tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/user-experience-and-usability Latest User Experience and Usability content from Econsultancy 2017-03-01T12:06:15+00:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68850 2017-03-01T12:06:15+00:00 2017-03-01T12:06:15+00:00 The hierarchy of user experience components Ben Davis <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4256/ux_hierarchy.png" alt="hierarchy of ux" width="600"></p> <h3>Viability</h3> <p>Is the system capable of achieving the job that the user wishes to perform?</p> <p>This seems a pretty basic requirement, but the user may not be trying to accomplish the task that the authors of the system intended it to be used for. For example, a ‘description’ textbox on a database system may be used for storing addresses, dates of birth, etc.</p> <p>UX is all about the job the user intends to perform. A system must have a viable UX for that task to be performed.</p> <h3>Consistency</h3> <p>Next up is consistency - does the system approach solving the same kinds of problems in the same way throughout? Steff Aquarone and Will Grant, authors of Econsultancy's UX and Interaction Design Guide, give several examples of consistency in UX:</p> <ul> <li>All dates are entered using the same date picker control.</li> <li>All binary (Yes/No) decisions in the system are entered using a toggle switch.</li> <li>Every page of the system has the same header menu and page footer.</li> <li>Terms are used consistently e.g. ‘Log In’ vs. ‘Sign In’.</li> <li>All multi-line textboxes will automatically expand as you type more text into them. </li> </ul> <h3>Predictability</h3> <p>Can users doing an unfamiliar task predict where and how to complete that task?</p> <p>Where inconsistent systems will trip up users doing tasks they’ve done several times already, consistent but unpredictable systems will only trip up users doing tasks for the first time.</p> <p>Predictability is particularly important for onboarding and for passing transactional relationships. Some systems deliberately challenge the predictions of the user, in order to get their attention, but this must be done carefully to guard against attrition.</p> <h3>Friction and flow </h3> <p>Over the entire customer journey, UX designers can structure the system to facilitate flow or create friction. Flow is used to promote certain actions and friction to highlight areas that might cause problems or do not meet business objectives.</p> <p>Again, Steff and Will give some good examples of both flow and friction.</p> <p><strong>Flow</strong></p> <ul> <li>The Spotify mobile app has a ‘Running’ feature, which detects your running pace and plays a continuous mix of music that matches that tempo, meaning you can keep running and listening to appropriate music without touching your phone.</li> <li>Contactless payments using payment cards without a PIN.</li> <li>Smartphone fingerprint readers letting you unlock the phone without a passcode.</li> <li>Facebook’s tagging feature detecting people’s names as you type. </li> </ul> <p><strong>Friction</strong></p> <ul> <li>On an iPhone, sliding a web page down when there is no more content will allow the page to move a little, but then it springs back into place. Users implicitly know what this means.</li> <li>‘Advanced’ settings areas for configurations that should not be changed by inexperienced users. These help new users to not feel overwhelmed, while more experienced users can still change the settings if need be.</li> <li>Finding the exits in a Las Vegas casino can be tricky.</li> <li>Cancelling your account often involves making a phone call rather than clicking a button.</li> </ul> <h3>Brand </h3> <p>Building an emotional connection with users is right at the top of the UX pyramid. This is where brands convey an identity or personality. Of course, these brand components are only appreciated if the rest of the UX hierarchy works well. They are also tricky to get right, but if done well can create loyalty and word-of-mouth.</p> <p>Examples range from Twitter's 'fail whale' page to Netflix's personalised suggestions and even comparethemarket.com and its cuddly meerkats. </p> <p><em><strong>For a heck of a lot more information on the principles of UX design and how to instill a culture of UX design within your own business, download Econsultancy's Best Practice Guide: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/user-experience-and-interaction-design-for-mobile-and-web/">User Experience and Interaction Design for Mobile and Web</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68849 2017-03-01T09:34:11+00:00 2017-03-01T09:34:11+00:00 Three reasons to appreciate VisitScotland’s tourism website Nikki Gilliland <p>There’s a lot to appreciate about its tourism website, specifically. Here are just three things to whet your appetite. </p> <h3>Video storytelling</h3> <p>Video is at the heart of VisitScotland’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/content-strategy-editorial-planning-content-calendars-training/">content strategy</a> - you only have to visit the site to realise that. The current ‘Winter Cities’ video is a fine example, being prominently promoted on the homepage with a site-wide display. However, it’s the brand’s longer and more in-depth videos that I think are far more impressive.</p> <p>A video telling the story of a father and son who dive off the coast of Skye to catch scallops – ‘Ben’s Story’ is particularly well-done. It makes for a captivating insight into what it’s like to actually live and work in this clearly stunning part of Scotland.</p> <p>While the beauty of the landscape is well captured, it is the personal storytelling angle that elevates the video to another level. Ben’s genuine tone and heartfelt message is what truly engages the viewer.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EHqQgKLuCLM?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>While other videos in the ‘story’ series are also worth watching, VisitScotland’s use of 360 video stands out, particularly due to how its combines both personal elements and visually arresting views.</p> <p>Essentially, each video allows the viewer to be taken on a journey with the group involved, providing them with a real insight into what it’s actually like to walk up Arthur’s Seat or climb Ben Nevis.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UouboTUbL1Q?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <h3>Interactive user experience</h3> <p>The main VisitScotland website uses interactive maps to bring the country to life, in turn creating a fluid and enjoyable user experience. By breaking down Scotland’s various regions in such a visual and intuitive way, it means users are more likely to browse around for longer.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4229/Map_of_Scotland.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="351"></p> <p>Instead of reading in-depth descriptions, uses can simply click on a part of the map to discover snapshots and general highlights, such as Inverness being known for its ancestry and battlefields.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4230/Inverness.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="733"></p> <p>This type of design also facilitates planning, with users then naturally inclined to delve deeper into the locations to discover specifics like accommodation and activities.</p> <p>This also means it’s pretty easy to get lost on the site – in a good way that is. You could be looking at the general map of Peebles, for example, before getting distracted by a personal blog about salmon fishing in the area. By creating and customising in-depth content for each location, VisitScotland is able to hone in on the individual’s personal interests and travel preferences. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4231/Peebles.