tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/user-experience-and-usability Latest User Experience and Usability content from Econsultancy 2017-05-23T14:42:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69101 2017-05-23T14:42:00+01:00 2017-05-23T14:42:00+01:00 Why increasingly efficient UX might not always be a good thing Nick Hammond <p>"Efficiency is at the heart of progress. Yet just as too much of a good thing (travel, say) can yield a bad (congestion), so excessive ease in transactions can generate costs, known in the jargon as a “facile externality”, such that less efficiency would actually be more efficient. In academic circles…. the notion is well established that innovations which eliminate too much hassle could do society harm."</p> <p>The article continues, stating that "a few companies have recognised the benefits of restoring friction. Research into “the Ikea effect”, named in honour of those happy hours spent with an Allen key, a Billy bookcase and a rising hatred of Sweden, shows that people put extra value on things when they devote their own labour to them."</p> <p>It is important to mention at this point, that the above Economist article came out on 1st April and the mention of the UN’s “Don’t Nudge—Tell” office (DoNuT) rather gave the game away, with regards to the article’s seriousness. Although the idea of a tax on efficiency is good fun and makes for a great April Fool, this piece got me thinking. I see a grain of truth here, whether intended or not, and you will see below examples that support this view. </p> <p>In the pursuit of efficiency, the purchasing process is being made progressively easier. Amazon’s 1-click ordering makes it easier for people to buy stuff.  But not easy enough for some organisations - witness the advent of ‘zero-click’ ordering. Dominos have pioneered <a href="https://www.dominos.com.au/inside-dominos/technology/zeroclick" target="_blank">“zero-click” pizza-buying</a>, simply open the app and, after ten seconds, it automatically places a pre-set order. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6350/zero_click.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="347"></p> <p>Dangerously for brands, a focus on efficiency threatens to short circuit the importance of branding, and brand values, with the customer. The nature of speed is utilitarian and is therefore unreliable and indefensible as a brand USP. Fine if you are the fastest but not so good if you get overtaken. </p> <p>Let’s consider how overt speed, efficiency and ease of access, can be a problem within specific categories.</p> <h4>Content distribution</h4> <p>As content providers increasingly distribute via major technology platforms, the value of the brand and the content becomes reduced. Stories are taken out of context, often edited down and sometimes re-distributed unbranded. Established media brands may have few other options to reach their audience, but it does their brand equity no good in the long term. </p> <h4>Location based taxi Apps</h4> <p>On a recent trip to Austin, despite the lack of Uber in the city, I found there were five or six different location based taxi apps to choose from. The differences between them were marginal, apart from the odd technical glitch, and it was easy to register and swap between services. In this instance, the efficiency of the delivery mechanisms and the resultant commoditisation of the products, worked against the opportunity for brand differentiation.</p> <h4>Online food order and delivery services</h4> <p>As with the taxi apps, brands such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and HungryHouse are similar in terms of product and delivery. Therefore, a major consideration becomes that of velocity – who can deliver sustenance the fastest.</p> <p>To counter this, companies like these are seeking to build personalities in order to forge connections with consumers. As with soft drinks, beer and online betting, there is little differentiation in this market so the relative importance of brand equity becomes greater.</p> <h3>Positive friction</h3> <p>On the other side of the coin, there are instances where deliberate friction can have a positive effect. A good example in the banking sector is Monzo. Monzo's ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68756-prudent-ux-for-banking-monzo-designs-positive-friction/" target="_blank">positive friction</a>’ design approach includes options such as late-night spending reviews, and spending and top-up limits. </p> <p>In the healthcare category, an example of positive friction is the redesign of Tylenol (pain reliever) pill packaging. By switching from bottles to blister packaging, Tylenol related suicides declined 43%, with accidental poisonings significantly shrinking too. The reason for this was simple, in the original bottle packaging, a person could open the cap and ingest more than enough pills to overdose in one swift movement.</p> <p>In the new blister packaging, by decreasing the number of pills in the pack and forcing the person to individually pop each one out of its casing, enough minor friction was created to drastically bring down suicide numbers. This was all achieved without hindering the experience for those using the pills for medical reasons.</p> <p>Positive friction is being utilised across a range of business categories and environments. Even the most transactional businesses, for example travel and ticketing sites, employ techniques to encourage users to stay connected longer. Ticket booking sites such as Viagogo engineer deliberately delayed loading pages (artificial friction) to indicate the ‘popularity’ of an event and increase anticipation, pressure to purchase. Airlines encourage app downloads, which can then be used to surface additional information, such as flight updates or upcoming travel offers.</p> <p>Major digital channels encourage users to stay on their sites as long as possible. Facebook could make the process of posting quicker, but that would do them no favours as they encourage longer dwell time for users to interact with advertising.</p> <h3>In the workplace</h3> <p>Positive friction is increasingly used in workplace design to encourage interaction and the modern equivalent of the ‘water cooler moment’. Google’s latest London offices are a good example. This <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/does-your-office-create-positive-friction-8953942.html" target="_blank">from The Evening Standard</a>:</p> <p>‘Google’s sparkling new £1 billion headquarters in King’s Cross will have a climbing wall, rooftop pool and indoor football pitch but it’s short of one thing — offices. This is because Google wants to encourage something called positive friction — that’s bumping into your colleagues, but not the ones you know. Think Big Bang theory for working. Great things come from collisions.’ </p> <h3>Bots and automation</h3> <p>On the negative side, technology is having an effect as well. Technology is bringing greater efficiency which, alongside the introduction of automation and bots in the decision-making process, raises serious ethical questions.</p> <p>In a recent article <a href="http://www.brandlearning.com/views-ideas/marketing-capability/the-future-and-eternal-truth-of-marketing-trust/" target="_blank">on trust</a>, I discussed the relationship between brand and consumer, and the transparency with which it is conducted, which risks being further confused by the growing influence of bots. ‘Choice architecture’ is changing with the rise of automation, robotics and AI. Bots will refine choices presented, and even make choices on behalf of consumers. Some argue that the intervention of bots will mean that matters of ethics, which are nuanced and not binary decisions, will get side-lined.</p> <p>'In any event, the reality is that this will place even more responsibility on the brand to uphold ethics. Bots may ignore these in the moment of choice, but ultimately, any brand that cannot meet the requirement for transparent ethics, will risk a consumer backlash.’  </p> <p>Venturebeat.com strikes <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2017/04/03/3-challenges-of-developing-bots-for-immersive-environments/" target="_blank">a more serious note</a> on the negative effects of efficiency than The Economist, quoting Airbnb’s Steve Selzer and his view that immediacy and the absence of friction are creating a less tolerant, less self-aware world. 