Authors Posts by Craig Tomlin

Craig Tomlin

155 POSTS 64 COMMENTS
I've been improving revenue with online marketing, usability & conversion optimization for start-ups, small businesses and Fortune 500 firms since 1996. I'm a Certified Usability Analyst and multi-award winning marketer. Contact me for website usability testing and audits!

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Three reasons why crowdsourcing fails (and how to fix them)

Why-Crowdsourcing-Fails-UsefulUsabilityThe 3 main reasons why crowdsourcing fails can cause poor usability, bad conversion and meager ROI. Here are the causes, and how to fix them.

Recently, several clients have come to me with problems that all derived from the same source: crowdsourced usability testing.

If you’ve not heard of “crowd-sourced usability testing,” my definition is;

“Crowdsourced usability testing is a technique of gathering user feedback in which website owners ask a population for input on a website or application.”

Several of my clients had major usability and task-flow errors on critical elements of their sites, and the root cause turned out to be bad feedback gathered from crowdsourced usability tests.

Now don’t get me wrong, crowdsourcing if used properly can provide wonderful benefits. Books like “The Wisdom of Crowds” or articles about “Crowdsourcing” can be helpful references for the benefits of correctly applied crowd sourced techniques.

3 Primary Reasons Why Crowdsourcing Fails:

But when it comes to usability testing, often crowd-sourced techniques fail, and there are 3 major reasons why:

  1. The Crowd Does Not Reflect Typical Users – A major failure of crowdsourced usability testing happens when the researcher gathers feedback from users who do not reflect the typical user of the website. For example, gathering feedback from a general population will skew results if your website or application is designed for Seniors (those age 65 and older). That’s because what may be easy or readily understood by younger audiences may not be easy or understood by older audiences. It’s important to remember that every website and application has a ‘typical’ user (another word for this is Persona) who you MUST understand and design the experience for. Gathering information from people that don’t reflect your Persona is a major way to introduce usability errors into your system.
  1. People Don’t Do What They Say They Do – Focus groups and surveys reveal over and over again that what people SAY they do is often not what they ACTUALLY do. Anyone who has studied famous focus group failures like the design of the Edsel or the launch of New Coke will understand that beliefs and attitudes don’t always reflect actions. Asking for opinions about designs and usability issues is capturing exactly that, opinions. There’s nothing wrong with gathering opinions, as long as that set of opinions is then validated with actual performance-based usability testing. It’s the second half of that statement that I’ve found is typically missing (the task-based usability testing) that causes problems for those who use crowdsourcing for usability optimization.
  1. Biased Questions Can Bias Results – Subtle differences in how a question is asked, and what sort of responses (scales or other mechanisms) are used to capture results, can GREATLY impact the viability of crowdsourced usability testing. Just changing a few words in a survey question can have a major impact, potentially skewing results. Surveys and questionnaires are notoriously difficult to get right, in this case ‘right’ meaning non-biased. I’ve noticed that when I evaluate a crowdsourced usability project to try to learn why it failed, there quite often are questions that are asked in such a way that they introduce a bias into the results. Users of SurveyMonkey Question bank will note that there are ‘official’ approved questions for gathering feedback, and that the second you start changing the wording of a question an alert let’s you know you are in danger of skewing results by unwittingly entering a bias into the question.

Crowdsourcing Can be Good or Evil

Crowdsourcing is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde of usability testing.

If applied correctly, crowdsourcing can be a powerful way to gather information for design decisions. But if used incorrectly it can introduce biased information that hurts usability and causes website owners reduced conversion and needless ROI loss.

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Google hates your non-mobile website because of the bad UX it causes with their organic search results listings

Why-Google-Hates-Your-Non-Mobile-Website-image-from-UsefulUsabilityGoogle hates your non mobile website, and has declared war on bad mobile UX, here’s what you can do to fix it so that you stay in Google’s good graces.

Google hates you, not because you’re cuter than they are or because you always sat at the popular kids table, but because you have a non-mobile website.

