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.

Is your UX design missing a piece of the puzzle?

Why you need a balance between functionality and aesthetics in your web design

A lot of excitement is bred when creating your business website, and for good reason. A website is a vital tool for any business to showcase products and services (few could get by without one). It’s also the go-to place to show off that branding you’ve worked so hard on. You have the opportunity to show customers who you are and what your business is about, using pleasing aesthetics that match your business vibe.

So you look to businesses like yours to see what they’re doing, trawl websites you’d like to emulate, research what kind of customers you’re likely to attract, find out what they need, then get cracking on employing a designer.

But as we’ll discuss here, the puzzle is not necessarily complete. Read on to find out why.

Aesthetics

Beautiful design gives people that important first impression. Beautiful design imbues the user with the feeling that they should expect something great from you.

It’s a bit like when you meet a new person. You might quickly decide whether or not you like to be around them based on their appearance, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

Your design gives a user that sense of whether or not they’ll like what they’re encountering on your website, and whether or not they should give you their time and patronage. (It’s been found that 75% of users admit to judging a company’s credibility based on their website.)

But no matter how much they may enjoy that first impression, they won’t consider handing their money over to you based on mere appearances. Instead they’ll listen carefully to what your business has to say, seek detail, do more research. They’ll judge. And if they don’t see or hear the right things, they’ll move on.

So if your site gives the right feels, but your customers aren’t completing their full customer journey, your website is not really doing its job. Therefore at this point, functionality steps in and becomes equally as important as aesthetics when it comes to a successful overall UX design.

Functionality

Your website must function effectively so that users can achieve what they need to, in as few steps as possible. This involves (at a minimum) making navigation logical and simple, ensuring device compatibility (e.g. optimising for mobile), reducing clutter, incorporating Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and ongoing monitoring and resolution of errors.

If your web design is pristine but functionality is neglected, you’ll frustrate users who are nowadays used to engaging with highly effective websites and to completing online tasks quickly, without fuss.

Users will certainly appreciate a beautiful design, but they may not overlook functional flaws, as ultimately, they just want to find what they need, or get to where they need to go. If your design puts obstacles in their way, your user may:

• Become frustrated
• Question your expertise, services, products, or brand as a whole
• Quit your site and look at a competitor’s site instead.

Obviously, none of these outcomes are desirable, and since you’re working so hard to provide a great site, you want to avoid them.

So how do we balance everything to make a good UX design?

A good UX design helps users succeed in carrying out the tasks they need to accomplish, whether that be finding out information on a product, completing a form as part of an online enquiry, making a purchase, or something else.

A website that balances both design and functionality well, does the following.

Makes navigation easy

Consider the tried and true conventions of web navigation. These conventions work because users know exactly what to do next. They don’t have to think about it, and they find comfort in familiarity. Coming up with a navigation menu that flashes and rotates may win you a design award, but it likely won’t work as well for a user as a simple hamburger menu they’ve used a thousand times before.

Making your user’s life easy by keeping the most important information above the fold (the first part of the website you see, before scrolling down) is also a good idea. The name of your business, what services you provide, a search button, a navigation menu and contact details should be above the fold if you want users to quickly find what they need.

It’s also important to give users easy access around the website, using forward and back buttons, and giving them feedback when they are progressing through a process, so that they know their efforts are getting them somewhere, and so they don’t get lost.

Is designed for compatibility

An effective website factors in both desktop and mobile users, and caters to the differences as part of the design from the outset. This usually means budgeting for desktop and both iOS and Android mobile designs.

Mobile optimisation is vital, as mobile versions of sites need to function differently to desktop versions. For example, it won’t work for a user to scroll horizontally across to read an article on their mobile, and this may happen if the original content was designed for desktop, and it hasn’t been optimised for mobile (there are simple fixes which should be used for this).

Also, users can interact with mobiles in ways that aren’t available for desktop, for example, via haptic technology, where you can give tactile feedback to the customer via vibrations or shakes.

Keeps it minimal

A good UX designer understands that everything placed on the site needs to be there for a reason, and they lose the extras. This may mean some very beautiful design features are cast aside in favour of brevity, but does your user really need that fancy animation that slows down the page load? Do they want to read that clever content that takes too long to read? Probably not, so be prepared to let it go.