'This is why designers of intelligent, immersive experiences need to build in meaningful friction, encouraging reflection and awareness of the actions themselves as well as their consequences.'</p> <p>A separate article from Chatbots Magazine does hint at an upside to chatbots though, saying that <a href="https://chatbotsmagazine.com/humans-are-saying-thanks-to-bots-why-i-believe-this-peculiar-interaction-is-important-ac5066481e57" target="_blank">people seem to say 'thank you'</a>, although there is no logical reaason to do so, which may mean some technology is promoting good behaviour.</p> <h3>Virtual realities</h3> <p>The advent of other realities, augmented and virtual, in tandem with reduced friction, may also cause problems. This also from Venturebeat – ‘…reflection is even more important in immersive environments, where you don’t so much “watch” or “use” experiences as really “live” through them. VR experiences are perceived by the brain as actually happening to the user, so their transformative potential — toward self-development or rapture — is quite powerful.’</p> <p>For brands, the question of how to provide the right amount of friction to unlock reflection but not to hamper experience is critical in building a world that, in addition to doing things, thinks about what it is doing.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69022 2017-05-04T09:57:00+01:00 2017-05-04T09:57:00+01:00 Five fintech websites with crystal clear value propositions Ben Davis <p>So, when you look at the website of a digital-only bank, there is usually a very clear value proposition, with little obfuscation and jargon, one main message and no complex muddle of products.</p> <p>I've rounded up five financial services websites with crystal clear value propositions, to see what incumbents can learn.</p> <h3>1. N26</h3> <p>In case the homepage pictured below leaves you in any doubt, N26 is a mobile bank. The tagline, "Run your entire financial life from your phone", is about as clear as it gets, and N26 makes sure that the calls-to-action on the page ('open bank account') emphasise the ease with which consumers can sign up.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5711/n26_mobile.jpg" alt="n26" width="615" height="317"></p> <p>The straightforward language is continued on the bank account product page. "You'll never have to visit a bank again" – this takes what for some consumers is a negative of online banks (lack of branches) and spins it as a positive for the more mobile-savvy consumer who never wants to stand in a queue.</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5712/n26_one_account.jpg" alt="n26 " width="615" height="316"></p> <p>N26's homepage is matter of fact in stating the benefits of its accounts. There's little fluffy copy - "Open an account in under 8 minutes, withdraw from any ATM....get realtime push notifications with every transaction."</p> <p>Note that for all of the companies included on this list, images of the mobile interface are a vital part of marketing to their potential consumers. The interface is the product, just as much as the pricing details. Note, too, the lack of lifestyle images of smiling families that one typically sees on incumbent bank websites (<a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5740/barclays.jpg">here's an image of the Barclays homepage</a> above the fold at time of writing). Objects are captured to show the bank's place within a busy lifestyle (sun hat, passport, keys), but it is the product that inspires trust, not a persona.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5729/n26_features.jpg" alt="n26" width="615" height="335"></p> <p>The '8-minute' proposition is rammed home again when the user clicks to open an account, a nice touch to chivvy the user along.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5728/n26_signup.jpg" alt="n26" width="600" height="185"></p> <h3>2. Trov</h3> <p>Trov offers on-demand insurance. Here's an instance where images of people are appropriate, with the guitar-playing beach bum a strong indication that this insurance product is not as stuffy as all the others, and befits a roaming lifestyle.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5730/trov.jpg" alt="trov" width="615" height="336"></p> <p>Illustrations are used effectively. The message format is second nature to younger demographics and its inclusion here is a powerful indicator of a product that works on their terms.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5699/trov_claims.jpg" alt="trov website" width="300"></p> <p>Clicking the 'How it works' button in the top menu gives a very simple light box which demonstrates key features of the app. Once again, this is a very obvious example of a company selling the experience over and above its pricing.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5649/trov_slide_2.jpg" alt="trov" width="600"> </p> <h3>3. Acorns</h3> <p>Acorns is a micro-investment platform. The website is particularly good at communicating what the app does. That starts with some confident copywriting – 'Automatically invest life's spare change', followed by the assertion that 'anyone can grow wealth'.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5701/acorn_life_spare_change.jpg" alt="acorn" width="615" height="339"></p> <p>Acorns is very good at explaining how the app works, breaking the process down into three steps. The screenshot below shows the advantage that such focused apps enjoy over competition that provides multiple bespoke services – Acorns is able to distill down its proposition. Clarity is one step away from transparency, giving the consumer confidence. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5702/acorns_connect.jpg" alt="investing" width="615" height="342"></p> <p>Security is one marketing message that new fintech players have to convey, where incumbents can perhaps rely on their reputation as safe places for your money. Acorns' website addresses this issue, stating its 'serious security' credentials, including its membership of the SIPC.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5703/acorns_security.jpg" alt="security acorn" width="615" height="327"></p> <p>The $1/month pricing is attractive, offering little barrier to virgin investors, and the Acorns website lists exactly what such a modest fee gets you.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5704/acorns__1.jpg" alt="acorn" width="615" height="334"></p> <p>Lastly, I was impressed by the educational content on the Acorns website, designed to make sure its target customers do not feel out of their depth. There's a particularly good <a href="https://youtu.be/zWftVEaTNJg">explainer video</a> (clickable, too) and an FAQ-style section with some very simple questions answered, such as 'what is an ETF?'</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5700/what_acorns.jpg" alt="acorns content for beginners" width="450"> </p> <h3>4. ClearScore</h3> <p>ClearScore is one fintech company that is synonymous with clarity and great UX. Its homepage is probably the best and clearest value proposition in the sector.</p> <p>ClearScore uses the language of enfranchisement – 'your credit score <em><strong>should</strong></em> be free'. And powerfully declares 'Just free. Forever'. This proposition had a big effect on the competition, which followed suit in offering a free score.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5742/clearscore_home.jpg" alt="clearscore" width="615" height="307"></p> <p>Compare ClearScore to incumbent Experian, which looks pretty similar but notably includes much more information to try to assert its trustworthiness and functionality. ClearScore lives up to its name with a website that appears to exist simply to show the consumer their credit score, which is exactly what they want.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5743/experian.jpg" alt="experian" width="615" height="339"></p> <p>ClearScore even dares to declare its credit report beautiful. Again, the company is appealing to the part of the consumer that is fed up with wading through financial guff.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5647/clearscore_beautiful.jpg" alt="clearscore" width="800" height="392"></p> <p>The brand tries to be as transparent as possible when it comes to data, spam and risk-free score checking. These values are important to consumers who don't want their score or their inbox to be compromised simply because they are seeking information in order to improve their situation.