How do they register their hatred of your non mobile friendly website? By removing your website from the top rankings of mobile search results. And that is a VERY bad thing if you enjoy receiving any traffic to your website at all.

Think I’m lying to you?

First off, have I every lied to you? And second, if you still doubt me then see the proof below.

Just go ahead and read this, it’s an official letter from Google to one of my clients, I’ll wait while you read it…

Google-Mobile-Ranking-Penalty-Email-from-UsefulUsabilityDid you catch their drift when they said…

“These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

So big whoop you say? What does it all mean?

It means you can kiss your first page or top ranking on the organic mobile search results page goodbye if you don’t have a mobile friendly website.

If you left your popular kids table youth for an all-grown-up job in Marketing, Lead Gen, Sales, Revenue or even UX, then you should be extremely concerned about losing your ranking on mobile search.

Why?

Because losing an organic search listing is equal to losing lots and lots and lots of money. Ouch.

Your boss, who probably didn’t sit at a popular kids table which is why he is always grumpy, won’t like it when your website starts losing all that mobile revenue. It will lose money because the traffic from organic listings is typically the best converting source of traffic, converting equals money to your business, therefore disappearing from the organic listings is equal to money disappearing. Therefore you boss will be even grumpier than normal.

For those of you thinking…

“Ha Craig! I don’t HAVE mobile revenue so this doesn’t impact me!”

Ha right back at you!

Mobile traffic continues to increase at a rapid rate, so even if your site isn’t generating a lot of revenue NOW from mobile, it will. Or at least it would, if you hadn’t angered the great search god that is Google and caused your site to disappear from the top mobile listings.

Here’s an example from one of my clients on the amount of their mobile traffic. Guess what. Mobile traffic represented more than 50 percent of their total traffic, if you include tablets. And most of my clients have very similar metrics:

Mobile traffic

Why Does Google Hate You and Your Non Mobile Friendly Website?

So why does Google hate you and your non-mobile friendly website? Simple. Because not having a mobile friendly website is a bad user experience and Google wants to promote a good mobile UX.

To be more specific, Google wants searchers who click on one of their mobile organic search listings to be able to have a good user experience, and their users can’t if by clicking on a mobile listing in the search results the resulting page is one that is non-mobile-friendly.

How to Get Google To Like You and Your Mobile Website

So how do you get Google to like you and your embarrassing non mobile friendly website? Here’s what Google recommends, so quit dreaming about how much better life was when you were sitting at the popular kids table and take some notes:

  1. Find problematic pages – View a Google report of the non-mobile-friendly pages found on your site, and the issues discovered. You can do that using Google’s handy mobile usability tool (Webmaster Tools > Search Traffic > Mobile Usability)Google-Webmaster-Tools-Mobile
  2. Learn about mobile-friendly design – There are a variety of techniques you can use to make your site mobile-friendly. Specifically, look for information about the issues brought up in Google Webmaster Tools and follow Google’s guidelines .
  3. Fix mobile usability issues on your site – Fix the issues preventing your site from being mobile-friendly. Here’s a tip, from this point forward ALWAYS design or optimize your site mobile first, and worry about the PC-based experience second.
  4. Use Google’s handy CMS instructions for making mobile friendly sites. If you use WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or other CMS websites you can find this hidden but absolutely fabulous helpful resource at Google’s Customize Your Website Software page.
  5. Learn about building mobile friendly sites. The Google developer get started with mobile site is part of the Google developers tool kit. But you don’t have to be a developer to get fabulous information out it it, it’s written for dummies like me, so make sure you save this handy site in your favorites.
  6. If all else fails, ask the help Google developer help community. It’s a group of nerds really smart people who didn’t sit at the popular kids table, but now get paid good money to fix your crappy improve your mobile website.

Conclusion: Google Hates Your Non Mobile Website

So now you know why Google hates your non mobile website, why you and your grumpy boss will be punished in the mobile organic listings for not having a good mobile UX, and what to do about it.