Reduces intrusions

Some things feel hard to let go of, especially if they involve giving customers extra offers or gaining customer information (think pop-ups, floating ads, videos that auto-load, requests for customer email addresses). These extras are rarely missed by the user, as they feel intrusive, but sometimes, for your business aims, you need to keep them. If you do need to use these elements, keep them to a minimum and give the user the opportunity to easily click away.

Allows space between elements

When there are many elements on the page, it can be hard to visually distinguish between them, and ultimately confusing. Your user may get distracted and lose track of what they were on your page to do.

Also, where touch screens are used, buttons need sufficient space around them. When adjacent buttons are squeezed together it can be hard for fingers to select one from the other. A user may end up clicking the wrong thing and being sent to the wrong page, which wastes their time.

Uses grid layouts and white space

Some sites feature thousands of products. How they lay out their enormous offering is important. The successful sites, like Amazon and AliBaba use grid layouts, so that despite a lot going on, it still looks orderly to the eye.

They also allow enough white space, which is key to showing off product without visually exhausting the viewer.

No matter how many products you have available, you need to give the user a sense of space. This means utilising white space, only showing a certain number of products, and having logical menus, so that users can make their way through viewing products, and easily get back to main menus. Whatever you do, just don’t crowd the screen.

Monitors for errors, and fixes them fast

If your website’s pages are loading too slowly, buttons aren’t working, forms aren’t functioning well, or your product listings aren’t up-to-date, you will create a poor user experience. Users may put time into searching for a product, only to find after a number of steps that the product is not available.

Basically, anything that gets in the way of your customer buying a product or receiving a service you offer is a problem that needs fixing, and quickly. This means ongoing checking of the website’s function. User testing with an agency is also an important way to check for errors at the initial stage, (or can be employed as a tool on a sporadic basis if you have the resources.)

Maintains quality content

If your copy is waffling or filled with typos, your website will look shaky, and you’ll lose customer confidence. Though people are forgiving, if you’re telling them you provide a quality service/products, but your content is a shambles, they might wonder how competent you really are.

So, ensure your content is free of errors, contains accurate and up-to-date information about products and services, and is as brief as possible (whilst incorporating any SEO keywords if needed). If you’re not sure if you should use a piece of content, or lose it, it’s usually best to again keep things minimal, and not include it.

Chooses the right bells and whistles

The landscape changes by the day, and new features are introduced that improve the customer journey. With each new feature, expectations are raised, and you feel you need to keep up.

Knowing what is the right new feature to give your user, and what is merely something cool that doesn’t serve much of a purpose for your customer, is another matter altogether. Your choices on this will come down to your customer needs and your budget, but also your discernment.

You don’t need to get every new feature, but carefully selecting those that create real impact for your customers will help.

In summary…

Whilst the attributes of a successful UX design extend far beyond what we’ve outlined above, we hope we’ve at least made you think about balancing aesthetics and functionality in your web design. And if your website is lacking in either attribute, we hope we’ve helped you think about how you might sort it out.

Want to learn more about the balance between functionality and design? Speak to the experts.

Top 8 Mobile Usability Issues To Avoid

With more people using phones to access services and make purchases, it figures that mobile apps need to be increasingly user-friendly. People are now accustomed to accessing what they need on their phone quickly and easily. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re going to risk losing customers to a competitor business with an easier-to-use site.

So, what are the mistakes we commonly see when it comes to setting up websites for mobile? Here, we run you through the top 8 mobile usability issues we encounter, and how to fix these problems before they lose you precious business.

Problem 1 – You didn’t design for mobile

Designing a website for mobile devices is different to designing for desktop. For starters, a desktop screen has a lot more real estate to play with, whereas a mobile screen can only fit so much in. Users also interact with the devices differently, with mobile relying far more on touch. Hence, it’s imperative to optimise your website for mobile users, and to design your site to be compatible with whatever device your customer is likely to be using.

One of the most common usability problems we see is that the website has not been optimised for mobile. So, for best results, factor mobile design into your budget in the first instance, including a separate design budget for both Android and iOS, as each will need a different treatment.

Problem 2 – Your site has errors

Too often we see sites that aren’t checked for errors when they’re launched, and aren’t continually monitored. Links break, product information gets updated and so on. If you don’t keep on top of ensuring your site content is accurate, and that forms and buttons work correctly, it reflects poorly on your brand, and you lose customer trust. You don’t want to give customers the opportunity to question the quality of the service or product you offer, and if your site is a shambles, they may wonder whether it’s a good idea to choose you.