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5646/clearscore_safe_hands.jpg" alt="clearscore" width="800" height="314"></p> <p>Testimonials offer further assurance.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5725/clearscore_testimonial.jpg" alt="clearscore" width="615" height="325"></p> <h3>5. Stash</h3> <p>Stash is another investment platform, like Acorns, which promotes small investments and low fees. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5723/stash_confidence.jpg" alt="stash" width="615" height="225"></p> <p>Stash uses similar messaging to Acorns but has a bit more emphasis on empowerment, rather than the ease/low risk which Acorns promotes. Stash appeals to a 'new generation' of investors and talks about its 'mission' to give everyone access to financial opportunities.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5706/stash_nw_gen.jpg" alt="new gen stash" width="615" height="333"></p> <p>Furthermore, Stash promotes investment portfolios that mean something to the investor.</p> <p>The 'invest in what matters' line is backed up with visuals that represent a range of ETFs, each with their own snappy title (see 'delicious dividends' further below).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5707/stash_what_matters.jpg" alt="stash" width="615" height="338"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5710/stash_port_2.jpg" alt="stash etf" width="615" height="318"></p> <p>An investment calculator with a slider helps small investors to project the success of their funds over the next 20 years – a powerful motivator to start today. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5708/stash_calc.jpg" alt="stash calc" width="615" height="311"> </p> <h3>In summary...</h3> <p>There are some obvious tropes used by these websites, each of which boils down to a focus on UX and transparency. Bold copywriting without too much detail, beautiful shots of the app interface, and calls-to-action to start today are all common place. </p> <p>It's not hard to see how, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68981-could-established-financial-services-firms-lose-a-quarter-of-their-revenue-to-fintechs/">according to a new study</a> conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, established financial services firms could lose 24% of their revenue to fintechs in the next three to five years. As my colleague <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68981-could-established-financial-services-firms-lose-a-quarter-of-their-revenue-to-fintechs/">Patricio Robles points out</a>, fintech startups 'largely don't have to worry about large legacy systems, and their priorities aren't pulled in a million different directions because they don't have a million different lines of business.' This is evident on their websites.</p> <p>Incumbents are fighting back though, with mobile functionality and online services given more elbow room on the homepages of big banks, for instance. As <a href="https://thefinancialbrand.com/64990/digital-banking-fintech-challenger-growth-trends/">reported by The Financial Brand</a>, the incumbents are still in a very good position considering the 'stickiness' of customers in financial services, particularly banking.</p> <blockquote> <p>Challenger banks in the UK face an uninspiring average annual population growth rate (less than 1% over the last five years), and despite efforts to simplify the switching process, the Current Account Switch Service program has seen only 3 million accounts change hands since inception, roughly just 1.1% per year.</p> </blockquote> <p>One thing is for sure, though, those that do switch to new banks, insurers and the like can be fiercely loyal to those companies they see as tech and customer service pioneers. <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68866-monzo-outage-is-it-possible-to-fail-in-a-good-way/">The 2017 Monzo outage</a> proved that even in the face of failure, honesty and simplicity are strong brand characteristics.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69050 2017-05-03T14:20:46+01:00 2017-05-03T14:20:46+01:00 How fintech brokerage firm Robinhood built a billion dollar business Patricio Robles <h3>Target young investors with a mobile-first (and still mobile-only) offering</h3> <p>Robinhood launched with an iOS app. It has since added an Android app, but does not offer a web-based trading platform. And compared to the apps offered by other brokerage firms, the interfaces of the Robinhood apps are very, very simple.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5841/robinhood2.png" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>Some early critics of the company questioned this, as older and more sophisticated investors are more likely to demand that their brokerage firms provide them with advanced trading tools across desktop and mobile devices.</p> <p>But Robinhood isn't targeting these investors, at least not yet. Instead, the company bet on a market that many brokerages have shunned: young investors.</p> <h3>Lower the price of trading...to $0</h3> <p>While discount brokerages have been around for years and large brokerages have significantly reduced their fees for trading, Robinhood has lured customers with trading fees that are hard to beat: the upstart brokerage firm doesn't charge its customers fees to buy stock, and only passes on to them nominal fees levied by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority when they sell shares.</p> <p>Instead of charging customers for their trades, Robinhood earns revenue from broker-dealers, who offer it rebates for directing trades to them. Broker-dealers offer these rebates to other brokerages, but Robinhood decided that instead of treating this revenue as icing on the cake of trading fees, it would treat this revenue as its cake. </p> <p>This is the origin of the name Robinhood. As the company explains on its website, "electronic trading firms pay effectively nothing to place trades on the market. On the other hand, everyday investors were taxed up to $10 per trade. [Robinhood founders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt] realized it was time to bring this advantage to everyone."</p> <h3>Offer additional features through a subscription</h3> <p>Cleverly, Robinhood now also makes money by selling a Gold subscription, which allows customers to borrow up to double the dollar value of their account to trade on margin, access pre and after-hours trading, avoid the company's three-day deposit waiting period, and access proceeds from a stock sale immediately.</p> <p>The subscription fee for Robinhood Gold is based on the value of a customer's account, and ranges from $6/month to $200/month.</p> <p>Other brokerages commonly offer all their customers access to features only available to Robinhood customers who purchase a Gold subscription at no additional cost, but given that many young investors just starting out won't need these features, and those that do are probably comfortable with the idea of paying for additional features through a subscription service, launching a brokerage subscription service made perfect sense for Robinhood.</p> <h3>Is it built to last?</h3> <p>Despite Robinhood's ability to grow an upstart financial services firm like an internet company, questions remain about its long-term prospects. Stock markets in the US have experienced one of the longest bull market runs ever after rebounding from steep losses in the Great Recession of 2008. They currently sit at near all-time highs. That has brought retail investors, including the young retail investors Robinhood is targeting, into the market. But there's an old saying, "everybody's a genius in a bull market."</p> <p>A comment from Robinhood co-founder Bhatt is certainly eye opening. "What we're saying is if you just start investing in stocks you've heard of, you'll be outperforming cash, or what you'd be doing with that money, like spending it on Amazon, on Netflix, on cat socks," he <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/26/robincorn/">told TechCrunch</a>.