I can’t think of anything more important for you to do this year than to fix your non mobile friendly website.

Oh, and if you have a mobile friendly website I know what you are thinking, so don’t sit there and laugh at the rest of the poor slobs unfortunate souls that don’t have a mobile site. You should be spending YOUR time optimizing and improving your mobile website UX.

Finally, if you were not one of those kids that sat at the popular kids table then join the crowd, because I cannot confirm nor deny that I may also have been one of those kids that did not sit at the popular kids table, and may or may not have actually sat at the nerds table.

What? Did my playing Dungeons and Dragons give me away?

These 6 Voice of the Customer Tools can save your business, by capturing critical customer feedback to help you improve your website, products or services.

Contributor Piotr Koczorowski shares with us his list of 6 VoC tools, and why it is so important for businesses to use them.

6-Voice-of-the-Customer-Tools-Useful-Usability-326x235Being a successful eCommerce merchant is not as trivial as it may appear. Sooner or later sellers may end up with a webpage which generates views, but no purchases. App Developers do not have it easy, either. They may offer a great app, but no one is interested in it according to the data from the webpage, even though the app, once used, is received very positively. The question “why?” starts to be repeated like mantra, until the point of frustration and resignation.

No one wants that.

There are many ways in which you can analyze your webpages and gather useful data about conversions and traffic.  You can try to improve your website using those tools alone, sure.

But how about focusing on the customer: relating to their needs and goals?

What people often forget is that it is important to know your customers. ChubbyBrain during their analysis of 32 startup failures decided that ignoring customer feedback is the number 1 reason why they went down. Without knowing your customers, people trying to increase sales won’t be able to achieve their goal.

 – Donald Porter

Customers are the people who view the webpage and use it. They are the recipients you are addressing through the page, and if they do not hear your “message,” then all your efforts go to waste.

“But what if my customers don’t like my page?”

No one likes criticism, and you may think you don’t want to hear it. But you actually do, as it helps you to determine what is wrong and what you can improve.

So how do you gather that important feedback of what your customers are thinking? Consider asking your customers directly through your website.

There are plenty of services which allow you to gather website visitor feedback, for example by introducing feedback widgets. Customers can tell you what they think about your site or page while they are on the site. Gathering and organizing that data might be difficult, however, and that is why we prepared a list of 6 useful tools helping with feedback, which will allow you to see what your customers say.

6 Voice of the Customer Tools

Google Moderator

Google ModeratorIf I were to look for a viable tool for remote cow-milking, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google already catered to those needs. The search engine company also offers basic tools for gathering opinions from your consumers in the form of Google Moderator. However, since it is free it is not as extensive as one would hope. Yet, it is a fitting tool for those who want to perform some basic feedback gathering.

Instead of widgets on your website, you create a forum where users focus on voting on page items. They vote and discuss whether particular items are good or not, and based on that data and suggestions you may decide what needs improvement.

Users can vote anonymously. However, if you decide to, there is a possibility of allowing only registered users to vote.

The series you create can be further divided and categorized. For example, if you wish to study your website elements, you can set up a series called “The Website” and add subseries named “The banner” and “The menu.” After doing so, the forum users will be able to tell you whether the woman on the banner looks professional or whether the menu is as easy to navigate as a labyrinth.

Like most Google services, Moderator is integrated with YouTube: users can post videos, which allows them to better illustrate the issues they are facing.

To sum up, Google Moderator is a simple and quick tool for small research. However, if you want to provide a more comprehensive feedback service for your visitors, you may need to step up your game and use tools that are more extensive.

Feedbackify

FeedbackifyIf informative simplicity is what you seek, then it is worthy to consider Feedbackify, as it is one of leading tools of gathering basic data about customers.

Feedbackify revolves around the idea of getting pieces of feedback from individuals, without the option to vote on particular items. By clicking the widget button, the user is taken to short surveys about the page, where they can give ratings and opinions.