It’s not enough to wait for an error message to come through before you check your site for functionality. And if you’re relying on your users to inform you of a site error, you might not hear a thing (it’s unlikely visitors will spend the time notifying you). So it’s important to fix mobile usability issues before they become a problem.

To fix this usability problem, run tests on all the elements on the page before you launch; regularly check that they work on an ongoing basis; and ensure any updates to your site content are also checked.

If you don’t have time to check for errors yourself, consider employing a reputable user testing agency to do it for you. Helping businesses fix mobile usability issues is their bread and butter, after all.

Problem 3 – You’re trying to fit too much in

Mobile phone screens are generally small, so it’s important to fit in only the most important features, and leave the rest. This means you need to really question every image, icon, animation, button, and piece of written content you have, and if it’s not vital for the user, let it go.

From a design perspective, this is a real positive, as it’s easier for the eye to see information if it’s surrounded by white space, than it is if the screen is clogged with bits and pieces.

Consider clickable elements
Think also about your clickable elements. Again, you have to think about ease of use, and that if clickable elements are too close together, people may struggle to click on what they want. If they click the wrong thing because it was too hard to select the right thing, they’ll head down the wrong path, and be frustrated. If this happens too many times, prepare to be abandoned. So it’s super important to make sure any clickable elements have sufficient space to be comfortably clicked on by your users (even those with big fingers).

Fix- Retain plenty of space between different clickable elements, so people can comfortably click on what they need.

Reign in the rambling
Think about your written content. When people are researching products online, do they want to read much? Not really. Instead, they want to scan for essential points of information, and read as little as possible.

So no matter how pretty your wording, it’s better to keep wording slim and direct. Include only what the user needs to know and relevant next steps. Design for scannability and don’t test your users’ patience by waxing lyrical.

Consider how you could replace written content with an image or a button instead.

Progressive disclosure helps
One way of reducing content is progressively disclosing information to your reader. Rather than seeing every feature or piece of content upfront, allow them the control to open up more content if they need it. Be wary, though, of using this as a tactic for opening more pages, and loading ads. Users are savvy, and if they get a whiff that you’ve just got them there to see ads, they might just leave the site. Also, make sure you have your most important content in the first section, before they open up further information.

Note that some sites will ask a user to read through, scroll through, and open up new sections a great deal, before they arrive at information on pricing. Again, be wary of burying key content in this way. Whilst you may want to spend a bit of time drawing your customer in before you hit them with the pricing, it’s probably better to not waste too much of their time if they’re not likely to buy from you at that pricing.

Prioritise content
Make sure you understand what the customer needs to achieve, and situate the most important tasks early on your page. Try to avoid your user doing too much scrolling.

How do you know what to prioritise? You need to identify your customer’s needs at each step of their journey, ideally by using some form of user testing. Consider what your customer needs to achieve and at how many steps it takes to get them to succeed. The fewer steps the better, as users easily lose patience. If you don’t want to do it yourself, this is what a user testing agency is there for.

Problem 4 – Tricky navigation

Users are accustomed to certain conventions when it comes to easily navigating their way around online. Tried and true methods make it easy for them, so it’s important to avoid being clever for the sake of it. If your ‘new and improved’ structure doesn’t help your user get their end result quickly, (or makes them have to think too much), it’s best avoided.

Users want to find what they need as fast as possible. Navigation should be intuitive and predictable, and users should know where they are at all steps in the journey. This is also important given that different users have different abilities, and different levels of experience in using technology.

Fix- Keep it simple, using hamburger menus, sidebars, footer menus as called for, and symbols for search and social menu options. For more information on successful web navigation, see Clear navigation paths to increase conversion rates.

Problem 5 – Insufficient feedback for the user

It’s a great idea to help the user know where they are in their journey. You can provide feedback in different ways, whether it be visual, audio or via vibration (haptic feedback). In a similar vein, help options in form-fields are useful for the user journey, as they are immediately visible, and don’t send the user off to find assistance, and potentially lose steam in their journey. Anything that draws them away, gives them the opportunity to change their mind about their query or purchase.

