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October 2012In our best practices usability guideline series, this topic has come up before which emphasizes the importance of the guideline we are addressing today - consistency. While it is a standalone guideline, it is the key to making the other guidelines work as well Ė to provide the best possible user experience all of the usability best practices you put in place must be done consistently across the site. Consistency allows a casual user to learn your site more quickly and a frequent user to move effortlessly to the content or task of interest. While it is often the first guideline we look at when evaluating the site, it is the last guideline Iím looking at here because it impacts each of the other areas we have looked at in detail already. To understand how, letís take a look at the elements of this guideline in detail...
Eye tracking is an incredibly innovative and powerful technology that allows us to understand how people visually consume media and information. In the world of usability testing, we most often use it to evaluate websites, but it is becoming increasingly relevant in the testing of mobile applications, software, video games, and physical products. This white paper focuses specifically on websites and the role of eye tracking in helping us learn how to make them more usable. We conducted eye tracking research on the websites for Neiman Marcus, Gap, Expedia, Pfizer, Merck, Ticketmaster, AutoTrader and more, to provide a methodologically sound template for conducting eye tracking and to share best practices from our research.
There is no doubt we all want our websites to be attractive - captivating users and providing visual interest. However, it is important that the visual interest created on a site work with and enhance the usability of the site, rather than detract from it. Often we think of the aesthetics of a site as separate from the usability elements, but they have to work together to create a site that both captures and enhances your brand, attracts and interests users and allows them to easily complete the task at hand on the site.
One of the primary marketing objectives for 2012 for many of our clients is to integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy. To meet this need, eVOC recently published its Social Networking Report, "What Can Facebook Do for Me? Benchmarks and Best Practices from Brand Leaders." The findings from this report provide guidelines for executing a successful social media campaign by leveraging Facebook.
One of the most important aspects of any site is how the user can get to the information of interest. Once information architecture is considered and clearly defined, the next step is the mechanics of navigation. Users should be able to easily identify links and clickable content, use those and the feedback given by the site to move through your site with ease.
One of the challenges most sites face is that there is an excess of information they need to convey - value proposition, marketing messaging, product information, social media and more. When trying to fit this all into a single site - and, often, on a single page - sites can become cluttered and difficult to read, frustrating customers and prospects visiting your site. So how do you balance the needs of the company to convey a wide variety of information, but still provide your customers a good experience on the site where they are able to easily accomplish what they have come to do?
What does your website say to your customers? The premise of the Communication & Relevance guideline is to ensure that the site's messaging and its value proposition are clear, aligned with target users' intent and enhance the site's usability.
As websites and applications continue to proliferate, across platforms and devices, we have found that a surprising number still break elementary usability principles. So, we are going back to the basics and starting a newsletter and blog series that will focus on Usability Best Practices. The first of this series will explore the often forgotten basics of website usability. To begin, we will review our 7 Usability Guidelines for evaluating the customer experience across websites and applications.
Usability testing has become integral to the product development cycle for websites, web applications, SaaS, mobile sites, mobile applications and everything related to the customer experience online. As part of this process, many clients have set up their own in-house usability testing environments to enable persistent and iterative usability testing for their web-based products. Creating an in-house usability lab is not only cost-effective, but also enables impromptu usability testing throughout multiple stages of a product's lifecycle, from testing concepts, wireframes and paper prototypes, to testing full beta sites, live websites and mobile applications.
One of the questions we are often asked is how to determine whether qualitative or quantitative research is the right methodology for a certain situation. While there are no hard and fast rules, we want to provide some basic guidelines to help you decide which research methodology may be best for you. We'll start with the basics: Lab-based testing is qualitative in nature and there are multiple-methods of research that can be conducted in a lab setting. Web-based testing is quantitative in nature and generally includes an online survey methodology.