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="505"></p> <h3>Community involvement</h3> <p>Instead of simply promoting the location itself, VisitScotland also encourages user-generated content with its <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68720-six-successful-examples-of-online-brand-communities/" target="_blank">dedicated online community</a>. Described as a place to ‘share experiences, pick up tips, ask questions and get insider advice’ – it serves as <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65722-18-highly-effective-examples-of-social-proof-in-ecommerce/">social proof</a> for potential visitors, as well as helping to enhance general brand perception.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4232/Community.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="352"></p> <p>Online reviews are one of the most trusted sources of information for consumers, with many ranking first-hand experiences and opinions above any type of brand promotion.</p> <p>There are endless threads on the VisitScotland community, ranging from discussions about planning a cycle tour to frivolous subjects such as tips for Harry Potter fans. This type of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67547-10-excellent-examples-of-user-generated-content-in-marketing-campaigns/" target="_blank">user-generated content</a> is invaluable for travel brands, helping to continue the cycle of interest and engagement from potential and previous visitors. </p> <p>Finally, it also encourages sharing on social media, with the #ScotSpirit hashtag generating support from other tourism brands as well as content from everyday users.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Beautiful views over the Hoy Hills in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Orkney?src=hash">#Orkney</a> today thanks to a little bit of white stuff <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ScotSpirit?src=hash">#ScotSpirit</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/uksnow?src=hash">#uksnow</a> <a href="https://t.co/FcXr8x7CBH">pic.twitter.com/FcXr8x7CBH</a></p> — orkney.com (@orkneycom) <a href="https://twitter.com/orkneycom/status/830043980133986304">February 10, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67952-five-tourism-websites-guaranteed-to-give-you-wanderlust/" target="_blank">Five tourism websites guaranteed to give you wanderlust</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68604-why-ugc-is-the-future-of-social-media-in-travel-and-tourism-marketing/" target="_blank">Why UGC is the future of social media in travel and tourism marketing</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66156-12-insanely-beautiful-travel-and-leisure-websites/" target="_blank">12 insanely beautiful travel and leisure websites</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68842 2017-02-27T13:17:26+00:00 2017-02-27T13:17:26+00:00 A day in the life of... a user interface designer Ben Davis <p>Remember to check out the latest digital job vacancies on the <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/">Econsultancy jobs board</a>.</p> <h3>Please describe your job: What do you do?</h3> <p>For me, design at all levels is about problem solving, and UI design is no different. </p> <p>Essentially, UI design is about understanding a brand, the user’s needs and a client’s business requirements, and translating that knowledge into combinations of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67683-how-typography-will-help-your-responsive-website-stand-out/">typography</a>, colour, hierarchy and structure to craft intuitive and engaging digital solutions.</p> <h3>Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?</h3> <p>As Senior UI Designer at Ridgeway, I sit in a middle-management role, line-managing the Design Team, and reporting up to the Head of Production.</p> <p>It’s my responsibility, from a visual perspective, to ensure the work that the Production and Design teams create reaches the high level of expectation set by the client, Ridgeway and myself, within the confines of budget and commercial feasibility. </p> <p>This responsibility includes collaborating with several other skillsets, including guiding parts of the UX process, and ensuring the quality of the front-end build matches the expectations set by the design concepts.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4188/Matt_Bartlett_1.jpg" alt="matt bartlett" width="600"></p> <h3>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?</h3> <p>At senior level, I believe being a good communicator is key.</p> <p>Firstly, a solution can’t be found until you understand the problem. To understand the problem you need to be able to extract the right information. The only way to do this is to build up a rapport with the client, know which questions to ask, and help to guide - but not manipulate - the conversation in order to understand the breadth of their business, and have empathy for their audience and brand. </p> <p>Equally, being able to communicate within a project team is vital. Being able to share and facilitate design discussion, describe animations and interactions, and define all the little nuances that build up a coherent visual language. But also to learn and understand if there are any platform limitations, the viability of your ideas, and ensuring your design solution adheres to the project requirements.  </p> <p>At the end of the creative process, you also need to be able to articulate to the key stakeholders the ‘why’ behind your concepts, and justify the visual language you created.  </p> <p>Other <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64780-have-changes-in-modern-marketing-led-to-a-soft-skills-revolution/">soft skills</a> include being able to multi-task, the aptitude to problem solve autonomously and as part of a team, a good eye for detail, and the inquisitiveness to stay on top of digital trends and advancements in technology.</p> <h3>Tell us about a typical working day…</h3> <p>Coffee is essential in the morning before settling at my desk. </p> <p>Thereafter, a typical working day will start with a quick catch-up with the Design and Production teams to answer any questions they may have, and understand when and where I might be needed. Then I’ll fire up my MacBook, put my headphones on, before checking my schedule, answering my emails, then opening up whichever project files I need.</p> <p>I’ll usually be working from a set of brand guidelines, the wireframes created by the UX team, the functional specification written by the Technical Lead, the content provided by the client, as well as my own artwork files. </p> <p>With all the necessary information at hand, I’ll start crafting the interface of whichever solution I’m working on. In most cases, I’ll be designing templates and components for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.</p> <p>Throughout the day there will be several touchpoints with the wider project team. This may include engaging with the UX and Development teams to ensure design feasibility, or answering questions regarding projects they’re working on. There will also be on-going dialogue with the client to ensure they are happy with my output.   </p> <p>My day may also include client discovery workshops, ideation sessions, writing project documentation, putting together costs for a new project, and collaborating with the Sales and Marketing teams. </p> <h3>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h3> <p>For me, it’s all about working on challenging projects for brands of all sizes. Shaping how they are represented in the online environment is a massive responsibility and an honour. </p> <p>I’ve had the good fortune to have worked with a really diverse spectrum of brands over my career, including <a href="http://www.ridgeway.net/portfolio/twinings">Twinings</a> and <a href="http://www.ridgeway.net/portfolio/hmv">HMV</a> here at Ridgeway. However, working for smaller brands and start-ups who are yet to have an extensive brand guidelines defined has its own set of challenges, and is equally enjoyable.</p> <p>There are several other exciting brands I’m working with currently at Ridgeway, including the De Beers diamond company.      </p> <p>What sucks? Well, I always told myself growing up I’d never get a desk job, so I guess sitting down for the majority of the day sucks.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4189/Matt_Bartlett_2.jpg" alt="matt bartlett" width="615"></p> <h3>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?