</p> <p>But the notion that "investing in stocks you've heard of" is a sure-fire money-maker is only bound to support critics' arguments that the stock markets are in a bubble and unsustainable. If and when a significant downturn occurs, Robinhood's fortunes could change drastically, especially since it targets younger users who likely have less experience and lower account balances. To boot, those investors appear to be <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-stocks-millennials-are-buying-robinhood-data-2017-4">heavily concentrated in tech stocks</a>.</p> <p>A glimpse of what could happen came on Tuesday when shares of chipmaker AMD, the most popular stock among millennial investors on Robinhood, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/millennial-investors-are-getting-smoked-on-amd-2017-5">fell nearly 25%</a> after the company revealed that it expects its second-quarter gross margins to decrease, spooking the market. </p> <p>There are also questions about Robinhood's Gold subscription. One of its biggest features – margin trading – is risky and critics <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2017/0123/Before-using-investment-apps-consider-these-drawbacks">suggest</a> that by encouraging young investors who are more likely to be using Robinhood to learn the ropes to trade on margin, Robinhood is inviting disaster because, for example, those investors might not understand the implications of margin calls, which could quickly wipe out their accounts.</p> <p>For now, however, Robinhood is proving that even in competitive, commoditized markets like brokerage services, fintech upstarts are capable of taking business away from incumbents and expanding the pie by bringing new customers into financial services markets that they haven't exactly been welcomed into previously. And in Robinhood's case, investors believe the value of that exceeds $1bn.</p> <p><em><strong>For more on this topic, see Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/2017-digital-trends-in-financial-services-and-insurance/">2017 Digital Trends in Financial Services and Insurance Report</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69051 2017-05-03T14:17:53+01:00 2017-05-03T14:17:53+01:00 Will Amazon's Echo Look help grow the market for voice-based intelligent personal assistants? Patricio Robles <p>Owners can also feed the photos they take to Style Check, an Amazon service that offers up fashion recommendations. Using machine-learning technology and human feedback, Style Check compares two photos and lets an individual know which one has the better outfit.</p> <p>According to Amazon, Style Check takes into consideration "fit, color, styling, seasons and current trends".</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/5843/eh-kk-image-574x602-2x._cb529298494_-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="493"></p> <p>The Echo Look's camera is depth-sensing and the device features LED lighting. Its hardware adds computer vision-based background blur.</p> <p>But the Echo Look is more than a camera. As its name suggests, the Echo Look is, like Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot devices, a voice-controlled device that integrates all of the capabilities of Amazon's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68786-amazon-alexa-brands-must-be-careful-before-rushing-in/">Alexa intelligent personal assistant</a>. </p> <h3>Will privacy concerns doom the Echo Look's prospects? </h3> <p>Many articles about the Echo Look point out the privacy implications of the device. The presence of a camera is an obvious source of concern as webcams on laptops have been hijacked and used to secretly make recordings. And the fact that the photos users take with the Echo Look will be uploaded to Amazon's cloud only adds to the concern.</p> <p>But if the growth of speaker devices like the Echo is any indication (one report estimates that sales through such devices <a href="http://www.networkworld.com/article/3127729/home-tech/amazon-echo-and-its-competitors-will-be-a-21-billion-market-by-2020.html">will hit $2.1bn</a> within the next four years), it seems that large numbers of consumers are willing to live with the privacy risks if they perceive that the value they are receiving in return outweighs those privacy risks.</p> <h3>What is Amazon really up to?</h3> <p>Some observers are scratching their heads at the Echo Look given its fashion focus. But Amazon's interest in fashion isn't really hard to understand. While Amazon has its hands in just about every nook and cranny of the retail market, apparel is a multi-trillion dollar business. The global market for womenswear alone is worth over a half a trillion dollars annually.</p> <p>If Look takes off, it could become a source of valuable data that Amazon can use to further fuel its progress in apparel markets. As TechCrunch's Natasha Lomas pointed out, even a decade ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/29/how-echo-look-could-feed-amazons-big-data-fueled-fashion-ambitions/">observed</a>, "In order to be a $200bn company we've got to learn how to sell clothes and food."</p> <p>Amazon appears to be well on its way to figuring out how to sell clothes and has been investing heavily in apparel. In fact, according to research firm Cowen Company, Amazon now has a third more apparel buyers than Target, and slightly more than Walmart. The online retail giant has opened its own fashion photography studios and extended <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67769-the-rise-of-amazon-s-private-labels-shows-the-perils-of-not-owning-your-data-customers/">its private label efforts</a> into <a href="http://wwd.com/business-news/retail/amazon-quietly-rolls-out-private-label-fashions-10364187/">fashion</a>.</p> <p>By Cowen Company's estimates, these investments will help Amazon capture 14% of the US apparel market by 2020, <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-20/cowen-amazon-will-be-the-number-one-u-s-clothing-retailer-very-soon">making it the largest domestic apparel retailer</a>.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, Amazon says that Echo Look "helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook," indicating that Amazon will be putting to immediate use the data it collects through Echo Look devices to make personalized recommendations that can drive apparel sales.</p> <p>But Amazon Echo Look isn't just about Amazon's efforts to dominate fashion retail. Taking a step back, the Echo Look is the type of offering that could help Amazon convince even more consumers to put voice-based intelligent assistant devices into their homes. </p> <p>While voice-based devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are gaining traction, there are obviously still large segments of the consumer population that don't yet see enough value in these devices so as to be compelled to buy them. By bringing its voice interface Alexa to consumers through a fashion-focused device, Amazon has arguably created a Trojan horse, as consumers who purchase the Echo Look for the fashion-centric functionality can be introduced to all of the benefits of Alexa. </p> <p>That makes the Look a win-win for Amazon and highlights how other companies could develop their own Trojan horses to bring their intelligent personal assistants to a broader market. </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69037 2017-05-02T14:22:35+01:00 2017-05-02T14:22:35+01:00 Four digital commerce lessons from fashion retailer Bonobos Bart Mroz <p dir="ltr">Many upstart ecommerce brands have great products and great ideas. But winning market share is no walk in the park. To win in the world of ecommerce, digital execution has to be flawless, and there has to be something distinctive that keeps customers coming back to buy.</p> <p dir="ltr">The site’s user interface is probably the top make-or-break factor, but there are other keys to success as well. </p> <p dir="ltr">One young brand that has impressed me since its debut a few years ago is Bonobos, a men’s apparel brand that has grown from zero to $100m of revenue in just one decade. Since it started back in 2007, Bonobos has been doing a lot of things right and pioneering strategies that have proven to be effective.