you use lots of different fonts on the page or if there are lots of large images with small amounts of text between them. On websites, less is often more.

Popups

You’ve probably experienced browsing on a website and then a popup interrupts you and impedes your view. These can be incredibly annoying and should be used sparingly, particularly if they require you to click on a little ‘x’ in the corner of the popup in order to get rid of it.

Speed

With high-speed internet becoming more commonplace both for WIFI and mobile data, the last thing you want is for users to sit there and watch as your website slowly loads. One of the biggest culprits is images that are saved on the page in full size, rather than as thumbnails.

Accessibility

Accessibility is one aspect of a user-friendly website, which tries to take into account the different skills and limitations that users may have, such as vision impairment. The Web Content Accessibility Guide (WCAG) was developed to help website owners make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities, as well as for older users.

Mobile friendly

The website Statista.com reports that in 2018 over 50% of internet traffic was generated via mobile phones. It’s therefore vital that if you’re creating a website, it is tested to ensure it functions properly on mobile phones. If it doesn’t, most people will simply move on to something else, rather than sending you feedback.

Testmate are experts at making websites user friendly, drawing on our years of experience to help website owners in a range of industries, such as e-commerce, finance, government, health insurance and startups.

Are you interested in our user testing services? Get in touch or request a demo today!

Why You Need Confidence Intervals in User Testing

What is a confidence interval? How do confidence intervals work? If you’re interested in learning all about confidence intervals and what they mean for your user research, read on! When running usability tests, KPIs and other quantitative metrics can be powerful tools in evaluating UX. Success metrics like task completion rate, efficiency metrics like time-on-task, and standardised questionnaires like the System Usability Scale (SUS) can help you quickly assess and compare the usability of your designs. However, before you make any important business decisions, you need to determine if your sample data is representative of your actual customer base. Finding the population mean, which is the average of every person who fits your demographic, would be unrealistic and costly. Therefore, any user test, especially those done on a small-scale, is subject to some amount of sampling error. This error can lead to both overconfidence or unfounded skepticism with your data. In order to counteract this, user researchers use confidence intervals to determine what the population mean could look like based on the sample data.

What are confidence intervals?
A confidence interval tells us how accurate our data is. Wondering how to calculate confidence a interval? Knowing how to calculate a confidence interval can be challenging. It is calculated by deriving the upper and lower limits of the sample data, which give us a range of values where the population mean would likely lie. Say we ask 10 people to rate how easy it is to complete a task on a scale of 1 to 7 and the average is 5. You can generate confidence intervals that show the likely population mean would be between 4.2 and 5.8. The more people we ask, the smaller the range becomes.

Exactly how likely your population mean is within the confidence intervals is determined by the level of confidence you choose. UX researchers typically calculate confidence intervals with 95% confidence. This means that there is a 95% chance that the population mean will lie within the confidence intervals you derived. It is important to choose what level of confidence you are willing to accept to make conclusions with your data. Higher levels of confidence will give you wider intervals with the same sample size. You need to test at a large enough scale to have confidence intervals that are narrow enough for you to properly assess your data. Confidence intervals are an important part of UX research and should be recognised as so.

Why do confidence intervals matter in user research?
You may be wondering how to interpret confidence intervals. Say you are conducting a usability test on a prototype to see the completion rate of your new feature. Your goal is to have a 90% completion rate at launch. After testing with 5 participants, you observe that only 3 out of 5 completed the test task. If you were to calculate the confidence intervals at 95% confidence, you would find that the lower limit could be as low at 23% while the upper limit could be as high as 88% completion. While the sample size is small, you can still present these findings to stakeholders and definitively show that this new feature needs improvement. Because our upper limit was below 90% completion rate, there is only a 5% chance that the product would achieve 90% completion if launched.

Utilizing confidence intervals in user research can help you to make informed decisions even when using small sample sizes and adds to the benefits of user research. Take the guesswork out of testing and instead discuss probabilities. If your confidence intervals are too wide to make statistical conclusions, increase the sample size and see if your results change.

Making Comparisons with Confidence Intervals
One way you can utilise usability testing is to compare the effectiveness of two different design iterations. Say your team wants to know which iteration will have a higher completion rate at launch. In order to make statistically significant comparisons, you need to take into account the confidence intervals for both iterations. For example, here is completion rate data for designs A and B collected with 10 and 100 test participants respectively:

In this example, using only 10 testers per test resulted in an overlap in your confidence intervals. In theory, these two designs could have the same completion rates when launched to your entire customer base despite design A performing better in the test. Increasing the sample size to 100 testers definitively shows that design A’s completion rates will be higher than design B’s at least 95% of the time. Having a larger sample size narrows our confidence intervals enough to show that the completion rates of these two iterations will be different from each other.

