Design Jam with IntiMate – A secret room for two

How do you notify users of an incoming message without leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs that is tracable? Is there a way to simplify (or do without) the signup process? How can we design an app that would encourage users to use it many times a day?

These were the design challenges IntiMate brought to the table at OD’s Design Jam last week.

What is Design Jam?
We started Design Jam to help businesses (especially startups) who have genuine design challenges, but do not have the know-how to design a great user experience.

It’s our way of giving back to the community and helping the people who need UX advice the most.

Objective Digital’s Design Jams are pretty straightforward:

  • Name 3 design challenges you are facing right now
  • We’ll help you sketch, design and tackle them in 2 hours
  • You bring food and wine and we’ll get to work!

Want to know more? Contact us for a Design Jam!

Who is IntiMate?
Last week, we had the good people from IntiMate in our offices:

IntiMate is a Secret Room for any 2 people to share intimate content with each other securely on their mobile. Check out IntiMate’s website to find out more.

IntiMate’s top 3 design challenges

DesignJam-intimate-1

The IntiMate team articulated their top 3 design challenges as:

1. Seamlessly getting in (pun not intended)
- How can 2 users effortlessly start to play? How do we remove obstacles to the signup process? (e.g. “We just met at a party…”)

2. “I don’t want to get caught”
- If conversations are a secret, how can we notify a user with many conversations?
- How can we secure access to a conversation without asking the user too much?

3. “Play more every day”
- How do we empower users to discover and use new interactions?

The Design Jam Process

1. Preparation

We prepared for the session by addressing the following questions:

- Business objectives: how will this mobile app impact your business?
- Competitor review: who’s already doing it and what are they doing well/not well?
- Desired behaviours: what are the specific behaviours you want your users to perform that have direct impact on the success of the app?

2. Let’s Jam! (Co-creation, design studio)

DesignJam-intimate-4 DesignJam-intimate-3

To the tunes of Boney M (our artist of the day), we tackled each challenge one at a time, sketching, creating and presenting our ideas in rapid succession.

The focus was to generate a quantity of ideas for IntiMate to take with them, and examine interesting interactions that came up.

3. After Jamming

IntiMate took with them the sketches and ideas generated during the session and had this to say about their experience one week later:

DesignJam-intimate-6“The workshop with Objective Digital has provided the IntiMate team with a real boost in terms of ideation, and potential answers to the challenges that Tim helped us to identify before the workshop.

One of the great added value of this session is that OD’s consultants brought a broad experience of UX, rich creativity and, even more important, a real passion for the products available in the market, most of which they use on a daily basis in their work and personal environments.

It would have taken us many weeks to achieve the same level of ideation, so thank you Objective Digital for your help!”

Got a design challenge you’d like us to tackle? Contact us for a Design Jam!

UX Guideline #102: Draw users’ attention by using images with faces looking at your call to action or message

I noticed True Value Solar‘s advertisement on the telly last night for one remarkable thing. Watch the ad and see if you notice it:

In James’s blog post about how people look at other people’s faces, he described how we are not only attracted by other people’s faces, our attention is also drawn to what other people are looking at. In short, we look where they look.

This is a particularly useful behaviour to act on if we’d like to draw a user’s attention to certain things.

Have a look at this scene in the ad:

Image
Notice how the actor’s line of sight is directly in line with True Value Solar? That’s what they want you to look at as he speaks. Visually and audibly, you are then associating the message of the ad with the logo, the brand and the message.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. The ad does the same thing a few more times in the same ad:

1image

2image

If you visit their website, you will notice how the actor in the Testimonial image is staring right at the [Testimonial] label:
0image
Very clever way of exploiting this aspect of human behaviour. Do you see what I see?

UX Guideline #102: Draw users’ attention by using images with faces looking at your call to action or message. 

UX Guideline #78: Set a user’s expectation before they use a service

@Nirish introduced me to Commbank’s Kaching app a couple days ago. Essentially, the service allows Commbank customers to perform cash payments via sms, email or Facebook. Sounded like a refreshing new way to bank. 

Until we tried it. 

After a food-coma-inducing lunch at Hurricane’s Grill Darling Harbour (~Ribs!!), Nirish paid me his share of the bill using Kaching. Here’s my user journey of using the app:

20120705-commbank_kaching_user_journey-1

All was well until the last message on the last screen:

20120705-commbank_kaching_user_journey-2

“It may take a few days for your money to arrive in your account.”

 

The culture of modern living has raised our expectations of how long things should take. With digital transactions, we tend to expect immediate gratification. We want digital things now Now NOW. 

