Categories
User Research

A Guide to UX Competitors’ Analysis for User Research

What is the UX Competitors’ Analysis for User Research?

UX competitor analysis is a useful user research method that focuses on understanding your products’ competitors, essentially helping you better understand your market and goals. Idea Theorem has worked with many clients that required a UX competitor analysis to get actionable insights about their competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, mistakes to avoid and know what they are doing right. This article explores the benefits of the UX competitor analysis method for user research and how to conduct your research to help make your products’ user experience more effortless and enjoyable.

Want to drive better results from your product?
Download the Product Manager’s Guide To UX >>

Benefits of Competitive Analysis 

Again, UX competitors’ analysis is essentially evaluating your competitors’ strategies in marketing and product design to identify strengths and weaknesses that you can utilize or avoid. Additional benefits include the following:

  1. Compare your product’s positioning, design and solution (and more) against competitors. 
  2. Identify market gaps that your competitors’ aren’t targeting, such as a new feature. 
  3. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. 
  4. Help you inform and make better design decisions. 

When to Conduct a UX Competitive Analysis 

Consider conducting a UX competitive analysis during the user research phase (also known as the empathy phase™). The earlier you conduct a competitive analysis before designing your product, the better it is as it essentially helps you know what initiatives to take (such as the examples explained above about the benefits). 

However, UX competitive analysis is not a one-time process. Instead, companies should consider continuing their competitive research throughout their product, as a competitor can change their offerings or new competitors may emerge. Stay up-to-date within your market by taking advantage of the UX competitive analysis. 

How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis

Identify your Competitors

The first step into the UX competitors’ analysis is to identify your competitors. Your competitors can be group into the following categories:

  1. Direct Competitors: Companies that solve the same problem as your product or service. Their value proposition is similar to yours, with the same target audience.
  2. Indirect Competitors: Companies with a similar value proposition but targeting a different target audience. Or can be the same target audience, but with a different value proposition. 

Collect the Data 

After identifying your competitors, your next task is to collect data about them. Consider organizing your data into a spreadsheet (either Excel or Google Sheets) to make it more easily manageable. Part of the data collection includes:

  1. Basic information such as the company name, URL (direct or indirect).
  2. Value proposition.
  3. Target audience (user demographics).
  4. The advantages of the product, such as useful key features or solutions to the product. 
  5. Design details that work or do not work. 
  6. The disadvantages of the product, such as usability issues, missing features. Consider reading customer reviews to get that insight. 
  7. Identify the revenue streams (recurring revenue, transaction-based revenue, project revenue, or service revenue) and the marketing channels that they utilize. 
  8. Consider collecting the number of website visitors (even if these numbers are not accurate, you can still use those numbers as insights), app downloads, social media presence (followers, posts, etc.) and pricing. 
  9. Testing the companies’ products yourself. When test yourself, screen grab or screen record your journeys.
  10. The visual design of their product.
  11. Checking their websites or app store page to see how they promote their products (marketing tactics).
  12. Wait and load times of their products or website.

Analyze the Data Collected 

After identifying your competitors and collecting all the information you can capture, your next step is to analyze that information. We recommend first to start scanning through all the information to answer the questions:

  1. Are there any market gaps that have not been targeted by the identified competitors?
  2. Are there any solutions that can be combined that are not done yet?
  3. What are the product strategies? What are the marketing strategies? Why are the other competitors behind those excelling companies? 
  4. Are there any problems that you’ve identified the competitors have not addressed that? 
  5. Have you identified valuable insights that can be used on your targeted audience? 
  6. Are there any ideas or solutions that have not been done from the market?

Presenting your Data

Now that you have analyzed your information, your next task is to present your clients’ findings or business. When presenting your findings, keep in mind include actionable insights so your clients or business can act on those insights.

Presenting your findings can be presented on a PowerPoint presentation. Do not add all your conclusions; instead, focus on these following areas:

  1. Key insights backed with evidence, avoiding general findings. 
  2. Provide actionable insights that will impact and transform the business.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls 

Although UX competitors’ analysis is beneficial, it may lead to your user research pitfalls if done incorrectly. Here are some key areas to avoid when conducting your research:

  1. Avoid copying one competitor. UX competitors’ analysis requires you to look at several competitors and not just one competitor. By studying one competitor, you may potentially copy their entire product and market strategies. Also, you will miss opportunities to learn more from other competitors. 
  2. Avoid matching with competitors. Don’t duplicate existing solutions, which are the past solution, instead focus on today’s user problems. 
  3. Avoid not researching your competitors. It’s understandable to avoid copying your competitors, but it is essential to know their strengths and weaknesses when building your product. So that you can be a master plan to position yourself in the market. 
  4. Avoid studying irrelevant products and websites. Do not study websites because they’re big players or because you like them. Focus on competitors that are the right inspiration for your research, identify the proper competitor, and read the section to avoid identifying your competitors. 

Our Takeaways 

UX competitors’ analysis has been an essential method for our user research method. This method especially proves useful when working with clients’ products that have not been out in the market. Boost your brand awareness and product knowledge by conducting your own UX competitors’ analysis.

What Next

Idea Theorem is a Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Experience

Things to keep in mind while designing for web accessibility

Digital products can not be experienced in the same way as physical products. Some users with disabilities might not be able to see or recognize colors or move the mouse. This is why it is necessary to design digital products as accessible. Web accessibility has become an integral part of the designing for websites, SaaS products and mobile apps. While designing the digital products, the designers need to make sure that each element is understandable by the users or by the assistive technology like screen readers.

What is web accessibility?

Designing for web accessibility is the practice of designing for a wide range of people. This is for people who may have sensory, auditory, cognitive disabilities, and much more. In order to avoid having to re-design and implement accessible solutions at a later stage (especially since websites will be required to be accessible in the near future), it is best to do it from the start. Design with accessibility in mind right when you are at the stage of designing screens.

