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!

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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.

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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
submissions.

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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.

Top-aligned-mobile-labels

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

Objective Asia presents at Next Bank Asia Singapore 2014 (NBASG14)

Yesterday, James Breeze; CEO and founder of and Objective Asia and Objective Digital gave a presentation on the concept of ‘build’ with a focus a on user experience at the Next Bank Asia conference 2014 in Singapore.

James Breeze Objective Digital from NextBank on Vimeo.

James presented on the importance of customer experience, with emphasis that Asia should continue to build and develop their customer experiences in this rapidly changing world.
James gave some key examples of how eye-tracking greatly enhances the quality of customer experience research, particularly when that research can be conducted in store using portable eye-tracking glasses, or data is provided to clients in real-time during user testing for immediate integration.

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Objective Asia also flexed some of their latest Tobii eye-tracking set-ups at the conference, which allow for eye-tracking of mobile and tablet users – the emerging leading platforms since the home PC, and of which now give even the laptop a run for its money.

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Given the worldwide shifts toward ‘mobile banking’, a large amount of interest was generated, as the banks are now understanding the importance of high-level customer experience research.

Objective Asia continues to build new relationships and enhance existing relationships in Asia and remains an active player in helping maintain a high-level standard of customer experience in this world of technological change.

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Special thanks to NBASG14, well done James Breeze and congratulations Objective Asia!

Mobile Banking: Who has improved app usability and, surprisingly, how many haven’t

Seventy three percent of Australians aged 15-65 own a smartphone. 65% used their smartphone everyday over the past week and 77% don’t leave the home without their device. With the rise of mobile usage it’s no wonder some of Australia’s leading banks are now making the mobile customer experience a priority (Frost & Sullivan Australian Mobile Device Usage Trends 2013).

However, since releasing our incredibly popular mobile banking app usability white paper in August 2013, it is surprising to see how little has changed in the Australian mobile banking app market!

The CommBank mobile banking app is one banking application leading the way in not only giving customers the ability to manage their finances while on the go, but helping users in making it a usable, seamless, easy and quick process. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Optional Transfers Customers have the option to make payments to a friend via Facebook, mobile number or their friend’s email address through the CommBank app. All the recipient needs is an Australian BSB and account number. Existing Commonwealth Bank customers will receive the funds directly into their account. Ensuring no-one is left out, anyone who is not a Commonwealth Bank customer will receive a text notification and a code from the sender to retrieve funds.

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CommBank’s mobile banking app, transfers, May 2014

2. On-the-Go payments using NFC or PayTag CommBank has been one of the fastest movers on allowing customers to pay on-the-go using either NFC (near field communication) or their recently introduced PayTag technology. A PayTag will cost customers $2.99 and sticks to the back of the mobile phone, working just like a credit card for tap-and-go payments. The PayTag is simple to install using on screen instructions, and is used by just tapping your phone as you would with a credit card.

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PayTag for iPhones

3. Cards Top-Up Easily top your cards up while on the go. This is a particularly useful feature when using travel cards and need to quickly access accounts to transfer money to your Commonwealth Bank travel cards all in one place within the app. Once navigated to the “top up” feature, large credit card images are visually displayed on screen accompanied by a large “top up” button where customers can simply “top up” from one card to another.

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CommBank’s Card Top-up, May 2014

4. Transfer between accounts Vertical scrolling wheel to select accounts for transfer ensuring there is minimal user input to complete the task. Only relevant information is visible on screen keeping design minimal, user friendly and removing the possibilities for user errors or confusion.

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Transfer between accounts, May 2014

5. Usability and overall user experience The most common tasks performed by users are now visible with a clear call to action on the launch screen. As users have limited time and generally be on-the-go, it is important to consider the context in which the mobile app is used. CommBank does a nice job of bringing these common tasks like account transfers, payments and tap and pay forward for their customers, whilst still keeping all app functions easily accessible through the main hamburger menu (top right).

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Launch Screen (left) and Navigation (right), May 2014

The mobile payment space may have started out somewhat slower than expected from Australia’s leading banks, however, with the ever-increasing rise in mobile use, together with customers demanding quick and usable payment solutions this is sure to change. This is evident with many of Australia’s leading banks currently releasing and/or testing new mobile payment solutions for their customers. The examples provided show CommBank leading the way with updated features and usability making everyday tasks easier for their customers.

It has never been more important to be considering the user experience of the product by researching and testing new solutions and designs with customers to evaluate how, when and why they may or may not use their mobiles for payment and everyday banking.

Providing customers with an accessible, easy and useful mobile payment experience can go a long way in, not only ensuring they continue to use it, but that they will be one of your strongest advocates.

So do you have a product or service you want to put in front of your customers? Find out about all your usability testing options and contact us for a quote!

Myles Clemones – UX Consultant

Sydney Research Network – Objective’s in-house recruitment agency

We welcome Michelle Brandwood, who joins us as Recruiting Manager. Objective Digital’s in-house recruitment agency, Sydney Research Network, lists well over 2000 participants allowing for rapid and efficient recruitment of participants based on demographic and lifestyle segmentation criteria. Recruitment being an in-house activity ensures a rigid process of quality management by ensuring a fresh source of participants for market research; not relying on single existing database.

