Website redesigns: Top 5 Tips

We recently partnered with a client whose website had undergone a redesign promising a better-looking layout, and ultimately, higher conversions.

The results did not match expectations.

Flightdeck Consulting, which offers online recruitment and coaching services for pilots and flight attendants, went from a consistently well-performing e-commerce site to one losing a significant proportion of sales from its books and courses section.


Flightdeck Consulting’s website after recent redesign (homepage)

With reduced sales post-launch, Flightdeck partnered with us to (quickly) identify ways to move conversions rates back to the volume they once knew.

From this project and other similar experiences, here are some key rules of the road we would have given to Flightdeck and any other clients considering a redesign:

1. Get a second opinion

There are different ways to make changes to a site: small changes made over iteration, total overhauls and something in between. Before committing to one (potentially costly) strategy from which you cannot revert back, ask around and see if other experts in your field would recommend a different tack.

Flightdeck engaged an agency who proposed a fairly radical change. With 20/20 hindsight, a third-party opinion may have been worth considering, especially if it were to favour optimisation over total redesign.

2. Don’t throw out what’s working

For Flightdeck, a great thing about their old site was that it welcomed users to identify themselves first and foremost as either flight attendant or pilot. This feature was gone from the new site, and we believe it may have been a key entry point to the sales funnel.

The philosophy is to first recognise and preserve the revenue drivers already in play.

3. Establish a baseline of revenue drivers and detractors

Review your analytics, commission a third-party review and/or conduct a super-lean round of user testing to identify what customers like best and least about using your site. After that, design with a goal of eliminating the customer’s pain points while ensuring your keep the magic formula in tact.

That’s step 1 before even picking up the phone to your design agency or team.

Ensure design changes reflect an alignment between your business objectives and what actual customers want and do on your site.

For example, Flightdeck’s new design buried the “Shop” within a (long) list of top navigation items. A quick look at analytics shows that customers weren’t buying because they were not beelining to the “Shop” section. Also, some of those navigation items simply did not get trafficked by purchasing customers (if at all). With that evidence, we made a recommendation to cut down the number of navigation items to only those critical the customer’s purchase journey.


We recommended streamlining the top navigation to fewer options and returning to an informational architecture that helped the customer self-identify before moving on. However, we’d also recommend testing designs with real customers before implementing them.

4. Pretty can hurt (the bottom line)

Redesigns often focus on making things look better. But its #1 goal should be conversion, not aethestics.

Upon first glance, the new Flightdeck looked great. Consistent use of font and colours, contemporary look and feel. In reality, the better-looking, more responsive site produced worse results than its predecessor.

Because the old site was ‘replaced’ without sufficient investigation of other revenue drivers in customer experience, Flightdeck realised a risk in changing too much – or not changing the right things.

5. Test as you go, don’t launch with baited breath

Imagine the opposite scenario to the classic ‘big reveal’ that typically accompanies redesigns.

Suppose your site could change one thing and then test the results—either with A/B testing (running two designs of a page concurrently and comparing results) or by a very lean round of user testing – before changing the next thing… then you’d get even more clarity about what changes to make, and what elements to keep.

That’s not practical for all sites, but many companies are moving more in that direction.

Amazon, for example — who remembers the last overhaul of their website? Likely no one because Amazon make incremental changes and test every day throughout the year. For them, optimisation doesn’t look like a revolution — it’s a series of changes that represent continual improvement.

Iterations of testing followed by design keeps you close to your customer’s needs and helps ensure your investments of time and money are well spent.

With the right tools to first run diagnostics and then test design changes iteratively, you’ll be able to get rid of pain points without harming the main drivers of conversion.

Jolly Zhou

CX Consultant
Objective Experience

Domain experts vs experts in a process: Tips for conducting usability testing with complex products designed for SMEs.

I recently completed a project that involved usability testing with a cloud-based product used by IT administrators to manage virtual infrastructure. The challenge for me was how do I test a technical product when I have minimal technical knowledge of that product? How do I moderate a session with SMEs who know more about virtual infrastructures than I do? Ultimately, UX consultants are not domain experts, but experts in a process.