Want to drive better results from your product?
Download the Product Manager’s Guide To UX >>

Why web accessibility in your design is important?

Web accessibility is becoming an essential part of the design, ensuring that websites and applications are accessible for everyone, including users with disabilities. Good design does not just mean making something look good visually, it also needs to function well. Can a person who uses a screen-reader use your website well? If not, do you think that person would consider your site to be well-designed? As designers, we have the responsibility to create digital work that is usable and provides a great experience. It’s not just people with permanent disabilities that will benefit from your accessible design, it is also those with temporary and situational conditions. When you design for accessibility, you design for everyone. 

How to apply web accessibility in your design? 

Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 site is a guide to WCAG 2.1, helping businesses to comprehend the guidelines and principles of WCAG 2.1 easily. We are gonna introduce some guidelines on how to meet WCAG 2.1 which you can apply to your design easily. 

Color and Contrast

Depending on how to use the color on your design, your design can be considered as good or bad. Because color usage affects not only users who have color blind or low vision but also other users. If the background and text color does not have enough contrast, users have difficulty reading the text. Moreover, enough color contrast has benefits for people who have low vision or color blind. Also, giving more than a minimum contrast level between text and the background increases the readability of the reader. Furthermore, smaller text compared to the larger ones requires higher contrast. If you are not sure how to check the contrast on your design, There are a ton of contrast checkers out there in the form of plugins for Figma, Sketch and browsers. Use those plugins to check the contrast.

Things to keep in mind while designing for web accessibility

Checklist:

  • Text and images of text have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1
  • Large text (18 point text+) or 14 bold text has a contrast ratio of at least 3:1
  • Interactive elements provide at least 3:1 contrast in different states such as focus, hover, pressed, and disabled. 

Reference:

1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) (WCAG 2.1 Level AA)

1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (WCAG 2.1 Level AA) 

Keyboard Accessible

Keyboard control should be able to access all the contents on the page for users using the keyboard only. Some users only rely on assistive technologies to navigate through the site. If some contents are not accessible using the keyboard, they will easily miss the contents and they would end up failing to achieve their goals. If you are unsure your design meets all those requirements, try to use your keyboard only to navigate the design. Then, you will see whether it is accessible with a keyboard or not.

Checklist:

  • When the components received the focus state, other action doesn’t occur
  • Unless the user control the focus state, it doesn’t go to the next elements automatically
  • Focus state is visually visible
  • All the elements are accessible with keyboard only

Reference:

2.1.1 Keyboard (WCAG 2.1 Level A)

2.1.3 Keyboard (No Exception) (WCAG 2.1 Level AAA)

2.4.7: Focus Visible (WCAG 2.1 Level A)

Page Layout and structure

A clear layout and hierarchy allow users to get the core information quickly at a glance. When you form the structure of the information on the page, you have to keep in mind if all content is logically structured.  Moreover, users learn functionality while they are using the website and they expect the same functionality throughout the site. Also, for those who have cognitive, learning disabilities, or using a screen reader, the page layout and the organization of the contents should be well structured. In order to help them to understand the contents, try to group associated items together.

Checklist:

  • If you use the icon more than one place, these two should have the same or similar functionality throughout the site
  • Navigation and the placing of the contents are consistent
  • Users can easily identify sections and groups of information.
  • Headings and labels provide the topic or purpose
  • All non-text components have an alternative text providing information

Reference:

3.2.3 Consistent Navigation (WCAG 2.1 Level AA)

3.2.4 Consistent Identification (WCAG 2.1 Level AA)

2.4.6 Headings and Labels (WCAG 2.1 Level AA)

Text Spacing

Giving a better text space increases readability when the users read it. Tracking is often measured as a percentage of font size and having 130% to 150% for tracking is optimal. To find the proper tracking, attempt to try different percentages and apply to the one you think works best for you. Also, those who have low vision can read better and faster with increased lines, letters and paragraph spaces. In order to make your text more readable, these are the suggested text properties to apply: 

  • Line height (line spacing) to at least 1.5 times the font size;
  • Spacing following paragraphs to at least 2 times the font size;
  • Letter spacing (tracking) to at least 0.12 times the font size;
  • Word spacing to at least 0.16 times the font size.

Checklist:

  • Your text doesn’t disappear or get cut off when adjustments to the text styles are applied
  • Text, images, and other content do not overlap with each other
  • All buttons, form fields, and other controls are usable and not broken
  • Avoid using a scrollbar when the text size is increased. It is best practice to show all of the text in a sentence. However, it is acceptable to have to scroll horizontally to get to different sections of a page

Reference:

1.4.12 Text Spacing (WCAG 2.1 Level AA)

Keep Color Blindness in Mind

According to Wikipedia, Color blindness (color vision deficiency) is the decreased ability to see color or differences in color. It can impair such tasks as selecting ripe fruit, choosing to clothe, and reading traffic lights. It affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world. The designers need to keep that in mind while designing digital products for color blind population.

There are different types of colour blind including:

  • Protanopia
  • Protanomaly
  • Deuteranopia
  • Deuteranomaly
  • Tritanopia (rare)
  • Tritanomaly (rare)
  • Cone Monochromacy (very rare)
  • Rod Monochromacy or Achromatopsia (extremely rare)

The designs should not be dependent on the colors. Any color based component should be followed by a caption or description. Adding a pattern, texture or underline helps in creating a contrast between different components.

What Next

Idea Theorem is a Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Interface

A Guide to Design System

One of the challenges as your product scales is you work towards providing a standardized experience to your users. Your users start to expect certain ways that your product would behave even as you add new features to it.