You can also set up your own logo, so the form goes along with your website, allowing you to provide a coherent design. It also assures the users that they are on a correct site.

The widget and feedback forms are fully customizable through an intuitive drag and drop interface, so you can personalize it enough in order to make it not an eyesore, but a pleasant experience.

Aside from the above, you also learn relevant information about the user – the browser version, the OS, the demographic aspects and more – all needed for conducting successful research about your customer’s opinion.

Kampyle

KampyleKampyle operates in a similar way to Feedbackify – you place a widget on your website, which can be accessed by your visitors to answer customized questions about the site and product. However, there are some other functions, which make it slightly different.

Even though Kampyle appears to require lots of work in order to understand and manage it, it is actually a manageable and extensive tool, easy to approach.

When it comes to feedback, it is collected and managed by Kampyle, ensuring that the information gathered stays between you and the service.

If you wish to, you may respond to your customers directly with a built-in response system. If something needs immediate clarification and may be resolved quickly, you can use that option to take the problem off the list.

Similarly, you can also set up an automated response system for your customers.

You can also set up different feedback forms for different parts of the site, so you can make sure that appropriate areas receive needed attention.

Because the service is integrated with Google Analytics, you will have total control over the data and statistics regarding the traffic, the usage, and virtually any other aspect of your website.

UsabilityTools

UsabilityToolsUsabilityTools (for transparency, I should mention that I work for UsabilityTools) offers a collection of tools called the “UX Suite” which offers a wide array of info-gathering possibilities. You can design a series of studies that can serve as a basis for further analysis and improvement.

The basic option is to create surveys, where you ask questions and receive answers, either by hiring respondents or by obtaining them by sending links or inserting a widget on your site.

Whereas previously clicking was associated with the sound of the keyboard, UsabilityTools offers you the possibility of performing Click Testing: Users place a mouse click on a given item on the webpage and express their preferences and their point of interest.

If you care to understand the thinking structure of your users, UsabilityTools provides you with a tool to perform “Card Sorting.” Customers and users are expected to organize given items in an organization system that makes sense to them, which enables you to “enter” their minds, so you can customize your webpage and navigation according to their mental map of how things should be organized.

In the case of comparing the experiences and needs of your customers, you may perform Web Testing. Create a scenario and ask your users to participate and then compare the results in order to see which implementations are successful and which are not.

UserVoice

UserVoiceInstalling and using UserVoice on your website is a breeze – they compare it to using it “like email.” It is an option for those who decide to go further into the feedback gathering territory, and who want to use something more explicit.

Customers can reach a forum where they send tickets and vote or discuss suggestions and possible solutions to their problems. Thanks to that, it is easy to identify problematic issues and locate where the needs of users lie.

Aside from that, UserVoice does not take its name lightly – the service allows you to provide feedback forms in over 40 languages.

People are more eager to provide their feedback, as UserVoice does not require any registration. Moreover, users are able to find out whether a similar question has been posted due to the search-as-you-type, a tool that allows showing results during writing a query. It also organizes suggestions according to user types, so whenever a user provides feedback that is similar to something that already exist, the system points it out and allows the user to merge the propositions and vote on them as priority.

All sent tickets provide valuable info such as the OS and the browser used or the page from which the ticket was sent. UserVoice is also integrated with Google Analytics, so the amount of information is extensive enough to cover most needs.

GetSatisfaction

GetSatisfactionGetSatisfaction presents itself as “a whole new way to interact with your customers,” and because of the variants it offers it is a viable option to consider when choosing the right tool for tuning to the voice of your customers.

GetSatisfaction works in two iterations: Firstly, it is a community-based forum, where the costumers create pages for companies. Therefore, there is a good chance someone already created a page for you. On these pages, the discussion takes place, where opinions and suggestions are exchanged.

Secondly, it operates as a help-page on your site where users can easily submit suggestions, ask questions, and receive help in 12 different languages. You can also integrate GetSatisfaction with your Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. It is perfect for analyzing conversations and community reactions – thanks to that you can predict trends or possible issues.