Well, here are some tips I learnt along the way:

  1.  Read! Read! Read!…then read some more! Read any document related to the product – the user guide, FAQs, marketing and presales information, reviews, internal documents, manuals etc. The more you know about the product before testing the better. 
  1. Talk to the experts. Have a SME &/or technical product manager walk you through every aspect of the product. And remember to ask a million questions as they do it (no matter how dumb they may sound). 
  1. Repeat information back to the client or respondent for clarity. This technique can be incorporated at all stages of the project to ensure you are correctly interpreting and understanding information. Study skills research has shown reiterating information given to you increases comprehension and recall of that information.     
  1. Be up-front. If you don’t know, acknowledge it up-front to respondents. At the beginning of each session, I highlighted the fact that I was not an IT expert and my technical knowledge of the product was limited. Rather my role as a researcher is to understand how they interact with the product. In return, respondents tended to use simpler words & provided additional explanations when expressing their thoughts, which helped my understanding of the issues.

A time and place for each device


We advise our clients to design for context first, not device.

Part of that context is the time of day.

Take a look at the peaks and troughs for each device’s usage throughout the day:


What are the implications?

  • A user’s context: Understanding the time of day gives you a sense of potentially where the user is and where their headspace is as well. In simplistic terms, PCs are for work, tablets are for home and mobile is for all the time (don’t tell the boss).
  • Myth busted: This goes counter to the myth that mobile is for people who are “on the go” and are for transactions and way-finding only. The phone is on all the time.
  • Planning content: Whatever content users can see on their PC, they might be expecting it on their mobile or tablet as well – whether they are at work in front of their computer, on the bus back home or in bed right before they turn out the light.
  • Another little insight: see that little peak in PC usage right after midnight? We’re not surprised. We’ve seen this behaviour when reviewing analytics of e-commerce sites: a lot of users do their online shopping late at night.

What this data doesn’t show is how relevant it is for your own site or app. You cannot rely on assumptions or aggregate data to optimise for contexts.

You must do the work – reviewing analytics, talking to users, observing their (unreported) behaviour and see what is really going on your website or app – by persona/user, by context, and indeed even by time of day.

Of course, we’re here to help you do the work.

The Top 5 benefits of a UX review and how to go about it.

There are a multitude of ways a service, product, website or app can be reviewed or given a ‘health check’. These vary from expert reviews, heuristic evaluations, competitor analysis, contextual inquiries, usability testing, online surveys and more.

Research findings can help validate or squash internal debates or design ideas, and provide direction for long-term business roadmaps and strategic initiatives.

Here are a few reasons why a UX ‘health check’ or review can help your business:

  1. Validate your design and strategic roadmaps – Having a UX Review conducted through the lens of your customer is very eye opening. It highlights how your customers use your product and how best to optimise to their needs. Having this 3rd party validation on hand can provide teams with clear direction for iteration, design and development. Further, this research can provide all business units with insights into whether their strategies and roadmaps are aligned with their customer in mind.
  1. Increase in ROI (return on investment) – Small problems can lead to big dropouts or customer frustration, potentially costing the business huge amounts of money. Test early and often to iron out these issues and ensure customers can understand and use your product, meaning more click throughs and potentially higher returns.
  1. Decreased Bounce Rates – Speaking to your customers in a one-on-one environment can be both insightful and impactful for product teams. Often it’s not only how they use your product during testing, but learning about their motivations and behaviours – uncovering why they leave or bail out rather than complete or convert. These insights provide tangible guidance on how to develop a product which your customers will want to use, refer and return.
  1. Gain a Competitive Advantage – Conducting competitor reviews will provide insights on where you stand against your competitors. Combined with user testing, a deep understanding of the customer and their needs is obtained. A benchmarking exercise can also be conducted by applying these methods at different stages of product lifecycles, be it your own or your competitors. This is an effective way of measuring your progress over time with hard metrics and feature developments.
  1. Quick Wins with Low Cost – Whilst thorough research and user testing can provide deep understanding of your customers, an expert review is a fast and cost effective activity which, within 2-3 days can identify both fundamental issues as well as ‘quick fixes’ around possible user pain points and usability issues. These ‘quick fixes’ can be assessed and implemented in shorter turn around times if bigger, more robust re-designs are not part of the development strategy or pending release date.