In order to ensure a standardized experience is maintained even when you have multiple designers or developers working on the product, there needs to be a standard process and guidelines that can be followed. If a new designer joins your team and needs to work on a new feature – they can quickly understand the standard process & system and start delivering the experience expected by your users.

This is where Design System comes in to help you build the guideline that can be followed by developers and designers when building the product.

Want to drive better results from your product?
Download the Product Manager’s Guide To UX >>

One of the common misconceptions is that the:

  • The Design System is only for designers – the Style Guide
  • The Design System is only for developers – the Pattern Code Library

As we will learn in this post – a Design System is much more than that and plays a significant role in streamlining communication between developers and designers.

What is a Design System?

How can we deliver intuitive feelings and awareness of brand identity to users throughout the product? Having consistency and connection between elements helps users to understand and feel they are using the same brand.

The Design System is a unique guideline that follows the brand or company design style. Also, it sets minimum rules in order to maintain brand identity. It contains visual design elements as well as a pattern library that provides the standard of components that designers and developers use while they design and develop the product respectively.

The main goal of having the Design System is to increase the efficiency of the project, bring in standardization and maintain brand identity.

Why is the Design System important?

As the product grows, more designers and developers will be added to the team. As every new hire comes, new ideas, new patterns, new typography comes into play. This creates chaos. The system will help stop that chaos and confusion. It brings consistency and increases the speed of product development.

A Design System can be very useful for any organization big or small. Building a Design System takes time & effort, so here are some benefits:

Consistency

When multiple designers work together on the same project or if a new designer is onboarded in the middle of the project, they may struggle to maintain consistency in the design. Standardized design elements and UI components are created which can be used consistently and repetitively across the platform.

Scalability

Having a Design System, it helps the product scale effectively. With elements already approved, it is easy for the product design and development team to create new features and expand.

Communication

The design System acts as a single source of truth, that helps streamline communication between designers and developers.

Enhance User Experience

As an end-user of the product, the experience is very consistent throughout the product or products. As new features or new products get launched – the user is already familiar with the elements, patterns, themes of the product. This also helps reinforce the brand of the company – making it a double win!

What does a Design System consist of?

Before creating the actual design system, designers should ask themselves who will use it and how they will use it. Once they define the answer to those questions, they can start to consider where to start for the design system and what to put in it.

Design Principle

Building solid design principles are the foundation for building a design system. It helps capture what good design means to the company and helps the team make meaningful decisions based on these principles.

Style Guide

Style Guide includes typography, icons, colors, spacing, illustrations, tone and many more. Based on the style guide, users get a perspective of the brand. The Design System must define the standard on how to use each element. It should contain what to do and not do with elements and also how to combine elements together so that designers can accurately deliver the desired product experience.

Accessibility Guidelines

The Design System should clearly showcase the accessibility of the product. It should be able to define colour contrast, keyboard focus and navigation and screen readers effectively. Learn more about accessibility guidelines here.

UI Kit

UI Kit consists of UI elements that are like LEGO blocks. They are built once and reused throughout the product by the designer to create their design. In the Design System, their functional behaviour needs to be specified in order for the team to understand and use the elements effectively. They need to clearly state how the elements will look in different devices and screen sizes as well.

Master Control Library

Using the UI Kit, developers are able to add code and behaviour to each of the UI elements. Resulting in responsive and accessible code based components which can be reusable throughout the platform. These components are tested for functionality and WCAG requirements(using a screen reader), bringing in consistency and efficiency in the development team.

What Next

Idea Theorem is a Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Research

How to conduct usability testing during a pandemic?

Before releasing a product, or even after its release, it is a good practice for businesses to evaluate their products’ usability and effectiveness of use through usability testing. Usability testing allows us to identify usability issues as it’s crucial because it equally impacts all users, regardless of their ability.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Idea Theorem worked with several companies to conduct remote usability testing to ensure that their product is usable and aligned with their expectations. A remote moderated test is when a moderator provides the tester with tasks of testing a product, while in the comfort of their environment. In other words, the moderator and the testing are in the same virtual space, at the same time. As the tester works through the task, the moderator will observe and ask questions to understand their thought processes, frustrations and gather more data.

In this article, we share how we conduct usability testing sessions during a pandemic to help you understand that you can also take the initiative to help your users thoroughly enjoy and be satisfied with your product.

Want to learn more about how to conduct usability testing during a pandemic?
Download the Whitepaper>>

Phase 1: Planning 

Define Goals and Objectives

Before gathering insight from the usability testings, the design team conducted several team meetings with the client to understand their business’ goals,  their indicators of success that can be achieved from the usability tests. Often clients would specify specific flows or features in the product that needs to be tested. If not, the design teams will work collaboratively to help clients identify areas of concern that should be addressed through usability testing.

Writing the Test Plan 

usability test plan

After discussing with the client, we focus on creating the usability test plan. The usability test plan is like a blueprint that contains information such as:

  • The purpose of the Test: An overview of the purpose of the test, to inform both the team and future readings about the test that was conducted, who conducted and additional information.
  • The Methodology: An brief introduction to how the test was conducted.
  • User Profile:  An overview of the user profiles, that will be referred to help recruit the right testers.
  • Moderator Script: An script that a moderator consists of instructions, topics and questions that will be utilized for all test sessions, to ensure that all tests are consistent.
  • Task Cases: Task cases are written based on what typical users might go through while using the product.  These tasks focus more on a user goal that has an endpoint, in which users are expected to complete.
  • Questions (Pre-Test, Post-Task and Past Test Questions): An outline of open-ended questions that the moderator should refer to when asking questions to the testers.

