Monthly Archives: September 2016
User experience (UX) is a standout amongst the most vital parts of a site’s plan and structure. It decides how guests cooperate with the site, how they feel while utilizing it, and their general experience.
In the event that the experience is important and charming, you have done your occupation. If not, you have to change until you locate the sweet spot. Is client encounter that straightforward? Scarcely. How about we investigate a couple of more subtle elements.
As per the specialists, a stellar client encounter starts the second a man arrives on a site…
# The First Impression
As web designers, your craft is one of the most important on the web because businesses seeking to increase their profits and expand must have a well-designed, usable website. A company’s customers and clients will consider the website as the face of the brand and their first impression can either bring in more business or turn it away.
When a user lands on a website, they will formulate a first impression within the first few seconds. These few seconds can be worth thousands and millions of dollars to a business if they produce positive results.
Users will immediately scan the elements. If they do not see something that makes them feel connected to the site, they will leave. Every element must speak to a visitor, from colors, layout, headings, navigation and content.
Here are some of the questions users ask upon first glance of a website:
Can I trust this business?
Are they credible?
How reputable are they?
Are they experienced?
Are they professional?
Will they take my credit card information and run?
Are they an established business?
Can they meet my needs?
All of these questions occur in seconds as users scan each element looking for something that will give them a “yes” answer.
Why do users only give a website a few seconds to assess whether they want to stay or leave?
For one, reading a computer screen differs from a book or newspaper and it is much slower. Second, the internet is a rapid-moving industry with millions of websites vying for the user’s attention. Website visitors will arrive to your website rushed and impatient to start, and anything that causes them to wait will be a waste of time. Third, most people are stressed and approach internet surfing in a hectic state. The last thing they want to do is sift through an entire website to find out what a business does. If they don’t find the answers they need or feel a lack of trust, they will move on.
# The Experience
Creating a great user experience must involve knowing what will make your audience happy and coming back for more…
Once users connect with your website, they look for an experience. Businesses define a successful user experience in different ways. Some think about the goal of user experience as converting every visitor into a customer first and then forming a connection. Others consider connecting with the visitor first (target audience), and delivering the right content to elicit a response.
What are some of the main goals of UX design?
According to Jesse James Garret, author of the book, The Elements of User Experience, engagement is the main goal of UX design. He believes engagement is only achieved through the basic senses along with a body and mind connection.
What is engagement? We hear a lot about this term since it is touted as the driving force that leads to a great user experience. But if you talk to some UX designers, they will tell you engagement usually occurs as a result of a great user experience, not vice-versa. A designer’s job is to make the experience as pleasurable and easy as possible, thereby facilitating an easier path to engagement.
According to UX experts, here is what engagement isn’t. It is not simply the “technology” of an experience or the way a website “functions.” Some businesses fall into the trap of designing strictly from a left-brained perspective, disregarding how a user feels, thinks, acts or responds emotionally. A great user experience will result in a range of positive emotions and they will be meaningful experiences.
A positive, engaging experience will be one where the user is highly involved, which results in future visits and increased engagement over a period of time. Generally, a positive experience will compel a user to want to relive it once again.
# User Experience Tips
According to Upside Learning, from an adaptation of Susan Weinschenk’s article in UX Magazine, here are 9 UX design tips:
- It’s better to show people a little bit of information and let them choose if they want more details.
- Instead of just describing things, show an example.
- If something is clickable, make sure it looks like it is clickable.
- If a task is error-prone, break it up into smaller chunks.
- Don’t make people remember things. People can only remember 3-4 items at a time.
- People need feedback – The computer doesn’t need to tell the human. The human needs to know what is going on.
- If pages are cluttered, people can’t find information. Use grouping to help focus where the eye should look.
- Things that are close together are believed to “go” together.
- The hardest colors to look at together are red and blue.
# How can you measure a positive user experience?
Ultimately, the user will determine whether they are happy with their experience and unfortunately this is not always easy to measure. Why? Because you cannot get inside a user’s head to experience their emotions. And their opinions are subjective.