The tool also offers extensive moderation and people management tools, thanks to which you can make sure that all conversation remains productive and friendly.

The available widget can be customized according to your needs, whether you need to increase sales or visits. You can use templates or rely on your own creativity.

GetSatisfaction is about creating a client community and receiving feedback from it – if that is your goal, then you will be, well, satisfied.

Conclusion 6 Voice of the Customer Tools

These 6 Voice of the Customer tools differ from each other, so you can choose which one suits you the most for your business needs. As you can see, there is a wide variety of tools allowing you to focus on the VoC. But keep your eyes open, as these aren’t the only options available on the market, and new ones are continuously popping up. Be sure to search for other options so you can customize your feedback gathering experience to your needs.

And remember – the customer is always right.

Voice of the Customer Resources:

ChubbyBrain: Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail

CXPA: Customer Experience Professional’s Association

Forbes: 8 Ways Negative Feedback Can Lead to Greater Success at Work

Harvard Business Review: The Truth about Customer Experience

WikiPedia: What Is Voice of the Customer

About the Author:

Piotr Koczorowski-from-UsefulUsability-100x118Piotr Koczorowski: Quirky, funny and energetic young blogger from Poland with a passion for video games, contemporary American literature, chillwave music, and pizza. Between studying Translation Studies at a Polish University, Piotr works at UsabilityTools where he blogs about UX and goes overboard with puns and cultural references. In his free time he dreams of space travel (and pizza.)

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Interview with Ohad Rozen, CEO and Co-founder of Toonimo

Ohad-Toonimo-from UsefulUsabilityInterviews with cutting edge UX and usability leaders like Ohad Rozen, CEO and Co-founder of Toonimo are always interesting.

In this interview we have a chance to hear from Ohad about his past, what UX means to him and learn about his company’s leading-edge UX innovation.

His company has developed a personalized and dynamic user guide that acts as a sort of virtual assistant on a website, based on business rules and real-time user behavior, that guides visitors or helps them by calling attention to key items.

If you’ve not heard of Ohad Rozen or Toonimo, I suggest you check out their website. Ohad’s technology uses rules and real-time user behavioral triggers to guide website visitors with audio and visual graphics that act as helpers or guides, in essence to help them when it appears they are getting lost or confused. eCommerce sites and websites with complex products may find this new technology just the thing they need to get their users to the right place at the right time.

Why do I think this UX technology is very cool and potentially very powerful for conversion optimization?Because I believe this represents the future of Web UX. In the very near future, websites and apps that use behavioral data in real-time to engage and interact with visitors using targeted, personalized triggers will become the norm. Ohad and Toonimo represent the newest entry in this brand new space.

This is a new and somewhat rare use of advanced, personalized, behavioral-based technology to improve the user experience of a site beyond the traditional website experience of static pages filled with images, copy and limited functionality.

And now, on with the interview…

Ohad Rozen Interview

Q1. What’s your background? Where did you go to school, what subjects interested you?

Ohad-Rozen-Toonimo-picture-usefulusability-300x323I have BSc and MSc in Electronic Engineering from Ben-Guryon University. I then worked as an algorithms and system engineer at Wilocity (acquired by Qualcomm). I was always interested in customer experience on websites, and how to improve it.

Q2. How did you get into the UX field?

It is a funny question. Just like everyone else I’m a user. I was always aware of my own user experience. Every time I got confused, or was slowed down, or got frustrated, or encountered a design that was just plain bad – I thought to myself – this could be done much better. So when we started Toonimo things came naturally.

Q3. What is it about UX that you most enjoy, or find most rewarding?

Helping people. When users get to do what they are trying to do, in the easiest way, which in my opinion means in the fastest way – it’s a reward. I believe that every second counts. So if I succeed in helping users achieve their goal on a given page, be it buying something online, or understanding how to read their monthly bill, in a few seconds less – I feel satisfied.