Define Resources 

Finally, the design teams identify the resources and tools to utilize for usability testing. As mentioned previously, the design team used remote moderated testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. To conduct a successful remote test, we used the following tools:

  1. Lookback: A third party virtual space that allows us to talk to users, see what they are doing and record their interactions with the product. Using these types of tools will enable us to interview testers anywhere and anytime.
  2. Zoom: A video conference call tool used to start and join video conferencing from any device (desktop and mobile). Participants can join a meeting from an invite, share their screen and mute themselves. Zoom calls provide participants with a waiting space if the moderator has not joined the meeting. Moderators can also record meetings.
  3. Gotomeeting: Similar to Zoom, this software allows participants to join video conferences on both desktop and mobile. Moderators can also record meetings.
  4. Google Meets: Google Meets is handy if you do not want your participants to download any software on their desktop, simply open the invitation link and join the video call. Although, Google Meets may not support video recording.

Gathering Participants 

After the clients provide details about their users’ profiles, we find participants using the following methods:

  1. The client provides a list of testers that can take part in the tests. Our team then directly contacts the testers on behalf of the client to set an appointment.
  2. The design team sets up ads (for example, Linkedin) to recruit participants.
  3. Gather testers from well-established multicultural and general population databases. These databases help us target and recruit highly specific testers.

Phase 2: Facilitation 

Usability Testing Sessions

In this phase, the design team conducts usability testing sessions. The moderator and the tester will communicate with each other throughout the test. The moderator will guide the testers through the purpose of the test, the task cases, and the questions. Remote and in-person usability testing differ in these following areas:

  • In-person, Moderated Testing: Tests where the moderator and the testers are in the same physical environment, face-to-face interaction. 
  • Remote, Moderated Testing: Tests where the moderator and the testers are in the same virtual environment, video call interaction. 

The benefit of remote moderated tests is that we can invite many observers in the tests to watch. Still, the tester will be unaware of the observers, making them feel less intimidated.

Analyzing Data

After the completion of the test sessions, the design team analyzes the results from the tests and draws conclusions (why do the issues exist?). For the task cases, we focus on the following:

  1. Effectiveness: How effectively the user successfully achieves each task.
  2. Efficiency: The average time it takes for participants to complete each task.
  3. Satisfaction: How satisfied the users were with the product.

We organize the task case data based on issues, actions and comments per task. The usability issues are prioritized by ranking them based on impact (if solved) and the severity of the issue (critical, serious or minor). We show the highest priority issues first, including the evidence and presenting the solutions. In addition, we provided insights about common usability issues and a UX analysis from a UX perspective. UX recommendations are created to solve the identified usability issues. We also provided UX best practices to leverage to enhance the user experience. Apart from the usability issues, we also present the positive findings from the test sessions.

Want to drive better results from your product?
Download the Product Manager’s Guide To UX >>

Phase 3: Final Report 

After the analysis of the data, a final report is created to present the results of the usability testing sessions. When writing the final report, we focus on writing the report in such a way that if it is shared with that person that does not know about the project, they can understand quickly. The usability report provides details about the entire usability testing process such as:

  • The purpose of the Test: An overview of the purpose of the test, to inform both the team and future readings about the test that was conducted, who conducted and additional information.  
  • The Methodology: An brief introduction to how the test was conducted.  
  • Recruited Testers: The names, occupations, age and contact information of all the recruited participants.
  • Overview of Task Cases: A list of all the task cases presented to the testers.
  • Task Case Results: Results of the task cases. This includes the number of errors, success or failure of the task per participant.
  • Tester Feedback: Feedback from the testers from the survey that was sent after the test session.
  • Identified Behaviour Issues: An prioritized list of behaviour issues based on the severity.
  • Recommendations: A list of recommendations to solve usability issues.
  • Observations: A detailed overview of the observations from the test sessions. We keep this section detailed so the reader can refer to whenever they review the results of the task cases.

What Went Well 

Working with a team of designers helps speed up time in preparing the reports and it’s beneficial when assisting in the testing sessions. Sometimes as moderators we may miss key information to identify, but another designer can help keep you on track to ensure all testing sessions are consistent. Using a third-party platform that specializes in remote testing is more effective than using standard virtual meeting spaces since the recording tools and webcam are implemented into the platform. In addition, these are more professional to use as it creates an introduction and waiting for space for the tester while the moderator sets up.

Things to Keep in Mind

Learning Curves

Leave some dedicated time to learn about the resources that you will be utilizing for the usability test. Talk with a customer representative to conduct a product demo and ask questions. You should be well-aware of the constraints, shortcuts and features of the resources to help you conduct test sessions with ease.

Help Testers Setup

Spend some time prior to the test session to help your testers set up the virtual space. Ideally, you do not want to use your test session time with the setup process. Otherwise, create a video tutorial of how to set up the virtual space and share it with your testers.

Product Demo 

Have your client walk you through the entire platform and spend some time yourself using the product itself. You want to know all the ins and outs of the product, nothing should surprise you as your testers interact with the product. Testers may ask about the product, and you should be ready to answer any questions.

Conduct a Mock Test

Conduct a mock test internally with your team, to ensure that the usability runs smoothly. Be aware of inconsistencies within the test, and make sure that the third-party platforms work well with your test.

Conclusion 

Overall, the remote moderated usability sessions were successful. Moving forward, we would continue to use remote moderated usability testing as part of our design process, along with in-person moderated usability testing. It is beneficial, especially when conducting usability tests outside of Canada.

You can also download the whitepaper here.

What Next

Idea Theorem is Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Research

Usability Testing Vs. User Testing – Why it is important?

In the world of software and application development, there is often some confusion when it comes to usability testing vs user testing. Even experienced product owners, VPs of Technology and CIOs, and developers often confuse these two concepts.

So, in this article, we’ll break down the difference between user testing and usability testing – and explain why each one is important.

User Testing Is Need-Based: Does The User Need To Use My App?

