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Posts tagged with User Experience

M&S logo

M&S and Next report strong online sales, but could they improve site UX?

Marks & Spencer has reported a 22.7% increase in online sales in the three months to the end of December, though it wasn’t enough to prevent an overall decline in sales.

Like-for-like sales fell by 2.1%, though there was a small improvement over the last eight weeks of the year during which M&S launched a sale, with general merchandise sales up 0.5%.

M&S’s disappointing results come after Next achieved impressive sales figures over the festive season, with the latter reporting that in-store and online sales increased by 12% in the period November 1 to December 24.

John Lewis also had a record breaking end to 2013, reporting that online sales for the five weeks to 28 December were 22.6% up on last year with johnlewis.com accounting for 31.8% of the total John Lewis business during this period.

Having previously examined the reasons behind John Lewis’ continued success in ecommerce, I thought I’d compare Next and M&S’s approaches to online retail.

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100+ amazing stats from Econsultancy's 2013 reports

With the beginning of a new year one is supposed to be inspired to look ahead and set lofty goals for the future.

However it is also a time to look back on the past 12 months to reflect and see if there are any lessons to be learned from past experiences.

Therefore there’s no better time to re-read some of the excellent surveys and reports that Econsultancy’s award-winning research team produced in 2013.

The publications cover a broad range of topics including mobile, user experience, marketing budgets, personalisation, email, SEO, cross-channel marketing, conversion rate optimisation and content management.

So put the kettle on, sit back, and improve your mind with these intriguing digital marketing and ecommerce statistics...

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"Go for the Deep Burn"

Virgin Active vs EasyGym: Why slimming down your site matters

It’s the start of a new year, so along with every other weak-willed mince-pie muncher in the western hemisphere, I’ve decided to haul my aching, broken body along to the gym for some much needed new year exercise.

But first, I need to find the best gym for me. You’d think lifting the weights would be the hard part... 

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13 major UX flaws on social media sites

As of last weekend, Vine has finally introduced a desktop website.

I say finally, Vine has only been going a year, but it’s still been an awfully long wait. The idea that a platform as supposedly trend-setting as Vine didn’t have a desktop presence is frankly ludicrous. 

I’ve been writing a regular round-up of the best Vines of the month on the Econsultancy blog for a few months now, and the lack of a searchable homepage has made this a much more long-winded exercise than necessary.

Will my job be any easier from now on? Let's see.

I’m going to take a look at Vine’s new UX, along with a handful of other social media sites, and highlight some of the user experience issues I’ve been having with them all.

First I’ll start with Instagram as this has been bugging me for a while now.

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Eight things user-centred design can teach business

User-centred design (UCD) is widely regarded as the best way to design a great user experience (UX), with most UX professionals following the international standard ISO 9241 part 210. 

As project leader for this standard, I realised that some of the principles which underlie UCD can be applied to whole organisations, so I am pleased to be project leader (with Tomas Berns from Sweden) for a new ISO standard which aims to make businesses as a whole more human centred.

To encourage interest in the new standard, we have drafted an executive summary which can be downloaded and freely distributed and would welcome input from Econsultancy readers.

This new standard aims to engage the ‘hearts and minds’ of executive board level people by explicitly presenting how eight main principles of UCD can apply to organisations. 

In this post I look at these eight principles and link them back to user experience with examples (good or bad) on the web.

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15 tiny UX elements that can make a big difference

Small details can make a big difference to the user experience, saving users' time, making it easier for them to spend money, or just generally making it more enjoyable. 

Some of these things are so widespread and expected now that you don't even notice them, such as postcode lookup tools on sites. They were not always there, and save you a lot of hassle. 

So, inspired by sites like littlebigdetails, I've rounded up 15 examples of little UX touches I've come across myself, or have found via sites like Pinterest. 

Some are obvious, some less so, and there is a general ecommerce slant to this list. Please suggest any examples you've seen lately...

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fax machine office space scene

Why does the fax refuse to die?

Every so often a customer or user encounters a process, or experiences an interaction, that makes them feel all 1990s.

It makes them feel like the whole world has moved on, leaving only them, stuck, trying to find a black biro, or trying to communicate with a customer services department.

On the Econsultancy blog, there's been much talk of digital transformation. One of the most startling changes, cross-sector, is the almost complete agreement that web operations must be completely customer focused, as should the rest of business be.

So when, at Econsultancy, we receive the occasional notice of a disputed payment from a Barclaycard or AmEx customer (as do most online businesses), asking me to fax or post back information, I rant and tramp around the office, shouting 'can't we just ****** email it?!'

Why do we have to do this? Is this an indicator of a false dawn; an indicator of how far we have to go until the customer is the number one priority?

Ok, this is going to be a boring article about faxes, but at the heart of it is the 21st Century assertion that 'you must be where your customers are'.

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UX Puzzle

Stakeholders: when they just don't get it

Stakeholders, who needs them? Well, me! I need them, and if you do too I have some advice for you about how to survive the more difficult relationships.

To give some context, I recently found myself having a debate with a friend over the way in which people commicate with one another.

“It’s what you say,” she said, pointedly. “That’s all that matters.” 

I was disagreeing with her wholeheartedly because I’ve learned that it’s not just what you say, but also very much the way that you say it as well.

You see, in my job, I believe you not only need to communicate truthfully, but also effectively. It’s pointless making rubbish up and then 'selling' it to someone.

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Visual narratives: telling a story through visual design

According to Curt Cloninger, "Usability experts are from Mars, graphic designers are from Venus"

Since the early days of web design and development, the enduring perception has lingered of a clash between two incompatible approaches.

According to the somewhat exaggerated popular concept of brain lateralisation, these might correspond to 'right brain' thinking (represented by art and aesthetics) and 'left brain' thinking (represented by engineering or usability).

This, of course, is simply not the case. Any website, (or any other form of communication) needs a combination of them all to be successful, and as the discipline of user experience (UX) has matured over the past few years this perceived divide has begun to contract.

Today, UX professionals are using the basic tools of visual communication to provide clearer, more intuitive user journeys.

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benefits of qualitative research in UX - workshop at UX London

The top three benefits of qualitative research in UX

Qualitative research ensures customer validation, clarity and a process when producing the products of tomorrow. It is possible to use qualitative techniques via a user centred design process to truly innovate whilst remaining agile.

The time and cost of qualitative research is often very small in the 'grand scheme' of product development.

Yet it is able to answer the 'how' and 'why' of which products should be created as opposed to just 'how much' attained from quantitative data, therefore yielding highly creative outcomes. 

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iOS7 - illustration of man on phone

iOS7 and the opportunities for enterprise organisations

‘We need to think about iOS7…’ Heard that phrase recently? For enterprise organisations where mobile is a key channel, deciding what the appropriate strategy is for making OS updates can be challenging.

Here are some key considerations for your organisation.

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How web design can be used to drown out the trolls

If there’s one constant in any griping discussion about the internet, it will be either the presence of trolls, or rants about trolls and trolling behaviour on just about any website you care to mention.

I should say, for the purposes of this article, that we're not talking about the appalling abuses received by women lately on Twitter - which has moved far beyond trolling and into the space of criminal threats - but about the hijacking of discussions and similar.

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