The approaches mentioned can help a product once it’s in the market. However, the customer should always be involved in the end to end design process to ensure your product is offering maximum value.

For a Free 1 Day UX Review on the Top 5 Quick Wins for your App or Website please contact me for more information.

Myles Clemones
UX Consultant
Objective Experience

User testing with deaf and hearing impaired individuals

This month, I was fortunate enough to work with the National Relay Service (NRS) on a prototype of their new mobile application. The NRS is an Australian-wide telephone service for people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment.

One example is the video relay service that allows culturally deaf people to use their own language – Auslan (Australian Sign Language) – to make a call to a hearing person.

Screenshot 2014-07-25 11.57.59

Talking to people is what I enjoy most about my job. However, getting the opportunity to talk with people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment was a real highlight. I was fascinated watching these individuals and interpreters communicate in sign language. I even learnt a bit of Auslan myself.

It inspires me to see and hear how these people navigate the world. Things we take for granted – booking a hair appointment, calling the bank, organising a taxi – takes considerable planning by the individual. It was amazing to work with the NRS team to build a mobile app that gives NRS customers the opportunity to communicate in ways we take for granted.

Save time and money with Rapid Usability Tests

We have been having incredible success in 2014 with Rapid Usability Test Sprints with companies including PayPal, AMP, Amaysim & OPSM who run these usability tests regularly to mitigate risks and make informed design decisions. They iterate designs on various projects from mobile apps to transactional websites.

“Rapid UX Testing is a powerful method. It is cheap and produces results quicker than traditional methods. It is easy to incorporate rapid usability testing within tight project schedules and tight budgets.” 

Rapid Recruit, Research and Results. 

How do we do Rapid Usability Test Sprints?

While working in an agile environment, clients want to iteratively validate a concept or design. This requires customer engagement which to some people means time and money. With our Sprints the objective is to get quick feedback from real customers and put insights into actions… as quickly as within just 1 week turnaround!

We run the projects like a formal usability test, which includes:

  • Formal usability testing scripts that are signed off by the client
  • Clear recruitment brief is defined with fairly broad requirements
  • Formal lab setting with viewing from our special Brainstorming Room or live online with Adobe Connect.

In order to make it most effective we ensure that all relevant project team members come to the session and actively participate during and after each test. When they leave for the day most UI improvement decisions have been made and our summary report becomes a checklist of things that were agreed.

Here’s the steps to run a Rapid Usability Test Sprint

Step 1: Decide on what you want to test

Have a clear research objective!  Identify stimulus to test and no more then 3-5 areas of interest.

Stimulus. The best part about Rapid Usability Testing is that you can get started with just about any working (or non-working) products. For the test that we conducted the concept was rather high level with no working prototype to speak of. So we did the next best thing, mobile paper prototypes!

paper prototypes

Mobile app paper prototypes that were used for Agile UX concept testing.










Since the product is in its earliest stages it can literally be shaped by user expectations.

Areas of interest.  You must tailor the test based on the insights you want to gain.  For instance our client wanted to gauge the audience’s response to an unorthodox method of online shopping. We asked our client the following:

  • What user journey are you expecting to deliver positive business outcomes?
  • Which pages/features are of most interest?
  • Are there specific copy, navigation or UI elements we want feedback on?

Tasks were therefore created around navigation and customers filtering their search down to a specific product. This helped establish if the user journey was as smooth as intended.