User testing, as a concept, is not actually related to user experience (UX) at all. Of course, a great user experience is always something that should be highly-desirable – but the purpose of user testing is to test the usefulness of your app concept, and whether anyone will actually use it.

Let’s say you wanted to create an app that was built to promote bicycle safety by using GPS, gyroscopes and motion sensors in a smartphone to detect crashes or potential emergencies, and send a message to an emergency contact if a sudden stop or collision is detected.

It would involve doing research with potential app users, such as commuting cyclists or cycling enthusiasts, through focus groups, interviewing bicyclists to see if they would use this app, doing field studies to assess its effectiveness, and researching other apps that may be competitive in your space.

This process of user testing allows you to see if there is a large user base for your app – and if it actually solves a real-world problem, which is essential for the success of any software application.

Usability Testing Is ExperienceBased: Are Users Able To Use My App Effectively?

Based on the findings from user testing – you initiate the design process to build the UI of the App. Once a prototype is created, it’s time to move to usability testing. This is when you’ll start iterating upon your current app design, to make sure that it’s intuitive, convenient, and easy-to-use for those who install the app.

Let’s use our above example of a cycling safety app again. After your team has established that there is a need and demand for this kind of product, you’ll then move into usability testing. You will observe people using your app, and ask yourself questions like:

  • Is it easy to understand how to use the app?
  • Should it stop and start automatically, or run in the background?
  • Are there additional features you could add? Would they add to the experience – or detract from it?
  • Can you streamline the design or interface?
  • Is it pleasant to interact with your app?
  • Is the app stable and usable across every intended device or range of devices?

By iterating upon your design and getting feedback from real-life users, you’ll be able to answer these questions – and many more.

User Testing And Usability Testing Help Make Your App The Best It Can Be!

A successful app can’t just be streamlined, beautiful, and easy to use. It must also solve a need. Take Uber, for example. Not only is it easy to use and convenient, it helps solve a problem – slow, inconsistent taxi service – that has plagued us for decades.

That’s why understanding the difference between user testing and usability testing is so important. By building apps that are both useful and beautiful through both user testing and usability testing, you’ll be able to ensure that you lay the foundation for a successful app or piece of software.

Categories
User Experience

How Product Managers can drive business results through UX Design

A successful product should consist of user experience (UX) that meets the needs of the targeted users and ensures business goals are met. UX designers focus on how to align the product’s user experience and business goals together, which is the key to the project’s success. In this article, we’ll break down how the UX design process can help improve the product’s development and explain the importance of product development’s key phases.

Want to drive better results from your product?
Download the Product Manager’s Guide To UX >>

Role of Product Managers

Product Managers are important players in the development of the product. They are a bridge between different teams (including design, development, business and marketing). They are a thin balance between different teams and focus on achieving business and user goals effectively through planning and management.

Product Managers define the goals and objectives of the product and how to achieve those. They know the product inside out and are able to define the type of users effectively.

There are 2 ways Product Managers roll out their product:

  1. The product is directly released to the assumed users and get feedback
  2. The product starts with an idea, get it user-tested and then work on creating the product.

Everyday UX for Product Managers

Product Managers need to know a lot about the product which includes business and user objectives.  For example, an app that provides healthcare advice to women. The product should be able to understand women’s needs and health issues and provide the right solutions to their customers. Better the app is able to understand the women’s health issues, more users will be using the app.

For Product Managers, UX has become an essential part of product development. They have to look from the user’s perspective if they want the product to be successful. If Product Managers understand the user needs and thinking, they will be able to solve the right problem and reduce the number of re-dos and or worse stop from making the product failure. With a better understanding of the UX, Product Managers can help in

  1. Growth of the product,
  2. User retention and engagement,
  3. Customer loyalty,
  4. Increase conversion rates,
  5. Save time and money.

What Does a UX Process Look Like?

When thinking about digital products or its features, Product Managers should understand the business objectives and be able to answer the below questions first:

  1. What problem are we solving?
  2. Who has this problem?
  3. What do we want to achieve?

By answering these questions, product managers and UX Designers will be able to create an amazing user-friendly experience.

By following the UX design approach, it will help digital product’s reach it’s maximum potential. UX design process can be beneficial to all types of companies (big or small, corporate or startup) and at all stages of the product’s life cycle.

Different projects might require different processes but overall below process is usually standard.

The human-centred design is the practice of implementing human perspectives throughout the design process. The UX design process begins with empathizing with the users before the ideating solutions. UX designers take into consideration the needs of both the clients and to build a successful product.

PHASE 1: EMPATHY PHASE

Step 1: Understanding Your Business Needs

Gathering information from the business and their needs can help UX designers to determine further steps. It can provide insights such as:

  • The issues and needs they identified.
  • Insights on what matters to them.
  • Their needs and wants from the project.

Identifying business needs help define the project’s success, such as providing insights into what the success metrics would be for the project. Stakeholder interviews and focus groups are research methods that help identify those insights.

Step 2: Understanding Your Users – What Users Need

This phase primarily focuses on user research to gain a better understanding of the targeted users. Understanding the target users is crucial, as it helps develop solutions and design decisions. Your product will likely have users from a variety of backgrounds, demographics, behaviours, needs and pain points.

As a result, your product should ultimately accommodate to those factors. Below are the tools that help UX designers to empathize with users needs and concerns.

Takeaway

Empathy design ensures that UX designers are ideating solutions and design decisions that are unbiased, but rather focuses on designing a human-centred product. UX designers’ role is to provide creative and meaningful solutions for the users, which can be achievable by first understanding both the business goals and users’ perspectives.

PHASE 2: UX DESIGN PHASE

After establishing the business goals and user needs, the next phase into the product’s design is user experience (UX) design. UX design is not only about creating a product that is beautiful, streamlined, and easy to use. Instead, it takes a step further to design experiences to achieve specific goals with effectiveness and satisfaction. User experiences should also solve the issues that were identified in the empathy phase.