Q4. You are the CEO and Co-founder of Toonimo. What motivated you to create the company? How do you help your clients?

Ohad-Rozen-ToonimoI want make the internet a more friendly place. I saw how people sometimes struggle to complete an online task, get frustrated from the poorly designed website or sequence of tasks, and I figured that there must be a way to make it easier. I was sure I could really help them.

So we started testing all sorts of ideas. Eventually we came out with what we do today – we add a layer of personalized audiovisual guides for the website, just like if a rep would sit next to you telling you in simple words about the website, service, process or product. Using our product, people spend less time trying to figure out what to do, and feel more confident in the process they have to go through.

Q5. What do you believe are the reasons Toonimo has the ability to be so successful?

First, we solve a painful issue to many businesses – how to make their service better. We make their customers happier and less frustrated, and thus customers will buy more, stick with the company longer, and will have less need to call the customer support center.

Second, our market is huge – almost everyone needs a human touch on their site to better serve their visitors. Almost all websites have hard-to-understand parts in their funnel / billing section / product page, etc.

Third, a bad UX is exactly that, it’s a real pain for the end users. Who doesn’t sometimes feel lost or frustrated when buying online or using any type of online service? A frustrating website UX is a serious business problem that must be solved for a business to be truly successful.

Fourth, we have the right product that solves this pain point. We have tested it, and we’ve seen the positive effect our product has on sales, engagement, and on reduction of support cost.

Q6. Some people might suggest that your technology of personal user guides on a website to help the site is actually not fixing the core problem, which is the bad UX of the website. How do you address that?

In a dream world maybe when there’s a usability issue people will go back to the drawing board. But we don’t live in the dream world and things don’t work this way. There are only two options, either things stay “broke” or you use a cost-effective solution such as the one we offer.

What we offer is practical. It improves UX instantly. But there is more. Our system is not just a “fix,” it can easily be part of an original UX design toolbox – voice and live graphic elements are just as “native” to the web these days as is text. Call me a dreamer but I believe we will see such solutions become the standard of future digital design.

Q7. As a UX practitioner and start-up, what motivates you to build this new product and company, what do you think it can uniquely provide to website designers and business owners?

Ohad-Rozen-Toonimo-picture-useful-usability-400x312I’m driven by the will to create a better user experience, and to save time for our customers’ customers. We enable website designers and business owners to simplify non-trivial processes on their site, to easily show their visitors around the website, to explain about their service and do so in an innovative way.

Q8. What advice do you have for other UX practitioners or start-ups that wish to create a product or service, whether they are new to the field or perhaps more established?

The most important thing to start with is to validate your concept. You must first build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), test it, see how your early adapters react to it, and only then decide if the direction you are aiming for is right. Many UX startups start building the best possible product, and only then try to validate the direction, which usually ends up with a lot of wasted time.

Q9. What do you think the next year to two years will bring for UX and the web design fields?  Do you see them growing or changing, if so why?

We are at “peak design.” The last decade, with the rise of the iPhone specifically and Apple design philosophy more generally has put “design” front and center. Looking good, having well thought out and well laid-out interfaces is no longer a competitive advantage – it is a pre-requisite.

So now things become more complex, or should I say more serious. For a while people would say “User Experience” and actually be meaning just their own product design. Now things are shifting all the way to the user. The next couple of years are going to be all about communication between product and user. We are at the dawn of the true UX revolution, one where the product can shift based on what the user is experiencing in real-time.

Q10. What’s next for you and your firm in the next year or two, what would you like to focus on?

We will bring our product to as many users as possible. And we ourselves will strive to improve. We will make our implementation easier, we will enable friction-less deployment of our audiovisual layer, we will provide more visual effects options and will improve the intelligence of our guide triggers. It is going to be a busy and exciting couple of years!

Thank you Ohad!

