The User Experience Blog

June 22, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. What happened? Why did it change?

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 11:34 pm
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First the word was “natural“.  Mother Earth grew it and the farmers did nothing special to it. They sent it to market.

Now everything is “organic“. Mother Earth grew it and the farmers did nothing special to it. They sent it to market.

Now there are nationwide stores charging astronomical prices (and getting it!!!) by changing the word from “natural” to “organic“.

So what happened? Why did it change?   $$$$$$$  And that changed the User Experience. By this one simple word change an entirely user experience is perceived.

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June 15, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. Ego versus the User Experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 9:58 am
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Take a look at the following sign.

Ego vs User Experience

Ego vs User Experience

Ego versus the User Experience. This is a brand new orthodontics store that opened. What exactly makes this a bad user experience BEFORE the customer walks in the door?

  1. The doctor’s last name is obviously PAYNE.

  2. The word/name PAYNE is the LARGEST word on the signage, not the fact this is an orthodontics store.

  3. Does it matter what the doctor’s name is on the signage? Will this draw customers in?

  4. Payne is pronounced the exact same way as the word P-A-I-N.

  5. Which customer would like to step forward and PAY good money to have braces that are painful? (those people that have been through braces realize there will be pain but why advertise it as a good thing)?

  6. What do children say when they read where they are going to have braces placed? Will they pronounce the word as P-A-I-N? You bet!

Too many businesses put their self image/ego in front of the customer. Watch television ads of owners of small businesses, auto dealerships, or in this case, an orthodontist. Have they accomplished a good business to afford being on television? Obviously. Have they accomplished a great task by going through medical school and dentistry school? Of course. But to sell… you must sell the user experience.

Placing your name or face into the marketing is usually not the best way to convey the user experience the customer will have with the company.  The objective is to have customers wanting to come back to the business.  Provide the outstanding user experience and the customers will come… not because of the name or face with the product/service.

May 30, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. The Bottom Line: What Does It Cost?

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 11:18 am
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The bottom line for all companies/organizations:  What does it cost?

What does it cost to create a great user experience? What is the bottom line? How can we create a great user experience without eating into our profits/donations?

Zero. Nada. Gratis.

That’s right…nothing or not much. Here is an example. National grocery store chains with the value membership cards which have been around for years. When I purchase items from one store, when I receive my receipt the cashier is taught to do three things (all in a matter of a second or two):

1. Circle my total savings today by using the card
2. Thank me by name (it appears on the receipt for using my card)
3. They inform me of the savings that I received today.

So what did it cost? Nothing. A mere couple of seconds. I was already signed up for the savings. But this chain is taking the time to point out my savings (so I keep coming back) and they are calling me by name (a basic psychological aspect/truth is that everyone likes to be recognized).

I now live in another state that does not have this grocery store chain. A different national chain, with the same membership value card, does not create this user experience. They do tell me how much I saved on my purchase but they do not call me by my name. And I remember. And I know the difference between the stores. And I blog about it.

So what does it cost to create a good user experience? Not much.

May 24, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. National Stores that Missed the Boat

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 9:49 am
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There are certain “given” items for businesses to have in this day & age. The main item is to have a web page. However so many companies miss the boat when it comes to their web page.  They dont stop and ask a simple question:

Why would a customer (or potential customer) come to our website?

Take a look at these 4 U.S. national chain stores and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why would a customer come to this website?
    > To buy something or look up the information for the nearest store?
  2. Why is the store locate button buried or blended into the page?
  3. Is it reasonable to expect that the majority of customers coming to this website looking for store location information or to browse/shop?

These national chains have the money to design an information rich website but lost the user experience. If a customer is frustrated with finding the nearest store location, what is their pre-disposition to the store? Or to coming back to the website?

Home Depot

Walgreens

Sears

Best Buy

May 21, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. 20-50% More!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 8:43 am
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Has anyone noticed the latest marketing ploy being utilized by a growing number of food companies? They look alot like this:

  • 20% MORE
    More Taste Than The Other Potato Chips

  • 30% More
    Taste Than The Other Leading Mustard

I would guess that you have seen these as bloggers tend to read. But the vast majority of people will not take the time to read the fine print. It is a sentence that clearly states that it is just a number referring to the taste, not the quantity.

When a user approaches the display the LARGE print gives the impression that there is 20 or 30 percent more product in this package. But that is not the case. It is a random number that the company is using for the illusion of a better deal, which, it isn’t.

The user experience is this: A short term gain for a long term loss. Once people begin to realize that this short term marketing ploy is referring to something other than quantity, there will be backlash. John F Kennedy once said, “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names”! That statement will hold true for this user experience.

A short term increase in sales however people will NOT forget the feeling of having been “used” or “taken advantage of”. I know I wont. I find it insulting and a clear demonstratition of a user experience that can not have a long term upside.

In these tough times, people want a better deal for their money, not the illusion of a better deal.

May 6, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. Stop and Think

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 5:12 pm
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Stop and Think

Why didn’t someone stop and think 10, 20 years ago for the following recent “inventions/improvements”?

  • Ketchup bottles being inverted, easy to squeeze, no watery liquid?
  • Baby strollers with built in bottle holders?
  • The customer service needed button in large department/box stores?
  • Square headed screws instead of “flat/Phillips” screws?