In this case, my expectations were horribly failed. I expected the transaction to happen immediately, yet nowhere in the 3 preceding screens were my expectations set. 

There is a quick fix to the problem though: tell users how long it would take the money to be transferred on Screen 2. While this may dissuade some users from transacting, it’s certainly a better outcome than disappointing users at the very end and swearing off using the service ever again (like me).  

UX Guideline #78: Set a user’s expectation before they use a service. 

Magazine Article: 2nd article posted in Russia (creatively titled 5 more tips for eCommerce web design in Russia)

Here’s the 2nd article I wrote on Jame’s behalf for a Russian journalist in April 2012 (original English writeup below). 

058_sb_04-russia_2nd_article_objective_digital-5_more_tips_ecommerce_web_design
5 more tips for eCommerce web design in Russia

1. Update your website often (or at least show that new content has been added recently)

- A user assigns more credibility to websites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed. 
- A simple way to test this is to show your homepage to someone and ask: can you tell if this page was updated yesterday or a year ago?
- There are a few ways you can show that your website has been updated. For example, include dates and times to news updates on your website. If your website sells products, include the date the product was added. If you have a promotion or special deal, display the date the promotion ends. If you tweet or blog, post them on your website as well. 

2. Contact us
- Some organisations deliberately make their contact information difficult to find in order to reduce their call centre costs. 
- In this day and age, users are going to find you one way or the other. So why hide? Also, making yourself difficult to reach irritates users, breeds a sense of distrust and contempt within them.  
- The fact is, users are contacting you for a good reason. Think of it as an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customer and to build trust in your business and product. Make it easy for customers to contact you. 

3. Avoid jargon and technical words
- The use of jargon and technical words prevent users from understanding the true meaning of what is being said. Without understanding, users are less confident about proceeding with their tasks. 
- This is especially true if jargon appears in the navigation of the website. That’s like trying to read road signs in a language you don’t understand. 
- In some cases, jargon cannot be avoided and need to be used. In such cases, explain the jargon (e.g. using help text). 
- Otherwise, use simple words that your users will understand. 

4. Show users the product they are buying
- Buying a product online requires a high degree of trust and good faith. Online customers can’t touch and feel the product they’re buying, and yet they are being asked to part with their money. 
- To tackle that, show users as much of the product as possible. Show them multiple pictures of the product from different angles. Share user manuals and instructions. Provide as much information about the product as you can. Create an experience where users feel as if they know everything about the product and what they will be buying. 

5. Short checkout forms
- Filling out a long checkout form (before you can buy something online) is like a long queue at the checkout counter: nobody likes it and it’s a waste of time. 
- Emotionally, users are left wondering why they are the ones who have to jump through hoops when they are the customer. They’re paying good money for the product; shouldn’t they be served instead?
- Only ask for the minimum amount of information you need to complete the checkout. For additional information (e.g. signup for newsletter etc), ask it after. Users are more likely to provide this information once they’ve been satisfied with your service. 

Designing websites for 4 users (Andrew Chak)

The work of Andrew Chak has been enlightening. It encapsulates many of the UX concepts I use within the framework of designing websites for 4 users. 

Andrew put it quite simply; there are 4 types of users: Browsers, Evaluators, Transactors and Customers. Now, these aren’t actual people, but they represent mindsets we adopt during the decision-making process while engaging with an eCommerce website.

Browsers

A Browser is at the beginning of the decision cycle. He does not know exactly what he wants but he recognises that he has a need and needs help to better understand what he should be looking for. 

Evaluators

An Evaluator wants help in making a choice. He wants detailed information to compare alternatives, whittle down his options and make a decision to transact. 

Transactors

A Transactor has decided what and where he wants to transact. He needs help and guidance to lead him through the website’s call to action before he gets lost or loses his motivation.

Customers

A Customer has completed a transaction with the website. He is looking to be taken care of and given a reason why he should transact with the website again.

 

In the book, he also talks about the 2 fundamental motivators that move users through the decision process:

The desire for reward: rewards are about communicating to user the type of person he can be or the results he can accomplish by working with you (e.g. bikini-clad women on posters selling beer).

The fear of punishment: this is the fear of being hurt or, more importantly, losing out on something. Anything that compromises our freedom to pursue opportunities or our freedom to choose will prompt us to act (e.g. time-limited discounts or limited quantity products).

 

You’d think that selling the benefits of a product (reward) to be a stronger motivator. However, of these 2 motivators, it is more effective to emphasise the consequences (punishment) of not acting than to promote the value of what you have to offer (e.g. only 5 tickets left!). 