Iterative Process: May require further iterations and refinements to the solutions before developing. Usually occurs after validating the solution in user testings.

Step 1: Ideating

Ideating means to generate multiple ideas or concepts, for the identified pain points. The ideation stage is an effective method that challenges UX designers to think outside the box and explore uncharted areas. The ideation stage is where innovative, groundbreaking and creative solutions are created that can fill the missing element in the users’ experience.

Step 2: Rapid Prototyping

This step consists of quickly creating visual representations of the functional elements and user experience flow, through wireframing and wireflows.

Step 3: Feedback Session

Feedback sessions validate and prioritize the solution(s) to the intended users, to ensure that users find it useful, meaningful and solve their problem. If the solution(s) are not meeting users’ expectations, UX designers will return to ideation. To conduct a successful feedback session, consider using user testings methods to gain feedback.

PHASE 3: USER INTERFACE (UI) DESIGN PHASE

The final designs of the product are developed in a graphical layout. UI focuses on the look and feel, interactivity and responsiveness. UI design helps guide users through their journey with the product using visual elements.

List of deliverables for UI Design Phase:

  • UI Design
  • Design Research
  • Style Guides and Assets
  • Clickable Prototype

PHASE 4: USABILITY TESTING PHASE

The purpose of usability testing is to ensure if the targeted audience is able to use the product effectively. The goal is to ensure that the product is convenient, easy-to-use and intuitive.

Conclusion

Now that you have a better grasp of common UX myths and misconceptions, you should have a better idea of how user experience design is important for achieving business and product goals — it’s not just about making things look good. To learn more about how UX design can help your product grow, download our Product Manager’s Guide To UX.

What Next

Idea Theorem is Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Experience

Product Manager’s Common UX Myths and Misconceptions

Idea Theorem interviewed several product managers to explore how exceptional product value is formed by integrating user experience design into product development. In this post, we’ll discuss our findings and dive more into product managers’ most common UX myths and misconceptions, so you can better understand what UX design is and how it can drive real business results.

Want to drive better results from your product?
Download the Product Manager’s Guide To UX >>

We asked Product Managers, UX Design is…

We found that product managers from enterprises are integrating user experience design practices into product development because they want the product to have essential elements such as:

As a result, many product managers find that UX design is extremely impactful in developing products that are a composite of end goals.

For Our Projects, UX Design is…

What is UX?

UX design helps understand the user and business needs to create a successful product — that product will be a holistic combination of both sides. UX is about ensuring that customers can find value in a product by enhancing the experience as they interact and engage with it.

UX designers need to think about how the users will feel while using the product and how easy it will be to complete any task.

From Our Survey, UX Design is defined as…

While UI Design is defined as…

Debunking Common UX Myths & Misconceptions

1. “UX” is not “UI”

One of the most common UX myths. Although User Interface (UI) is very important conjunction to UX, UX is not UI. UI specializes in crafting beautiful designs to accomplish the aesthetic needs of a product. But it can also be responsible for the interaction between the user and the product, such as the location of a button.

In contrast, UX specializes in human engagement. It analyzes the experiences users face and encompasses all the elements of a product. This includes the usefulness and accessibility of the services offered, the functionality of the interfaces, and the overall experience and desirability of the product.

User experience begins by understanding the consumer to ensure the effectiveness of the product and service. By understanding their needs, user experience design can help to assess what is required to ensure customer satisfaction, loyalty, and to assist in delivering revenue through a competitive edge.

2. “UX Design is necessary from beginning to end”

UX Design is not only a step in the design process. It is a continuous cycle that focuses on a customer’s relevant experience with a product or service. Before carefully carrying a product through the design process, it becomes an important aspect in understanding the customers and their needs to keep evaluating this even after the product has been produced.

It is a never-ending cycle that analyzes user engagement and this is what can bring a competitive edge to a product or service.

3. “UX Design is NOT only for Digital Products”

UX Design is much more than just analyzing the interactions of a user and a screen. It can be integrated into the company and it’s services.

4. “UX Design is NOT only about Users”

User experience design ensures we can provide the optimal experience for a user, however, this is defined by what the business goals and objectives are placed. A product or service exists because of business objectives and this cannot be satisfied without understanding and addressing the problem, and creating an attainable solution that will satisfy the customers and the business.

Conclusion

Now that you have a better grasp of common UX myths and misconceptions, you should have a better idea of how user experience design is important for achieving business and product goals — it’s not just about making things look good. To learn more about how UX design can help your product grow, download our Product Manager’s Guide To UX.

[optin-monster-shortcode id=”j0xyyd17y6nm36t8po3z”]

What Next

Idea Theorem is Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Research

Idea Validation Checklist

Instead of assuming a product idea will be successful, companies should first focus on validating their product idea(s) in order to determine if it is useful for their targeted users. Companies should focus on validating idea(s) in order to determine its success rate. In this article, we will discuss the process of idea validation to prevent negative results, both from business and customer perspectives. 

Why Non-Validated Ideas are a Problem

Here are some reasons why product design teams should validate ideas before developing it into a finished product. 

  1. Ideas may lead to no improvements for both the business and the customers. In other words, perhaps the ideas have no measurable improvements. 
  2. Because of the unknown areas, no one can predict if an idea is valuable for businesses and customers. 
  3. Launching ideas without data-driven research and robust validation criteria can result in a waste of time and effort for businesses. 

The Process of Validating Ideas

Primarily the purpose of this process of idea validation is to learn if your idea is useful, usable and feasible. However, before validating any idea(s), you will need to make sure if there are real users out there who will be benefited from your idea(s). This process will require you to identify your market in order to validate your idea(s) effectively. Idea validation process involves 4 phases; Assessment, Fact-Finding, Test and Experiment

Phase 1: Assessment

The purpose of the assessment phase is to help evaluate the ideas, filtering out what does and does not align with business goals, while identifying the hidden risks. The goal is eliminating any ideas that may risk the business and customers.