Imagine a user had a stressful day and they arrive to the computer mad and ready to bash anything they see. Their experience may not be pleasurable simply because NO experience would be pleasurable in their current state.
You can, however, ask them feedback hoping they will offer honest answers and opinions. Your goal is to assess whether the user felt the experience was satisfying, valuable, and easy, among other pleasurable emotions. Were they happy, burdened, impatient, pleased, etc.? You cannot quantify emotions, so according to many UX designers, user feedback is usually the best way to assess success.
Google published a document identifying how it measures the effectiveness of user experience for many of their products. They discuss what they call the H.E.A.R.T. approach.
Happiness – Happiness, according to Google, describes metrics that are measured based on a user’s attitude. They are subjective in nature and describe satisfaction, visual appeal, the likelihood to share or recommend a site and the ease of use. The best way to track these metrics is to survey users and chronicle the feedback as changes are made.
Engagement – Engagement, according to Google, is the measurement of the user’s involvement. Google measures engagement by assessing a user’s frequency or intensity, and metrics such as the number of visits a week or photo uploads per day. It is recommended to measure engagement per user, not as a total, for an increase in the total number could be the result of more users, not the individual actions of current users.
Adoption and Retention – These metrics identify not only the number of new users, but also how many users remain in a similar time period. How you identify adoption and retention will differ based on your unique user experience. These metrics are useful for new products or those that are in a re-design phase.
Task Success – Task success measures efficiency, effectiveness and error rate. Essentially, you are measuring how long it takes a user to complete a task, how much was completed, and the errors.
The entry of cell phones, iPads and touch screens has impacted web plan in the last couple of years.
We see a multiplication of new plans and methods that started from versatile application outline. This marvel has been alluded to as the “Appification” of web. In the only us, individuals invest more energy in applications than on a site.
In the most recent decade we have perceived how web plan has moved far from overwhelming content based sites to intuitive, picture rich, video sharing applications. These applications connect with the viewer more than electronic substance.
The notoriety impact of Pintrest, Instagram, Viddy and others has had a main part on site design. Indeed, even the more seasoned informal organizations, for example, Facebook have needed to upgrade their plans.
In app design, performance is a key factor in a medium that imposes significant challenges on designers. In order to perform well and be user-friendly, they have had to change or adjust many design elements.
Many changes in app design originated from the limitations and constraints that smartphones and tablets have in their platform. Now, even though web site layouts do not have these same limitations, the same pattern and approach has been followed.
Some factors, such as finger tapping instead of using a mouse and time and space limitations forced app designers make different decisions for how to use their space well. Lately these decisions have become a standard base for web and mobile design.
In this article I want to review some of the impacts that mobile and app design has had on websites.
Below, I separated the effects into some samples. However, you will find a combination of the factors named below in all or many of the given samples.
UI and UX supports the brand differentiation
In the past brand recognition was achieved only by presenting well-crafted content. Now, every app should “Wow” users in their first approach in design, along with prefect performance and error free interactivity.
That is why we see the attention to web esthetic and interaction plays an even greater role on web and mobile development than ever before.
Using bigger fonts and buttons
Applications use bigger fonts and buttons due to the touch-based interface they utilize. This trend has slowly expanded into website design over time. In the following samples you see this effect.
Using fewer features but keeping everything focused
On apps there are limited features, which has resulted in a streamlined and focused experience. Because of the inherent space limitations of the platform, app designers display only the most important information.
Currently in the web designing community, the minimalist use of elements is getting more popular.
Using hidden features and drop-downs
Mobile apps use hidden drop down menus under a tab or a button to hide information when it is not needed. Some examples are search refinements, product options and navigation. These functions are accessed by taping a button in a collapsible panel or pop up when a finger is swiped across them. We see that approach in websites too.
In the above sample, notice how horizontal tab options and drop downs (lunches, breakfasts, etc.) tuck all the information they want to present in the most concise and compact format.
For example in the “Tour of America” you will see all of the available options with images in the drop down without leaving the home page.
