Good research is hard to do; it takes a lot of knowledge and skill to correctly plan and execute a research project, no matter what field you’re in.
One of the most crucial stages of any research study is data collection. The old saying ‘rubbish in = rubbish out’ is particularly true here, because no amount of analysis will deliver the insights you need if you’ve collected insufficient amounts or the wrong type of data (or both!).
When it comes to UX, getting the necessary data to create great experiences often involves observing and speaking with people who represent key user groups. Typically, this means performing user testing, in-depth interviews or focus groups. Given the time and effort it takes to plan and run these activities, you need to be confident that the person you’re relying on to conduct the research sessions knows what they’re doing.
Why is it that Apple’s App Store hosts over 200,000 apps and has served over 3 billion app downloads… despite only being launched a mere two years ago? What makes apps so popular? And, most importantly, how can you harness that popularity?
Our most recent app testing for a major household brand revealed two key reasons why apps were preferred to browsing the web: people like apps because they are immediate and focussed.
Well, we asked for some snow donations on Twitter and they came in in abundance! One day, there was not even a hint of frost and the next, we were ankle-deep in snow, working from home, but still managing to inject some Bunnyfoot fun into the day with a “usability snowman” competition across our UK offices (I hope Hong Kong don’t feel too left out!).
2 hours, some snow and a little imagination produced an outright winner from Oxford’s Usability Consultant, Nick Antram. Here’s his entry…
Cob, bap, muffin, barm cake… what do you call it? Chances are it depends on your social background, where you were brought up, and a myriad of other influences over the past years. If you haven’t got a clue what I am talking about by the way they are all terms for things you might stick some cheese or a sausage in to make a snack. Other terms include ‘bread rolls’ or ‘buns’ and there are about 30 or so others in common use in the UK.
If something as innocent as baker’s doughy product has the potential for confusion, misinterpretation, class associations and heated argument (yes disputes are rife – raise the issue with your colleagues and wait for the fallback) then imagine the potential for chaos and bewilderment when communicating more complex propositions across national and international markets…. …this is where good customer research with a reach beyond the confines of London can help
Bunnyfoot has been performing customer research and customer usability testing for the last 10 years. We noticed very early on that there were distinct UK regional differences (over and above other demographic influencers) in people’s responses to the same website – and these differences have profound consequences on the websites’ ability to communicate, persuade and convert. Knowing and acting upon the geographical differences (cultural, social, language, attitudinal etc.) dramatically increases the effectiveness of the end result. This is one of the reasons why we set up 5 offices with usability labs running the length of the UK and why we encourage our clients to look beyond the myopia of London when researching with their customers (it works better if you do – simple as that).
But you don’t have to be locked to physical labs, getting out there in the field and observing what real people do in their own environments is a valuable thing to be doing that can reveal key insights. One problem with this is that it can be expensive. One way of getting there without so much cost is to perform ‘remote usability testing’. This typically relies on screen-sharing over the internet, and with recent advances in broadband penetration it is now possible to run usability tests and observe people in their own homes or places of work (with consent!!) from practically anywhere.
Beyond the UK
When your product or service reaches beyond national boundaries then geographical and cultural differences become even more pronounced. HSBC clearly know this and you will know doubt have seen some of their adverts revealing the different cultural, geographical and socio-economic meanings associated with things like colour, gestures, symbols and language.
It goes beyond this too – we have recently been working extensively across Europe, the Middle East and Asia (and a little bit in Africa) we have uncovered challenges associated with extending online communications across these regions. This includes:
the need for flexible or even completely different interfaces to cope with different languages (e.g. German = long words and phrases, Arabic and Chinese = right to left)
the fact that in some regions the preferred or only way people engage online is via mobile (Africa and Japan in particular)
display advertising and contextual advertising is far more effective than search engine marketing in some regions (e.g. Middle East) because of not just language differences but also cultural differences
‘western style’ minimalist aesthetic design doesn’t work well in China – and again this is cultural and not just because of the character sets used
We, as an agency, need to take our own advice on board to adopt local knowledge to get the best results. Bunnyfoot employs consultants from across cultures and have recently opened an office in Hong Kong to get closer to international differences. When we test abroad we use a network of quality agencies, it just brings that edge of local knowledge that makes the testing run much smoother.
Watch the video below of Tom, aged two and a half, playing Teletubbies (2004), and see if you can see his choices before he makes them. It’s simple, but this video is a great demonstration of the power of eye tracking…
This is my son 5 years ago – and my favourite eye-tracking demo ever. I use it all the time and must have shown it hundreds of times now, so I thought: time to release it to the wider world.
Bunnyfoot developed ‘mass user testing’ in response to the real-world needs of commercial clients and to combat the deficiencies inherent in the most widely used traditional usability testing methods (we have actually been doing this for about 4 years but formalised it last year).
The key to mass user testing is using large numbers of people rapidly and cost-effectively – this is achieved through recruiting people ‘off street’ with the lure of some cash (or other incentives – we are quite creative in this regard) for about 15 minutes of their time.
Many leading brand advertisers could be wasting up to 90% of their online advertising budget – and causing mistrust and frustration amongst users – because of misleading adverts that make the user click-through by accident, according to new research from the team at Bunnyfoot.
In user-testing involving 60 people, we found that almost 9 out of 10 click-throughs for a leading UK brand’s pop-over advertisement (rich media adverts that appear in the browser, over the main content) were made by mistake because the ‘close’ button was so difficult to find. The brand in question has claimed a 20% click-through rate for the campaign, but our research suggests a more believable 2% success rate.