Problem 6 – Too much work for the user

Sometimes you need to ask your customer to do a bit of work. It’s unavoidable, especially if you need them to input their address to send them a product, or give credit card details for making a payment.

So, if you can invest in tools that give the customer the option of reducing the amount of data they need to input, do that. For example, if your app is an ecommerce app, and there’s the option of scanning a credit card rather than your customer inputting all the digits on their card (and potentially making errors), use the technology available.

There are many options out there. A digital design agency or user testing agency will be able to direct you to the most applicable tool for your business, or you can research it yourself. See our article on the 8 do’s and don’t of online checkouts.

It’s also a good idea to offer auto-complete suggestions (Google’s Place Autocomplete tool for example), and reuse previously entered data if possible.

Problem 7 – You ignored Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

These guidelines exist for good reason. So many people use mobile phones, and some have physical limitations. The WCAGs give you suggestions on:

• Using sufficient colour contrast- some low contrast is difficult to read in certain light. Black writing will always be easier to read against a white background, than vice versa.

• Providing text alternatives for non-text content, so that it can be changed into forms people can understand, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.

• Making all functionality available from a keyboard.

• Providing ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

• Making web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.

• Providing help options that assist users to avoid and correct mistakes.

• Ensuring content is robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. Make content compatible with assisted technologies.

Problem 8 – Annoying extras

There are a few things that could be placed in the ‘annoying extras’ basket. In some cases, these might be very well designed and executed features, but if they aren’t essential to the user journey, they can often be set aside. Be it a brilliant animation, a video or music that auto-plays without the user expecting it (they might not want everyone around them on the bus to hear it), or a push notification the user doesn’t need.

Think about any ‘extras’ you’re employing, and then consider giving the user the option of turning them on/off themselves, or ditching them altogether.

In Summary…

A number of usability problems can occur if you don’t invest serious consideration and resources into optimising your website for mobile users. But if you keep some basic design principles in mind, understand your user’s journey, and keep WCAG in mind, you can create a user-friendly mobile site for your customers. If you need help with user testing, contact TestMate to discuss a user test for your business.

How To Think Like A UX Researcher

Before a new website goes live, a lot of thought needs to go into how users will interact with it, which ultimately will affect their experience and influence whether it was positive or negative. The work of the UX (User Experience) researcher is therefore very important for a website. This blog will take you through what UX research is, what a UX researcher does, and how you can think more like them.

What is UX research?

UX research is ‘the systematic study of target users and their requirements, to add realistic contexts and insights to design processes’. While UX research can be undertaken at any stage of a website’s design, the earlier it is carried out, the better, as the research insights will help to shape the final design and work to improve a user’s experience with the website. 

UX research can be in either a qualitative (interviews, field studies) or quantitative (surveys, analytics) format, with two main approaches, attitudinal (listening to what users say) or behavioral (observing what users do). Using both formats and approaches will often result in the richest data, which can then give designers a better idea of how to apply the research to construct the website interface.

What does a UX researcher do?

The role of a UX researcher is ‘designing, conducting, analysing, and reporting on user-centred design research and usability testing’, which includes ‘identification of user needs and goals, task and workflow modelling as well as unmoderated usability testing, and more formal, in-depth testing.’

A very important quality for a UX researcher is empathy, that is, thinking like an end user, listening to their views, and interpreting their needs and goals, to make a website user friendly. This comes about through first understanding the problem or challenge in front of them, applying certain methods to assess how users respond in the context of this problem/challenge, gaining insights that can be turned into practical ideas, and relaying this information to the design team to help shape the final design and user experience.

How can you think more like a UX researcher?

UX research is about more than just the surface design of a website, but instead looks at the system as a whole. A UX researcher aims to simplify a user’s experience, although this may result in a more complex system which the user doesn’t see.

Some of the main qualities of a UX researcher are curiosity, problem solving, and collaboration: wanting to understand a problem, finding ways to solve it, and then working with others to interpret how the system can best deliver the required results.

The best way to approach UX research and think more like a UX researcher is to place the user at the centre and understand that the responses you receive from users may not conform to your own preconceived ideas, so you may have to be flexible and adapt your approach based on the feedback you receive.

Testmate is a leader in UX research and user testing, working closely and collaboratively with businesses to help them find potential issues, improve conversion rates, and discover new ideas. Contact us to find out how Testmate can help you.

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.

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.