The User Experience Blog

November 20, 2009

Slick User Experience

When was the last time you found yourself saying, “oh cool…a calculator!!!”

Well unless you have a thing for calculators (a different user experience all together, so I’m told 😉 ), then calculators don’t float anyone’s boat, much less write about the User Experience of an online payment calculator. One of the first user interface devices on the WWW was the advent of payment calculators. But why did it take so long to find one with such a user friendly experience???

Take a look at the image below and see what I am referring to. There are the 3 slider bars so you can see in real time what your payments will be for the vehicle, not having to refresh the page each time! No more of the old fashioned method of put in a variable, hit calculate, see what the difference is and then write down notes to yourself to view the payments. With this interface you adjust the variables in real time and the payments are reflected back to the user!

What a great User Experience! As the end user I dont have to write down notes, compare, refresh, enter data, refresh, rinse & repeat. The user experiences instant results with the adjustments and can quickly move on to a purchase.
So what? So what I’m in Human Resources…I’m in the tire kicking business…remember this: if you make the user experience friendly and where the information is readily available not only will the customer be more inclined to buy (and keep you in business) but your job became that much easier!

A great example of a making a product with the end user in mind when they built the device! Good job!

July 16, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. Time for a New Convention?

A convention is simply a standard.  Not the convention hall or a group of people meeting but rather a conventional standard accepted by the mainstream of the population. Only an extreme innovation can break a traditional convention and thus become a new convention in itself.

For example, here are a list of accepted conventions in use today:

  • The numbers laid out on an ATM machine
  • Looking for the shopping cart symbol online to buy something or to check out.
  • The keyboard (which hasn’t drastically changed in close to 80 years).

As some people may know, the majority of websites no longer need the “www” typed at the front of a web address. Most hosting servers ignore the WWW and simply take the unique address, such “theUserExperience.wordpress.com“…there is a quantifiablie metric to give your boss!!! Instead of typing the 3 letters and the “dot”, you have just increased your productivity! Think of how much more company time you can spend surfing the WWW by NOT typing in the WWW. But I digress.

So I am looking at my keyboard the other day and it dawned on me that it is time for an update to the keyboard!  There should be a “.com” button.  Statistically the “.com” address is still by far the most used Internet address extension in use. iPhone has integrated their browser with a “.com” button….why not break the convention of a traditional keyboard and ADD a new button….the “Dot.Com” button. Simply have one button that you click and it puts in a complete “.com” for the address.

So on the front end we are saving the time, steps, and keystrokes by not typing in the “WWW.”, IF you know this information.

But we can carry this over to the back end of the Internet and simply create a new button on each/every keyboard with a “.com” button.
Yes, I am aware that there are keyboards & mice that can be programmed to run an application, put in this extension, a host of things. But this takes time and special skill. What I am proposing is a new convention to the old keyboard by adding one button, strategically placed, that will increase the User Experience by simply clicking one button.

My thoughts: once you used this button for a day, most people would not want to use the older keyboards and would upgrade. Perhaps we can start a stimulus package to recall the old keyboards and start the new ones rolling!!!  🙂

Here is a very rough drawing of where I put the button and how it would take dominance on a keyboard as the Internet has become so integral in most aspects of life.

New Convention with a new Keyboard

New Convention with a new Keyboard by TheUserExperience.Wordpress.coom

Your thoughts? Comments? I would appreciate the feedback on not just this idea but breaking a convention and starting a new one.

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.

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.

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