Conclusion Interview with Ohad Rozen

Ohad Rozen represents the new cutting edge in UX and Usability leaders, people who invent new ways for visitors to interact with, and be influenced by, a much more dynamic and personalized website experience.

Animated characters or proactive pop-up chat on websites are nothing new. But personalized guides that are dynamic and can be customized by business rules triggered by user behavior and real-time engagement is brand new and very cutting edge.

To see a live example of Toonimo in action visit the NetQuote website and click the “Show Me Around” button.

In the future, websites and apps that use a personalized and dynamic experience to engage and interact with visitors through a web experience triggered by user behavior and business rules will become the norm. And Ohad and Toonimo represent the newest leaders in this brand new space.

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Poll-What-Will-Your-UX-Spend-Be-In-2015-UsefulUsability
Time for another fun and quick Useful Usability Poll! For 2015, will your spend be more or less than it was for 2014? Or do you not spend on UX at all? Add your thoughts in the Comments about why you are planning your spend that way, and thanks for sharing!

What are your 2015 UX spending plans?


View Results

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Remember to add your thoughts in the comments about why you think spending will go up, stay the same or go down, and thanks for sharing!

Spending on UX in 2015

Spending on UX in 2015 in my opinion will probably increase versus that which we saw in 2014. Of course, there are numerous reasons why that prediction may not come true, such as economic stress, corporate or business related stress, shifting priorities in UX projects or work, etc.

However, for many of my clients plans are underway for overhauls of UX along three basic categories, I’m wondering if yours are the same?

  • App Development UX Spending – Many of my clients are busy planning or creating new user experiences for mobile-specific apps this year. Interestingly there seems to be quite a focus on specific apps that embed useful functionality into a branded, clean experience. I’m guessing that most mid to large sized businesses finally understand the value of mobile to their business, and are busy creating solutions that help their customers solve problems using mobile devices.
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  • Website UX Spending – Almost all of my clients are busy re-working or optimizing their websites, with plans to continue and increase that level in 2015. Perhaps some of this is due to Google’s seemingly increased interest in making user engagement an important component of search results positioning. But my guess is that more of it is due to businesses needing improved conversion from their web properties, to help bottom line profitability and growth. No matter the reason, I’ve been aware of quite a few firms actively planning or currently engaged in re-working or completely overhauling their websites from a UX perspective.
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  • Customer Service and Satisfaction UX Spending – Another area many of my clients are focused on for 2015 is improving the user experience existing customers and clients have with their business. It’s an old marketing adage that it’s 10 times more expensive to convert a new customer as it is to hold on to an existing one. My belief is many businesses are realizing that if they don’t improve the user experience of their customer services, their customers will leave in droves. Traditionally firms spend less on improving customer experience than in other areas, but I think the whole CX movement is really beginning to change this, and will continue to do so as more businesses look to improve their Customer Lifetime Value metrics.

But what about you and your UX spending?

So what about you and your plans for UX spending in 2015? Are you planning on spending more, less or about the same versus 2014? And much more importantly, why?

Share your thoughts about UX spending in the comments below!

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So How Did My Earlier 7 Controversial Usability Predictions Turn Out from 5 Years Ago?

Results-7-Controversial-Usability-Predictions-2010-326x235-UsefulUsabilityFive years ago, I published a post of 7 controversial usability predictions for 2010. So what were the results? Did my prognostications come true? Did I get them right?

So with 100 percent transparency, and a small amount of trepidation on my part, let us review how my predictions turned out.

For those of you who need may need a refresher on my 2010 controversial usability predictions, here they are with a brief update on how I did:

  1. The cost of conducting usability testing will decrease by a factor of 10.

I think I nailed this one (means I got it correct for those of you not up on U.S. slang).

Costs for conducting usability testing are a fraction of what they were five to six years ago. Why? Primarily because more and more firms and consultants are using remote moderated and un-moderated usability testing in place of expensive in-person testing at remote locations.