Step 2: Quick, reliable resource for participants

As with any usability test you should have specific customer segments & demographics. With rapid turn times on recruitment that might mean they need to be fairly broad specs.  We use our Sydney Research Network platform to recruit people really, really quickly using social media. We’re talking about recruiting people even as quickly as 2 days before testing! If you like, we offer recruitment for your projects too.

Step 3: TEST!

The Rapid Usability Test for this particular mobile product was done with 5 or 6 people, individual sessions in our Eye Tracking test lab (or it could have been done in a spare room at our client’s office).

As with formal usability testing, a script is prepared that details each task. Keep tasks short and focused and test in about 45min sessions.

This video shows how eye tracking can be used on a mobile app.

We do find that eye tracking facilitates a richer Rapid Usability Test, as it allows the observers to see exactly where people are looking, or not looking, and why. It becomes very obvious when participants are having trouble getting through tasks, and validates learnings in order to begin making design decisions immediately.

Here’s 5 Rapid Usability Testing tips for the session

1. Introduce yourself and the purpose of the test: Say hello! Explain what is about to happen. It is important to stress to the participant, that the product is being tested, not them. Tell them they are being video recorded.

2. Keep it light: It is important to put the participant at ease in order to get honest feedback.  Crack a joke, be genuinely interested in the participant’s interests and have a genial approach.

3. Get them on your side: Allow participants to contribute to the product. Ask them what their solution would be to a certain issue or pain point they were having.

4. Try not to lead participants: It’s easy to get subjective about a product, especially if you are the creator!

Some leading and closed questions to avoid:

  • “Does the slowness of the application frustrate you?”
  • “Does the colour theme of the UI frustrate you?”
  • “Are you pausing because you are unable to figure out the navigation?”

Here are some open-ended questions that fit into almost every user interview:

  • What do you think?
  • How do you feel about using it this way?
  • What would you do next?
  • How would you expect it to work?

Participants open up with interesting points of view when questioned in this manner. It is also important to use silence effectively during interviews. Silence is a powerful tool that naturally prompts the interviewee to fill the void.

5. For Rapid UX Testing it is imperative that stakeholders watch and participate in vigorous discussion: It always helps when people who are involved with the product development are invited to watch tests. Not only can they provide recommendations or ‘tweaks’ between sessions (instead of after the fact), but the result is almost always a more understanding development & business team who will make key decisions soon after the testing. It also means you don’t need to write a long report that few people take the time to read. They already know what needs fixing!

Here’s some tips for effective Rapid Usability Testing observation:

  • Do a dry run with stimulus, discussion guide and technical set up
  • Ensure observers have clear audio and can see the participants face and hand movements
  • Print our key screens of interest and draw on them
  • Use a white board to sketch solutions to UI issues
  • Use Postit notes to jot down findings
  • Encourage discussion
  • After each session run a brief discussion of key findings
  • At the end of the day summarise the findings and, more importantly, the key updates that will be made.
Design Room_with Whitewall

Objective Digital’s King St. Wharf Research Hub – design room with whitewall.

All said and done, Rapid Usability Test Sprints are very flexible. There is no perfect way
of doing it. The heart of the matter is to get quick insights from real people, providing validated learnings for Rapid Results.

Rapid Recruit, Research and Results. 

10 tips for online form design

The use of mobiles is continuing to grow, yet we still see a significant amount of online forms and applications that still make it hard for users to quickly and easily complete forms. Let’s face it, no-one really enjoys filling out an online form, so here a few tips to help reduce errors and increase form efficiency.

1. Inline Validation – Provides real time feedback as users enter data on individual form fields. Once focus is removed from each field a notification, generally a small green check mark next to the field is displayed.

Mint  Inline Validation







2. Specify Input type By specifying input type you restrict input to only the required input format. For e.g. if a phone number is required ensure the numerical keypad shows when numerical form field is activated. To further reduce errors introduce input masks to automatically dismiss any non-numerical input such as a dash, space or full-stop. Make sure the numerical keypad remains active when a user moves between phone number inputs such as area code to main number entry.

