Posts tagged with Ux

When is a comparison site not a comparison site?

The UX world has been gearing up for a big event this week. No, not the US Presidential Election (although hopefully poor usability will not play a major part in this election as it supposedly did in 2000 ).

Today (November 8) is actually World Usability Day 2012, during which organisations and companies around the world hold events to spread the word and work of Usability and UX Professionals.

This year’s theme, apt for the current economic climate, is Financial Services. So, in keeping with this we decided to take a look at how two of the UK’s most popular financial comparison web sites stacked up against each other: Confused.com and MoneySupermarket.com.  

Using whatusersdo.com we asked users to conduct some typical tasks involving a specific type of financial service that many of us may be familiar with as it blurs the line between finance and lifestyle: pet insurance.

The results were quite surprising and not what I would have predicted. My guesses of the issues: confusing terminology, cluttered layouts, not knowing where to start, were all present but not the main problem.  

I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make that when someone goes to a comparison site to look at the cost of insurance they expect to be able to, well, get a comparison.

The two sites that we tested both failed in this mission in their own way. 

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Asda updates photo sharing website, but usability issues still persist

Last month I reviewed Asda’s new photo website which the retailer claimed was “the easiest and most convenient to use in the United Kingdom”.

It sells a range of personalised products including canvases, pet beds, mugs and stationery.

I found a number of fairly obvious usability issues that rather undermined Asda’s bold design claims, and in fairness the retailer was quick to respond to my points in the comments section.

Asda’s photo team said to check back at the end of the month to see the final version of the site, so I thought I’d have a look and see if any of my comments have been taken onboard.

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A love letter to Tate.org.uk

I started writing this post intending to look at some big-hitting art gallery websites and pick out best practice.

The aim was to turn you content marketers green by showing you websites for juicy organisations whose very ethos has always been content, form, learning, information, and which are now trying to adapt and evolve to make some money, too (outside of entry fees and patronage).

You can see this as the exact reversal of, for example, a marketing agency, which stereotypically has always been trying to sell through its website and is now getting its collective head around the idea of information, learning and content as the very top of the sales funnel.

So, I’ll give honourable mention to a couple of big galleries, and then move on to the meat of the post, which has been hijacked by my enthusiasm for Tate.org.uk, a website mottled with the sublime.

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20 experiential web design trends for 2012

Web design by its very nature continues to evolve, as it must, to make the most of modern browsers and the likes of HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, and to provide a wonderful user experience for tablet and smartphone owners.

Nowadays there is plenty of opportunity to stand out from the crowd, by being ahead of the curve, or by embracing new techniques that can help you to improve the performance of your website.

So I thought I’d round up some of the more recent trends in experiential web design. I say ‘experiential’ because I’m less interested in seeing whether drop shadows have made a comeback. 

The focus of this article is primarily about the aspects of web design that directly affect the user experience, rather than particular stylistic trends to do with the look and feel.

Great designers understand how to design for user interaction, and how to encourage new user behaviours and habits. World-class designers introduce emotion and have fun along the way. 

Some of these trends aren’t just-out-of-the-oven new, but they’re in here because they’ve become adopted by the mainstream. I have included other design features because they rock, and I’d like to see them on more websites.

It’s worth pointing out that user experience professionals are on the fence about some of these things. Do leave a comment if you feel strongly, one way or another, and be sure to let me know what I’ve missed.

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Why do Premier League clubs offer such an awful user experience?

Due to the global appeal of the Premier League and the fact that most fans buy tickets online you would have thought that e-commerce was a valuable revenue earner for top flight football teams.

However a quick look at the homepages of the nation’s top clubs suggests that they don’t see UX as a top priority.

It would be easy to say that with the amount of money in football they should probably spend some of it on user-testing, but I’ll rise above that and instead I’ll simply point out some of the more obvious flaws that clubs should be looking to address.

For more information on the digital strategies of Premier League clubs, check out our blog which ranks the teams' search and social performances.