Using less Flash and more Java scripts, Html5 and CSS3 for animations
Steve Jobs’ decision to not support Flash on IOS had a far-reaching impact on the web and apps. We see how web designers have moved away from Flash-based design and have embraced more device-friendly formats such as HtML5 and CSS3. Even Adobe, the makers of Flash, recently introduced Adobe Edge to create animation using HTML5.
Excessive use of graphics (photo and illustration)
Open any app on a smart phone and compare the number of images to the text used. This approach is branching out into website design as well.
In the following samples note that most of the home pages are mainly images without much text.
Using a large photo as a background
This is a nice trend in new website designs that has its roots in mobile app design.
These large images are attention grabbing and guide users to the story or concept they are trying to portray.
Before the rise of applications, the icons used in websites were used in limited areas like email, phone, and contact information. After apps started using icons for the purpose of conveying the main message, we see how web site designers are getting an advantage out of using icons on the website for more subjects.
We see how sliding navigations are getting more popular on the web. Many websites prefer to mimic the iPad paging technique in their website rather than the same old scrolling or navigation bars.
One page website
The one page website is another byproduct of Appification.
Image based navigations
Instead of just text we see an image or icon representing the navigation bar.
Magazine style website
This style is not just for blogging or online magazines.
It has become more popular due to having access to many options (tabs, videos, and menus) in one location.
Call to action on the home page
A few years ago a call to action button in the middle of a homepage without any introduction would have been very odd.
Now this is very common. Without going to any other pages a company can invite viewers to download, fill out a form or provide their email address. This is due to the mobile users behavior patterns to make decisions quickly.
In last few years we have seen how website design has borrowed heavily from mobile interfaces, tablets and apps. As viewers rely more heavily on these experiences, what will trends be in the next few years? What other effects will we be expecting to see in web and mobile design?
Making and flaunting a portfolio is such a crucial part of a fashioner’s life, few individuals ever address its adequacy. Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is, there are better approaches to offer your administrations – and one of those courses is by utilizing contextual analyses.
Why? Since contextual investigations, not at all like portfolios, tell your customers what happens in the background. They demonstrate your specialized ability, as well as your identity and attributes – two components ostensibly more critical than your “gifts”.
Contextual analyses are additionally what I jump at the chance to call “under the radar” deals device – individuals don’t have their business hindrance up when perusing a contextual investigation. They expect these archives are educational in nature. However in the meantime, contextual investigations position you to be more than only a creator – they position you as a specialist.
But crafting an awesome case study that turns prospects into customers requires a little more work than a putting together a simple portfolio.
The good news, however, is that this article will teach you how to go from zero to case study hero in just 5 steps:
# Define Your Ideal Reader
If you want to produce a persuasive case study, start by defining who your target readers are. If you skip this step, any case study you produce will deliver much less impact than it could have – it simply wouldn’t resonate.
For example, a corporate executive won’t be much impressed if your case studies are about helping small businesses. They’ll assume you won’t be able to handle the complexity of a large project.
On the other hand, small business owners aren’t likely to convert if your case studies are about helping corporate clients. They’ll assume you’re too expensive to afford – or that you can’t manage a small budget.
If you have no idea who to target, here are a few suggestions on how to segment your readers:
- Corporate vs small business owners
- By country
- By expertise (Professionals such as design directors or Amateurs such as mommy bloggers)
- By industry
- By specific problem (generating web sales vs going viral, for example)
# Define the Problem
Once you’ve defined who will be your readers, you’ll begin to sift through your experience to find a suitable experience you can turn into a case study.
At this point in time, most people simply begin writing the case study. But there’s one more thing you should do before you jump straight in: define what the problem you really solved.
You see, what your client came to you for is rarely the real problem they want to solve. For example, they might ask you to design a “cutting-edge” WordPress site. Why did they want that? Perhaps it was because they hope to increase conversions and solidify their branding.
Why did they want to increase conversions and solidify their branding? Because they were being outbid in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and Google is placing increasing importance on brand searches in search engine optimization (SEO).
So now the problem evolves from: “help client design a cutting-edge website” to “help client increase PPC profitability and boost SEO results through better design”. The latter being a benefit-driven headline you can use for your case study.