</h3> <p>My goals are largely defined by the client and their business requirements, so every project will have a bespoke set of metrics and KPIs. </p> <p>Generally speaking, if the final product feels considered, is intuitive to use, engages with the respective audience, is striking and visually embodies the brand, then I deem that a job well done.   </p> <p>At Ridgeway, we specialise in CMS ecommerce solutions, so good conversion rates and dwell time, and plenty of repeat visits are all crucial to a website’s success. Although, success in these areas are a collective effort with the wider project team, I firmly believe my role as UI Designer has a massive impact in achieving these goals. </p> <p>After launch, there are numerous analytics tools at our disposal to appraise how a user is interacting with the solution, so discovering ways to refine and evolve will always help to boost any metric. </p> <p>Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Personally, doing a great job means a client will commit to an on-going relationship with the agency, and that is always rewarding.</p> <h3>What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?</h3> <p>In 2013 I started to experiment with a little known UI design tool called Sketch. Since then, Sketch has gone from strength to strength, and as an agency 90% of our design output is now created using it. </p> <p>I’m pretty certain everybody in the digital design industry has heard of Sketch by now so I won’t bother going into detail. Nonetheless, since I introduced the tool into Ridgeway’s workflow, I believe the team’s overall efficiency has improved greatly.</p> <p>Not only is it intuitive to use, but it’s great for responsive design, allowing you to project your mobile and tablet artboards directly onto the respective device. This helps to really enhance your design for smaller screens, and ensure your designs look pixel perfect before the Front-End team starts their build.</p> <p>Likewise, the Front-End team can jump into the Sketch files and quickly pull out any CSS code and SVG files they need to get started. </p> <p>At Ridgeway, we’re also exploring tools like Slack and InVision to ensure greater collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders. </p> <p>And, of course, where would any designer be without Adobe CC?</p> <h3>How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?</h3> <p>I must admit, I didn’t really specialise in web design at university, I was much more keen to explore other graphic design fundamentals. That said, my first employer must have seen some potential in my portfolio to have handed me the opportunity to become a Junior Digital Designer.</p> <p>In those early days, I mainly art-worked static micro-sites, and worked on CMS templates for pre-existing clients who were on a support retainer. I also created a huge amount of Flash advertising banners. </p> <p>The real change in my career came with the emergence of smartphones and tablets, which completely revolutionised the thought process behind the way I worked. I know responsive is commonplace now, and in most cases at Ridgeway we’d not consider building anything that didn’t work across multiple devices, but having to really contemplate page load speeds, breakpoints, and touch interactions was, and continues to be a fascinating challenge. </p> <p>Going forward, I guess I’ll go wherever technology takes me. I’ve no set goals in terms of career progression, all I know is the digital industry continues to evolve, and the advancement of hardware and software across a multitude of platforms offers endless possibilities and exciting new opportunities.</p> <h3>Which brands do you think are doing digital well?</h3> <p>I’m a keen follower of several online awards sites and often see some fantastic uses of modern technologies. One such brand that pops up time after time is the <a href="https://www.beoplay.com/">B&amp;O Play site</a>. Each product detail page is an immersive showcase of micro interactions and animations. </p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68375-airbnb-how-its-customer-experience-is-revolutionising-the-travel-industry/">AirBnB</a> on the other hand, is a great example of minimalist intuitive design, concentrating on user goals, whilst still maintaining plenty of character through carefully curated imagery, friendly typography, and boldly coloured accents and calls to action.</p> <p>Both are very different sites, but both uphold the integrity of their respective brands wonderfully.</p> <h3>Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?</h3> <p>Be flexible and never shy away from broadening your understanding of complementary skill sets. </p> <p>I love being a UI Designer - getting paid to be creative and working with brands of all types and sizes, but there is so much more to design than just ‘colouring in’. </p> <p>Having even a basic understanding of all things digital; UX, SEO, IA, accessibility, usability, CSS/HTML, and CMS platforms will help you to better appraise your own creativity, avoid designing based on assumptions, and find suitable solutions to whatever is thrown your way.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3008 2017-02-27T12:55:00+00:00 2017-02-27T12:55:00+00:00 Internet Statistics Compendium Econsultancy <p>Econsultancy’s <strong>Internet Statistics Compendium</strong> is a collection of the most recent statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media. </p> <p><strong>The compendium is available as 11 main reports (in addition to two sector-specific reports, B2B and Healthcare &amp; Pharma) across the following topics:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/advertising-media-statistics">Advertising</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/content-statistics">Content</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/customer-experience-statistics">Customer Experience</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/web-analytics-statistics">Data and Analytics</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/demographics-technology-adoption">Demographics and Technology Adoption</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/ecommerce-statistics">Ecommerce</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/email-ecrm-statistics">Email and eCRM</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/mobile-statistics">Mobile</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/search-marketing-statistics">Search</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-statistics">Social</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/strategy-and-operations-statistics">Strategy and Operations</a></strong></li> </ul> <p>Updated monthly, each document is a comprehensive compilation of internet statistics and digital market research with data, facts, charts and figures. The reports have been collated from information available to the public, which we have aggregated together in one place to help you quickly find the internet statistics you need - a huge time-saver for presentations and reports.</p> <p>There are all sorts of internet statistics which you can slot into your next presentation, report or client pitch.</p> <p><strong>Those looking for sector-specific data should consult our <a title="B2B Internet Statistics Compendium" href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/b2b-internet-statistics-compendium">B2B</a> and <a title="Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/healthcare-and-pharmaceuticals-internet-statistics-compendium/">Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals</a> reports.</strong></p> <p><strong>Regions covered in each document (where data is available) are:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Global</strong></li> <li><strong>UK</strong></li> <li><strong>North America</strong></li> <li><strong>Asia</strong></li> <li><strong>Australia and New Zealand</strong></li> <li><strong>Europe</strong></li> <li><strong>Latin America</strong></li> <li><strong>MENA</strong></li> </ul> <p>A sample of the Internet Statistics Compendium is available for free, with various statistics included and a full table of contents, to show you what you're missing.