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Michelle Brandwood, Recruitment Manager at Sydney Research Network

Multi-platform testing – the answer to omni-channel CX

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The omni-channel experience

Omni-channel” is the new buzzword being tossed around. But what does it actually mean? And how do you begin to develop an omni-channel strategy?

With the rise of Near Field Communication (NFC) and mobile phone usage in-store, consumers are increasingly embracing digital technologies and devices in all stages of their buying journey. This integration of digital into off-line shopping behaviour means customers experience a brand, rather than a channel within a brand. In response, companies are designing omni-channel strategies to deliver a seamless approach to the customer experience across multiple touch points. It’s about true continuity of the customer experience.

An article published in The Wall Street Journal (Jan, 2014) says “retailers are still struggling with omni-channel strategies” – and Australian companies are no different. If a company wants to start thinking about the omni-channel experience, they need to be open and involved in making their customers’ experience continuous and universal. To do this, you need to start understanding why and how your customers integrate different customer touch points into their buying journey.

To meet the demands of our clients, Objective Digital has deployed a multi-platform testing methodology. Conducting usability testing with eye-tracking on multiple devices, rather than individually, can create more knowledgeable insights into your customer’s omni-channel experience. A move to multi-platform testing with users allows our clients to better understand how their consumers experience their brand rather than the interaction with a single channel.

Objective Digital was recently commissioned by a one of Australia’s leading Internet betting and entertainment website. As an online organisation, one of their research objectives was to understand how their multiple platforms integrated together, and what type of omni-channel customer experience they were creating. In response, we deployed our multi-platform testing methodology to investigate which device – desktop, mobile, or tablet – was producing a more efficient customer experience at different points of the online betting journey.

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Multi-platform testing set-up

Participants were tested and eye-tracked on two devices (desktop, mobile, or tablet) across four key tasks. Each task was scored against a set of quantitative measures. This was followed by qualitative questions to understand the user’s experience with the different devices. At the completion of the project, we had compiled qualitative, quantitative, and eye-tracking data on each of the four tasks across the three devices. This painted a clear picture of how customers where engaging with the Online Betting agency across its different channels.  From here, we made recommendations on how our client could improve certain channels and leverage others depending on their customers’ expectations and needs.

The philosophy of omni-channel is simple, however the execution of omni-channel strategies has been mediocre at best. In order to accomplish this migration to being omni-channel, companies must have complete visibility of how their users mitigate their multiple touch points and channels. Part of what we are doing as customer experience consultants is filling that omni-channel gap for our clients.

Combining Contextual Inquiry with Eye Tracking

With technology becoming more and more complex, it is key to understand how actual users interact with challenging applications. Observing users work with these systems while at work or home is bound to yield rich qualitative data.

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Objective Digital’s article, “Combining Contextual Inquiry with Eye Tracking” in UX Magazine describes how eye tracking call center operators revealed some pretty amazing insights. It revealed how a stressful environment coupled with an ineffective interface can result in bigger issues, like poor customer satisfaction and high staff turnover.

Needless to say, the findings from the eye tracking analysis put a lot of arguments to rest and were the basis for the design decisions for the systems improvement.

Objective Measures of our Subconscious

The brain processes 400 billion bits of information a second. BUT, we are ONLY aware of 2,000 of those.” (Dr. Joseph Dispenza)

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At any given moment, our brain is receiving a great deal of visual information from our surrounding environment – changes in visual space, colours, shapes, and movement of objects. We take in so much visual information that our brain selectively filters out unimportant visual data and stores it in our subconscious memory.

Not to be dismissed, the subconscious mind has a great impact on our decision-making, thoughts, and behavior. Whether its browsing a website, glancing at an advertisement, or navigating a shopping aisle, visual information filtered into our subconscious memory influences how we react in these environments.

If the subconscious mind affects a person’s behavior with, or perceptions of, an environment (either physical or virtual), then it makes sense to understand it. In this instance, traditional research methods, such as focus groups, depth interviews, surveys, digital analytics, accompanied shops and intercepts, are limited in helping us understand subconscious reactions and behaviors. So, how do we measure the subconscious?

Our eyes process approximately 300 frames per second – processing visual information at every point. By measuring where someone is looking at each frame, allows us to detect elements in the environment that people visually perceive but may not be able to recall or remember – this is what our brain has processed into subconscious memory.

Eye tracking, as a research technique, enables us to measure each individual point at which our brain processes a piece of visual information. Replaying people’s eye movements back to them (a research method known as Retrospective Think Aloud) assists people to become consciously aware of these elements – that is, bringing these elements back into consciousness.

Shopping, for example, is largely a subconscious process, where behavior unfolds as a result of perception of visuals and other cues in the environment. By using eye tracking, we are able to objectively measure how customers respond to these cues, which our brain often filters into the unconscious mind. In such instances, eye tracking has enabled us to capture both the conscious and unconscious response to visual stimuli and provide deeper customer insights and understanding.