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Asda designs 'most convenient photo site in the UK'. But is it?

Last week Asda launched a new photo website claiming that it is “the easiest and most convenient to use in the United Kingdom.”

It sells a range of personalised products including canvases, pet beds, mugs and stationary.

Customers can upload images directly from their computer or social networks. So now any photos you’ve uploaded to Facebook, Picasa, Instagram or Twitter can be turned into a personalised dog’s bed.

Never one to turn down a challenge, I thought it would be interesting to test Asda’s claim that it’s the UK’s most user-friendly photo site and see if there were any glaring UX errors.

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16 examples of microscopic attention to detail in UX design

It is the little things in life that count, according to the old adage, and this is certainly true as far as user experience is concerned. The devil really is in the detail. 

All too often some minor oversight on a website makes me furrow my brow, but more and more websites are taking a microscopic approach to user experience and interface design, and the results can be useful, amusing, fun, and functional. 

I thought I’d share some of my favourites, as well as a bunch from Little Big Details, a fantastic website that collects these examples of smart user-focused design. It has hundreds to browse through, so if you're interested in UX design then do check it out.

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17 luxury brands with poor web user experience

I've always found it ironic that some of the most fancy hotels have some of the worst websites in the world. It's the same with restaurants. Both are long serving fans of Flash and autosound, and the result can be hellish.

If websites are particularly bad, and if I'm the one tasked with booking or buying something, then I can tell you for a fact that I will look elsewhere. The problem is that there isn't always an 'elsewhere'. Luxury brands pride themselves on their uniqueness, after all. If your better half wants some Jimmy Choo for her birthday then that's what you need to buy.

I've seen signs of improvement, especially in the restaurant sector, but many top class brands still have a lot of work to do.

Here are 17 examples of the kind of user experience issues that drive me mad, and which feel like a punch in the face when the brand in question charges a premium for the quality of its products and services. 

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Quiksilver's new website offers shining example of checkout UX

Quiksilver recently revamped its European websites as part of what it calls “a very aggressive market expansion strategy”.

The sites, which were launched using Demandware, use a range of interactive and visual features that it claims offer an enhanced user experience.

But aside from all the new graphics, is the site actually easy to buy from?

We have previously flagged up ASOS as an example of shopping basket best practice, so using the same criteria I looked at how Quiksilver stacks up...

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Expecting more from mobile in 2012

Why should we expect more from our usual social media mobile platforms? Well, why not?

Without feedback, preferences, and usage patterns, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare wouldn’t be connecting us on a daily basis.

In 2012 however, we should expect a contextual experience from these sites – desktop and mobile alike.

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Q&A: Whatusersdo's Lee Duddell on UX testing

Lee Duddell is the Founder of WhatUsersDo, a UK based company that offers online user testing to customers including O2, Dixons, ASOS and Schuh.   

For examples of these user testing videos, see the site reviews we have done of Four Seasons and the Thomas Cook tablet experience

I've been asking Lee about the challenges of starting the company, the common user experience problems unearthed by testing, and how he sees the UX market developing in the next few years.

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14 fantastic scrolling websites that tell a story

In the past year or so there has been a trend in web design towards the use of scrolling, which can help to engage visitors and provides a feeling of movement and animation.

These web pages are entirely static, and rely on the visitor to interact in order to generate the ‘movement’. Back in the day if you asked for this a developer would reach for Flash, but nowadays HTML5 (which has a <ParallaxScroll> tag), CSS3 and JQuery are usually employed to achieve scrolling effects.

I’ve collected a bunch of scrolling websites that are built with the arrow keys in mind. Some of these are more 'animated' than others, and some scrolling websites feel a little bit clunky, but all of them are interesting and creative web experiences. 

I’m not yet convinced that scrolling is something that e-commerce companies should be embracing en masse, but it can certainly be used to support brand and product campaigns, given that the best examples are inherently narrative. Portfolio-based websites (such as the two agency sites I've featured) are another area where scrolling could come into play.

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, keep those websites scrolling…

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