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68832 2017-02-24T10:05:11+00:00 2017-02-24T10:05:11+00:00 10 staggering digital marketing stats we've seen this week Nikki Gilliland <p>Please note, we've linked to all original studies where possible. Unfortunately not all of these studies are published online, they often come to us as press releases.</p> <h3>60% of millennials have used chatbots</h3> <p>A new study by Retale has delved into how UK millennials feel about chatbots.</p> <p>From a survey of over 500 consumers aged 18 to 34, nearly 60% of respondents were found to have used a chatbot in the past. Out of the percentage of people that had not, 53% said they were still interested in trying them. </p> <p>Interestingly, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/68805-are-brands-failing-to-promote-chatbots/" target="_blank">branded chatbots</a> appear to be growing in popularity, with 71% of millennials saying they’d be happy to try a chatbot from a consumer brand. Lastly, 86% of respondents agreed that brands should use chatbots to promote deals, discounts and offers. </p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68800-pizza-express-launches-booking-chatbot-is-it-any-good/" target="_blank"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4128/Pizza_Express_5.JPG" alt="" width="750" height="678"></a></p> <h3>Retailers increasing investment in store technology</h3> <p>The <a href="http://now.jda.com/CEO2017.html" target="_blank">latest report</a> from JDA/PWC has found that 69% of CEOs plan to increase investment in digital technologies to improve the in-store customer experience. </p> <p>76% of CEOs have or are planning to invest in personalised mobile ‘push offers’ and beacons, while 79% are also investing or planning to invest in smart mobile devices for staff in stores. Despite this, 52% of respondents have not yet defined or started implementing <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">a digital transformation strategy</a>. </p> <h3>68% of British retailers have no Brexit plans in place</h3> <p>According to new research from Global-e, 68% of retailers have yet to start planning for Brexit, despite 51% also saying that the vote to leave the EU has already impacted UK sales. The study, which involved a survey of 250 top British retailers, also found that 32% of those selling internationally have seen an increase in online orders from outside the UK. </p> <p>Additionally, 46% of UK retailers were found to be in favour of a soft Brexit, while 36% agreed that a hard Brexit - with no access to the single market - would be better for UK retailers.</p> <h3>Ad blocking levels stabilise</h3> <p>According to the Internet Advertising Bureau's UK <a href="https://iabuk.net/about/press/archive/iab-uk-reveals-latest-ad-blocking-behaviour" target="_blank">Ad Blocking Report</a>, the proportion of British adults online currently using ad blocking software has remained at around 22% for the last year.</p> <p>Despite a predicted rise in ad blocking, this has failed to materialise, perhaps due to many publishers working hard to promote a value exchange.</p> <p>24% of people cited not being able to access online content as the biggest reason for switching off their ad blocker - a figure up from 16% a year ago. Meanwhile, 24% said that it is because they have since switched to a new device.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4122/ad_blocking.png" alt="" width="750" height="453"></p> <h3>Travel brands expected to benefit from Oscar hype</h3> <p>Data from Lastminute.com suggests that travel brands have seen an increase in search interest on the back of this year’s Oscar nominations. Searches for flights to Los Angeles shot up by 21% on the day of La La Land’s release. Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese’s Silence prompted an even bigger surge, with searches for flights to Japan up 82% from the week before, and increasing a further 46% in the subsequent two days.</p> <p>Though it hasn’t been nominated for any Academy Awards, Brit flick Eddie the Eagle also prompted greater interest in ski holidays, with on-site searches jumping 10% after its release.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4123/Lastminute.JPG" alt="" width="750" height="424"></p> <h3>56% of CRM managers lack firm objectives</h3> <p>In a survey of 500 leading CRM managers, <a href="http://news.wiraya.com/news/crm-managers-dont-believe-theyre-generating-revenue-222319">Wiraya found that CRM</a> is perceived as a key business driver for over 30% of businesses. Despite this fact, it seems many still lack the data and strategy to support their goals and create profitability.</p> <p>While 91% of businesses are currently measuring aspects of their CRM work, 56% do not have firm objectives in place. What’s more, just 17% say that their CRM work is clearly contributing to the company’s overall revenue. This proves that major improvements still need to be made, as just 31% currently consider themselves ‘ambitious’ in terms of CRM maturity.</p> <h3>One in six UK shoppers have switched supermarkets in the past year</h3> <p>In light of Aldi becoming the nation’s fifth largest supermarket, <a href="http://www.tccglobal.com/en/blog/article/uk-shopper-loyalty-study">TCC Global has undertaken a study</a> on the state of consumer loyalty to grocery stores. It found that 32% of UK discount shoppers and 16% of all shoppers have switched their main grocery store in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, 39% of shoppers said that it wouldn’t matter to them if their usual grocery store closed.</p> <p>The research also found that growing convenience is making it even easier to switch between retailers, with shoppers having an average of 11 ‘reachable’, 10 ‘easily reachable’ and five ‘very easily reachable' stores.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4124/Aldi.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="480"></p> <h3>UK online retail sales grow 12% year on year in January</h3> <p>The latest figures from <a href="https://www.imrg.org/data-and-reports/imrg-capgemini-sales-indexes/" target="_blank">IMRG Capgemini</a> has revealed that UK online retail sales were up 12% year-on-year in the first month of 2017, with retailers seeing the highest average January spend since 2010. The average basket value was recorded as £85 in January 2017, up from £79 a year earlier. </p> <p>In terms of sectors, growth for gifts reached an eight-year high, with an increase of 62% year-on-year. Meanwhile, electricals were down 9%, falling for the second month in a row.</p> <h3>Consumers struggle to identify British brands</h3> <p>A recent poll by Spread Co has found that the majority of consumers are baffled by the origins of their favourite brands. 50% of consumers believe Tetley Tea to be British, when it is in fact owned by a foreign company. Similarly, 42% think the same about Branston Pickle and 37% about HP Sauce, when they are actually Indian and Japanese.</p> <p>The survey also found that 61% of UK adults don’t know that The Body Shop is part of L’oreal, while 19% think Tesco is the biggest company in Britain (even though it only represents 0.84% of the market share).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4127/body_shop.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="490"></p> <h3>Mulberry and Burberry are the most searched-for brands during LFW</h3> <p>Captify has revealed that the top three searched for designers during London Fashion Week were Mulberry, Burberry and JW Anderson. Other designers saw online searches go through the roof, with Ryan Lo experiencing a jump of 2,000% over the week, followed by surges for Topshop Unique and Sadie Williams.</p> <p>In terms of the most searched-for items, designer trainers rose by 60%, followed by minimalist clothing and 90’s style, which both rose 20%.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68829 2017-02-23T11:10:00+00:00 2017-02-23T11:10:00+00:00 Benefit Cosmetics’ eyebrow loyalty app attracts 20,000 users Nikki Gilliland <p>The Wow Brows app is a booking system and loyalty app in one, and since it launched in November of last year, it’s attracted an impressive 20,000 users in the UK and Ireland.