Presentation1      imgres

3. Feedback Some stages on forms take time to process such as calculations, uploads or submissions. Be sure to provide system feedback to the user when actions are being processed. Disable the submit once it has been clicked to avoid multiple form






4. Increase size and vertically align labels Mobile screen sizes are small enough as it is. Consideration needs to be given to the context in which they are used. The size of form fields should be maximised to screen width and kept in a vertical format. By keeping fields vertical you reduce the fixation rate and keep users working in one visual direction.


5. Stop password masking Let’s stop making it harder by showing bullet points when entering passwords. Whilst security concerns have been raised in the past, I’d prefer optimum usability over the minimal security risks, if any. Alternatively, include the option for users to hide password by tapping on a show/hide icon.

hidepass4   show-hide-password

6. Don’t use Inline Labels Labels placed inside form fields (inline labels) are widespread and often used in mobile design. Inline labels have a place, but be careful where and when they are used. An exception can be for a sign-in form, where a user is performing a familiar task such as username or email address. If the information required is unique or performed infrequently, place labels above each form field so users can identify required information easily.

in field labels








7. Language Keep it simple and remove the jargon. Consider first time users to your product or service by using succinct informative language. Remember your users might not necessarily be using the same language as internal business and marketing teams.

8. Error Messaging If errors are made, ensure users knows where on the form the error is and how to fix it. Inline validation error messaging can also increase form efficiency letting users know an error is made immediately. Increase accessibility by including an icon (e.g. ‘x’ or ‘!’) as well as red visual elements. This way you’re not dependant on colour in perceiving errors.

Mint  Error Field





9. Reduce requirements Try and minimise the required fields within any form or application. Consider what fields are absolutely necessary and remove the rest. Another way of reducing input for users is to use default information where possible. Information often used such as email addresses and the current date could be selected by default thus giving users one less task to complete.

10. Time and Place Form field requirements also have a time and place, and the placement of requirements can have a significant impact on form completion. Through research sessions conducted in the Objective Digital lab we have seen frustration from users when personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers are being asked for much too early in a form process, resulting in users hesitating and often not continuing with the form process. The thought of marketing or sales teams contacting customers who are simply retrieving quotes or inquiring about services can cause users to hesitate and often exit the process.

Myles Clemones
UX Consultant

Portable eye tracking – Tobii Glasses 2

Tobii has recently announced the release of their new mobile eye-tracking glasses – Tobii Glasses 2!

Tobii Glasses 2 reveal what a person is looking at while they are engaged with real world environments and in other activities. They are the successor of the original Tobii Glasses, but come with a whole range of boastful upgrades to solidify their place as the future of mobile eye-tracking.

Buy Tobii Glasses 2

Tobii Glasses 2 Eye Tracker available in Singapore soon!

The glasses only weigh a tiny 45 grams and come with an upgraded wide angle HD scene camera and clear rims for optimal viewing. A new wireless feature allows for remote LIVE viewing so that others can instantly view what the user sees! With Binocular eye-tracking for improved accuracy and 1920×1080 pixel scene recordings, this new piece of technology will be in high demand as researchers discover more and more ways to use the technology in innovative ways.


New in Tobii Glasses 2 eye tracker

Live view — allows researchers to see exactly what a person is looking at, wirelessly and in real time. Gain immediate and actionable insights to tailor your retrospective interview prompts.

True view — provides complete freedom of viewing for the wearer thanks to the wide-angle HD scene camera and four eye cameras in a thin frame. Secure valid research by accommodating peripheral vision and natural viewing behavior.

Flexible mapping tool — significantly reduces time for coding videos. Efficiently aggregate and process data from multiple test participants for specific study objects. No more IR markers!

Lightweight, unobtrusive design — feels like a regular pair of sports glasses at only 45 grams. Give participants maximum freedom of movement to behave naturally.

Here’s a recent webinar from Tobii on Tobii Glasses 2 eye tracker