Remote moderated and un-moderated usability testing tools enable research to be conducted for a fraction of what it costs to fly a team to a remote location, rent a facility or hotel room, schedule and conduct the tests, pay for food, travel and lodging for the team, fly them back, and wait for their results.  The savings easily beat the factor of 10 prediction I made.

Add to that that there are now a plethora of low cost remote moderated and un-moderated usability testing tools available, and the savings are even greater.

  1. There will be a dramatic increase in the use of low cost web-based usability testing tools.

Again, nailed it!

Looking out at the tools available today, (you can see a recent list in my 14 usability testing tools article), it’s clear that web and mobile based solutions are plentiful, and seem to be added to daily.

  1. True usability ROI will continue to elude usability practitioners

I think I mostly got this one right, and that this statement is still mostly true, as I have witnessed some firms who have become able to accurately predict their Return On Investment (ROI) for usability. But, sadly, I’ve seen plenty of other firms that are still clueless about usability and ROI.

It helps to have people like Jeff Sauro of Measuring Usability providing helpful information on how to measure and estimate ROI for usability. But I am going to go out on a limb here and state that there are still plenty of organizations and consultants who have no idea how improved usability adds to their bottom line.

  1. Use of remote moderated usability testing will increase by a factor of 10

This one I think I missed. Firms that provide remote un-moderated usability testing like UserTesting, UsabilityTools, Loop11 and plenty more have experienced tremendous growth in utilization. But to a certain extent, that growth has I believe come at the expense of conducting usability testing sessions using remote moderated methods.

I have to admit that even for myself, it is sometimes easier, faster and quicker to conduct un-moderated remote usability testing versus moderated remote sessions. The allure of obtaining results in 10 minutes sometimes pulls decisions to use remote un-moderated, when in fact remote moderated would have been equal to or potentially better for a particular test.

Remote moderated will never go away, but because it takes more leg work to set up and administer it will probably never see utilization increase anywhere near remote un-moderated utilization.

  1. The UK will become a major source of usability expertise

Nailed it! Have you seen the huge number of UX and Usability conferences in the UK? Here’s a list of the UK’s past 337 UX events from Lanyrd. Yes! 337 events!

There are also scores of UX, Design and IA shops in the British Isles. The UK is no slouch when it comes to usability expertise. Our friends over the pond have embraced all things usability and UX and have used it to great extent. Is there room to do more? Of course, but considering the number of full time usability and UX shops that were there five years ago versus today, there has been tremendous growth in this area. So raise a hefty pint of ale, and three cheers in celebration of usability expertise in the UK!

  1. The phrase User Experience Design will become overused and almost meaningless

I’ll give myself a partial correct on this one. True, UX is now a far more common term than usability and in some ways UX has killed Usability. And true, most business folks or non-techies may not know one from the other, but still, there has been some consolidation and standardization of the term user experience design that most in our circle understand and use. It’s far from meaningless, so although there are still multiple ways to define ‘UX,’ the common theme of the experience a user has with a product, website, application or whatever seems to be fairly well understood.

  1. Without professional certification being required, more and more charlatans will be attracted to usability

I’ll give myself a partial correct on this one. A Certification course, test and certified practitioner list still eludes our ranks. I would have hoped the User Experience Professional’s Association could have made some progress on this in the past five years, but sadly that is not the case.

I have seen plenty of suspect ‘UX Audits’ and ‘Usability Reports’ floating around that seem to be very sub-standard in terms of actual UX and Usability expertise. Still, for the most part the players continue to be the players, and new consultants that pop-up for the most part seem to be interested in doing the right thing by their clients and providing real value. I may have been a bit negative in my attitude on this one. But still, until there is an official Certification and evaluation of practitioners, it really is a ‘buyer beware’ world for our prospective customers.

Conclusion: How I did On My 7 Controversial 2010 Usability Predictions

So overall I scored myself with:

  • 3 Correct
  • 3 Partially Correct
  • 1 Incorrect

How would you score my predictions? Do you agree with my scoring? Be sure to leave your comments below!

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