One of the good things about being a UX agency is that we get to work on all sorts of different sites – everything from eCommerce to charity sites and public sector sites. To give you a flavour of our projects over the last few months here are some of the clients we have worked with:
One of the problems of usability testing websites is trying to get testers to behave as they would in the real world. It is a very ‘unnatural’ process. We recruit people into the lab, pay them money and ask lots of questions about the site and why they have done what they have done. Testers focus on the task they have been given, think about what they are doing, try and give rational explanations for their behaviour, and are not distracted by the kids or their phone. This is not what happens in real life where users click through most of the time not thinking very hard about what they are doing. To use Daniel Kahneman terms, in the lab users do more ‘slow’ thinking whereas in real life they are doing a lot of ‘fast’ thinking.
I have always been a bit of a fan of Gov.uk. From a citizen’s point of view, it has transformed many aspects of transacting with Government. Whether it is re-taxing the car, applying for a passport or applying for a patent it is now quick and straightforward. Gov.uk clearly deserves many of the plaudits it has received. The principle that users don’t care about which government body a service is being delivered by - they just want the service - is both sensible and user focused.
I have a confession to make – one that is a bit embarrassing. As a researcher, I know you must not trust your own opinions but should look at the evidence, because often our instinctive view of world - or of people’s behaviour – is wrong!
Web Usability has been heavily involved in helping to develop a new website for the Alzheimer’s Society that has just been launched. We are very chuffed with this and think the Society’s web team and their design agency have done an amazing job. Take a look at www.alzheimers.org.uk.
We were recently approached to do some usability testing on the Financial Conduct Authority website. In order to prepare the proposal I spoke to a stockbroker friend to get some idea of users' goals and the effectiveness of the site. I was rather surprised to learn that he would never dream of going anywhere near the site. Apparently their business has a staff of 40 specialists – mainly lawyers - whose sole job it is to understand the FCA rules and develop policies and procedures for ensuring they don’t run foul of these.
Most of the research we do on websites is now done during the development stage: thank goodness the days of usability testing just before, or even after, launch is now in the past for the vast bulk of our clients. See User test early - Quicker, better, cheaper outcomes.
Panic call from an 87 year old relative of mine last week – the TV had stopped working! For 87 she is pretty hale and hearty, she lives independently, drives, goes out walking the dog each day and attends lots of WI, Probus and U3A events so she is not stupid – indeed probably well above average for her age. However the TV had beaten her.
I have been had! I have just been stung for a 52% increase in my business electricity bill and I missed it! After getting over the annoyance at both the electricity company and myself, the lessons to be learnt are about how we all process information whether on paper or screen.
We work with clients in all sectors undertaking usability testing on all sorts of sites with all sorts of users – one day it is wine buyers on an eCommerce site, the next it is process engineers buying steam systems. Inevitably one looks for patterns in all this data. One I see is that B2B sites are often harder to use than B2C sites. At the risk of being accused of suffering from apophenia - my ‘word of the week’ meaning the tendency to see meaningful patterns within random data - I will try and justify and explain my conclusion.