Stakeholder Interview/Review 

Review your idea with a stakeholder to sift out risk in the business aspect. Stakeholders may also provide insights on how to change the idea, to reduce potential risks.  

Assumption Mapping

Identify the hidden risk behind your idea through this experimentation. The goal is to map out all assumptions and hidden risks, especially useful for bigger ideas. 

Phase 2: Fact-Finding

Now that you filtered out your ideas based on assumptions and risk, the next step is to gather all the available facts and data to back-up your idea(s). Essentially, we want to build data-driven idea(s) that proves that it can be impactful for both businesses and customers. Another benefit of fact-finding is that it may also provide insights to further refine your idea(s) before launching it to the public. 

Analysis of Data 

Analyze data through user feedback, screen heat maps, and many other analysis tools in order to understand your target audiences.

User Surveys/Interviews

Give you quantitative and qualitative information directly from your users regarding your valuable question of the idea. The purpose to gather insights about your users’ needs, current methods to solve problems, pain points and their opinions about your idea. 

User interviews provide qualitative data. You will be able to gather detailed insights as they talk about the topics you bring up. The only downside of user interviews is that it requires time and effort to gather data. 

Surveys provide quantitative data. Although the data is not as detailed as the user interview, you will benefit from gathering numerical data. The positive side of surveys is that you will be able to gather data much faster than user interviews. 

Competitor Analysis

Learn how to solve the problem and know how real users think through analyzing and understanding your competitors. It is beneficial to identify your competitors’ solutions, its weaknesses and strengths. Gain an understanding of the products’ scope by analyzing what already exists in the market, prior to building the idea(s).

Field Research

Get the intention of the users’ actions and behaviours from observing them in their natural space. You will get a true sense of your users’ actions and behaviours from a natural environment, rather than an artificial one in a controlled setting. Natural spaces can include the workplace, at home or in public spaces. 

Phase 3: Test

At this stage, you are not validating a finished product. Instead, this stage requires you to create a version of your idea and launch it to your user group. The purpose is to measure the reaction and learn if it works with your user group. 

Usability Test

Testers walk through the product under guidance and supervision by using similar tools with the actual product such as an interactive prototype. The purpose of usability testing is to ensure if the targeted user group is able to use the idea(s) effectively. The goal is to ensure that the idea(s) is convenient, easy-to-use and intuitive.

Phase 4: Experiments 

Experiments are not the same as the testing phase. In the testing phase, we are measuring the user groups’ reactions and the ability to use the idea(s). In the experiment phase, we are experimenting with our idea against a false result. For example, the majority of users prefer version 1 over version 2. 

A/B Test

Let users experience and compare between the original version and the new version to compare. The version with the most likes or is widely accepted by the majority of users is the best option. Learn More here.

Percentage Experiments

As you are implementing a product UX change, stop at a specific milestone – such as 30% – and conduct A/B test to verify the coherence of the results.

Conclusion

Validating ideas before launching it to the public for use is essential in product growth. Moving forward with developing product ideas without validating key areas can ultimately lead to a waste of time and money. Idea validation can prevent negative results, both from business and customer perspectives. 

You can download the checklist.

What Next

Idea Theorem is Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Experience

Guide to Onboarding UX and Best Practices

When it comes to building a mobile app, website, or any other product, building a great, effective, and intuitive UI is only half the battle. Onboarding UX is an important part of the product building. Even if your UI is amazing and intuitive for a current user, it also needs to be accessible for new users – and they need to quickly understand the purpose of your product, how to interact with it, and what benefits it can offer them. This is when the onboarding UX (user experience) becomes important – the user onboarding process allows you to give your users a quick overview of what your app or website does, and demonstrates how to use it.

In this article, we’ll take a deep look at this process, and provide you with some best practices about how you can improve the onboarding UX process for your own app or website. Let’s get started now.

What Is User Onboarding?

Imagine that you’re trying to get your pilot’s license. You’re dropped into a cockpit for the first time, and your instructor says “Alright! Time to get in the air! Take off for me, would you?” You’re staring at dozens of dials, hundreds of switches, and more flashing and blinking lights than you can count. You don’t even know where to begin!

Chances are, your customers feel a similar feeling when they first open your product and begin their customer journey. They don’t know what button performs each function, and they need an overview of how things work before they can start exploring your app on their own.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite as complicated as learning how to fly – but the analogy is still there! Just as an experienced pilot would know how to make sense of the cockpit, a user who gets an overview of your app and learns a bit about its basic functions will be more able to explore it on their own and deepen their familiarity with the app and what it does.

Most often, user onboarding consists of a few screens that include information about the basic functions of an app or website. On-screen tooltips are also frequently used to deliver contextual information.

In some cases, tutorials are also an important part of the user onboarding process – if you built a calendar app, for example, users may be walked through the initial process of setting up an event for the first time. The particular type of onboarding UX that should be used depends mostly on the app or website you’re building.

Why Does User Onboarding UX Matter?

User onboarding matters because it’s the way that you show your product has value. Chances are, your app or website is presenting itself as a solution to a particular problem – and it needs to demonstrate its ability to solve that problem. If it doesn’t demonstrate its ability to solve the problem, the user will become frustrated – and stop using it.

If you build a messaging app similar to Slack, for example, and release it to customers without any information about how to use it to send messages to users, they’ll load it up, get confused, and then become frustrated and uninstall the app.

That’s why user onboarding is important – it demonstrates the value of your app, and gives users the basic tools they need to explore it on their own and see the benefits for themselves.