Dealing with wide confidence intervals
Does this mean that you can’t make effective comparisons with smaller sample sizes? That depends on how much potential error you are willing to accept. If designs A and B from the previous example were both early prototypes, then it makes more sense to continue developing design A. The upper limit of design B’s completion rate is only 68% whereas design A’s could be as high as 95%. Given that these are early prototypes, it would not be a big risk to pick design A over B to continue to develop. If you were making a decision between two iterations that are ready to launch, then you would need to conduct further user tests to be sure that you are presenting your users with the superior product.

Sometimes, using different usability metrics with smaller sample sizes can be more effective. Completion rate is a binomial metric, meaning that either the tester will complete the task or won’t, and this results in wider confidence intervals. Instead, you could measure task ease (SEQ), which is recorded on a 1-7 scale and is more nuanced than a simple yes or no. Even at small sample sizes, the confidence intervals will be narrower than what we saw with completion rates while still measuring the effectiveness of our design. Choose the metric and sample size that will give you narrow enough confidence intervals that you feel comfortable making decisions with.

Takeaways
Confidence intervals are another layer of user research that allows you to apply your small-scale user tests to your actual user base. The key to assessing data using confidence intervals is to ask yourself how wide of a range you are willing to accept for your data. In early user research prototypes, it makes sense to conduct small scale user tests to quickly figure out what isn’t working. When trying to reach usability goals at launch or making comparisons between designs, larger sample sizes are required to make statistically relevant conclusions. Design a test plan that makes the most sense for your current goals, and leverage confidence intervals to add credibility to your conclusions.

How IKEA and Nordstrom are Revolutionizing Retail and How to Keep Up

Retail shopping doesn’t mean what it used to. Despite in-store sales falling in recent years, retailers who have embraced ecommerce have been able to adapt and even thrive in this new digital-first world. The growth of ecommerce in Australia in recent years has pushed retailers to offer flexible shopping experiences across multiple channels. As the retail industry evolves, evolving customer expectations are also a reality that retailers must become accustomed to. Australian shopping sites must meet the needs of the modern day, digital customer. Customers today want to shop on their own terms, whenever and wherever they are, on their preferred devices or channels. Companies often consider online and in-store experiences as completely separate entities, but customers do not. They expect seamless transitions between stores and the web, and it is important retailers are aware of this and exceed customer expectations in order to keep consumers satisfied. To meet evolving customer needs, here are some examples of how major retailers like IKEA and Nordstrom are enhancing the ecommerce experience.

Bring the personal touch to online shopping 

Traditional brick and mortar stores leverage their sales associates to help guide customers when making purchases. They can help you find the right size or make tailored purchase suggestions based on your preferences. Providing personalized service is a tried and true method to building lasting relationships with customers. Offering such personalized services via ecommerce platforms is a much more challenging task. In today’s digital-first world, ecommerce retailers often neglect the importance of the human touch in their online user experiences. 

American department store Nordstrom understands that adding the personal touch can help distinguish yourself as a company that is willing to go the extra mile. Their  Stylists service is a platform that allows sales associates to provide their expertise to customers online. Any user can quickly get in touch with a sales associate for instant fashion advice or request curated looks on their website. This allows Nordstrom to provide a consistent standard of personal service across both channels.

One way that you can apply the personal touch to your own online shopping experience is to add a chatbot or live support to your site. Experiment with how you interact with online consumers by helping your consumers make purchase decisions along the way. 

Leverage mobile to enhance the store experience

With ecommerce in Australia rapidly growing, mobile plays a crucial role in the decision making process of customers, even in stores. More than 3/4 shoppers use mobile devices along with physical shopping. By optimising mobile content you can take control of how customers engage with your brand on this increasingly important channel.

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA uses their app IKEA Place to seamlessly integrate physical and mobile to meet customer needs. Using AR technology, customers can use the app to place true-to-scale 3D models of IKEA products in their own homes. While not a traditional ecommerce offering, the app acts as a virtual extension of the store and customers can find out if their new furniture will fit without having to leave their home. Customers can save their favorite items and choose to order online or check for availability at their local store. By making it easier for customers to make purchases on their preferred channels, IKEA understands that mobile can be a powerful platform for integrating the in-store and online experience.

Innovative retailers are leveraging branded apps to ensure that customers are getting the most out their mobile offerings. You can make sure that you are appealing to mobile consumers through responsive web design. Your website has to be accessible both on desktop and mobile to fit today’s mobile-first consumers.

Experiment with your online shopping experience

Ecommerce websites in Australia must try and exceed their customers expectations when it comes to online shopping. In order to bridge the gap between instore and online shopping, you must design engaging experiences that put the user first. Usability testing is a great way to gain insight into your consumer’s preferences and maximise sales online. Focus on meeting customer expectations with intuitive store navigation and easy checkout processes. Conduct usability tests with as little as 5 testers on wireframe prototypes to try out new ideas like one-click ordering or streamlined checkout layouts for better conversions. Testmate can help you design a test plan to revamp your ecommerce website for increased conversions or develop new apps or services that change how customers engage with your brand.