</p> <p>I’ve downloaded it to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s a rundown of its various features and what it aims to offer consumers. </p> <h3>Drives in-store beauty services</h3> <p>You’re probably aware of Benefit products, but you might not know that the brand also offers a wide range of beauty services in its various boutiques across the country. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest motivations behind the app is to increase awareness about these stores and to encourage bookings.</p> <p>The app works by allowing users to find and locate a nearby store, book an appointment, and collect rewards in the process.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4083/Benefit_2.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>It’s fairly simple to use, though it does require users to sign-up to the app even if they already have an online account with Benefit. </p> <p>Personally, I also find the tone of voice rather cringey. An app addressing me as ‘gorgeous’ would probably sound patronising at the best of times, let alone when it’s to inform me about a basic bit of information. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4081/Benefit_1.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>That aside, fans of Benefit are likely to be used to this sort of thing, so I suppose I can be forgiving.</p> <h3>Rewards loyal consumers</h3> <p>One thing I particularly like about the app is that it tells users from the start what kind of rewards to expect. And happily, you don’t have to wait until your 10th time to actually receive anything.</p> <p>You only have to book two appointments before you can claim your first reward, which is a free brow tint.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4083/Benefit_2.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>Not only does this provide consumers with the incentive to actually use the app once they’ve downloaded it, but it offers a tangible reward for loyalty, in turn enhancing the consumer’s positive perceptions about the brand. </p> <p>The ability to gain extra rewards if you refer a friend is a bonus, too. </p> <h3>Offers real-time and functional elements</h3> <p>Another aspect that works well is its geo-locational technology and integrated map.</p> <p>All you have to do is allow the app to detect your location, and it will provide you with a list of nearby places that offer Benefit beauty in-store. You can also view opening hours, the different type of services on offer, as well as book your appointment there and then.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4084/Benefit_7.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>I think this type of mobile technology is likely to drive more booking conversions than an advert or promotion on social media. After all, the act of booking a beauty or hair appointment is often an afterthought or on the 'to-do' list. So the notion that you can simply use your smartphone to do so whenever you’re ready provides much more convenience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4085/Benefit_8.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <h3>Focus on simplicity</h3> <p>While a lot of brand beauty apps try to wear far too many hats, I particularly like how Wow Brow is quite narrow in terms of its focus. Its simplicity means that users are more likely to know what they’re getting when they download it – and use it again in future. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4086/Benefit_9.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>Previous attempts from other brands, while good in theory, were probably overwhelming for consumers that are already happy shopping online or in-store. Debenhams Beauty Club, for instance, allowed consumers to collect loyalty points as well as actually buy products, read reviews and claim offers in-app. </p> <p>Similarly, while the likes of L’Oreal’s Make Up Genius capitalises on VR to wow users, Benefit is well-aware of its limitations.</p> <p>It’s not the fanciest mobile app ever, but it knows what it can offer consumers, and it does it pretty well.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67884-seven-ways-social-media-is-shaping-the-beauty-industry/" target="_blank">Seven ways social media is shaping the beauty industry</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68087-six-brilliant-blogs-from-the-beauty-industry/" target="_blank">Six brilliant blogs from the beauty industry</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68689-how-the-beauty-industry-is-embracing-the-internet-of-things/" target="_blank">How the beauty industry is embracing the Internet of Things</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68817 2017-02-16T14:59:16+00:00 2017-02-16T14:59:16+00:00 How brands are targeting business travellers Nikki Gilliland <p>According to a <a href="http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking.com_survey_reveals_top_causes_of_business_travel_stress" target="_blank">survey from Booking.com</a>, 93% of business travellers feel stressed at some point during their journey - unsurprising given the amount of logistics involved. From planning to managing expenses, and even without taking into account the actual work that needs to done, there’s a whole heap of hassle that goes along with corporate travel.</p> <p>For brands, this traveller presents a unique opportunity. </p> <p>Not only is there less need to dazzle and delight with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67766-10-examples-of-great-travel-marketing-campaigns/" target="_blank">inspirational marketing</a>, but thanks to the deep pockets of corporate companies, the budget can often be sizeable. Meanwhile, with a positive experience likely to result in repeat trips, business travel could prove to be a lucrative market.</p> <p>Here’s how a few brands are setting their sights on it.</p> <h3>Airbnb</h3> <p>The ‘Airbnb for business’ program launched in 2015, signalling the brand’s intent to capture interest from corporate travellers, all the while proving how popular alternative accommodation has become.</p> <p>The service allows companies to integrate their business travel itineraries, giving them a full run-down of where employees are staying and how much they’re spending. More recently, Airbnb has introduced a feature that allows employees to book on behalf of colleagues, making the service even more streamlined.</p> <p>Since it launched, the program has enjoyed a period of growth, however <a href="https://skift.com/2016/11/04/small-companies-have-embraced-airbnb-for-business-travel/" target="_blank">recent data</a> suggests that this could be slowing – mainly due to the companies choosing Airbnb spending as little as possible on short trips. Similarly, Airbnb for business is only seeing real success in cities where the hotel prices are notoriously high.</p> <p>Airbnb is naturally trying to combat this by promoting longer stays and group trips, even offering £40 in travel credit, in order to encourage higher spend.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3951/Airbnb.jpg" alt="" width="760" height="320"></p> <h3>Booking.com</h3> <p>With a reported one in five customers using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68505-a-closer-look-at-booking-com-s-customer-focused-strategy/" target="_blank">Booking.com</a> for business travel, it’s no surprise the brand decided to launch its own business travel platform.</p> <p>Designed to make the research and planning stage as easy as possible, it places a big focus on peer-to-peer reviews, sorting through the data to find accommodation that is ‘business traveller tested and approved’.  </p> <p>This customer-centric approach is continued across the board, and reflected in the online UX.</p> <p>After completing a simple registration, users can filter the search by ‘business interest’ like fitness centre or free cancellation. Arguably, the platform doesn't offer anything that much different to the main Booking.com platform, however the ability for company managers or administrators to coordinate plans for others is a key differentiator.