To take it up another notch (and you should always do this), is to define the problem in numbers.
For example, “their PPC landing page was converting at 2.37% but it dropped to 1.2% in 6 months ago – and according to their research, it was due to increasing competition. In 3 months after the new design went live, conversion rate went from 1.2% to 2.68%.”
Last but not least, make sure all numbers you cite have a context. If you said that your design achieved a 2.68% conversion rate – is that good or bad? How does it compare to the original number? How does it compare to the goal?
# Tell Your Approach
Once you’ve defined the problem, now it’s time to reveal everything that went on behind the scenes. Some designers are reluctant to do this because they are afraid people will “steal” their best ideas.
What those designers didn’t think about is that educating others positions you as an authority. Plus, the fact that your potential clients know what goes on in your mind doesn’t mean they’ll spend the weeks you did to pull off the project successfully.
In telling your approach, make sure you include things like:
- How did you approach the problem? Do you have model you use (eg: AIDA)?
- What unexpected roadblocks did you face? Did the CEO budge his head in? Did the problem evolve as you point out certain details the client missed? Were there any team members who were difficult to work with?
- Did the cost of the project blow out of budget? What did you do to handle it?
- How did you coordinate with the team as an overseas freelancer working on such a complex project?
Be very specific about what you did to solve the problem. For example, “I designed a beautiful site” doesn’t mean anything to most businesses. Try, “I changed the colour of the call-to-action button to make it stand out from the rest of the page – and that resulted in a 15% increase in conversions”.
# What Was the Results
At the end of the day, this is what all prospective clients are interested in. What did you do for your past clients? In this section, make sure you:
- Quantify all claims. Don’t talk about how you changed the typography. How did that change translated to numbers?
- Do you have screenshots of analytics? If not, can you visualize the data to show the results?
- And what was the insight(s) your client gained from the experience they had with you? An insight is a fundamental shift in mindset that changed the direction your client pursues in the future. And how does that shift in mindset benefit them in numbers?
This is a great example of insights I once used, “Today, Client X made sure usability is always a priority in their site redesign. And assuming that increase in conversion rate remained for the next 6 months (conservative estimate), they would have made $50,000 more in revenue.”
Remember how we talked about all numbers need to have context? The crucial context you need to provide here is ROI (return on investment). In other words, how much better off did your client end up by hiring you?
# Call to Action
Now that the prospective client is all excited about your services, don’t leave them hanging. Give them a compelling reason to act now at the end of your case studies.
Here are a few examples I have seen in various industries:
- Offer a free consultation
- Stress your tight schedule
- Give your case study readers a discount or other freebies – and highlight the exclusivity
- Link to more case studies if you have any
To really take it up a notch, make sure that people who clicked on the link in the case studies go to a special landing page designed specifically for them. From there, get them to fill out a form so you can follow up with a phone call.
After working with more than a dozen freelancers over the past half-decade, I’ve found trying to convert a client online – especially for projects that cost thousands of dollars – is a futile attempt.
# More Tips and a Conclusion
If this will be your first time creating a case study, start with these basic tips.
- If you hate writing, get a decent freelance writer to do it for you. A short case study shouldn’t cost more than $200 (about 1500 words).
- Always let your past clients shine in the case study. Positioning them as a snoot will not help you win prospective clients – if anything, they’ll suspect you’ll do the same to them.
- Use lots of quotes from your clients. Interview them and use their exact words. And if you can get him/her to agree, feature a portrait of them. This increases the credibility of your case study (who knows you didn’t make it all up?)
- Always use compelling headline and sub-headlines. For example, don’t go with“The Problem”. Try “How Can Design Help PPC?”
- Break down your posts with multiple sub-headlines and make sure you keep your paragraphs short. This is crucial. Nothing turns readers away more effectively than large blocks of text.
- Try a different format. Video case studies are almost guaranteed to get more views than would a written one, but it will cost more in time and money – and it can’t be updated as easily.
So there, 5 steps and 6 basic tips to create compelling case studies that sell. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?
But if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to do what others won’t. And this is one of the best opportunities to do that.