By Esse Spadavecchia on 3 August 2011
Recently at Objective Digital we have had a plethora of financial clients asking for usability testing with our eye-tracking facilities as well as larger focus-groups to ascertain people’s views on finances and their attitudes towards banking online.
This is a good thing. Actually it’s a great thing. For one, as a banking customer of a couple of our client’ banks, I’m overjoyed that they’re interested in hearing what their end-users have to say… and what’s more they’re really listening. Secondly, it’s good for business. And we do love that really. But how did this all come about?
How did we instil the need for usability testing?
There was a long period of time when the words Usability Testing and User Centred Design were just hot jargon being played with in the industry… I don’t think our clients really knew how they would make improvements following usability testing sessions or include the outcomes in the process.
So what changed?
Well for one, the User Experience (UX) industry started evolving to a point where their deliverables weren’t just a 98-page Word document with detailed findings that no one would ever read…
Yep, we started wizening up to the fact that nobody likes to read lengthy documents, whether they are online or printed and bound. Even if you did put your super snazzy company logo in the top left corner with scented spray.
Now there was GOLD in those documents. Literally thousands of magic pointers that, if followed to the nose, would make your site grow a cape and take off faster than Superman… but who has time to read? Let alone work out a strategy for what gets done first and who should be responsible for it all.
And then what?
Deliverables became PowerPoint presentations and findings became bullet points of highlights. Graphs and tables with summaries became the norm. Edited short video clips of usability testing and eye-tracking accompanied every document.
Suddenly our clients were taking notice. One of our clients went on to say that our report was the ‘Best report I’ve ever read, tells the story in a way that makes absolute sense. We can’t wait to do this for all our products’.
This was the hot tamale they’ been looking for. This was actionable. This they could deal with and still get home in time to watch Master Chef. Winner.
As an example we delivered a 28-page preso to one of our clients recently, most of which consisted of links to snippets of users talking about what they liked and what they didn’t like. The chief programme guy got it immediately. He stood up, shook our hand and said “Guys, I know what we need to do. It’s so obvious”. I know we keep saying it, but yes, the users’ voice speaks a million words… Even more so that an image, even if it’s of Paris Hilton.
So we started fashioning all our final presentations as such.
- Short overviews, executive summaries.
- Stats on what people liked, where they failed, what they wanted.
- All accompanied by video and eye-tacking data, as well as heatmaps and gazeplots.
- Then end it off with an actionable list of what needs to be done, and prioritise it by user-need vs. business-need vs. technical complexity and you have a winner.
- With a cherry on top.
So now our clients keep coming back to us. Not only because we’re lovely and generally very good-looking, but also because we actually deliver something they can act on. The guy at the top gets it because he can fashion a business case from it. The manager of the programme gets it because he can work it into his project timeline and of course the designer and propeller-heads get it because it’s actionable and they can action it. Simple.
So now our clients know usability testing is good. Not only because they are hearing the voice of their customers, but also because now they know what to do about it. Brilliant.
At the end of the day it’s the deliverables that are evolving… we forget in the UX industry that our clients have other stuff to read too (no! really?). And we are very, very clever, but it means nothing if people can’t do something with it.
It’s like getting a stunning villa in France vacuum packed and bubble wrapped with limited instructions (in French) as to how to get it up and install the plumbing… it’s bound to be abandoned.
And you probably won’t buy a villa from the same people again.
So go forth grasshopper, and create shorter presentations and deliverables with real impact!