</p> <p>Since its launch, there have been suggestions that the brand will expand its business offering into flights - though there's been no sign of this so far.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3952/Booking.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="364"></p> <h3>STA</h3> <p>With millennials forecast to make up half of the workforce by 2020, the stereotype of the middle-aged business traveller no longer applies.</p> <p>STA is tapping into this notion, launching a business travel brand to target young people with a desire to combine both business and pleasure.</p> <p>Alongside young people starting their own business, students travelling for internships or first jobs, it also targets people who want to tag on a holiday at the end of a work trip.</p> <p>With <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/05/millennials-are-prioritizing-experiences-over-stuff.html" target="_blank">78% of millennials</a> choosing worthwhile experiences over possessions, it’s no surprise that this demand exists. It also bodes well for STA, with the move helping the brand to stay relevant to young people as they move into the workplace.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Need a <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/visa?src=hash">#visa</a>?. We can help you find out if you need one! Speak to our experts to find out more businesstravel@statravel.co.uk <a href="https://t.co/sbH3xH0RzE">pic.twitter.com/sbH3xH0RzE</a></p> — STA Travel Business (@STABusiness) <a href="https://twitter.com/STABusiness/status/825335372343308289">January 28, 2017</a> </blockquote> <h3>Marriot</h3> <p>STA isn’t the only travel brand to target business travellers with the promise of an experience.</p> <p>Marriot’s Renaissance Hotels brand recently launched a new campaign to do just that. Called ‘The Navigator’s Table’, the video series features TV chef Andrew Zimmern from “Bizarre Foods”, and involves chefs and entrepreneurs offering insight and opinions on regional dishes. </p> <p>Essentially, it is designed to appeal to the modern business traveller – someone who is curious, and who wants to get as much out of a business trip as possible.</p> <p>The frequency with which business travellers travel is largely the reason behind this marketing push. For a large hotel chain like Marriot, a single ‘authentic experience’ could result in multiple and repeat bookings in future – reason enough to pay them more attention.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7UUT15kQG1A?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68814 2017-02-16T11:15:00+00:00 2017-02-16T11:15:00+00:00 How utilities brands use social media for reputation management Nikki Gilliland <p>Before we go any further, what exactly is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65523-what-is-online-reputation-management-and-should-you-use-it/" target="_blank">online reputation management</a>? Well, though it largely comes under the umbrella of social media monitoring, this practice can also involve dealing with online reviews, producing content and general <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66439-three-ways-community-management-drives-loyalty-for-charities/" target="_blank">community management</a>.</p> <p>In this article, I will specifically be focusing on how utility companies use social media channels for reputation management.</p> <h3>Basic principles</h3> <p>Online reputation management on social media refers to <em>how</em> brands respond to customer conversation.</p> <p>For example, if people are complaining or even praising a service, but the brand remains entirely unresponsive – this can have a detrimental effect on its overall reputation. </p> <p>Here are a few basic rules for effective management:</p> <ul> <li>Monitor mentions</li> <li>Respond quickly</li> <li>Be transparent</li> <li>Prepare for a crisis</li> <li>Address criticism</li> </ul> <p>Let’s look at a few examples of utility brands putting the above into practice.</p> <h3>Hawaiian Electric</h3> <p>Not many electricity suppliers have an Instagram account, let alone use it to effectively communicate with customers, but Hawaiian Electric is different.</p> <p>When a storm hit shores in 2014, it utilised the channel to let customers know about areas of power outage and repairs, as well as reinforce messages about safety. It has since continued to do this, expanding its strategy to incorporate general posts relating to the local community. </p> <p>By using a visual medium like Instagram, the brand is able to project a positive image and reassure customers in the process. </p> <p>After all, while it might be useful to hear that a company is repairing a broken electricity pole, seeing a photo of it in action is far more powerful.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3927/Hawaiin_Electric.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="489"></p> <h3>SSE</h3> <p>Figures from Citizens Advice revealed that SSE received the lowest number of customer service complaints last year, making it the top energy company overall for customer satisfaction.</p> <p>A big contributing factor appears to be the way it handles queries and criticism on social media, with a fast response time and polite tone of voice across the board.</p> <p>This is particularly evident on the brand’s Facebook page, where it ‘typically replies within an hour’. And although complaints are still common, the brand’s approach appears to be effective for calming angry customers. </p> <p>With <a href="http://blogs.forrester.com/kate_leggett/15-03-03-consumer_expectations_for_customer_service_dont_match_what_companies_deliver" target="_blank">77% saying</a> that valuing the customer's time is the most important thing a company can do – a fast response is one of the most effective ways for brands to ensure that they can maintain and improve a positive reputation.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3928/SSE_energy.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="469"></p> <h3>PSEG</h3> <p>PSEG – a gas and electric company based in New Jersey – shows that social media can be used for brand reputation management in alternative ways.</p> <p>In 2014, it started planning for an infrastructure upgrade to replace 250 miles of gas line - a project that would result in a lot of upheaval for local residents.</p> <p>Instead of an announcement on its website, PSEG chose to use micro-targeted Facebook ads in order to let people know what was going to happen and how it would affect them.</p> <p>When users clicked on an ad, they were taken to a specific page where they’d be able to select and view a work schedule and relating disruption.</p> <p>By utilising social media in this way, not only did PSEG demonstrate transparency, but it also pre-empted its customers' needs.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3929/PSEG.JPG" alt="" width="540" height="716"></p> <h3>Ovo</h3> <p>Brand Q&amp;A’s on Twitter are always risky. A few years ago, British Gas suffered a huge backlash from angry customers over price hikes, leaving the social media team with egg on its face and even more of a negative reputation than before.</p> <p>On the other hand, this type of activity can work well for smaller brands. Ovo is one brand that has utilised an ‘always on’ strategy to monitor brand mentions and successfully draw in new customers, often using Q&amp;As to highlight the shortcomings of competitors. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">We came here to have breakfast and help our customers. And we've just finished our toast. <a href="https://t.co/Bcr3QYnRGP">pic.twitter.com/Bcr3QYnRGP</a></p> — OVO Energy (@OVOEnergy) <a href="https://twitter.com/OVOEnergy/status/828513583000592387">February 6, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>Despite its overall approach to social media being far more appealing than most utility companies – using a conversational and personal tone – Ovo has not had an entirely positive couple of years.</p> <p>Having failed to compensate customers for missed or late appointments, the company recently agreed to pay £58,000 to charity instead of undertaking formal enforcement action.