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">1. Design product pages strategically</h3> <p dir="ltr">Each product page on Bonobos' website has a clean, elegant design – on both desktop and mobile versions. With <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-25/smartphones-overtake-computers-as-top-e-commerce-traffic-source">45%</a> of ecommerce traffic now taking place through mobile, it’s non-negotiable to design product pages to be mobile-friendly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Each pair of pants is professionally photographed, and, even on a small screen, Bonobos has made it easy to navigate and toggle between different colors. The product info is prominently displayed, with links to a fit guide and FAQs nearby.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5805/bonobos_homepage.png" alt="" width="700" height="414"></p> <p dir="ltr">When the customer is ready to buy, the website allows the customer to enter shipping and billing information all on the same page, meaning they can complete a purchase in just a couple clicks. </p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5806/bonobos_mobile_site.jpg" alt="" width="200">  <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5807/bonobos_mobile_site_2.jpg" alt="" width="200"></p> <p dir="ltr">This is important, because many ecommerce websites require that same information to be entered over the course of multiple different page loads, making it more likely that the customer will abandon the cart and the company will lose the sale.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">2. Play to your strengths and do one thing really well</h3> <p dir="ltr">Bonobos got its start because one of the founders, Brian Spaley, had a knack for tailoring men’s pants and creating a comfortable waistline. The concept was unique, and it ended up being the company’s main value proposition.</p> <p dir="ltr">The takeaway for aspiring ecommerce brands is that it pays to start by doing one thing really well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, Bonobos sells all sorts of men’s apparel, including shirts, shoes, ties, jackets, and more. But if it had started producing all of that back in 2007, the company might never have taken off like it did. Bonobos did one thing really well and built a brand around it. That simplicity informs the whole brand, and it even helps simplify customer service too.</p> <p dir="ltr">Besides, whenever you are ready to scale your product offering, it’s a lot easier to convince people to buy your shirt when they’re already loyal customers of your pants. Invest early in creating a handful of flagship products that will attract and retain a cult-like following. You can always build out from there.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">3. Leverage customer service as an opportunity for customer experience </h3> <p dir="ltr">Bonobos has also excelled in the area of customer experience, specifically customer service. It’s rooted in an entirely different philosophy about what customer service can achieve for the company.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whenever a customer has an issue with a Bonobos order, there’s no 1-800 number that sends customer calls to a contracted offshore call center where agents might not even be familiar with the product.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rather, customers interact through phone, email, or even chat with highly knowledgeable in-country staff — Bonobos calls them “Ninjas” — who expertly and meticulously handle each customer. The idea is that customer service isn’t an operational expense, but rather a business investment.</p> <p dir="ltr">So instead of being a nuisance, customer service issues are a second opportunity to engage customers in a highly positive experience with the the brand. </p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5808/bonobos_customer_service.png" alt="" width="200"></p> <h3 dir="ltr">4. Use stores as touchpoints for product discovery and customer experience</h3> <p dir="ltr">Unlike traditional companies, whose business model focused on attracting as many customers as possible into a physical store and later shifted to include online buying options, Bonobos and other upstart brands are native to the online environment.</p> <p dir="ltr">But Bonobos recognized early on that the convenience of online shopping wasn’t enough to win business. Many customers still want to feel, see, and try on products as well as receive individualized attention from a Bonobos staff member.</p> <p dir="ltr">So in 2012, Bonobos opened the first Guideshop, where customers can experience products in-person instead of just through a screen. The Guideshops function as an uncrowded service hub where customers make appointments, return any past purchases, try on new items, and complete purchases, which then get shipped directly to their homes.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the ecommerce era, we can expect to see more brands take this “reversed” approach, which mitigates a lot of fixed costs (particularly the cost of renting and maintaining a storefront) early on, when companies are more focused on hiring staff, developing initial supply chains and operations management, and overseeing product manufacturers.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5809/bonobos_shop.png" alt="" width="650" height="418"></p> <h3 dir="ltr">A retailer for the new age of retail</h3> <p dir="ltr">In the world of retail, few things have had as democratizing an effect as ecommerce. The old status quo has been turned on its head, and a new age of discovering and buying new products is finally upon us.</p> <p dir="ltr">For aspiring ecommerce entrepreneurs, building a company is a long, hard journey, but now is still a good time to get into the space. Look to companies like Bonobos that are pioneering new business strategies and making waves by designing environments — both digital and physical — that make shopping a delight.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><em>For more on this topic, see:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68893-four-digital-priorities-for-retailers-in-2017/"><em>Four digital priorities for retailers in 2017</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68216-six-iconic-retailers-and-their-digital-transformation-journeys/"><em>Six iconic retailers and their digital transformation journeys</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69035 2017-05-02T14:01:00+01:00 2017-05-02T14:01:00+01:00 How Lenny Letter used email newsletters to cultivate an online community Nikki Gilliland <p>With 500,000 subscribers and a reported 70% open rate, it has rapidly grown in popularity since its launch in 2015. So, what makes readers race to read it? </p> <p>Here’s a bit more on how Lenny has evolved so far.</p> <h3>Email as an intimate medium</h3> <p>Lena Dunham has famously championed the discussion of feminist topics, including friendship, health, sex and money – previously using the mediums of TV and books to do so. With the realisation that there was an appetite for more in-depth feminist content, she launched Lenny Letter to deliver it direct to women’s inboxes.</p> <p>Lenny takes the form of two emails per week – Tuesdays is for personal essays and short stories, while Fridays is reserved for interviews. Both are lengthy and usually feature illustrations by up-and-coming artists. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5694/Lenny_2.JPG" alt="" width="500" height="820"></p> <p>So, why did Dunham choose to steer clear of the standard website-format, used by the likes of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68121-why-i-love-the-pool-and-its-refreshing-approach-to-publishing/" target="_blank">The Pool</a> and Jezebel?</p> <p>According to editor Jessica Grose, it is so that writers can directly speak to the audience, shining a spotlight on important messages rather than distracting them with a broad selection of articles. </p> <p>What’s more, it is built on the notion that email is a much more intimate and personal medium, with users deliberately opting in to receive content rather than absent-mindedly browsing on a public forum. </p> <h3>Encourages social community</h3> <p>Lenny does have an accompanying website, however, content is published with a delay of 24 hours or so to incentivise subscriptions to the newsletter. This is also done to give the design of the newsletter due attention, with illustrations and composition deliberately aligning with the medium.</p> <p>Like a lot of other publications, Lenny <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68663-why-online-publications-are-ditching-comments-sections-for-social/" target="_blank">does not allow comments</a>, instead encouraging readers to use social media to start positive conversations about topics featured. In turn, Lenny employees are highly responsive, typically replying to Instagram or Twitter comments within the same day.