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I’ve been keeping a close eye on innovation in the ecommerce sector for more than a decade now, and it seems to me that we're living in exciting times. We have hit some kind of purple patch.
Why is this? Well, ecommerce has massively matured. It's big business. Digital teams are smarter, and more agile. Sexy new tech such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery allows for sublime user experiences.
As such I wanted to raise a toast to innovation by highlighting a bunch of - hopefully inspiring - examples to you.
But first, a massive caveat: I would severely and mercilessly beat a few of these sites with a big best practice stick. There are product pages with missing information. There are search boxes with tiny fonts. There are usability issues galore.
Secondly, for ecommerce sites, it is all about the data. If you’re not constantly testing, measuring and refining, then you aren’t doing it right. What works for one brand might not work so well for another.
All of that aside, the ecommerce teams that take chances and push the boundaries of are to be applauded. Guidelines are precisely that: guidelines. Rules are there to be broken. And innovation is always to be encouraged, even when it doesn’t work out.
So let's take a look at some ecommerce websites (and one mobile app) that are trying new things, and that are noteworthy for their approach to the user experience. Click on the screenshots to check them out for yourself, and do let me know what you think.
UK retailers Tesco and Morrisons came first and second respectively in The Search Agency UK's latest mobile experience scorecard.
Last week in the importance of responsive design for B2B companies I looked at the scorecard in relation to the suitability of using the FTSE 100 as a test group for mobile experience, due to its large percentage of B2B companies and major international corporations.
As it turned out, despite the plethora of retail chains in the FTSE 100, only two companies listed used responsive design and they were both B2B. Of the remaining 98 companies, 42 use dedicated mobile sites, while the other 56 do not provide a separate mobile experience from the desktop version of their site.
Each of the FTSE 100 companies were evaluated and ranked according to load speed, site format, download speed, social media presence and app presence.
The top scorers in the test were in fact retailers: Tesco, which came in first with a score of 4.38 out of five and Morrison Supermarkets, which came in second with 4.12 out of five.
The average score for all companies in the study is 1.99 out of five, which is slightly below the US average of 2.29.
In the above mentioned article I go into greater depth in regards to the importance of responsive design versus hosting a mobile dedicated site for both retailers and B2B companies. Here I’ll be taking a look at the top companies Tesco and Morrisons, which both operate a dedicated mobile site rather than a responsive desktop site, to see if I agree with the findings.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression 'Never work with children or animals' right? Well, after you’ve read this lot, I reckon you’ll want to add participants, facilitators and even clients to this list.
You see, since my last blog I’ve spent a few weeks “playing journalist” sourcing weird, wonderful and downright bizarre stories from the UX (User Experience) Community.
The idea came to me while I was telling a friend how I had to sit throughout a whole study earlier this year in Norway, trying not to crack up every time a participant had to fill in his name on a form. Thing is, he was doing it with such a straight face that for a long time I thought it really was his name. Which it obviously couldn’t have been.
So it got me thinking that there must be other amusing or even downright weird experiences that my fellow UX practitioners might like to share with me... and share they did! OK, some took a little cajoling but I got there in the end.
They’re all anonymous and I hope you at least find them interesting, even if they might not tickle you as much as they tickled me.
The importance of a strong online presence exponentially increases as time goes on. Companies need to follow their audience into the digital space and provide them with the optimal experience online.
However, just creating a website isn’t enough; there needs to be careful consideration into your target audience, their optimal experience and how you can affect it.
Using the 11 attributes of usability, one can determine how to present digital content that will best satisfy users.
The 11 attributes are as follows:
I love Spotify, I’ll just make that clear from the start. Spotify has completely changed the way I listen to music.
In fact, while I briefly linger in this positive mood, here are some more reasons why I love Spotify:
As a part-time music journalist, I couldn’t function properly without its unlimited access to 20m songs. Also, new album releases for any given Monday seem to appear not long after midnight on the Sunday before. This is terrific for my Monday morning commute.
I can also use Spotify on as many devices as I like (desktop, laptop, phone, work computer) with up to 3,333 songs able to be synced for offline listening on up to three devices at a time.
Just in case Thom Yorke is reading, I will also add that far as I’m concerned, using Spotify has led to me spending more money on music through other channels (mainly independent record stores), purely because of the access I now have to music that I wouldn’t normally listen to
As a final bonus, in the free version of Spotify, it has jettisoned the limits to how many times you can listen to a song and how many hours a month you can use it. I would however suggest that £10 a month is a small price to pay not to have to put up with some of the most irritating adverts ever hosted on a platform.
And this is where we arrive at the major thrust of this article.
There has been a lot of talk lately about responsive web design, and a number of questions have arisen about how Google perceives sites that go down this route.
Matt Cutts said responsive design “won’t harm rankings”. Given that Matt isn’t in the habit of telling everyone how to win at SEO, I think this is as close to an endorsement as we’re going to get.
‘Responsive’ is pretty much used as a byword for ‘mobile optimisation’, which is the science of crafting a better user experience for smartphone users. The key part of that sentence isn’t ‘responsive’, nor ‘mobile’, but ‘user experience’.
This is becoming a bigger deal, as far as SEO is concerned, and I suspect that we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what's going on.
For many, user experience design is about creating interfaces that are easy for users to understand and navigate.
However, this isn’t what lies at the heart of a good user experience.
No, I have not suddenly started to question an approach which I have pioneered for more than three decades.
What I am doing is reflecting a discussion currently underway in the International Standards committee considering the revision of ISO 9241 part 11, which defines usability.
Don't worry, we don't intend to change the definition in any way that most people would notice. Standard-makers love arguing about fine detail, so there may be some tweaking of the wording in due course.
The core definition will remain the same but we'd welcome some input from Econsultancy's members about how we describe the outcome of using user-centred design.
I wanted to share this excellent presentation on the theme of user experience axioms, which has been compiled and - in the spirit of the subject - iterated by Erik Dahl.
There are currently 26 UX axioms, and I don't think there is any filler in here at all. It's rare to see such a concise, fat-free, meaningful list like this.
The UX Axioms website outlines these principles along with a brief explanation of the thinking behind each one.
A satisfying mixture of cutting edge web design, charming images and delightful usability makes the Visit Suffolk website a joy to get lost in, as much as the county itself.
Did I sound too much like an actual tourist board there?
Possibly, but it’s genuinely difficult not to be charmed by this site. Offering an experience that is not unlike exploring any attractive UK destination. In my experience I’ve certainly not found a tourism website quite so captivating.
Come with me and let’s take a little wander around the east coast…
Twelve months on from writing “Will 2013 be the year of conversion rate optimization?” I’d like to follow up and share some answers and stories from what we saw in 2013.
One thing is clear, last year was absolutely the most progressive we have experienced, with a continued trend towards brands embracing a data driven, on-going optimization strategy.
If the idea of fighting through the ambling crowds and earnestly sticking to the directional arrows on the floor of Ikea this Saturday afternoon fills you with abject terror, we may have the answer for you.
Qubit has recently revealed its latest benchmark looking at the onsite effectiveness of eight of the top global homeware companies and judging which one offers the best customer experience. You won't have to leave the house for a new cushion cover anymore.
Here I’ll take a look at the top scoring websites from the benchmark and see if I agree with the findings.