Incorporating eye tracking into research studies involving human interactions with systems or environments has allowed us greater insight into people’s subconscious. More importantly, eye-tracking data has provided an objective and more detailed view of actual behavior.

Objective Digital are leaders in using eye tracking technology to uncover unconscious insights which can be decoded to improve the customer experience. Having worked with large financial institutions, telco’s, retailers, travel companies, government bodies and universities, our team is equipped with a wealth of knowledge across all aspects of customer experience.

Objective Digital at the POPAI Professional Women’s Info-Drinks

Yesterday the female team members at Objective Digital joined the POPAI Professional Women’s Info-Drinks at the Hilton Hotel, where Stephanie Tam, State Sales Manager of Lorna Jane, shared the best shopper insights and strategies she picked up during her travel around the world as part of the Westfield’s 2013 Young Retail Study Tour.

Not surprisingly, early on in her presentation, Stephanie pointed out that retail experiences should be all about the customer.

“What makes your brand go round? – 360° retailing” (Stephanie Tam)

This should not come as news to anyone in the industry, however, Stephanie emphasised the fact that she found it difficult to find any retailer in Australia performing as customer experience oriented as she found in the rest of the world.

These were a few of the stand out companies Stephanie found during her trip:

1. Burberry

Burberry in London

Stephanie spoke about her experience in the Burberry flagshipstore in London. When trying on a pair of jeans in the change room, the screen in front of her showed her other items that would go with the jeans. When she selected them the sales person would be waiting outside the change room with those items ready to try on.

2. Warby Parker

Warby Parker in USA

Warby Parker – predominately an online company, opened a physical store to allow people to try on different styles of glasses, take photos, post photos and share it on social media and then place their order. In that store there is no inventory, rather orders are placed online and dispatched from a warehouse. Not only did the company successfully increase traffic to their website, this strategic move led to a huge increase in sales.

3. Kate Spade’s Pop Up Store

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Kate Spade in NYC

Taking window shopping to the next level by delivering a “different” experience to the customer, Kate Spade Pop Up window shops display the latest fashion on a touch screen display in front of a nicely decorated window. The customer can choose a product on the screen, which can then be delivered to any address in NYC within one hour. Transaction takes place through an app on the customer’s smart phone.

Other stores follow this same strategy:

4. This is Story

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“Story is a retail space that has the point of view of a magazine,

changes like a gallery and sells things like a store”

Located in New York, This is Story provides an experience to their customers that changes every six weeks. This strategy is exciting and lures their customers back into their stores on a regular basis.

In today’s fast paced and changing world, it is important for every company to be up to date and provide experiences that are relevant to customers on a daily basis.  A successful strategy today might be obsolete by tomorrow. Each and every company has to listen to their customers on a regular basis, test their services and products for improvements and change their offerings accordingly.

Last but not least, Stephanie pointed out the importance of ethical values of a company. Customers are after a great (purchasing) experience, however, they also strive for more sustainable values that leaves them with a satisfied feeling after their purchase. “Giving back” as part of their purchase experience is valued highly, and in today’s world a large percentage of customers are willing to stay loyal to a particular brand, evening spending an extra dollar or two to be apart of the larger community effort.

For example, Stephanie named Toms’ “One for One” programme that donates a pair of shoes every time a customer purchases one. Another great example of giving back to the local community is the Nike+ FuelStation Pop-up, located in a park in London. Nike provides a meeting place for runners, a place to hang out and get educated on all things fitness like running routes and eating plans. This space does not sell any Nike gear, but rather provides a sense of community to its customers.

To sum up, Stephanie presented a good case of the importance of considering the customer’s experience in every business strategies and that adapting to the changing environment in today’s world is key to successful operations.

This makes us proud of working in a company that is specialises in just that: Improving the customer experience from a 360 degree perspective – across all touch points!

Danielle Azar and Jasmin Kollinger

Free Tobii Webinar:Introducing the Tobii UX Live solution for usability testing

In this free 30-minute webinar we will discuss the value of eye tracking-supported usability testing and how to incorporate it in your development process. You will also learn more about the Tobii UX Live solution and how you can use it yourself when testing web pages and software.

In this webinar you will learn more about:

  • The value of usability testing and how to incorporate it in the development process.
  • The benefits of eye tracking-enabled usability testing.
  • How to set up and run a study using Tobii UX Live.
  • Overview of the Tobii UX Live solution.
  • Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions via chat after the webinar.

Audience and prerequisites:

This webinar is open to anyone who wants to learn more about the Tobii UX Live solution and usability testing. Pre-registration is required.

About the instructors:

This webinar is taught by Johan Koch, product manager at Tobii Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, and Tommy Strandvall, global training manager at Tobii Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dates and registration:

Date & time: Friday, September 20, 2013, at 17:00pm Sydney time
Price: FREE
Registration: Pre-registration is mandatory: Click here to register.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Cheers,

Sheilah