Faster, Better, Cheaper. This has been the mantra of the Internet since the late 1990s to save us time and money by shopping online versus in-store. And for over a decade, this mantra has held true. Consumers are hooked on online shopping. Despite the economic downturn in 2008, and leading into 2009, sales among the Top 500 online retailers continued to grow - increasing 11.7% - while total in-store retail sales only grew 1.4% according to Internet Retailer. In addition, among 41 of the 50 biggest retail chains, e-commerce revenue increased, while in-store revenue declined.
Competitive Research offers insights into how to turn new visitors into loyal customers and to keep your current customers invested in their relationship with you. It will provide an understanding of the current usability and appeal of your site in direct comparison to your leading competitor(s). By determining what your customers and potential customers think about you and your competition, you can position your site for success converting new visitors and retaining your loyal customers. In this article, we will describe two Competitive Research methodologies and provide examples of the types of insights that can be gained from this type of evaluation.
There's no doubt that mobile devices have become much more sophisticated in the past few years, so the need for a good user experience on a mobile device has grown just as quickly. Typical goals for testing mobile devices include the following...
Facing a redesign can be a daunting proposition. Getting the design that best meets business goals is subject to the constraints of time, money, and resources. It is a careful balancing act that often feels as though it raises more questions than it answers as you go through the process.
Open web research allows you to observe your target customers as they naturally explore the web and search for information about your product or service, while asking them key questions along the way, giving you insight into their motivations, behaviors, likes and dislikes on the web. This information can be used to inform branding, marketing and search strategies, as well as provide insight into your competitors and identify best practices in your space.
Lab-based Usability Testing is conducted in-person, with a moderator and 1 or 2 participants, and can be performed either in-house or in a research facility. Usability labs are equipped with audio, video and picture and picture recording capabilities and most facilities include a two-way mirror to allow clients to discretely view the live interaction between the moderator and the participant(s).
Web-based Usability Testing is conducted online, using a browser or proxy-based survey technology, that captures the natural behavior of participants as they complete tasks and answer questions online. Participants are invited into a study through an online intercept, email invitation, or third party panel, and they can complete the evaluation in their natural environment, such as their home, office or university.
In January, we wrote a blog post about the complementary effects of adding Eye Tracking to Usability Labs. When companies combine these two methodologies, they discover not only what users are looking at on each page of their website, but also why they are looking there.
One of the most common questions clients ask when we present findings is "How do our ratings compare?" Benchmarks are key for providing context for the customer experience metrics we collect and can offer direction for the prioritization of recommendations and opportunities for innovation. However, determining the right benchmark to use to understand your online customer experience metrics is not as straightforward as it may seem. In a series of blogs about benchmarking, we will explore some of the questions surrounding benchmarks: Who should I benchmark myself against? What metrics should I be comparing? How do I ensure an "apples to apples" comparison? What method should I use for doing so? How often should I be looking at benchmarks?
Part I asks Who are my competitors?
Part II asks What metrics should I be benchmarking?
Part III asks When should I be conducting benchmarking?
Eye Tracking is a unique method of usability research that not only enables you to observe how users interact with your site, but also elucidates what they actually see while they explore. This method is very insightful when Web analytics indicate there is an area of the site that is not being used. Eye Tracking answers the question: Are users consciously not clicking on an area because they don't want to, or because they don't see it? If it's the former, users will tell you why they are not interested in that area, but if it's the latter, only eye tracking can prove that you have a design issue. Eye Tracking is most effective for testing ad placement, navigation design, page layout, and calls-to-action. Eye Tracking is not limited to testing static Web pages; it can also be used to track dynamic pages, interactive applications, video and online gaming. When Web analytics alone cannot describe user behavior, an eye tracking picture is worth a thousand words.
eVŌC Insights conducted a comprehensive social media benchmarking study to help marketers leverage Facebook to engage consumers, build brand loyalty, and effectively create social ambassadors who will promote their brands online and offline. Download the Free Abstract.
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Over the past few years, expanded home page footers have become de rigueur for sites for their search engine optimization (SEO) benefits. If done correctly, the expanded footer can also play a role in enhanced usability of your website - that is, if basic usability principles are not thrown to the wind in the name of SEO.