When you are building a product, this will also result in a higher customer retention rate – customers are more likely to stick around and explore once they know what they’re doing. In addition, customer churn will also be correspondingly lower, and you’ll also get fewer support requests about the basic functionality of the product.

How Can I Make The User Onboarding Process Better?

Wondering how you can streamline your user onboarding process, and maximize the potential of your onboarding UX? Here are a few tips and techniques you can use to ensure that your users learn what they need to use your product properly.

Define the type and purpose of your onboarding UX – First and foremost, you need to define the type of onboarding you’re doing. There are 5 distinct types of onboarding UX, as follows:

  1. Benefit-focused – This type of UX onboarding helps explain a few of the core benefits of an app or website, and why they matter to the user.
  2. Function-focused – This type of onboarding explains the primary functions of the product and how to use them.
  3. Doing-focused – Doing-focused onboarding UX walks the user through the process of a few common actions – like writing their first note in a “memos” app, or browsing the latest headlines of a news website.
  4. Account-focused – This is often used for social media apps. It walks the user through the process of account creation, adding interests/friends/preferences, and so on.’
  5. Combination – In some cases, a combination of all of the above types of onboarding may be necessary.

By knowing which type of onboarding you’re using – and why – you can ensure that your onboarding UX is focused and delivers the right information at the right time.

  • Keep it as brief and concise as possible – You’re walking a fine line when it comes to onboarding UX. You want to give users enough information so that they can start using your product properly – but if you make them go through dozens of setup screens and tooltips, they’ll get frustrated and leave. Because of this, you need to do your best to keep your onboarding as brief and concise as possible. Limit yourself to just the essentials. Otherwise, your onboarding UX actually can cause users to leave.
  • Let users skip onboarding (but make it repeatable) – Some people prefer to learn by doing, and don’t want to sit through your onboarding screens. You should make sure it’s possible for these people to skip the initial onboarding process so that they can get straight into experimenting with your product. Importantly, though, you should make it easy for a customer to repeat the initial onboarding process – this way, if they find themselves lost and confused, they can bring the initial startup screens and tutorials back, and choose to go through the initial process to make sure they understand what they’re doing.
  • Onboard users whenever you add a new feature – If you have added a great new feature to your product, you can’t just wait for users to discover it on your own. You need to make sure that both new and existing users know about it – so we recommend a quick onboarding pop-up or screen that helps announce it, and show users how it works. Doing this will help speed up the adoption of new features, and boost product satisfaction.

With these best practices – knowing the intentions behind your onboarding UX, keeping things brief and simple, allowing it to be skipped, and keeping both new and existing users updated about your product’s features – you’ll be able to build a much better onboarding UX.

Need more tips? Take a look at this blog from IdeaTheorem now for even more best practices for onboarding UX!

Demonstrate Your Product’s Value With A Great Onboarding User Experience!

You only get one first impression – and that’s as true in product development as it is in real life. Your onboarding is when you get the first opportunity to blow your users away – and demonstrate the value of your product in a real, tangible way.

So make sure you understand what onboarding UX is, why it’s so important, and the best practices that can help you improve your onboarding user experience. If you do, your product is sure to succeed.

What Next

Idea Theorem is Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centered design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.

Categories
User Experience

13 Dark UX Patterns To Avoid If You Don’t Want To Spook Your Users

What are dark patterns?


In UX, dark patterns are deceptive UX/UI methods that are designed to trick or mislead users into doing something they don’t want to do. An example would be hiding extra fees from the user by making it visually unnoticeable. These UX patterns try to exploit human psychology in an attempt to boost company profits or goals. 

It is important to note that dark patterns are not a right, ethical practice. 

Why do some companies use them?

There are still companies out there that choose to use these dark patterns in their products. The reason why is because of money. Dark patterns are used for short-term results rather than qualitative information like user-friendliness. Dark patterns work, in a sense. They can successfully trick some people, so companies choose to keep on using them. 

Why should they be avoided?

Good user experience design is about giving users enjoyable and seamless interactions with the products. It is centered around the user and it is not deceptive or sneaky. Dark patterns spoil trust and take advantage of the users. This is quite the opposite of what UX/UI designers should be doing. Dark patterns are also damaging to the company in the long-term. Users know and don’t like to be tricked or feel like they have to watch out for themselves. This will cause anger, frustration, and corrode a company’s relationship with its users. Users will not feel like they can trust you, which will damage the product in the end. 

Instead of using dark patterns, it is better to use good UX patterns in the beginning. 

The dark pattern checklist

Idea Theorem created a checklist on 13 dark patterns as a guide on what not to include in a product. 

Confirmshaming: Are you using language that tries to shame the user for wanting to opt-out of something?

Tricky questions:  Are you asking the users confusing questions, trying to make them do what you want them to?

Forced continuity: When a user’s free trial has expired, are they getting charged without warning? 

Disguised ads: Are there ads that disguise themselves as part of the product?

Hiding costs: Are you hiding extra costs such as delivery fees until the very last stage of the checkout process?

Sneaking into a purchase: Are you trying to sneak an additional item into the user’s bag? 

Trapping: Are you making it very hard for the user to opt-out of something?

Misdirection: Are you trying to lead users into doing things that they don’t want, such as highlighting a more expensive option over the others?

Baiting and switching: Are you using an established UX pattern and then changing its function to something completely different, giving the user an unexpected, undesirable result?

Hidden options: Are you hiding things like subscription checkboxes from the user or unsubscription links?

Privacy:  Are you trying to trick users into publically sharing more about themselves than they intended to?

Bewildering Language: Are you purposefully using language that is unclear or complicated to prevent users from cancelling or opting out of something?

Using Fear: Are you using language that tries to scare the user of what will happen if they choose to opt-out of something?

Please download the checklist.

What Next

Idea Theorem is a Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centered design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.