</p> <p>While the experience has undoubtedly tarnished its reputation, Ovo’s charitable donation and intent to improve customer service is part and parcel of online reputation management in action.</p> <p><strong><em>Related articles:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68789-how-smart-switching-energy-apps-are-tapping-into-customer-need/" target="_blank">How smart-switching energy apps are tapping into customer need</a></em></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65478-how-20-top-uk-retailers-handle-social-customer-service/"><em>How 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68808 2017-02-16T10:00:00+00:00 2017-02-16T10:00:00+00:00 UK retailers still failing to meet web accessibility standards Chris Rourke <p>With so many barriers in store, shopping online from the comfort of your home is an attractive option. Furthermore, under the Equality Act 2010 all retailers must provide access to their goods online as well as in store. </p> <p>We decided to review the online accessibility of six well known UK retailers to identify the main barriers for online shoppers with disabilities.</p> <p>The chosen retailers were:</p> <ol> <li><a title="Accessibility Review of Online Retailers Part 1: Boots" href="http://uservision.co.uk/2017/01/accessibility-review-boots/" target="_blank">Boots</a></li> <li><a title="Accessibility Review of Online Retailers Part 2: Mothercare" href="http://uservision.co.uk/2017/01/accessibility-review-mothercare/" target="_blank">Mothercare</a></li> <li><a title="Accessibility Review of Online Retailers Part 3: House of Fraser" href="http://uservision.co.uk/2017/01/accessibility-review-house-off-fraser/" target="_blank">House of Fraser</a></li> <li><a title="Accessibility Review of Online Retailers Part 4: Joules" href="http://uservision.co.uk/2017/01/accessibility-review-joules/" target="_blank">Joules</a></li> <li><a title="Accessibility Review of Online Retailers Part 5: Tesco" href="http://uservision.co.uk/2017/01/accessibility-review-tesco/" target="_blank">Tesco</a></li> <li><a title="Accessibility Review of Online Retailers Part 6: Not on The High Street" href="http://uservision.co.uk/2017/01/accessibility-review-not-on-high-street/" target="_blank">Not on the High Street</a></li> </ol> <h3>How did we measure/review online accessibility?</h3> <p>To evaluate the accessibility of a site we audit them against the Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C. Also known as <a title="Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C" href="https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php" target="_blank">WCAG 2.0</a>, these guidelines help to improve web accessibility and are the best way to ensure the site serves the widest audience.</p> <p>We followed a typical shopping journey to assess how the retailers approached accessibility on their sites. This included:</p> <ul> <li>Homepage and search</li> <li>Browse (including any product category and product range pages)</li> <li>Selection (product page and basket)</li> <li>Payment (delivery and payment details)</li> </ul> <p>We focused on the major aspects of WCAG 2.0 Level AA, including important factors such as keyboard accessibility and screen reader compatibility. Items we looked out for included:</p> <ul> <li>Use of <strong>headings</strong> </li> <li>Alt text for <strong>images</strong> </li> <li>Availability of<strong> skip links</strong> </li> <li>Inclusion of a <strong>visible focus</strong> </li> <li>Access to <strong>forms</strong> </li> <li>Use of <strong>ARIA</strong> to provide greater context</li> <li>Access of <strong>pop ups / modal windows</strong> </li> <li><strong>Colour contrast</strong></li> <li>Navigating around is in a <strong>logical order</strong> </li> <li> <strong>Links</strong> are meaningful and describe their purpose</li> </ul> <h3>What were the common barriers?</h3> <p>We gained a good insight into the main barriers disabled users face when shopping online. There were several common themes and unfortunately all of the sites failed to meet the Level AA of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.</p> <p>This means that disabled users would face difficulty in buying a product on each site, with half of the sites completely inhibiting users at certain points in their journey. The main accessibility problems are described below, with examples from across the sites.</p> <h3>Visible focus</h3> <p>This navigational technique highlights where the user is on the page visually. This is essential for sighted users who rely on visual cues to navigate with a keyboard.</p> <p>As positive examples, Tesco and House of Fraser provide clear and consistent visible focus so users can see their location as they move their focus through the site. Other retailers had a mix of custom, default or no focus at all so that they relied on the default browser focus which is not sufficient since it can be unclear and inconsistent between browsers.</p> <p>Below we can clearly see that the “Home Electrical” link has keyboard focus on the Tesco site as the text is underlined and is displayed in a blue colour which is distinguishable from the rest of the text on the page: </p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3895/VisibleFocusExample_Tesco.png" alt="Clear visible focus on the Tesco homepage enables users to see where they are on the page." width="967" height="282"></p> <h3>‘Skip to’ links</h3> <p>For non-sighted users, ‘skip to’ links provide an easy way to move through the navigation and into the main content of the page.</p> <p>Only half of the sites had implemented ‘skip to’ links meaning that keyboard users would repeatedly have to step through lengthy navigation menus, an even more tedious task for screen reader users listening to the links.</p> <p>House of Fraser was a great example of a site that had clear ‘skip to’ links:</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3896/SkipToLinks_HOF.png" alt="Good example of clear and visible ‘Skip to main content’ link on House of Fraser site." width="891" height="128"></p> <p>Joules had more than one ‘skip to’ link but they were designed to be hidden for sighted users. Consequently, sighted keyboard users were unable to take advantage of this functionality.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3897/SkiptolinksBadExample_Joules.png" alt="‘Skip to content’ link on Joules.com does not become visible" width="1010" height="655"></p> <h3>Alternative text for images</h3> <p>Alternative text is read by screen readers in place of images, allowing the content and function of the images to be available to those with visual or certain cognitive disabilities. All informative images on a page should have suitable alternative text, providing all users with the same access to content.  </p> <p>Across our retailers, use of alternative text was generally good with appropriate and descriptive alt tags on product images. However, we did notice issues on both Boots and Mothercare where image descriptions were read to the screen reader more than once.</p> <p>This was due to images having both an alt tag and identical title attribute. We recommend retailers remove titles with duplicate text to make sure the image descriptions are not repeated unnecessarily.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3898/AltTextforImages_Mothercare.png" alt="Product descriptions on Mothercare site are read to screen reader users more than once" width="853" height="593"></p> <h3>Providing context to screen reader users</h3> <p>This is fundamental for screen reader users who are not able to visually group information together or understand meaning through visible presentation. Information and relationships must be therefore associated programmatically.</p> <p>Examples of this from our retailers included:</p> <p><strong>Form fields</strong> need to have programmatically associated labels so that screen reader users know what information is required for the form input field. When a form field receives focus the label for the field (e.g. “first name”, “surname”, “email address”) should be called out by the screen reader.</p> <p>This was a persistent issue across all retailers. Some sites such as notonthehighstreet.com frustratingly had correctly implemented this in some areas and not others, meaning inconsistent access to information for their screen reader users.