 

 

 

I highly recommend reading Andrew’s book Submit now: Designing persuasive websites. In the meantime, I leave you with an excerpt from the book that contains a checklist for evaluating websites using this framework. 

 

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Lean UX and the dichotomy of being a UX consultant

I was listening to Jeff Gothelf’s podcast on Lean UX, and it articulated what I’ve felt for a very long time. 

If Lean UX is new to you, it is about reducing waste in the work we do. It’s about looking at all the tools we have in our UX toolkit and deciding which tool to use at the right time, AT THE RIGHT DEPTH. It’s focused on rapid iteration in low fidelity. 

It’s about getting out of the deliverables business and focusing on the business of design. Amen!

What I think Jeff is alluding to is similar to what Joshua Porter talks about in Deliverable vs Delivery.

The job of being a UX consultant requires us to be both a consultant and a designer at the same time. While the designer in us would focus on iterating the design till it works, the consultant in us thinks about how best we can communicate the work we do to audiences in a meaningful way. 

In my experience, working towards a deliverable has been a practiced way of working. The deliverable is the [shiny product] we work our butts off producing that marks the end of one phase and the beginning of another. 

But I wonder: is this really the best way we can provide value? We pour our blood, sweat and tears into the deliverable and perch it up on a pedestal, forcing us to defend it when we face criticism, when really, design should be a CONSTANT dialogue of “what if..” and “did you consider..”? 

To quote Jeff: 

“Designers should not be held to the expectation to get the Design right the first time.” 

 

Have we somehow unconsciously moved from delivering a design to delivering a design deliverable?

My obsession has been not just to design better things, but to design better as well. Which is why this topic of Lean UX invigorates me. To end off this blog post, I leave you with a few references to how other UX professionals have “trimmed the fat” off their processes to deliver a better design more efficiently. 

I’d love to hear your views and stories on the topic of Lean UX and how it has helped you!

Lean UX References:

 

Magazine article: 5 tips for eCommerce web design in Russia

…and suddenly…*POOF!* it’s appears!

I wrote an article on Jame’s behalf for a Russian journalist earlier this month. Today, I got the email: it’s published! Here’s a screenshot of it (and for those who don’t read Cyrillic, the original English writeup below). 

It_james_breeze109

— Article (originally in English) —

5 tips for eCommerce web design in Russia

Designing eCommerce websites is challenging. A successful product is one that has been designed with its users in mind. However, how do you design one website that is going to be used by hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of your customers? Is it possible to design a website that all your users will find easy to use?

In this article, we talk about 5 tips on how you can design eCommerce websites that are easy to use. These tips are universal and are based upon best design practices in the user experience industry. 

1. Show users the product they are buying
- Buying a product online requires a high degree of trust and good faith. Online customers can’t touch and feel the product they’re buying, and yet they are being asked to part with their money. 
- To tackle that, show users as much of the product as possible. Show them multiple pictures of the product from different angles. Share user manuals and instructions. Provide as much information about the product as you can. Create an experience where users feel as if they know everything about the product and what they will be buying. 

2. Avoid chunks of text
- Research has shown that users don’t read online; they scan. Avoid long paragraphs of text. Break content into sections. Use bullets to itemise key points. 
- This allows users to scan the page and quickly isolate the content they are looking for. Once they find the content they are looking for, users are motivated to read it. 

3. Clear call to action
- After convincing a customer that he needs a product, the worst thing to do is to make it difficult to buy. 
- Have a clear call to action (e.g. Buy now). Use a button (not a link). This should be the primary action on the product page. All other actions should not receive as much attention. 

4. Short checkout forms
- Filling out a long checkout form (before you can buy something online) is like a long queue at the checkout counter: nobody likes it and it’s a waste of time. 
- Emotionally, users are left wondering why they are the ones who have to jump through hoops when they are the customer. They’re paying good money for the product; shouldn’t they be served instead?
- Only ask for the minimum amount of information you need to complete the checkout. For additional information (e.g. signup for newsletter etc), ask it after. Users are more likely to provide this information once they’ve been satisfied with your service. 

5. Contact us
- Some organisations deliberately make their contact information difficult to find in order to reduce their call centre costs. 
- In this day and age, users are going to find you one way or the other. So why hide? Also, making yourself difficult to reach irritates users, breeds a sense of distrust and contempt within them.  
- The fact is, users are contacting you for a good reason. Think of it as an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customer and to build trust in your business and product. Make it easy for customers to contact you. 


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