</p> <p>Combined, this has helped the publisher to create a receptive online audience, which has in no doubt contributed to high open rates and loyal readership. </p> <h3>Advertising business model</h3> <p>The main reason for the existence of the Lenny website is to provide a permanent space for display and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67083-is-native-advertising-sustainable/" target="_blank">native ads</a> – the result of a partnership with Hearst Media. The deal involves Hearst selling space for advertising and branded content on the site, as well as promoting Lenny across titles like Marie Claire and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68384-how-cosmopolitan-reinvented-itself-became-the-number-one-women-s-magazine-in-the-uk/" target="_blank">Cosmopolitan</a> magazine.</p> <p>Lenny also stresses that its branded content is just as authentic as its regular features, collaborating closely with brands to ensure the publication’s tone of voice remains strong.</p> <p>For instance, an interview with writer Helen Ellis focuses on what it’s like to be in a stressful situation – and it also happens to be sponsored by Secret Deodorant. Examples like these show how sponsored content can blend seamlessly in with the over-arching brand. Of course, it also relies on the audience’s trust in its reputation and dedication to quality journalism.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5695/Helen_Ellis.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="637"></p> <h3>Branching into other areas of business</h3> <p>Alongside the newsletter, Lenny also has an online shop selling branded clothing and accessories. </p> <p>Described as a place that ‘would rep grassroots feminist businesses’, it’s more of an extension of the brand’s values than a real money-making venture. Likewise, it also builds on the community element, with readers keen to wear subtly branded items like the ‘Dismantle the Patriarchy’ patch set.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5696/Lenny_shop.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="467"></p> <p>Lenny is not averse to expanding its presence in other areas, too. Last year, it began a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68348-three-reasons-brands-are-using-podcasts-as-part-of-their-content-marketing-strategy/" target="_blank">podcast series</a> called ‘Women of the Hour’ and it currently has a video series in the works for HBO Now.</p> <p>Naturally, it will need to tread carefully. While expansion could help to increase new subscribers, even more brand involvement or corporate sponsorship could potentially alienate existing readers invested in the core premise. </p> <p>That being said, as long as it keeps its focus firmly on what women really want to read about, I can’t see it going too far wrong.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just read <a href="https://twitter.com/lennyletter">@lennyletter</a> interview by <a href="https://twitter.com/oliviaclement_">@oliviaclement_</a> with <a href="https://twitter.com/AnnaDeavereS">@AnnaDeavereS</a> . Lots of gems, but these really stuck with me. 1st on education.</p> — meghan (@meghafon) <a href="https://twitter.com/meghafon/status/852904569432571909">April 14, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p><strong><em>For more on the topic of email, you can download Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/email-census/" target="_blank">Email Marketing Industry Census 2017</a></em></strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69029 2017-04-27T10:54:14+01:00 2017-04-27T10:54:14+01:00 MealPal review: Are Londoners hungry for a lunch subscription service? Nikki Gilliland <p>I was lucky enough to bag a free trial recently, so what’s a girl to do other than write a review about it? Here’s what I thought of the whole process.  </p> <h4>What does MealPlan offer?</h4> <p>Originally launching in New York City, MealPlan is a lunch subscription service that lets you reserve food at a number of participating restaurants. It offers two plans – both of which last for 30 days – £4.79 per meal for 12 or £4.39 per meal for 20.</p> <p>Either way, it guarantees you will pay less than a fiver each time, along with the promise of your lunch being ready and waiting so you don’t have to queue.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5644/Flexible_plans.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="396"></p> <h4>Planning ahead</h4> <p>You can use the service through a dedicated app or via the main website.</p> <p>Once you’ve signed up, you will be instructed to reserve your meal between 5pm and 9:30am for the next day. If you miss this time slot, you’ll have to wait until the ‘kitchen’ is open again the following evening. This could prove mildly annoying for some, but I found it quite enjoyable to plan ahead.</p> <p>It’s also handy if you're someone who finds yourself stuck in a food rut. The participating restaurants are listed in a visually-pleasing map format, which you can then filter by specific location or type of food. This means you might come across places you've never tried before - plus it's actually quite fun to browse and see what everyone's dish of the day will be.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5658/IMG_4974.PNG" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>It's important to stress that <strong>there is only one choice of meal from each restaurant</strong>. However, this meal changes on a daily basis, meaning that you still get a decent amount of variety over the course of a week. It also helps facilitate the service in the first place, as it means restaurants can produce a higher volume of meals in a shorter time frame when there is no customisation involved.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5659/IMG_4975.PNG" alt="" width="250"></p> <h4>Skipping the queue (and deliberation)</h4> <p>Instead of paying more for delivery, MealPal is hoping that consumers will be drawn in by the prospect of paying less to pick up in person – getting one over on the likes of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68206-ubereats-vs-deliveroo-a-comparison-of-the-app-user-experience/" target="_blank">Deliveroo and UberEats</a>. Unsurprisingly, it heavily leans on the fact that consumers can skip the queue when they arrive.</p> <p>This is one area I was a little dubious about. It’s London after all – surely those already queuing will be less than pleased about people jumping ahead?</p> <p>Having said that, my experiences have so far been pretty seamless. More often than not, I have spotted other MealPal members politely enquiring at the side of counters and merely followed suit. If the company grows in popularity, however, one problem could be restaurants keeping on top of this demand at the same time as satisfying regular customers. </p> <p>Alongside the no-queue element, if you’re an indecisive sort, you might also enjoy the fact that you don’t have to make a decision on the spot. What's more, it means that you can actually spend more of your lunch break enjoying it rather than waiting around.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5660/IMG_4976.PNG" alt="" width="250"></p> <h4>Is it worth it?</h4> <p>I generally found there was no skimping on portion-size with MealPal, meaning you'd definitely be paying more if you ordered as a regular customer. You can also leave feedback on factors such as size and speed after each meal, and the app will learn your preferences over time in order to offer suggestions you might like.</p> <p>Overall, there’s no denying that it’s a viable way to save money for those who buy their lunch every day. Of course, success also depends on whether or not you’re guaranteed to use up all your meals within the time frame.</p> <p>This might put off customers from keeping subscriptions for the long-term, with a lack of freedom and repetitive menus being potential bugbears. Also keep in mind that, although most participating restaurants are littered in the City, Soho and Canary Wharf, there are more in some areas than others.