</p> <p>All retailers at one point or another had <strong>links that did not make sense out of context</strong>. Common examples found were ‘show more’ and ‘edit’. As we can see below, Mothercare.com used ambiguous links such as “edit” and “remove”.</p> <p>Without the visual cues, a screen reader user would struggle to know what they are editing or attempting to remove.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3899/AmbiguousLinks_Mcare.png" alt="Mothercare.com uses ambiguous links such as “edit” and “remove”. Screen reader users are not provided with any more context as to what will happen if they click these links" width="409" height="445"> </p> <p>In providing important tools to select product options such as size and colour, some retailers <strong>did not provide screen reader users with all the information they need to make the purchase</strong>.</p> <p>For retailers such as House of Fraser and Joules, there was no notification that a certain size was out of stock. Visually, sizes which aren’t available are scored out and in a lighter grey colour, but these sizes still get read out to the screen reader, indicating that they are available.</p> <p>This would prevent a screen reader user from choosing a product size, and they would need to either give up or ask for assistance.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3900/ProgrammaticallyAssociatedInfo_Joules.png" alt="The colour and size selection/availability on the Joules site are visually clear, but not conveyed programmatically for screen reader users" width="800" height="235"></p> <h3>What we learned:</h3> <p>With physical accessibility in store being such a challenge, online retail may seem the ideal solution. Unfortunately, retailers who fail to consider the issues and barriers mentioned above will not provide the answer for many disabled people.</p> <p>Most retailers had reassuring text on their sites describing their dedication to making their online offerings accessible. Most had also implemented some accessible features on their sites – for instance alternative text for images was widely implemented – yet shortcomings were readily found.</p> <p>Since these accessibility barriers were identified through a relatively short accessibility audit, retailers need to build on these great intentions and implement WCAG 2.0 to significantly improve accessibility across their sites.</p> <p>Retailers should consult with accessibility and UX experts to fully understand the needs of disabled customers and the technical solutions to provide accessibility.</p> <p>Once the identifiable accessibility barriers have been removed, the retailers should involve people with disabilities in usability testing to ensure that the site is usable for this audience as well as compliant to WCAG standards. </p><p><em>Many thanks to my colleagues Marie Moyles and Natalie Simpson for leading the accessibility analysis of the retailer websites.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68800 2017-02-13T11:20:00+00:00 2017-02-13T11:20:00+00:00 Pizza Express launches booking chatbot: Is it any good? Nikki Gilliland <p>Pizza Express is claiming to be the first restaurant in the UK to offer this, but will it catch on? And more importantly – is the chatbot any good?</p> <p>Here’s what I think. </p> <h3>What does it do?</h3> <p>While Pizza Express’s #shakethetree campaign used gamification to entertain customers, its new chatbot aims to offer greater convenience for customers who simply want to book a table.</p> <p>Instead of visiting the main Pizza Express website, it now means that customers can make a booking without leaving Facebook Messenger – giving people a direct and ‘always on’ channel of communication with the brand.</p> <p>From my own experience with the chatbot, I can confirm that it is definitely convenient. </p> <p>While there’s no actual chat involved – I was only required to select from multiple options options rather than talk to it – the process was quick and simple.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3840/Pizza_Express_2.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="667"></p> <p>It detected my location and provided me with the option of two restaurants located nearby. From there, all I had to do was select the number of people and the time.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3841/Pizza_Express_4.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="712"></p> <p>It's very simple to use, but let's face it, actively seeking out a booking on the Pizza Express website is similarly straightforward. </p> <p>My only gripe was that it felt a little strange not being sent an email confirmation of my booking. And while it asked for my telephone number, I didn’t receive anything further to suggest that it had gone through.</p> <h3>Is it too simple?</h3> <p>There’s nothing impressive about this technology. The fact that it doesn’t reply to human conversation means that it's far from actually being intelligent, and it's probably better described as a multiple choice questionnaire rather than a chatbot.</p> <p>But, do customers expect extra bells and whistles, or will they be happy with this basic (one-way) booking system?</p> <p>It’s been suggested that chatbots are suffering from over-hype, with many failing to live up to expectations of ‘conversational commerce’ and disappointing users in the process.</p> <p>It’s understandable that people might feel let down by a bot that doesn’t understand everyday speech or involves complicated sign-up processes. </p> <p>Consequently, perhaps examples like Pizza Express, which is limited but laser-focused in terms of what it claims to offer consumers, will prove more successful. Similarly, with the chatbot resulting in a tangible result – a booked table and a meal in its restaurant – it might have more of an impact that its previous incarnation, which merely involved playing a (rather disappointing) game.</p> <h3>Will other restaurants catch on?</h3> <p>For restaurants looking to implement customer service on social, booking-related chatbots could potentially provide value.</p> <p>We have already seen the likes of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68184-domino-s-introduces-dom-the-pizza-bot-for-facebook-messenger/" target="_blank">Domino’s</a> and Taco Bell implementing chatbots to enable consumers to order a delivery, so perhaps a combination of the two could be next on the cards.</p> <p>One company that already aims to do this is AllSet – an app and chatbot that aims to make dining at a restaurant at lunchtime quick and hassle-free.</p> <p>Essentially, it allows you to book, order and pay for your food ahead of time, meaning there’s no waiting around during the experience. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Booked through a great new service <a href="https://twitter.com/allsetUS">@AllsetUS</a> and had delicious lunch <a href="https://twitter.com/PanameNYC">@PanameNYC</a>! I met fantastic people! I highly recommend! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Foodie?src=hash">#Foodie</a> <a href="https://t.co/FQOfhhBhuo">pic.twitter.com/FQOfhhBhuo</a></p> — Line_of_Thought (@Line_of_thought) <a href="https://twitter.com/Line_of_thought/status/822087858882220032">January 19, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>While this is a bit of a pipe dream for existing restaurant chains, it could offer a glimpse as to how chatbots could evolve in future.</p> <p><strong><em>Related articles:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68636-pizza-express-channel-4-and-tfl-three-examples-of-brand-chatbots/" target="_blank">Pizza Express, Channel 4 and TFL: Three examples of brand chatbots</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68766-i-tried-out-the-new-resident-evil-ai-chatbot-it-was-far-from-intelligent/" target="_blank">I tried out the new Resident Evil AI chatbot. It was far from intelligent.</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68208-chatbots-are-they-better-without-the-chat/" target="_blank">Chatbots: Are they better without the chat?</a></em></li> </ul>