Why are manhole covers always round? Because over 100 years ago the designers stopped and thought about the problem they were solving. And the geometric shape of a circle is the only design that can be used and NOT have the cover fall into the hole.

When looking at your product or service, stop and think: How will the user actually use this product? How can our product/service be re-designed to make the simple change that makes a big difference in the use/outcome?

For example, why does a brand of shampoo and conditioner come in identical containers? Brand identity and recognition. Great. But why not make the caps different colors so you can tell them apart? Or a raised letter “S” and “C” on the shampoo and conditioner impressed on the caps? Why do you have to stop and read the bottle each time?

Stop and think.

April 21, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. Web Design Litmus Test

Filed under: Uncategorized — theuserexperience @ 10:30 pm
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So everything technically works. No broken links, the CSS all have the same setup, fonts and colors. However the real question isn’t if the site works…the real question is, “Does the site work?”
Here is the litmus test (the bar) to see if a site really works:

  1. Blindfold someone
  2. Spin them around and drop them into the WWW on a page
  3. Can the person quickly identify whose site this?
  4. Can the person quickly figure out which page they are on?
  5. Can the person understand what the page is supposed to accomplish or provide information?
  6. Can the person figure out how to get back to a start point?

If you have a good sample of people, that aren’t the web programmers, and they can answer yes to these 6 questions, than you have a GREAT website!

April 13, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. User Experience vs Usage

The “user experience” versus the “user usage”. Is there a difference? If so, what is it?

The user experience and the user usage are so very closely related that they cross over lines. Both can create new customers, anger customers, create customers for life or throw them off of the pursuit of a product/service/company (PSC). The user experience and the user usage each have the ability to create “non-paid champions” of the PSC. The other side of this sword is that with the social media phenomenon, the user experience/usage has the ability to create havoc creating “non-paid anti-champions” of the same PSC.

So what is the difference?

The user experience can be any PSC…online, in passing, an observation as to how an employee acts, a review in a magazine (they still exist right?) or more critically, the usage of a PSC.  Here are a few examples:

  1. A microwave at home is purchased because of the sale price, size, and brand name. Yet after years of use, the experience is negative and become more entrenched because of the poor placement and design of the most basic, heavily used buttons. Poor design has created a lifelong lost customer, all due to the user experience.
  2. Calling a corporate office of a national office supply. Have you ever tried to contact a district/area/state manager for a national chain? I have. I’ve even called the contact information for the home office. I have two choices: Have the local store manager pass my information along to their district manager and hope that they call (which they never did). The other option is to call the posted phone number for the national office which is an automated directory without a choice to get to the operator.
    The user experience is terrible because of the effort and lack of response from the corporation. Why is it that they don’t want to hear from their customers?
  3. An employee at a grocery store takes 3 seconds to read my name from my loyalty card and then thank me, by name, for my business. No cost. But a great user experience.

The user usage varies in that it is even a shorter duration to impress the customer or leave the company standing in the dust. And most likely this happens online. Win them over FAST or lose them forever. Here are some examples:

  1. A websites/program only uses acronyms that only certain users would understand. The uninformed or newly interested customer feels that the PSC is seeking only a qualified audience. Ever try using a user support forum for a major photo editing software company? The other support forum users are generally “elitist” in their communications to one another and the “newbie” is talked down to.  Why isn’t the company moderating the usage of the forums by their customers and swoop in with an experienced customer service oriented response for these customers?
  2. A product is rolled out for the world to come and use. The title of the product is stated in a couple of words. Yet the words do not match up to the actual outcome of the product/service. The usage doesn’t match the predicted/hoped for outcome of the PSC. The company was unaware of the different context that people were expecting and what was delivered.

The user experience and the user usage are closely related. Yet they are distinct. They provide the company with the opportunity to make a Word-of-Mouth- marketing champion or to create a lifelong antagonist. Either way, these are two very powerful individuals with a voice unheard of before this modern age of communications.

April 9, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. The Customer Standing There Doesn’t Exist

Filed under: User Experience — theuserexperience @ 1:09 pm
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Yesterday I was in a national grocery store when in the middle of scanning my items another store employee walked by. The cashier stopped what he was doing and began an unsolicited conversation with the employee headed out. The discussion topic was where she was going to lunch and what my cashier thought of that decision. Meanwhile, there are 2 people in line behind me and my items are not being scanned. So politely I say, “excuse me, can we finish this transaction?”

The cashier’s shocked expression was that of someone who was witnessing a car crash. Who was I to interrupt his conversation? And the incredulous look I received was filled with disdain. He finished the transaction, handing me my receipt with a look of contempt.

I thought of this experience and the different experience I’ve had with another national grocery store chain. When a customer uses their loyalty card, at the end of the transaction a cashier reads your name, hands you the receipt, and says, “Thank You Mr. Floyd for your business. You saved XYZ amount of money today. Have a nice day.”

What does this training implementation cost the 2nd company? New computers? New scanners or checkout stands? No…nothing more then a common courtesy and taking one extra step of reading my name to me (one of the best user experiences a person can have with a corporation).  Instead of being upset with the first employee and the user experience I have resolved not visit that chain with my business.

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