</p> <p>Will I be signing up? I could be persuaded to give it a proper go in future, if cancelling membership is hassle-free. It beats going to Pret seven days a week anyway. </p> <p><strong><em>Related reading:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68197-which-restaurants-deliver-the-best-mobile-web-ux/" target="_blank">Which restaurants deliver the best mobile web UX?</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64445-why-aren-t-restaurants-taking-advantage-of-mobile-search/" target="_blank">Why aren't restaurants taking advantage of mobile search?</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69036 2017-04-27T10:52:19+01:00 2017-04-27T10:52:19+01:00 Six ways Aldo’s new mobile site streamlines the shopping experience Nikki Gilliland <p>Designed to make shopping more seamless across all channels, the mobile site in particular has got customer convenience in mind. Here are six features that deliver on the promise.</p> <h4>Prominent imagery and reviews</h4> <p>One major focus of Aldo’s redesign has been making it easier for mobile users to gain a more detailed view of the product – recognising that even in-store shoppers would like <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9366-ecommerce-consumer-reviews-why-you-need-them-and-how-to-use-them/" target="_blank">customer reviews and ratings</a>.</p> <p>Reviews are now a prominent feature on all product pages, including information about general sizing, calf size and width. It even allows customers to give feedback on where or how they have worn the item – e.g. ‘wear it for prom or party’ – to give reviews much more depth.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5715/Product_pages_2.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>Alongside this, imagery is now at the forefront with photo galleries showcasing products from multiple angles. As well as giving a better view of the product, this also makes the mobile site look much more slick and polished.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5716/Product_pages.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <h4>Social tie-ins </h4> <p>Today, <a href="http://www.fourthsource.com/social-media/social-media-shopping-next-step-retail-21641" target="_blank">more than half of consumers</a> who follow a brand on social media say they do so to research products and find inspiration. In line with this changing user behaviour, Aldo has introduced user-generated content into its mobile site, with an Instagram feed embedded directly into the homepage.</p> <p>Not only does this draw on the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68409-four-key-trends-within-the-world-of-influencer-marketing/" target="_blank">power of influencers</a>, but it also helps to drive additional purchases, with the ‘Shop the look’ feature including multiple products in one image.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5717/Shop_the_Look.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <h4>In-store convenience</h4> <p>Recognising the fact that not everyone who browses online will want to checkout, the ‘Find a Store’ feature lets users locate the product to buy offline.</p> <p>Using geo-locational technology, it is super quick and easy to locate the store that’s nearest to you. With information on store opening times and an indication of how many items are in stock, it’s a highly effective way of driving offline conversions based on mobile interest. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5718/Find_a_store_2.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <h4>True-Fit technology</h4> <p>In a bid to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68477-how-six-online-retailers-are-combatting-wrong-size-returns/" target="_blank">reduce returns</a>, Aldo is another retailer to integrate True Fit – technology that helps customers find the right size.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5719/TrueFit_2.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>By asking users the brand and size of a shoe that fits them particularly well, it is then able to tell them whether an item will be true to size, or whether to scale up or down.</p> <p>According to research, 60% of consumers say that they would be willing to provide information like this if it meant they'd be guaranteed the perfect fit first time. When it comes to shopping on mobile in comparison to in person, this reassurance can massively increase the likelihood of a transaction.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5720/True_Fit_3.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <h4>Post-purchase tracking</h4> <p>Of course, the customer journey does not end after the point of purchase, which is nicely highlighted by Aldo’s easy tracking feature.</p> <p>Instead of hiding it within a help or customer service section, this is located towards the bottom of the landing page, with large font to catch the user’s attention.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5721/Easy_tracking.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>As well as being useful post-purchase, it is also likely to instil confidence in those in the early browsing stages, indicating that the brand is focused on delivering good customer service.</p> <h4>Simplified checkout  </h4> <p>Multiple forms or mandatory sign-ups are likely to increase <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67120-12-ways-to-reduce-basket-abandonment-on-your-ecommerce-site/" target="_blank">basket abandonment rates</a>, and when it comes to mobile, customers have even less time for complicated processes.</p> <p>Aldo’s redesign has simplified this experience, giving users the option for a guest checkout as well as condensing everything into a single page.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5722/Checkout_2.JPG" alt="" width="250"></p> <p>Upfront delivery information and returns policies are also helpful for providing reassurance throughout the process, driving customers towards that all-important final purchase.</p> <p><em><strong>Related articles:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68465-eight-features-to-appreciate-on-fat-face-s-new-ecommerce-site/">Eight features to appreciate on Fat Face’s new ecommerce site</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66644-how-debenhams-site-redesign-led-to-ecommerce-sales-growth/" target="_blank">How Debenhams' site redesign led to ecommerce sales growth</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69021 2017-04-25T11:00:00+01:00 2017-04-25T11:00:00+01:00 What is a customer mental model? Ben Davis <h4>A mental model is about more than just your product</h4> <p>The customer's mental model, fairly obviously, is the basis for their predictions about how a system will behave, and for the actions they ultimately take.</p> <p>These models are the product of previous interactions, both with the system at hand (if they have used it before) and with other systems. Pretty much all businesses, even arguably one such as Apple (which has an enormous influence on user behaviour), have to understand that a customer's interactions with a whole host of other products and services will inform their mental model.</p> <p>That's why the keypad interface on your smartphone looks not unlike the keypad on an 'old fashioned' landline handset.</p> <h4>Mental models can change</h4> <p>Mental models can change, but they exhibit inertia. Even when a company offers what they deem to be a superior system, it can be difficult for users to break old habits. Snapchat is a good example of an app that new users, more accustomed to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have often found difficult to use.</p> <p>This inertia of customer mental models is why there is much convergence in the design of websites and interfaces. As Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/user-experience-and-interaction-design-for-mobile-and-web/">UX and Interaction Design</a> guide highlights, "predictability is particularly important for onboarding users, or for systems that have only a passing transactional relationship with users."</p> <p>The hierarchy of user experience components shown below, shows the importance of predictability and consistency in a successful UX.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4256/ux_hierarchy.png" alt="hierarchy of ux components" width="615"></p> <p><em>The hierarchy of user experience components</em></p> <h4>The hamburger debate</h4> <p>The use of a hamburger menu on mobile and desktop interfaces is probably the most notorious recent example of design that doesn't conform to all customer mental models. A hamburger menu essentially hides the navigation and users are less likely to use it.</p> <p>Some users' mental models dictate that they look for main navigation links at the top of the web page or the bottom of an app. <a href="https://www.nngroup.com/articles/hamburger-menus/">A 2016 study by Nielsen</a> confirms that hidden navigation (in the hamburger) is accessed less frequently than visible navigation. Accordingly, there are many <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68673-five-apps-websites-that-ditched-the-hamburger-menu/">websites and apps that have ditched the hamburger menu.</a></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2135/spotify.png" alt="spotify app" width="300"></p> <p><em>Spotify ditched the hamburger</em></p> <h4>Culture influences mental models</h4> <p>Mental models have developed differently in different parts of the world. Culture has an obvious impact on mental models. Nowhere is this more obvious than examining the difference between website and app design in China compared to the West.</p> <p>See my colleague <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67509-why-does-chinese-web-design-look-so-busy-part-two/">Jeff Rajeck's article for a full explanation</a> as to why this is, but it basically comes down to language (it's harder to search with Chinese characters, so more links are provided) and an expectation of 'one-stop-shop' functionality over sparse aesthetic design.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/1268/1-blog-flyer.png" alt="chinese website" width="470" height="296"></p> <p><em>QQ.com </em></p> <h4>Design metaphors are used to build a mental model</h4> <p>Sticking with interface design, let's look at design metaphors. These metaphors take advantage of a user's previously amassed knowledge of the real world and help to assist the user when it comes to a digital interface.</p> <p>Econsultancy's UX guide gives some great examples and points out that these metaphors may evolve over time:</p> <blockquote> <p>..many interfaces feature a ‘toggle’ or ‘switch’ control to turn settings on or off. Everyone has used a light switch and inherently understands how tapping or sliding this switch will alter the state of the system.</p> <p>It’s important to realise also that metaphors change over time and need to be rethought. The mouse and pointer, once ubiquitous, don’t exist on the billion touchscreen mobile devices in use today. The ‘Save’ icon has been a floppy disk for decades, but many users clicking ‘Save’ today will have never laid eyes on a physical one.</p> </blockquote> <h4>Some more examples of mental models </h4> <p>Mental models aren't all about digital interfaces. But many bridge the physical and the digital. A great example is merchandising. Customers have a set idea of what products should be in which supermarket aisles, and this model translates across to online shopping, where they expect particular items to be found in particular categories (bakery, fresh, larder, frozen etc.).</p> <p>Below is shown a more complicated example of a mental model, for movie goers. It's taken from a <a href="https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/how-to-design-mental-models/">Crazy Egg blog</a>, but comes originally from <a href="http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/mental-models/">a book by Indi Young</a>.</p> <p>Though there's lots to take in, you can see that the top part of the diagram is a customer's model for choosing a film. There are plenty of criteria - Which directors do I like? What do I find offensive? Where will I go to watch the movie? etc. Underneath this mental model is listed all the information and functionality a company would have to provide to conform with the customer mental model, such as different searches, lists, categories, and the ability to rent titles (the model pre-dates streaming).</p> <p><em>(Click to enlarge)</em></p> <p><a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5609/movie_goer_mental_model.jpg"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5609/movie_goer_mental_model.jpg" alt="mental model movie goer" width="800"></a></p> <p>Mental models might also be developed or understood by mapping a customer's day, purchase journey or entire lifecycle.</p> <h4>In summary</h4> <p>Digital technology is certainly changing customer mental models when it comes to the purchase journey. Customers expect availability of information, control over their services, and even a level of transparency and brand purpose hitherto unseen.</p> <p>Whether marketers are mapping customer journeys, designing a store or an app interface, understanding these mental models is incredibly important. Doing so gives confidence, clarity and consistency.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3008 2017-04-21T12:55:00+01:00 2017-04-21T12:55:00+01:00 Internet Statistics Compendium Econsultancy <p>Econsultancy’s <strong>Internet Statistics Compendium</strong> is a collection of the most recent statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media. </p> <p><strong>The compendium is available as 11 main reports (in addition to two sector-specific reports, B2B and Healthcare &amp; Pharma) across the following topics:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/advertising-media-statistics">Advertising</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/content-statistics">Content</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/customer-experience-statistics">Customer Experience</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/web-analytics-statistics">Data and Analytics</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/demographics-technology-adoption">Demographics and Technology Adoption</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/ecommerce-statistics">Ecommerce</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/email-ecrm-statistics">Email and eCRM</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/mobile-statistics">Mobile</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/search-marketing-statistics">Search</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-statistics">Social</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/strategy-and-operations-statistics">Strategy and Operations</a></strong></li> </ul> <p>Updated monthly, each document is a comprehensive compilation of internet statistics and digital market research with data, facts, charts and figures. The reports have been collated from information available to the public, which we have aggregated together in one place to help you quickly find the internet statistics you need - a huge time-saver for presentations and reports.</p> <p>There are all sorts of internet statistics which you can slot into your next presentation, report or client pitch.</p> <p><strong>Sector-specific data and reports are also available:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong><a title="B2B Internet Statistics Compendium" href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/b2b-internet-statistics-compendium">B2B</a><br></strong></li> <li><strong><strong><a title="Financial Services and Insurance Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/financial-services-and-insurance-internet-statistics-compendium/">Financial Services and Insurance</a></strong></strong></li> <li> <strong><a title="Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/healthcare-and-pharmaceuticals-internet-statistics-compendium/">Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals</a></strong><strong> </strong> </li> <li><strong><a title="Retail Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/retail-statistics-compendium/" target="_self">Retail</a></strong></li> </ul> <p><strong>Regions covered in each document (where data is available) are:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Global</strong></li> <li><strong>UK</strong></li> <li><strong>North America</strong></li> <li><strong>Asia</strong></li> <li><strong>Australia and New Zealand</strong></li> <li><strong>Europe</strong></li> <li><strong>Latin America</strong></li> <li><strong>MENA</strong></li> </ul> <p>A sample of the Internet Statistics Compendium is available for free, with various statistics included and a full table of contents, to show you what you're missing.</p>